Even rock stars have to fill out college applications.
Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo posted his essay for readmission to Harvard University on his Web site on Tuesday, detailing his and the band’s struggle to complete their fifth album.
Almost four times the length of a standard college-application essay, Cuomo’s nearly 2,000-word post details why he left Harvard in 1997, the issues that arose while preparing to record Weezer’s fifth album, and his own struggles to find inner peace while taking control of his career and maintaining his musical creativity.
Divided into four sections — “Weird Science,” “Imperial Aspirations,” “Renunciation” and “Balance” — Cuomo’s essay explains why, after the “failure” of the band’s second album, Pinkerton, in 1996, he chose not to return to school, but instead to set out “on a mission to develop creative methods which would allow me to be more consistent as an artist.”
“Above all,” he wrote, “I wanted to cure myself of the romanticism which I believed was to blame for my failure.”
Despite initial attempts to maintain “a social life” — by playing and coaching soccer and studying piano — he grew more isolated, painting the walls and ceiling of his bedroom black and covering the windows.
“My goal,” he wrote, “was to purge myself of all weakness so that I could write ’perfect’ songs as reliably as a machine.”
Altering his goal from “musical perfection,” to what he described as Nietzche’s idea of “world domination” — “or in terms applicable to me, commercial success” — Cuomo got back with Weezer for the creation of 2001’s The Green Album.
Studying the text of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and the lives of Napoleon and David Geffen, Cuomo took over many of the business responsibilities in the band, cutting the label out of the financing and production of the fourth album, Maladroit, actions he believed would aid in his quest for “world domination.”
After the less-than-stellar success of Maladroit, Cuomo “fell into a life of ego and vice,” and though he had already written a “pile of songs” for the band’s fifth album, he delayed going into the studio. Instead, he studied poetry, mysticism and meditation, at the suggestion of producer Rick Rubin, in February of 2003.
Cuomo did not directly state that the band will be completing its next album anytime soon, though he did note that his “concentration and capacity to work have increased greatly,” since the spiritual shift, and that he feels “finally much closer to reaching my potential.”
“The music I have created over the last six months has brought me much enjoyment,” Cuomo wrote. “I am returning to school in the fall. Other than that, I am wide open to whatever else comes my way …”
On July 1, a post on the band’s Web site said of the fifth album: “Though things are behind where we originally thought they’d be at this point, the goal is still to get the recording done by summer’s end” (see “Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo A Wellspring Of Songs, Rick Rubin Says” ).
As to what effect Cuomo’s enrollment at Harvard would have on the recording process, the post explained that “this has been discussed by the band, and it’s understood that the school break wouldn’t interfere with the album’s release, as most albums have a 3-4 month period of planning, marketing, etc., before release anyway — about the amount of time the semester would require.”