Former Weezer Bassist Matt Sharp Sues Band Over Royalties

Founding member seeks audit of royalty payments and settlement on his role in the band.

Matt Sharp, founding bassist for Weezer, has filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates, their ex-manager and a slew of band accountants seeking compensation and credit for songs on Weezer’s first two albums.

At the heart of the lawsuit lies a catalog of some of Weezer’s most beloved songs, including their first single, “Undone (The Sweater Song),” as well as most of their album Pinkerton (“Tired of Sex,” “Getchoo,” “No Other One,” “Why Bother?,” “Across the Sea,” “The Good Life,” “El Scorcho,” “Pink Triangle,” “Falling for You”) and a handful of B-sides (“You Gave Your Love to Me Softly,” “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” and “Devotion”). Sharp also claims co-production credit on a Weezer rarity, “American Girls,” that appeared on the soundtrack to Disney’s “Meet the Deedles.”

Sharp formed Weezer in 1992 with Rivers Cuomo, Pat Wilson and Jason Cropper but left in 1998 because “differences had arisen among [the bandmembers],” according to the suit. However, Sharp’s suit claims he continued to participate in the “Weezer partnership” after his departure. Sharp says he had intended to participate in the band’s video shoot for “Island in the Sun” after his replacement, bassist Mikey Welsh, left and that he was consulted by Cuomo about songs that appeared on Weezer’s third, self-titled LP, known as the Green Album.

Sharp filed the federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Central District of California on April 18 specifically seeking a redress of fiduciary duty, legal malpractice, dissolution of partnership, declaratory relief and accounting under the copyright act. In layman’s terms, that amounts to an audit of Weezer’s royalty payments to Sharp, a redrafting of Sharp’s royalties on the contested songs, and an official settlement of his role in Weezer.

The suit says Cuomo had acknowledged the need to work out royalty payments as recently as April 2001, when the singer wrote Sharp an e-mail saying: “Looks like we’re gonna start making money again, so we (you and I) had better get this thing squared away sooner rather than later so the money flows to all the right places without getting hitched up.” Sharp has attached no dollar amount to his damages claim, insisting that an audit must be conducted first.

The band told MTV News, “The allegations brought against Weezer by Matt Sharp are completely without merit. Rather than address this at length in the press, we will use the proper venue, a court of law.”

The case will be presided over by Judge James W. McMahon. No trial date has been set. The band offered no comment on the possibility of an out of court settlement.

After leaving Weezer, Sharp went on to head his side project, the Rentals, full-time. But since 1999, he has stayed mostly incognito as a celebrated rock recluse. That is until surfacing last week to file suit against his former bandmates. Weezer’s fourth album, Maladroit, hits stores May 14.

Gideon Yago