Weezer's Self Promotion Irks Label

The unfamiliar Weezer songs listeners are hearing on U.S. modern rock radio stations this week have originated from an unlikely source: the band itself. "Dope Nose," "Keep Fishin'," "Take Control," an

The unfamiliar Weezer songs listeners are hearing on U.S. modern rock radio stations this week have originated from an unlikely source: the band itself. "Dope Nose," "Keep Fishin'," "Take Control," and "Fall Together" are just four of the eight songs the band recently sent to radio stations and journalists -- complete with a hand-signed letter on Weezer stationery -- as a preview of the group's upcoming Geffen album "Maladroit," due April 30.

The songs, particularly "Dope Nose," have quickly jumped onto playlists across the country, including at such stations as WXRK New York, KROQ Los Angeles, and Y100 Philadelphia. "Dope Nose" received 410 spins from 35 of the 82 stations monitored by Billboard sister publication Airplay Monitor, enough to earn it a No. 25 debut on the publication's Modern Rock Tracks Audience chart this week.

But the band's unique, do-it-yourself promotional campaign is not sitting well with executives at Interscope, of which Geffen is an imprint. According to Weezer's official Web site, the label insisted that frontman Rivers Cuomo "write a letter to all the radio stations that he had previously sent the 'Maladroit' promo CD to, asking them to hold off promoting the tracks on the CD until the record company was ready to service the 'Dope Nose' single."

"With so many radio stations having shown immediate support of the songs, the band is now crossing their fingers that the fantastic wave of support at radio is not cast into confusion," the site says. "And to all the fans who are being so helpful and supportive of this fledgling album, in its most desperate hour: a special message of sincere and humble thanks straight from the band! You guys are showing the world what Weezer means to you, and your efforts are not going unnoticed!"

As previously reported, demo versions of the 13 new songs posted on Weezer.com in January also garnered some inadvertent radio airplay. Fully mixed versions of some of the tunes also began to appear last month, but shortly thereafter, the "audio-video" section of the site was "shut down," with neither the band or the label offering an explanation. At deadline, Interscope had not responded to requests for comment.

Weezer's notoriously rabid fans have since launched a Web site devoted entirely to spreading the tracks from the "Maladroit" sessions, in the fear that Interscope may alter the finished tracklist or scrap the album entirely.

It's a situation that presents an interesting set of issues for radio stations, according to program director Bill Gamble of WZZN Chicago, which has already added "Dope Nose" to its playlist. "We certainly want to work with labels, but part of our obligation as a radio station is to provide new music to consumers," he says. "If fans of Weezer are hearing three or four tracks online and the station is saying, 'well, we'll have it in a month,' all of the sudden, we are not relevant. If the music is out there, than we better put it out on the radio."

All this activity comes even as the group's 2001 self-titled album, which has sold 1.3 million copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan, continues to garner airplay for such singles as "Island in the Sun" and "Photograph." In an even more curious development, Weezer has already begun recording "two very new and one somewhat older" songs intended for its next album, which Cuomo has said he'd like to release before the end of the year.

A 17-date international tour begins Monday (March 11) in Lisbon and wraps May 27 in Tokyo.

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