One of the perks of being a professional music journalist is having the opportunity to interview your favorite musicians. Back in 2005, when I was still relatively green at interviewing rock stars, I took full advantage of that perk when Weezer was rolling through town with the Foo Fighters and I sent an interview request to the band’s publicist.
When I was a teenager Weezer was one of favorite bands and I still rock the Blue Album and Pinkerton quite often now that I am closer to my 40s than I am my 20s. I was extremely excited and extremely nervous to have a conversation with Rivers Cuomo and I think the playback of the nearly 30-minute interview reflects that. You see, my conversation with Rivers, which you can stream or download above, is a bit of a tough listen.
Or at least it was for me when I played it back on cassette tape and transferred it to a mp3 file. It was the first time I had listened to the interview since writing this piece five years ago (Note that I also interviewed Dave Grohl for the same article. Maybe I’ll transfer that to mp3 too and post it here next time the Foo Fighters come to town) and I cringed several times last night while playing it back. Hopefully budding music journalists can learn a few lessons of how to conduct interviews if they happen to stumble upon this post. The lessons to be learned here are to come prepared, try to be professional and don’t be nervous.
My attempt at small talk during the beginning of the interview was a massive fail and for some reason I ended a lot of the questions with “is that correct?” I rack that last one up to nervousness. On the plus side, as the interview progresses Rivers opens up a bit and I think that’s because he could tell I’m a very informed fan and critic who came prepared for the interview. Or maybe he could tell I was going down in flames and wanted to provide me with some material I could use for a print article. But enough about my analysis of my unpolished interview skills. You’ll just have to trust me that I have since become better at firing questions at rock stars.
Once you get through the awkwardness (you can actually hear me say “awkward” after one question while listening to the interview) there’s actually some pretty good stuff here. Of course all that stuff is from five years ago, but I have yet to read an interview where Rivers talks about his perfectionist tendencies and how the band tweaks its records after each pressing. So bonus points to me for getting that info. Other moments of note are and the parts where he tells me that he misses being with girls (he was celibate and unmarried at the time), the really interesting talk about Pinkerton and when he completely dodges my question about his brother teaching at the University of Washington.
Despite my mixed feelings about the interview I still consider my conversation with Rivers to be a highlight of my career thus far, albeit a slightly awkward highlight.