ATN San Francisco correspondent Clare Kleinedler met with
Matt Sharp, leader of The Rentals, last Monday (Jan. 29). Here is her report:
It's one hour before showtime and Matt Sharp seems a bit nervous. His band, The
Rentals, who will open for Blur tonight, had to speed through soundcheck and I
can tell that it's bothering him. He walks around the club with a worried look
on his face, making sure everyone in his band knows the time schedule. "OK,
warm-up in about a half an hour," he says to the others, trying to be heard
over their chattering. "In the bus, OK? About a half an hour, OK?"
a perfectionist and an over-achiever. His other band is the very successful
Weezer, yet he doesn't seem to mind devoting just as much time and effort into
The Rentals. We meet in his dressing room, and he's figity. Sitting with his
hands folded and eyes focused on the floor, he looks a little like Dustin
Hoffman's Rainman character. Just as we're about to start, I notice that
something is still bothering him. He mutters something about coffee, but no one
seems to know where he can get any. I tell him he can buy coffee at the
restaurant upstairs, and I can wait for him to get some. He leaves and dashes
back in seconds later, coffee in hand, but still seems unsatisfied. I think I
hear him say something about cream or sugar as he darts around the dressing
room searching. After no luck, he plops down on the couch, defeated.
Sharp is the type who usually gets what he wants, and settling for anything
less doesn't come easy for him. He wanted to be in a band, and now he's got
two. If there was a trophy for the hardest working person in music, my guess is
that he'd have to be considered for the prize.
Addicted to Noise: How long do you think you can keep up playing
in two bands?
Matt Sharp: I don't know...for as long as I can. I just want
to write some better songs and see where it goes from there. They're both
pretty much half-time gigs.
ATN: When you toured with Alanis Morisette last
year, you said you felt like you were playing to "her" crowd. How has it been
touring with Blur?
Sharp: It's good. We played Portland and it was really
great. I definitely think it is because the record has been out a little longer
since we played with Alanis. But I think that people who would come to a Blur
show would be more open to something that's not as straight-ahead.
The Rentals is a pretty good match with Blur?
Sharp: Yeah, it's great. I
like them a lot. I like just watching them. It's really nice to tour with a
band you can watch and respect and I think there's some mutual respect for each
other on this tour. It's cool to know the people you're touring with are
watching and all that.
ATN: Who requested who?
Sharp: I requested it
and Blur OKed it. When Elastica was in Los Angeles, I pretty much begged
Justine to take us out with them, but she'd never heard us before, so I went
out and got a CD and gave it to her. So she told Damon about us. Whenever you
go out with an English band, everyone says it's going to be a nightmare...and
all the English bands we've ever toured with have been really nice. Weezer
toured with Lush, and then The Rentals did some shows with Radiohead, and those
guys were great. Everybody thinks there's going to be that stereotypical
snootiness, but so far, it's been great.
ATN: But you're leaving the tour
early to play with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which seems like an odd pairing.
How do you think that tour will be?
Sharp: Yeah, that should be weird. But
we usually do pretty good. We go over all right. Even with Alanis, it wasn't
bad, even though the crowd wouldn't necessarily be people who would buy our
ATN: So it's not like they were just standing there staring at
Sharp: Well, about half of them were like that. It just depended on
what state we were playing in. But with Blur, I think everything will be OK
because their crowd is mostly young people who like music. They're open to
hearing different instruments.
ATN: Well you're both into
Sharp: Yeah. They have a few nice ones. On the first day of
the tour we were both kind of eyeing at each other's keyboards, going
ATN: The Rentals have become quite a staple on MTV and radio,
but I got the impression when you first started the band with friends that it
was more of a fun project.
Sharp: It was, but I really wanted it to do
well, so I'm pretty much going to do everything I can to get people to hear it,
then they can make their own decision. But I do want it to be successful. The
more successful it is, the more I'll be able to do whatever I want because
people are easier on you at record companies and management and such if you are
successful, because then they figure you know what you're doing and they let
you sort of do what you want. Which is pretty much the case anyway, I guess. We
never had a problem with Weezer or The Rentals doing that.