How Rivers Cuomo will use a computer program to take Weezer's tour to the next level
Weezer seem to perennially tour, but frontman Rivers Cuomo hasn’t tired of the road’s grind just yet. This summer, the nerd-rock legends will hit the road with Panic! at the Disco and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness for a two-month U.S. tour, and the 45-year-old says Weezer have plenty of tricks in store to keep things interesting for fans new and old alike.
For one, Cuomo says he’s designing a computer program to generate randomized setlists so each of the tour’s concerts is unique. “It’s fun for us and it’s fun for the fans who come to multiple shows,” he tells EW.
Cuomo’s also pumped to trot out songs from the band’s recent White Album for the first time, predicting that they’ll “put a real beachy spell over the whole venue.” Not that Weezer will shirk the golden oldies: “When you’re face-to-face with 15,000 people, you really just want to make them happy,” says Cuomo. “Anything you do that makes them cheer and smile is a good thing.”
Cuomo connected with EW to detail his planned computer program, explain his latest stage trick, and reflect on the difference between Panic! at the Disco and Weezer fans.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you planning on integrating songs from the White Album into your sets?
RIVERS CUOMO: I’m trying to write a computer program to generate a random setlist every night from a bank of about 40 or 50 songs. The new album will be in there. And I have to come up with a bunch of parameters for each song. Like, “Well this one can go first, but it can’t go at the end of the set” and so on. That way we can have a different setlist but it’s always quality. It’s fun for us and it’s fun for the fans who come to multiple shows.
Are there any songs you’re hoping coming up more often on the random generator?
No, I’m trying to be impartial. [laughs] I just like it have lots of variety. We’ve tried randomness before. Like there was a tour we did where the setlist was determined by rolling Dungeons & Dragons dice.
Are there any off the White Album you’re excited to see fans’ reactions to for the first time?
For some reason, I’m wondering what it’s going to be like to play “Endless Bummer.” It’s a very beach-themed album and I think the whole show is going to be very beach themed too. That song “Endless Bummer” is just so summery and beachy.
Do you still enjoy playing your older songs from night to night after this many years?
When I start to play the intro to “Say It Ain’t So” or “Island in the Sun,” those chords on my guitar, and 15,000 people start screaming with joy, it’s hard for me not to enjoy that. I do have a trick I’ve been using recently where at the top of the chorus of “Say It Ain’t So,” right when we launch into that first chorus, I’ll pick up the mic and instead of singing into it, I’ll point it at the crowd and I get to hear them singing “say it ain’t so!” back to me. It’s very inspiring.
Is there one of your classics you find gets the biggest reaction?
It depends on the crowd. We [recently] played the Troubadour, it’s a small venue here in L.A. — maybe 700 people or something. The biggest reaction we got was to a song called “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” which was a B-side from 1995. You never expect that. But then we’ll play some random festival and everyone’s most excited to hear “Beverly Hills.” Sometimes it depends country to country. “Hash Pipe” was never even a single in Japan, so it doesn’t get as much reaction there. Our biggest album in the U.K. was the Green Album, so people love to hear “Photograph.”
You co-wrote Panic! at the Disco’s recent single “Victorious” with their frontman Brendan Urie. What’s your relationship like with him?
I’ve known him for almost 10 years — we’re good buddies. We’ve gotten together now and then to write songs. I have a lot of respect for them musically. They have a famously amazing fan base. They’re known for being very open minded and super supportive of whoever’s onstage. That’s like the best-case scenario. If you’re playing for another band’s audience, you want them to be like that. I’m hoping that the Weezer fans will be as open-minded and loving as the Panic fans. Weezer fans have a reputation for being extremely passionate.