Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo Is Very Lonely, But Big Into Lifehacks

On a cold and rainy Monday morning in midtown Manhattan, I kept thinking I’d seen Rivers Cuomo, but I kept being wrong. In the hotel restaurant where we were supposed to meet, I scanned the clientele and saw an array slender white guys with dark hair and black, rectangular glasses — all false positives. Turns out there was no way I could have missed Cuomo when he arrived, because his signature glasses were covered by a massive wraparound apparatus like a clear, orange-tinted Oculus Rift. He was wearing a flannel button-down and was modestly hunched, carrying a reused Poland Spring water bottle filled with translucent pink fluid. He seemed blissfully unaware how much he stuck out.

This wasn’t the first time we had met: That had happened in the fall 2004, when we were both undergrads at Harvard. It was my freshman year and the first half Cuomo’s senior one, having taken a break to put out the second-through-fourth albums his band, Weezer. His presence was surreal for everyone, but he kept a low prile and was going through a period when he was refusing to play or even listen to music. We took a class on premodern Europe together but, after one semester, he took another break to put out a fifth album and tour for a while. After he returned for his final stint in the spring 2006, he and I reconnected in a long, publicist-free interview at a dining hall for the school paper, one that spoiled me for all future interviews: Cuomo was candid, chatty, and wholly free rock-star pretense.

Here in midtown, the 47-year-old front man and I reunited yet again to talk about Weezer’s latest album, Pacific Daydream; the unusual reason he got married soon after graduation; his attempt to use automated computer processes to write songs; and how, despite everything, he still feels lonely.

What’s with the orange shades?
This is for jet lag.

Huh?
It blocks blue light. So, right now, my brain thinks I’m in Hawaii, which counteracts the fact that I just came from London, which will help me adjust to L.A. more quickly, which is where I’m going tomorrow.

How did you learn about this trick?
There’s an app called Entrain: You put in where you are, where you’re going, and what time you want to wake up, and it tells you when you should put on your orange glasses, and when you should shine this insane blue light in your face. Some girl at the University Michigan made it. I use it religiously.

So you’re a big lifehacker?
Yeah.

What other lifehacks are you into right now?
Points to water bottle filled with light-pink fluid.] These are called Nuun tablets. N-U-U-N. It’s electrolytes and a tiny bit a flavor and a tiny bit sugar. It just helps me drink an insane amount water.

Why would you need to drink an insane amount water?
First all, I think everyone is supposed to. But if you’re flying a lot or you’re in dry hotel rooms and you’re a singer … doctors and voice doctors always tell me, “Drink a lot water.” If it’s just plain water, I have a hard time drinking a lot it. I feel like, “I’m sick this.” With the electrolytes, it’s just kind like breathing. You just keep going.

Has this extended to your family as well? Do you encourage them to lifehack?
Yeah. I think. I’m always preaching a lifehack wherever I go and giving my bandmates little electrolyte tablets.

Fair enough. So, it’s been a while since we talked.
Yeah. I follow you online, so —

You do?
Yeah, definitely. So I’m still in touch.

I follow you online, as well. I love your Twitter feed. What role does Twitter play in your life? Are you an addict?
No. Well, I’m potentially an addict, but I don’t let myself go on there. What I do is, I just compose 30 tweets at a time and then just schedule them in SocialPilot. I don’t even actually have to go there — it just takes care it for me. Another lifehack.

Okay, but why do all the tweets if you’re just scheduling them out like a mundane task? What do you see as the purpose your tweeting?
There are probably several Twitter purposes. None them are that great. But it feels like I want to have some kind presence on social media, even if it’s an insane and fictitious one. It’s part the job description now, as a musician. But, more importantly, I’ve made the most amazing connections on Twitter. I don’t mean like, business, career-opportunity connections, but more like creative connections. One example is — I mean, this has happened so many times, but recently, I was just loving this song called “Weak,” by the band AJR, and I just followed them on Twitter and said something like, “Oh my God, I love this song.” Then they reached out to me on Twitter and said, “You like this? That’s awesome. Why don’t you help us finish writing this other] song?” And I helped them finish the song. I wrote a bridge for their song “Sober Up.” It just came out and it’s their next single and it’s on the radio. There I am. That wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Twitter.