Matt Brundage music

Interview with Rivers Cuomo

ATN's Clare Kleinedler and Michael Goldberg

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Goldberg: The craft of your songs and the pop sensibility...did you listen to a lot of Beatles and Beach Boys? How did that get into what you do?

Cuomo at the knobs, January 20, 2001 Cuomo: Well, the same time as I was a devoted heavy metalhead, I was also listening to pop music, just plain old pop radio. Madonna and Prince and Debbie Gibson and all of them. And listening to Beatles and Beach Boys a lot and other '60s pop music. So I think spiritually I was a metalhead in my teens, which is really sad to say. But musically, I've always listened to everything...

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Brian Wilson, spring 1965 Kleinedler: I know that your lyrics are from experiences and for most writers, they're influenced by either other artists' lyrics or literature. Are your own lyrics influenced more from literature or other people's music?

Cuomo: Lyrically, I think I'm influenced by very few other musicians. Maybe Lou Barlow and Brian Wilson and some of his later songs. They just seem very direct and honest and unpretentious. Other than that, I think I'm hugely influenced by comic books. . .

Kleinedler: Speaking of Brian Wilson, there's a lot of comparisons between the two of you. How do you feel about that?

Cuomo: [pauses] Well, I'm flattered but he's just a very rare talent. I don't think of myself that way at all. To me, he's one of the standout talents of the century or of our culture. I think I'm a pea in comparison. But I certainly emulate him as do countless others.

Goldberg: What's your favorite Brian Wilson song and what's your favorite Beach Boys album?

Cuomo: It's so hard to say because I feel like so many of those songs are all him connecting to the same source. It's almost like they're not different songs. They're just different ways of connecting to that same source of beauty. Pet Sounds: "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times". It's the most ultimately beautiful pop music.

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Read the full interview

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