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Rivers Cuomo

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Biography

The singer/guitarist/songwriter of Weezer, Rivers Cuomo was born June 13, 1970, and grew up in Connecticut. Intrigued by both the sounds of heavy metal (Kiss, Van Halen) and hook-heavy punk-pop (the Pixies), Cuomo moved to Los Angeles in 1989 alongside his bandmates in the progressive metal outfit Avant Garde. The group disbanded one year later, however, and Cuomo dabbled in several other projects before forming Weezer in 1992. The original lineup consisted of Cuomo, guitarist Jason Cropper, bassist Matt Sharp, and drummer Pat Wilson. After playing L.A. clubs for over a year, the quartet was signed to Geffen, but Cropper quit abruptly around this time (reappearing later in the '90s with Chopper One). Cropper's replacement was Brian Bell, formerly of Carnival Art, and the revised band recorded their debut at Electric Lady Studios with Ric Ocasek serving as producer. As most Weezer fans know, their 1994 self-titled debut was a smash hit on the strength of the hit singles/videos "Undone (The Sweater Song)," "Buddy Holly," and "Say It Ain't So." The breakup of Nirvana had left a gaping hole in the power pop-punk genre, and Weezer released their debut just at the right time. After the yearlong tour wrapped up, Cuomo retreated from the music world and began studying at Harvard; he also grew a beard to protect his anonymity and had surgery on his leg (when he was born, one leg was shorter than the other), which resulted in Cuomo having to wear a leg brace for some time. Weezer returned with the darker Pinkerton in 1996, having scrapped their previous plans to record a space-themed rock opera as their sophomore album. Cuomo wrote the album's ten tracks while studying at Harvard, drawing upon such themes as groupies, fan mail, lesbians, and Japanese women. While the album didn't yield any hit singles, fans treasured it as a stronger release than the band's debut. Nevertheless, Weezer once again went on hiatus following Pinkerton's supportive tour, and bassist Sharp permanently left the lineup to devote more time to his other band, the Rentals (Sharp was later replaced by Bostonian Mikey Welsh). With little news coming from the Weezer camp by the dawn of the 21st century, many assumed the band had broken up. Cuomo gave a few surprise solo shows in Boston during 1999, however, and announced the following year that a third Weezer release was forthcoming. The release did not see the light of day until 2001, as Cuomo was waiting for braces to come off his teeth before recording would commence. Known as The Green Album, the record spawned the hit singles "Hash Pipe" and "Island in the Sun." 2002's Maladroit did not fare as well, but Weezer returned to hitmaking status with 2005's Make Believe, which earned the band a Grammy nomination for the song "Beverly Hills." The album's content was partially inspired by Cuomo's discovery of meditation, which he had practiced intensely during the three previous years. Cuomo had also been recording homemade demos since the band's inception in 1992, and he gathered 18 of them for a 2007 solo compilation, Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. ~ Greg Prato
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