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Rivers Cuomo

Background information
Birth name Rivers Cuomo
Born June 13, 1970 (1970-06-13) (age 39)
New York City, U.S.
Origin Pomfret, Connecticut
Genres Alternative rock
Power pop
Progressive metal (early)
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Vocalist, Guitarist
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, drums, Bass, Piano, Harmonica, Clarinet
Years active 1989–present
Associated acts Weezer, Avant Garde, Zoom, Homie, Goat Punishment, Sixty Wrong Sausages
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Gibson SG
Warmoth Fat Strat
Fender Stratocaster

Rivers Cuomo (pronounced /ˈkwoʊmoʊ/; born June 13, 1970) is an American musician and lead singer, lead guitarist, and principal songwriter of the rock band Weezer. He has also worked as a solo artist; in December 2007, he released his debut album, Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, which featured home demos that Cuomo has recorded from 1992–2007. He released his second solo artist album, Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, in November 2008. Cuomo mainly plays electric and acoustic guitar, but he can also play drums, bass guitar, clarinet, harmonica, keyboards, trumpet and piano.


Early years

Cuomo was born in a Manhattan hospital to parents of Italian and German/English descent and raised on an ashram run by the late yoga master Sri Swami Satchidananda in Pomfret, Connecticut.[1] It is a myth that the name Rivers originates from his birthplace; his mother, Beverly, was inspired to name her son "Rivers" because he was born between the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan. Her appreciation of the sound of running water further reinforced her desire for this name. His father, Frank Cuomo, was a musician who played drums on the album Odyssey of Iska by jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter.[2][3] During his early childhood Cuomo attended a private school on an ashram farm where his parents raised him and his brother Leaves.[4] Cuomo's parents moved to nearby Storrs, Connecticut when the ashram (known as Yogaville) was relocated to a plot of land along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.[5] Cuomo attended E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, Connecticut under the name Peter Kitts,[6] Santa Monica College,[7] Berklee College of Music,[8] and Harvard University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.[9] In high school, Rivers played the role of Johnny Casino in the stage production of Grease.[10][11]

Musical projects

One of Cuomo's earliest music projects was a progressive metal band known as Avant Garde.[12] Cuomo played under the name Peter Kitts, Kitts being the surname of his stepfather. The band played several shows in Connecticut. He moved with the band to Los Angeles in March 1989.[13] In late 1989 Avant Garde changed its name to Zoom though the band dissolved in the late spring of 1990.[14][15] After a series of musical projects in Los Angeles, Cuomo formed Weezer on February 14, 1992, with members from Sixty Wrong Sausages, including drummer Patrick Wilson. The original Weezer cast included Rivers Cuomo on vocals and guitar, Wilson on drums, Matt Sharp on bass, and Jason Cropper who at first played exclusively on acoustic guitar. Weezer signed with DGC, a subsidiary of Geffen Records, on June 25, 1993. They began recording Weezer (also known as The Blue Album) in August 1993 at Electric Lady Studios in New York with producer Ric Ocasek.

Like many other musicians Cuomo has had a very close relationship with his fans online. Throughout 2002 Cuomo frequently posted on Weezer message boards as 'Ace' to discuss music with fans. He once had a website called the 'Catalog of Riffs' ('COR') in which he shared old demos of songs as well as scans of many personal items (letters, schedules, records).[16][17] Since 2003 he has kept a MySpace page in which he has posted many blog entries including his original admission essay and two subsequent readmission essays to Harvard. Additionally he uses his MySpace blog as a clearinghouse for clarifications, corrections, and addenda to interviews and press reports about him. (This has included responding to misinformation on his Wikipedia entry.)[18]

In May 2007, Cuomo was named as a 'potential inductee' for the proposed Connecticut Music Hall of Fame.[19]

Musical output and techniques

Cuomo has written and recorded over 800 tracks in his lifetime,[20] either with Weezer, with earlier bands, or as self-recorded demos.[21] Despite the large amount of unreleased material that has been made available by Cuomo on the internet, large chunks of his work remain unheard by fans. These include certain demos for The Blue Album,[22][23][24] various songs from the scrapped Songs from the Black Hole project,[25] over a hundred songs he composed and demoed throughout 1999[26][27][28] (songs which he has described as ranging from "drone-y Romantic," "abrasive dissonance" and "riffy pop-rock"[29]) and well over a hundred songs that didn't make the cut for Make Believe.[30][31] Recently on Cuomo's MySpace he began satisfying fans' need to hear these unreleased demos "in the most legal way" he could by posting sheet music and lyrics for the Songs From the Black Hole tracks "She's Had A Girl", "Oh Jonas" and "Who You Callin' Bitch?" as well as the Blue Album-era demo "Getting Up and Leaving."

He has been known to use experimentation to inspire his writing, for example, fasting for a day and then writing a song, as he did on "Hold Me."[32] Cuomo has familiarity with a wide array of musical instruments: besides the guitar, he is also skilled at the piano, and bass guitar (he frequently demoed songs on his own, a la the 1995 Fort Apache Studios Pinkerton demos, and can be seen playing the bass in the Weezer DVD Video Capture Device). Rivers also plays clarinet (as heard on Alone and SFTBH track "Longtime Sunshine" and the .com-released demo "Clarinet Waltz"), drums (as heard on Alone, in concerts during "Photograph" and the new album), trumpet (as heard on "Victory on the Hill" from "Alone II") and harmonica.

Cuomo has cited a wide variety of musical influences throughout the years, from artists as diverse as Kiss, Nirvana, Lou Barlow, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Brian Wilson, and Giacomo Puccini. He took it upon himself to become a student of rock and pop music when in the late 90s, Cuomo created "The Encyclopedia of Pop" for himself, a three-ring binder which broke down the mechanics of pop and rock songs featuring songs by Nirvana, Green Day and Oasis.[33][34]

He is known to perform with customised Warmoth Stratocasters. Throughout his career he has frequently played Warmoth stratocasters that are covered in stickers.[35] Cuomo also notably played Gibson V's[36] and Explorers onstage in late 2001 and throughout parts of 2002. His guitar is adorned with a sticker of the Thai word Farang, meaning "a white foreigner."[37] The sticker is found on his SG with E flat tuning; a second SG, tuned to E, does not have this sticker.

Relationship with fans

Posting on fan forums

Rivers Cuomo has, in recent years, had a unique relationship with his fan base. Beginning in the early Maladroit recording era, Rivers would post on several Weezer fan message boards under the name Ace, which was inspired by Ace Frehley of the band Kiss. Rivers would ask for the fans' advice, treating them often as a producer and often exchanging emails through Karl Koch, and eventually posting on boards himself. Some of the correspondence boardies were even invited backstage during tours to play foosball with him.

Playing with fans live

Starting on the Foozer tour in late 2005, Rivers Cuomo would invite fans onto the stage to play Undone—The Sweater Song on acoustic guitar. After the performance, fans were allowed to keep the guitars they played.

In 2008, coinciding with the release of Weezer's new self titled album, The Red Album, Rivers and Weezer announced a "Hootenanny Tour" in which radio stations would audition fans to play songs live with Weezer. This "hootenanny" style performance was replicated for the band's "Troublemaker" video and on their 2008 Troublemaker Tour.

On November 25, 2008, Cuomo invited a small group of guests to a jam session at Fingerprints Records in Long Beach, CA. This marked the release of Alone II. Fans chose the songs and played the instruments while Cuomo sang.[38]

Let's Write a Sawng

In March 2008, Cuomo started a video series on YouTube called "Let's Write a Sawng."[39] Cuomo plans to write a song in collaboration with YouTube users' suggestions.[40]

Other bands

Before Weezer, Cuomo played in various music projects, including Fury, Avant Garde, Zoom, Sixty Wrong Sausages, and Fuzz. During a Weezer hiatus, Rivers formed a musical project called Homie, consisting of what he called "goofball songs" or his "country band". An album was planned, but only one studio recording, a song entitled "American Girls", has been released. Cuomo has contributed to recordings by various other musicians (Crazy Town, Cold, Mark Ronson). He also briefly managed the band AM Radio in 2002 and 2003.

In early 2004 he made a surprise appearance onstage with ex-Weezer bassist Matt Sharp at his California State University, Fullerton show to play two old Weezer favorites ("Say It Ain't So" and "Undone"), a rare Weezer demo that they worked on together ("Mrs. Young"), and a new song they wrote together, "Time Song." Also, Sharp announced that they might work on a collaborative record together. But later that year, Sharp announced on his website that although they had come up with "15 or 16 new song ideas, some good, some not so good" for their new album, their "special brand of dysfunctionality" may keep them from finishing the project.[41]

Additionally, Cuomo has had cameos in a number of music videos. These include Crystal Method's "Murder" and the video for The Warlocks' "Cocaine Blues."

Cuomo also makes a guest appearance on Sugar Ray's "Boardwalk", the first single on their latest album, "Music for Cougars".

Personal life

On June 18, 2006, Cuomo married Kyoko Ito, whom he had known since March 1997. He proposed to her in Tokyo shortly before Christmas of 2005.[42] The wedding was held at a secluded beach on Paradise Cove in Malibu and was attended by over a hundred people, including six of the seven members who played in Weezer (Mikey Welsh being the only no show) as well as notables Justin Fisher, Kevin Ridel and Rick Rubin.[43] The couple have a daughter, Mia, who was born in May 2007.

Rivers Cuomo in sports gear at a concert in Arizona

Before Weezer, Cuomo worked as a roadie for King Size on their Guatemala tour.[16]

Some of Cuomo's fashion trademarks include his horn-rimmed glasses and his lightning bolt guitar strap. He has sported a bowl cut, most notably in the music video for "Undone - The Sweater Song." Other notable fashion trends include sporting a life preserver-styled vest[44] in early 2001, growing a thick beard in mid-2002[45] and a brief suit-and-tie phase in summer 2002.[46] Rivers has also been seen with a short moustache in the video for Pork and Beans and on the Red Album cover. Rivers has said that he grew the moustache in honor of his daughter and that his father wore one just like his when Rivers was born.

Cuomo practices Vipassana Meditation and is a student of S.N. Goenka.[47] As of mid-2009 he is also a children's course teacher of Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka.[48] He almost never swears in any of his songs and often uses minced oaths such as "bee-yotch" instead of "bitch". He attributes this to The Beach Boys "Weezer came up at a time when Jane's Addiction released "Nothing's Shocking" — everyone was trying to be controversial. We looked back to rock & roll's pre-drug days — to the clean images of the Beach Boys — that felt, ironically, rebellious."[49] However, the word "fuck" does appear on Raditude's "Can't Stop Partying", however it is used by guest rapper Lil Wayne, not by Rivers. He also uses the word "goddamn" in the first verse of The Sweater Song, the opening of the song El Scorcho, and elsewhere on Pinkerton.

Cuomo recently helped acquire music rights and provided financial support to a documentary titled The Dhamma Brothers about Vipassana meditation being instituted in an Alabama State Prison.[50]

Cuomo was born with his left leg 44 mm (1 3/4 in) shorter than his right leg. After the success of The Blue Album, Cuomo underwent a procedure to correct the condition. This involved the surgical breaking of the bone in his leg, followed by several months of wearing a steel brace which required self-administered "stretching" of the leg four times daily; Cuomo likened the ordeal to "crucifying [his] leg."[51] An x-ray of the leg is part of the album art for "The Good Life" single, and the experience inspired him to write the song. Cuomo can be seen wearing the brace on an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, which can be found on their DVD "Video Capture Device".

Cuomo is a big fan of soccer. He can be seen as he is shown playing in the "Photograph" video and even planned his band's 2002 "World Cup Tour" around World Cup games. In 2006 he wrote a song titled "My Day Is Coming" in tribute to the U.S. men's soccer team.[52] He claims his favorite player is Landon Donovan, enjoys watching the Premier League and is both a Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution fan. His favorite English football team is Sheffield Wednesday. He has attended Hillsborough and was also photographed wearing a Sheffield Wednesday kit.[16] In early 2008 he played in the Mia & Nomar Celebrity Soccer Challenge and scored a goal in the game. His video for "Lover in the Snow" off of his Alone album dealt with this game and his love of soccer. In August 2009, Rivers also participated in the Athletes for Africa 5v5 Charity Soccer Tournament in Toronto, Canada alongside actor Michael Cera.

During Weezer's hiatus between the albums Pinkerton and Weezer (Green Album), Cuomo had gotten braces on his teeth. They were evidently removed before the release of the Green Album.[53]

It's a popular misconception that Weezer is named after Rivers' supposed asthma. Rivers himself has openly admitted that although "Weezer" was his childhood nickname, given to him by his father when he was a toddler, it wasn't because he had asthma.[54]

Cuomo has announced that he is working on "an amazingly cool creative project that is just as much musical in nature as it is literary. It may or may not be released by a book publisher. It is not a 'memoir'."[55] Rivers has since revealed that the multimedia project will be an extremely detailed account of Cuomo's life from 1992 to May 10, 1994 including photos, journal entries and poems. This period of Cuomo's life will document the formation of Weezer through the release of their debut album. As of October 2007, the tome is already more than 400 pages in length.[56]

In a 2001 Rolling Stone interview, he was asked what kind of characters he played in Dungeons & Dragons; he said he preferred elven or half-elven split-class fighter-thieves.[57]

Cuomo is a vegetarian.[58]

On December 6, 2009, Cuomo was in his tour bus driving to Boston from Toronto with his family and assistants when the bus hit an icy road in Glenn, New York and crashed. He suffered cracked ribs and internal bleeding. Due to this accident, Weezer canceled the rest of the 2009 tour dates and plan on rescheduling them for 2010. [59] The band made their return to the stage on January 20, 2010, performing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.


With Weezer
Solo albums
  • Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo (2007)
  • Alone II: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo (2008)
  • Not Alone - Rivers Cuomo and Friends: Live at Fingerprints (2009)
  • ザ クマモトキッド (The Kumamoto Kid) (2010)
Guest contributions


  1. ^ Luerssen D., John. Rivers' Edge: The Weezer Story. ECW Press, 2004, ISBN 1-55022-619-3 p. 4
  2. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 3
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Odyssey of Iska > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  4. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 5
  5. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 8
  6. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 15
  7. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 50
  8. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 22
  9. ^ "Rivers Cuomo's Harvard Graduation". Spin. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  10. ^ "Rivers 10.15 Interview with Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  11. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 20
  12. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 17
  13. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 31
  14. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 37
  15. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 40
  16. ^ a b c "Rivers Cuomo Fan Interview 2006". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  17. ^ "The RCDotCom Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  18. ^ "Clarifications, Corrections, and Supplemental Materials". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  19. ^ Danton, Eric. "Connecticut Music Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  20. ^ "The RCDotCom Archive". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  21. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 1". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  22. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 3". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  23. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 4". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  24. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 5". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  25. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 7". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  26. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 10". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  27. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 11". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  28. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 12". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  29. ^ "Rivers Cuomo Fan Interview 2006". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  30. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 14". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  31. ^ Koch, Karl. "The Weezer Recording History: Page 15". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  32. ^ Sullivan, Kate. "I, Songwriter: Rivers Cuomo and the search for the perfect hook". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  33. ^ Eliscu, Jenny. "Rivers Cuomo's Encyclopedia of Pop". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  34. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 270
  35. ^ "Rivers: Outlook Tour Equipment". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  36. ^ "Rivers: Extended Midget Tour Equipment". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  37. ^ Atlas, David. "Weezer: Photo Gallery: Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  38. ^ Lashes, Ben. "Video: Rivers Cuomo's L.A. Hootenanny". Spin. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  39. ^ Solarski, Matthew. "Help Rivers Cuomo Write a New "Sawng"!". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  40. ^ Wortham, Jenna. "Weezer Frontman Taps YouTubers to Write New Tune". Wired. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  41. ^ "Note To Fans From Matt Sharp". In Music We Trust. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  42. ^ Chen, Lena (2006-12-21). "Hey, Rivers Cuomo! What did you do for Valentine’s Day?". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  43. ^ "06/18/06 kongurachure-shonzu". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ Canova, Tara. "Weezer: Photo Gallery: Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  46. ^ Vassallo, Edward. "Weezer/ Dashboard Confessional: Concert Review". Music Head. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  47. ^ Shambhala Sun - A Difference You Can Hear
  48. ^ VRI Newsletter August 2009
  49. ^ Scaggs, Austin (2008-06-28). "Q&A: Rivers Cuomo". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  50. ^ "The Dhamma Brothers". Frizzy Logic. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  51. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 148–149
  52. ^ Montgomery, James. "Rivers Cuomo Says Weezer Are 'Done' For Now — Again". MTV. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  53. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 280
  54. ^ Karafin, Amy. "Rivers in the Stream". Tricycle. Retrieved 2007-10-15. (subscription required)
  55. ^ "Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Publishing Diaries?". Chart Attack. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  56. ^ Heisel, Scott. "Web Exclusive: A conversation with Rivers Cuomo". Alternative Press. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  57. ^ Thomas, Harry. "Q&A: Not So Serious Rivers Cuomo". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  58. ^ "Rivers Cuomo Vegetarian". Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  59. ^
  60. ^ Erlewine, Stephen. "Meet The Deedles > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  61. ^ Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 257
  62. ^ D'Angelo, Joe. "Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Records With Crazy Town". MTV. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  63. ^ Loftus, Johnny. "Year of the Spider > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  64. ^ Collar, Matt. "Here Comes the Fuzz > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  65. ^ "Brian Bell Fan Interview 2006". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 

External links

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