Rivers Cuomo traces the origins of Weezer with RHCP's Flea: Listen now

From homework assignments to Prog Rock and Speed Metal
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer Photo credit Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo joined Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on his Cadence13 podcast series This Little Light to discuss how his journey in music influenced the very beginnings of his now legendary band.

LISTEN NOW: This Little Light: Rivers Cuomo

Photo credit This Little Light

The latest This Little Light episode was released with perfect timing, as it's also the 29th anniversary of Weezer’s debut album, known lovingly as The Blue Album. But the band’s journey began long before the record's release, especially for lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Rivers Cuomo. Cuomo began as a musician in middle school and high school choirs and eventually began to study music theory and classical composers. “It didn’t seem cool or Rock N' Roll to want to understand how to write proper voice leading or the circle of fifths” Cuomo explained. “Part of me was trying to hold myself back and I’ve come to just accept it and go with it.”

In fact, the beginning of Weezer can be traced all the way back to those classes. “I’ve taken homework assignments from music theory courses and put them into Weezer songs, or I’ve taken parts of famous classical pieces and interpolated them into Weezer songs” Cuomo revealed.

After having moved cross-country at around 18 years old with his “progressive speed metal” high school band, Cuomo then met his future Weezer bandmates. “We sounded nothing like our first album when we started,” Cuomo laughed. It took a lot of experimentation to discover their sound when Cuomo took on the role of lead singer. He recalled, “We were still copying the bands that had immediately inspired us before, like Jane’s Addiction and early Nirvana. I was just trying to sing like those guys and I don’t have that kind of voice at all… it’s pretty hilarious what we sounded like.”

Flea, ever the amazing host, asked again how Cuomo “applied all the things that [he] learned, and with the other guys in the band.” As it turns out, the band would sometimes be split in their creative processes. “Some of the other guys, they’re coming from a very different place, and it made it more challenging because sometimes they're not playing exactly how you thought it was gonna go,” Cuomo replied. However, both musicians agreed that this kind of divergence could be a band’s secret weapon, as Flea added, “It could become something that you didn’t even know it could be, and even better.”

Listen to the full This Little Light podcast episode to learn more about what influences Rivers Cuomo of the band Weezer on the free Audacy app.

Hosted by Flea, founding member and bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, This Little Light is a podcast about falling in love with music. Flea interviews musical guests from all genres to discuss the teachers who guided them, the influences that inspired them, and how the lessons they learned as young musicians have shaped their creativity, resilience, and careers. The podcast is produced by Cadence13 and Parallel, with proceeds benefiting the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a Los Angeles-based non-profit that Flea co-founded in 2001.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images