I almost wrote a college recommendation for Rivers Cuomo. Between Weezer and Pinkerton, he had decided to go back to college, and so he left me a voicemail asking if I would write him a recommendation for his Harvard application. We weren’t able to connect on the phone for a few hours, and by the time we spoke, he had found somebody else. It worked out fine for him; he got in.
The reason he was asking me was that I had edited two articles of his at Details, both very funny pieces about life in a rock band. The first one was about the band’s workaday life in the first six months after the release of their record; the second one was a diary of a day on the road that didn’t go very well. If any graduate-school admissions committees ever consult with me, I am more than happy to testify that Rivers Cuomo was an exemplary contributor. His copy was clean and on time–if this rock-band thing doesn’t work out for him, he would do well as a writer.
I visited Weezer in Lawrence, Kansas, to write a story during their tour for Pinkerton; everyone involved thought it would be smooth, given my history with the group, but it proved to be one of the band’s rockiest times, as detailed in my article. Bassist Matt Sharp was playing his last shows with the group (he officially quit the following year). Talking to me turned out to be one of the last interviews Rivers did for years: he went back to Harvard and then into seclusion. (Harvard, obviously, is the unnamed Ivy League college in my article.)
I spoke on the phone with Rivers a couple of months ago for a short Rolling Stone preview of their latest self-titled record, generally called The Red Album–our first conversation in many years. (The piece is apparently not available online; maybe I’ll put it up at some future point.) We marveled at the fact that we were both still in the business.