You’ll really analyze stuff on the Spotify top ten. As I was debating this very question that you asked, as I was starting to work on this album, I went to Spotify and looked at, say, the rock playlist, the main rock playlist, and I could look at all the lyrics and say, “Okay, how many of these are about romantic relationships? What I was gonna say was, to what extent have you analyzed your own early music to see why it works? We play all different kinds of shows: big festivals with not many Weezer fans, and then we were just playing these clubs with two or three thousand people in Europe, packed with older … We’re just going to make the most exciting record we can make. The new songs have to earn their place in the set list. Now, I listen to him every day and it’s like, I’m listening to smart people talk and debate the issues, and I feel a little less lonely. It’s like, there’s got to be something more to life than just the grind of touring and performing and doing interviews — and then, of course, having a family is great, and that satisfies me in other ways. I’m making good progress, but I keep taking these detours. It gradually went to a computer and Excel, and now it’s on Google Sheets. It’s so hard to search through, so I started tagging it for syllable-count and rhyme and where the stresses fall — iambic pentameter, whatever.
The song you just mentioned, “Weekend Woman” — the verse is from 2000. I think, also, there’s something about my voice that sounds good when I’m singing about a girl. It’s gotta feel like, You’re very analytical about other people’s songs, from what I’ve heard. I’m trying to think of other popular musical topics. I looked up money, and there’s hardly any mention of money in alternative music. It’s very different in different places around the world. We’re going to do whatever we want to do; we don’t have to worry about any audience, pleasing any demographic. This is going to sound weird, but it wasn’t until I discovered Sam Harris’s podcast  that I started to feel some of that need for intellectual-hangout, cafeteria, lunch-room conversation to be satisfied. But I heard you’re taking a Harvard computer-science course online. I sing about it in the song “QB Blitz.” I was trying to get at least my wife — “Let’s do this together. Algebra.” And she’s like, “Uh, no.” [.] So I did it by myself and then I got into [the Harvard class] and I think I’m about — I’m on problem-set six now out of eight, plus a final project. I did that and, of course, I started back in the ’90s, just on paper.
Well, I’m potentially an addict, but I don’t let myself go on there. But it feels like I want to have some kind of presence on social media, even if it’s an insane and fictitious one. Twitter, for me, is more about connecting to other artists and the media and the wider world. I have two kids and I’m married, but my life is still centered around making music and writing songs and trying to make Weezer big. Not to sound confrontational, but what makes you think that? What roles do love and sex play in your songwriting at this point?
my first, honest, reaction is like, not much has changed. If you look on Spotify right now, globally, we’re number 340 or something. I heard in an interview with you that you think this album will resonate with critics in a way that your last few haven’t. Like, there’s “Happy Hour,” about having a rough day and going to happy hour at a bar, and there’s “Weekend Woman,” about driving through bad traffic to see your significant other.
It is usually due to one or a combination of: following through, social skills and feeling worthy that someone would want to spend time with you.
If you find that you are disappointing people, or that people are always mad with you, it can feel easier to not bother and just do your own thing.
Loneliness is a state of mind that makes us feel disconnected from others.
In the hotel restaurant where we were supposed to meet, I scanned the clientele and saw an array of slender white guys with dark hair and black, rectangular glasses — all false positives. Don’t you worry that such a technical approach will take away the soul of songwriting? It’s about agreeing on the producer, and once you do that, it all goes super fast. I don’t think at this point we can surprise people, ‘cause we’ve done so many weird, insane things, but it’s going to … Does that mean sonically, or in terms of songwriting? One of my favorite songs right now, it’s called “Runner-Up,” and, I mean, when I wrote it on piano and vocal, it sounds — the first thing that comes to minds is -esque, but I hesitate to use that, because that means so much to people. I don’t know how much you know about how I ended up in that position. I guess we all assumed it was a response to the kind of oversexed exhaustion you sang about in “Tired of Sex.”Celibacy wasn’t like … It was a means to an end — which was that I wanted to get into the long Vipassana [meditation] courses, of 20 days or more.
He seemed blissfully unaware of how much he stuck out. I feel like, “I’m sick of this.” With the electrolytes, it’s just kind of like breathing. I’m going to be celibate starting right now, so two years from now, I can take the long course.” Very quickly, I realized, This really sucks and I’m not going to be able … But why stay celibate if you had decided to go the other route and get married? I think it’s a rare person that would be called to do it.
This wasn’t the first time we had met: That had happened in the fall of 2004, when we were both undergrads at Harvard. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life, therefore, I want to get married. Oh, because I wanted to keep doing the long courses and I wasn’t married yet. It was tough and it was extreme, and I could feel that it was influencing me in ways that were imbalanced. I want to go as far as I can on this spiritual path. I guess I would evangelize to the point of saying, “Check it out. This is it.” And of course I had to try the course. Not to make things about me too much, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how I need to get my life together and be more whole and moral and purpose-driven.
Here in midtown, the 47-year-old front man and I reunited yet again to talk about Weezer’s latest album, Huh? So, right now, my brain thinks I’m in Hawaii, which counteracts the fact that I just came from London, which will help me adjust to L.
It just keeps coming up, I don’t know why, but I love it. I’m starting to think of my life in Weezer as having two very different worlds: There’s the collection of worlds that are the shows that I was just mentioning, and then there’s making records. I’m thinking specifically of the two nonconsecutive semesters when you returned in the aughts. Like: It has ten syllables, it rhymes with beer, and this is where the stresses fall. With machine-learning, it’ll have tags for whether it has negative or positive, or angry, or sad, or political.
[ Don’t you study the chord progressions in that song? Are you just not interested in doing that with your own songs? I just feel like I don’t have anything interesting to say about it. Who are you envisioning as the average listener for a new Weezer album these days? I don’t think so much about demographics — not directly, anyway. I love Beach House and Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra — that’s a band, right? Then intentionally avoiding the super-crazy, creative, new hip-hop stuff — which I love, but when I’m writing I don’t want it to influence me. It immediately changes the way I write in a way that nobody likes. It’s a very different kind of show from playing the Hangout Fest in Alabama. That’s not awkward for you, playing the old hits you’ve been playing for decades? Changing gears a bit: How do you think about your college years nowadays? Working with a Russian guy on Fiverr, we created this script where I can just throw in a couple hundred lines at a time, and it spits back all the tags I need, and I can put that in my spreadsheet.