Are there a lot of unreleased Weezer songs that you might consider putting together in a collection like this?
Yes. Weezer is putting together a collection of songs we've recorded. It's just like this. They're great songs, great recordings, but for some reason they didn't make the final cut for a record. And like the "Alone" record they span a vast period of time from the very beginning of our career in the early '90s right up to the present day. The working title of that is "Odds and Ends." But I have no idea when that would come out. It's just another fun project to do.
On the Hootenanny tour, did people bring horns and things other than guitars?
Oh yeah. There'd usually be about 30 guitar players and about 10, 15 percussionists. But then everybody else brought every instrument you could possibly imagine, from the Vietnamese mouth harp to a Mariachi band to the didgeridoo and the normal orchestral instruments: woodwinds, strings, horns.
What else are you working on with Weezer?
We have another tour coming up next spring, possibly with Oasis. We hope to make another video for "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived" with Spike Jonze, and we just recorded six Christmas carols that will be downloadable for the iPhone game "Tap Tap Revenge."
Are they original Christmas carols or classics?
They're the classics. My favorite is "Oh Holy Night." I love them.
What do you think is so satisfying about performing someone else's song, especially in the case of the Brian Wilson song you covered for this record?
On "Alone II" I did a cover version of "Don't Worry Baby." I did that in 1993. I grew up on heavy metal and then I got into Jane's Addiction and the Pixies and Nirvana, and a lot of those vocalists have great rock voices. They can scream and they don't necessarily have to have a big pop melody -- they can just scream and it sounds great. But when I started writing songs I tried to do that, and I just didn't sound very good because I have more of a choirboy voice. So I had to learn how to write hard rock songs with the big crunchy guitars but with more choirboy-like melodies.
I discovered the Beach Boys around that time in 1992-93, and to help me learn how to write those kinds of melodies and harmonies and chord progressions, I would learn their songs and record my own versions of them more like Weezer-style, with distorted guitars. So, that's what we have here on "Alone II."
I love Brian Wilson's melody when he's saying, "Well, it's been building up inside of me for oh, I don't know how long." I love the lyrical innocence. It's just like a straightforward pop song, singing about a girl as opposed to something like the Pixies, where the lyrics were pretty abstract. And I love the big harmonies in the chorus -- actually five-part vocal harmonies -- and I carefully transcribed them in my bedroom on my tape player. But then I added the element of the modern crunchy guitar sound. And that's what really helped me figure out what I wanted to do as a songwriter and a performer in Weezer.
Do you think that a bright, poppy melody is a good place to hide a lot of emotional content?
Hide isn't the word I would use. For me the emotions come out in a big, broad, romantic poppy melody.
So maybe it's a way to express it in a bigger way?
Mmm ... hmm.