Rivers Cuomo Hasn’t Taken a Break in 30 Years of Weezer

WHEN WEEZER’S SELF-TITLED debut came out in May 1994, it was a bit of an anomaly. While the college radio scene at the time had its fair share of quirky acts blending rock ‘n’ roll and nerdy, subcultural references, the mainstream was still chock-a-block with mostly grunge acts, with Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Collective Soul holding down a decent portion of that year’s rock radio rotation.

Somehow, Weezer just seemed different, whether it was because of bespectacled frontman Rivers Cuomo, the group’s Happy Days-inspired video for “Buddy Holly,” or even its nod to Dungeons & Dragons in the lyrics of “In The Garage.” Sure, Weezer could rock—we’re talking about a band that cited Kiss as a big influence, after all—but they also probably read books, and that meant something.

This year, Weezer will hit the road to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “the Blue Album,” as its debut is colloquially known. The Voyage To The Blue Planet Tour will celebrate not just the work itself, but the band’s long history both together and with its fans. As the band’s frontman and de facto spokesperson—as well as the O.G. holder of the “Weezer” nickname as a kid—Cuomo seems both befuddled and impressed by the band’s longevity, telling Men’s Health that he still thinks it’s “really weird” that, all these years later, the Blue Album still holds such a sentimental place in so many peoples’s hearts.

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Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo performs at the opening of the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, 1995.

“When we were coming up in L.A., we couldn’t get a buzz going because the clubs were 21 and up,” he says. “The music we were making didn’t resonate with adults. It wasn’t until our songs were on the radio and the record came out that kids started hearing it—like, literally kids. 10 year olds. And for some reason, that record (and maybe Weezer in general) have just always resonated with younger people. It’s never gotten much respect from the old guard, or at least from people of our generation.”

Perhaps that’s why Cuomo seems like he still thinks he’s got something to prove, all these years and manners of successes later. To him it still feels like Weezer hasn’t quite made it, or like the group’s still trying to break through. “It sounds weird,” he says, “but we’ve always had this chip on our shoulder, because there are so many giant bands that came out around the same time as us and we’re trying to catch up to them, but we still have a little work to do. We want to get to stadiums, too.”

But for now, arenas are just going to have to do. Below, Men’s Health talks to Cuomo about that omni-present quest for success, how the band stays fit and stage-ready on the road, and how Weezer has endured for so long.

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Cuomo performs onstage during A GRAMMY Salute to The Beach Boys in 2023.

MEN’S HEALTH: It’s amazing that Weezer has been together for more than 30 years. Most other bands of your era have broken up and gotten back together twice already.

RIVERS CUOMO: Yeah, we haven’t broken up. That’s one of the things we haven’t tried yet.

MH: Was your only hiatus between the Blue Album and Pinkerton?

RC: We actually weren’t even on hiatus then. I’ve always been working. Sometimes it’s taken me a really long time to come up with a record, but I wasn’t actually on hiatus. I was just failing.

MH: How do you think Weezer has stayed together, mostly as a complete unit? Do you attribute your longevity together to anything specific?

RC: I think that together we’re much, much better than anything any of us could do separately or with anyone else—especially me and our drummer, Pat Wilson. He put us together and [once we were] it just sounded like, ‘Wow, we’re a classic rock band.” I like doing other things sometimes, but those never sound like a world changing force.

MH: How do you define success for the band? I think most people would say headlining arenas is pretty solid, but you don’t seem entirely satisfied. If you hit stadiums, would that be enough?

RC: I would hope so, because where can you go from there? I mean, Taylor Swift, I guess. But that’s probably not going to happen.

MH: No sweeping, Renaissance-style tour docs topping the box office for you any time soon?

RC: We’re talking about making a movie. Not a performance movie, but an actual movie movie.

MH: Oh, wow. Tell us more.

RC: I can’t… or I shouldn’t, but it’s going to be cool.

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Brendan Walter

MH: Are there acts that have done that kind of thing that you particularly admire, whether it’s Sparks with Annette, Tenacious D with The Pick Of Destiny, or Green Day’s Broadway musical? Or maybe acts that have branched out into other realms of technology?

RC: I’m interested in using technology in new ways. I’ve recently been talking to M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, and they have something really interesting going on with their Deathbats Club. Their fans are automatically rewarded with points just for streaming their music or buying a shirt or a ticket to one of their shows. People are racking up all these points, and they can turn them in to cut the line to buy more tickets and that kind of thing. It’s like frequent flyer miles.

I don’t quite understand it, but I’m watching what they’re doing and it seems like something our fans might enjoy. So he’s going to come check out my Discord server, and I’m checking out theirs.

MH: That’s interesting. The ticketing system is certainly flawed, so it does feel like there has to be a better way.

RC: Yeah, and that’s what our fans care most about. They want to get to the shows and they want the best seat they can get and they don’t want the process to be a nightmare.

People still really love live music. Everything else has changed and so much of what musicians make has been devalued with digital technology, but live music, for us, feels more valuable than ever.

MH: So no Weezer A.I., then? No holograms?

RC: No, but this tour we’re putting together right now is going to have crazy special effects. We’re going all-in, which is exciting for me because we come from a pretty indie rock aesthetic. But we’re going full-on science fiction for these shows.

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MH: How is life on the road, 30 years later? How is touring life different for you now than it was when you started? None of you are twenty-somethings anymore, so I have to imagine there have been some changes.

RC: I think we’re all more interested in being healthy and staying fit. We all got into pickleball. There are not a lot of things that all four of us are equally excited about, but pickleball is one of them. So, on our off days, we’ll go play pickleball together. Even in Phoenix in the summer, we’ll play when it’s 110 degrees. It makes the shows seem a little easier, in comparison.

MH: Pickleball seems like a great road hobby because it’s so portable. There’s not much to tote around on the bus.

RC: Yeah, and it’s good cardio without having to move all that much. It’s super fun, but very social, too.

MH: Are you going to make Weezer pickleball paddles for the merch stand?

RC: I’ve heard that other bands are doing that, so maybe!

MH: There was a celebrity pickleball show on TV for a while, too, so if that ever comes back, you really should lobby for a spot.

RC: Oh, I’d love to do that. I think we would do well.

rivers cuomo family switch

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MH: Do you prepare for the tour at all? Do you amp up your fitness routine a month out or anything to try to better your endurance, or do you change your diet to try and protect your vocal cords?

RH: I normally do half an hour of physical therapy every week, just generally trying to move my muscles and joints with a little resistance. I swim once a week. I walk for about an hour every day. Maybe a week or two before the tour starts. I’ll try to notch it up a bit, like do an additional 10 percent, but I’m not a huge fitness guy.

MH: You are famously into Vipassana meditation, though. Tell me about the role of that practice in terms of your overall mental and physical health.

RC: I started 21 years ago, and every year I go do a 10 day silent meditation course. And then every day I meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. It’s the foundation of my life, really. It helps me get re-centered and calm down, and it makes me less likely to shoot myself in the foot.

MH: How so?

RC: It just helps me calm down and see things from different perspectives, and to remember to be kind. It also helps to remember how important relationships are in my life. It reminds me that, a lot of times, it’s more important to make sure everybody’s okay than to insist on getting exactly what you want.

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RC: Do you read reviews, whether it’s critics or fans talking about your records or shows?

RC: Oh, I intentionally don’t read reviews. They don’t feel good, and they don’t help.

That’s what I love about our Discord. It’s all people who love us. They’re welcome to give constructive criticism, sure, but I don’t venture out into the wild west of the internet. I stay in my safe little Discord server.

MH: You’ve been eligible for a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction for a few years now, but haven’t gotten in. And yet, acts of your same vintage, like the Foo Fighters and, this year, the Dave Matthews Band, have gotten the nod. While there are other notable acts that have been historically snubbed, like Pixies and the B-52s, do you ever wonder whether you’ll get in? Do you even want to? I know you’ve joked about it online.

RC: I mean, yeah, it would be cool. It’s really helpful, too, because it’s crazy how much the music industry values being inducted. Your offers for shows even go up once you get into the Hall of Fame.

MH: And to your earlier point about still trying to make it, I wonder if getting in would alleviate any of your imposter syndrome.

RC: I think it depends on the person. I say that because I just went and hung out with Randy Newman at his house. And when he got in, he performed with the band on-stage and was making a lot of mistakes during the performance. You can see his speech after on YouTube, and he’s like, ‘You guys are gonna kick me out now, aren’t you?’

The insecurity doesn’t necessarily go away—it all depends on the person.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

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