Matt Sharp Preps Solo LP, Talks Weezer Lawsuit

Rock band's former bassist says he never quit the group.

After two years of living in seclusion, Matt Sharp is returning with a debut

solo album he hopes won't be overshadowed by his lawsuit against Weezer.

Sharp is suing his former band over compensation for "Undone (The Sweater

Song)," most of Pinkerton and a few other songs he claims to have

co-written (see "Former Weezer Bassist

Matt Sharp Sues Band Over Royalties").

"The songwriting stuff is a very small part" of the lawsuit, Sharp insisted.

"Legal speak is not human speak, and it's real easy not to get a good idea

of what it's really about," he said. "All I can tell you is I found out some

things recently about their actions that really changed the whole thing and,

all in all, really broke my heart. They left me no choice than to have to

deal with it this way."

Sharp, who formed the Rentals as a side project in 1994 but never returned

to Weezer after 1996's Pinkerton, said there are many misconceptions

about his relationship with Weezer, the biggest being that he quit the band.

"It's simply not true," he said. "In no way did I ever walk away from those

guys, quit or leave Weezer."

When contacted Wednesday, Weezer had no comment, standing by their original

statement that they would rather address the lawsuit in court than in the

press.

Whether a settlement can be reached before the matter reaches a courtroom,

Sharp refused to speculate. One thing is for certain, he won't be rejoining

the band as he claims to have been lead to believe when Mikey Welsh

mysteriously left last fall. Weezer are ecstatic about new bassist Scott

Shriner, and besides, Sharp isn't so sure he would fit in with the band's

current sound anyway.

"I don't have much in common with what they're doing anymore, probably. I

have no idea, I haven't heard any of that stuff," Sharp said. "It's a

different time."

These days Sharp is playing sparse acoustic songs he wrote in a small

recording studio in tiny Leipers Fork, Tennessee. The Rentals, whose second

album of quirky pop, Seven More Minutes, was released in 1999 (see

"Matt Sharp Finally Ready To Deliver New

Rentals Record"), are no longer, Sharp said.

The singer/multi-instrumentalist is mastering his self-titled album in Los

Angeles this week and will begin shopping it to labels this summer. "I'm

looking for people who aren't going to judge me by what I've done, but by

what I'm doing," Sharp said. "I mean, you definitely can't be pogoing to

this stuff."

Aside from a bit of organ, Matt Sharp was recorded with just an

acoustic guitar — no bass, drums or keyboards. The spare music

coincides with Sharp's simple and somber lyrics.

"The goal before going to Leipers was just to make something that doesn't

have so many walls between what you are trying to say and what the person is

listening to, how they take it in," Sharp explained. "Realizing you don't

need orchestras and 5 million guitars and bashing drums and 20 tracks of

Moog and all this stuff just to tell a girl she is breaking your heart, or

whatever you are trying to say."

The setting for the sessions, a farmhouse without a television and

surrounded by open fields, had a lot to do with Sharp's new sound. "It was a

pretty romantic time," he said. "It can drive you crazy, but it was a

fabulous place just to do a lot of thinking. You're left to your own

devices. Re-asking a lot of the same questions I hadn't asked in a while.

'What is it that turns you on?' Those kinds of questions."

Looking back, Sharp regrets separating himself so much from the rest of the

world, especially now that he has been back performing, playing small

unannounced shows around the West Coast with former Cake guitarist Greg

Brown.

"It's very difficult in retrospect to understand why you haven't done this,"

Sharp said. "You go out and be with cool people who are moved by music into

the same things as you. To deny yourself of that for a long time is really

odd. I'm like, 'Ahhh, OK, I don't know why I did that.' "

Matt Sharp track list, according to Sharp:

  • "All Those Dreams"

  • "Just Like Movie Stars"

  • "Every Time in Blue"

  • "Goodbye West Coast"

  • "Visions of Anna"

  • "Let Me Pass"

  • "Shadows"

  • "Watch the Weather Break"

  • "After the Angels Pass"

  • "Thoughts from a Slow Train"

  • "Before You Go"

  • "Someday"