Rivers Cuomo is a busy man these days, which is a good thing for hook-heavy power-pop band AM Radio.
Cuomo has taken on managerial duties for the group, which will release its first album in June. The Weezer frontman has been friends with AM Radio frontman Kevin Ridel since the two were in their teens, and he considers Ridel a major influence.
"Back when we were teenagers and I was practicing madly my harmonic A-minor scales on my [heavy metal] Charvel guitar, he was writing pop songs with melody and meaningful lyrics," Cuomo said. "At first I just thought he was a freak, but I gradually realized that there's something far more profound about songs than just shredding. He really turned me away from speed and toward Weezer."
Cuomo has also been trying on a few other unlikely hats in recent months, helping out with the upcoming Limp Bizkit album (see "Korn's Head, Weezer's Rivers Record For New Limp Bizkit Album") and co-writing a song for the next album from Cold.
"There wasn't a lot of thought put into it," he said of the collaboration on the track "Stupid Girls."
"[Cold singer] Scooter approached me and said, 'Hey, you wanna write a song together?' so we did it, and if Neil Diamond came to me tomorrow and asked, I'd probably do that too. It doesn't consciously imply that I'm trying to shift in a certain direction."
Cuomo also wrote lyrics and sang on a track called "I Suck" for the upcoming debut record by DJ Mark Ronson.
While Cuomo has been jamming outside of the Weezer family, drummer Pat Wilson worked with his side project, Special Goodness, whose Land, Air, Sea is due March 4. Meanwhile, guitarist Brian Bell's Space Twins have just completed an album.
"I guess I should just reassure people that Weezer are still hanging out and making music together," Cuomo said. "People want to do things different all the time, which freaks some people out, but we're all pretty chill."
Cuomo said the band plans to hit the studio soon. The songs won't be new — some will be covers, others will be previously released Weezer tracks — but Cuomo hopes to record them in ways that will breathe new life into the band.
"We might do them acoustically or with an orchestra," he said. "I'm thinking about something like 'Slave' or 'December' from Maladroit and maybe some old songs. I see us doing heavy versions of emotional songs. ... I've been playing something called the 'End of the World,' by [underground '60s pop-country songwriter] Skeeter Davis, and 'Without You,' which was popularized by Harry Nilsson," he said. "I'm really into super emotional ballad-type songs right now."
It might be tempting to think Cuomo is being different just to be ironic, but he insisted he doesn't even think along those lines. "I just know I really like what we play," he said.