rocking w/ Rivers, early 2000, the amherst house
long and beautiful story short: LA is a strange and wonderful small town disguised as a huge sprawling metropolis and one strange and wonderful night in West LA, mere blocks from where i sold tvs in the 80s, i got to play with one of my all time favorite rock gods “in the garage”.
when Weezer moved to LA in the early 90s, they rented a small guest house in the back of an asian couple’s home on Amherst Ave near Pico and Bundy. Rivers, Matt Sharp and one of the friendliest nicest dudes you’ll ever meet, Justin Fisher shared the pad. i believe rivers had a room, matt had the other room, and justin slept in the ceiling aka the attic.
they probably chose the place because there was a little garage that they were allowed to convert into a practice room. this was the “garage” from the classic Blue Album track “In The Garage”. its also the same garage that they filmed the above video “Say It Aint So”.
because life is bizarre and magic happens in LA, guess who Justin was dating back in 2000? a woman named Shannon, who just happened to be Matt Welch’s first girlfriend. because so many of my friends remain close with their ex’s, Matt of course was still tight with Shannon which is how i met her. in fact when i was putting together a small HR dept for the internet start up that i was a Recruiter for, i hired Shannon to work with me.
one day Shannon told me that they were going to have a party at her house. she had moved in with Justin in the Amherst House and had graduated from the attic to one of the proper bedrooms because Weezer had made it big and moved out. i had heard stories from Justin and Shannon that Rivers was extremely shy and if he made it to the party that i shouldnt be surprised if he didnt want to talk or seemed, well, superdooper shy.
Weezer released two of the best alt rock records ever in 1994 and 1996 with The Blue Album and Pinkerton, respectively, but rumor had it that Rivers was so emotionally distressed with the original reaction to Pinkerton that he pretty much shut down. indeed =w= didnt record again until 2001’s “The Green Album”. so when i went to the amherst house that night and saw Rivers sitting in a chair in the corner he was still firmly in his funk, re-evaluating Pinkerton.
he was bearded. painfully bashful. and barely acknowledged me when i told him straight up that Pinkerton was easily one of the top 10 records of the 90s. he smiled, looked away, and continued talking and listening to Justin who sat near him.
meanwhile in “the garage” people were playing with some of the rock equipment. there was a guitar, a bass, and a beat-up drum set.
after a few beers i noticed that whoever was on the drums was horrible, so i poked my head in there and saw Justin on bass, so i asked the kid if i could take over on drums and he graciously handed over the sticks.
within a few minutes there was Rivers. he had a notebook. my memory fails me if it was a 3 ring binder or a spiral notebook, but inside were all of these songs and all of these guitar notations.
he asked me, “do you know any Nirvana?”
sarcastically i slurred, “who?”
and friends, we rocked out to 3-4 nirvana tunes. in the garage.
i excused myself before my head exploded.
over the last few years rivers has extended that priceless gift of rocking out with some lucky fans through some rare Weezer Hootenannys, during a solo swing (see second video above) and on stage during some of their shows. but to be able to do it in the garage, at a somewhat typical party in LA, is something that i will cherish forever.