My name is Weener

A Dallas supergroup forms to play...Weezer songs?

Since the band has already mastered all of Weezer's currently available catalog (save for Pinkerton's "Why Bother?" which the band hasn't bothered to learn), Weener is trying to get its hands on an advance copy of Weezer's latest album, due sometime this year. And nothing excites Reynolds more than the possibility of scoring an opening slot when Weezer comes back to town to tour behind its forthcoming record.

"Man, I've been fantasizing about that like most people's dads fantasize about the porno stars signing their tie or something at Legends," he says. "Totally would love that. That'd be awesome. I think that Rivers probably has a good enough sense of humor. I really think it will happen. I think it'd be really cool if they did something like--when they have their record-release party--bring us out to be their dummy band. But that's all fantasy."

Weener performs February 25 at Club Clearview with Bicycle Thief and Crash Vinyl.

Let's Fight Songs
Nobody ever said Rhett Miller wasn't a smart guy. That's why he knows the question even before it's asked: "Why the hell is our record in the jukebox at the Barley House?" he offers, his voice full of what-the-hell resignation. But, yup, that's the question, all right. The Old 97's fourth album--and the band's second for Elektra Records--will not be in stores until April 27, but already, the twang-free-at-last Fight Songs is available for a fistful of quarters at the Henderson Avenue pub. Official advance CDs, sent out to press and radio, don't even exist yet--they won't for another week--but hundreds of folks have listened to the thing over and over again.

Barley House owner Richard Whitfield did come by his copy of Fight Songs through, well, official channels: Murry Hammond, Old 97's bassist and Miller's longtime collaborator, provided Whitfield a CD-R straight from the mastering facility. Such discs are intended strictly for the band's use, but Hammond thought it would be a nice gesture nonetheless for a venue that booked the band back in the day. Still, Miller isn't entirely happy about it.

"It makes me uncomfortable," says the singer-songwriter, who, for all intents, now lives in Los Angeles. "Everybody will have formed opinions three months before the record comes out. Murry assures me it's no big whoop and a cool thank-you to the city and the fans and the friends, and so, ya know, I'm OK with it. But at this point I'm scared to death of anyone hearing it, so of course it makes me uncomfortable...I mean, I am sure there are groups of people who pump in quarters and listen to the record and critique it. And from what I've heard, most of them like it. I think only one group said they didn't like it so far." At this point, Miller lets out one of those high, swell-guy laughs.

Of course, Miller could have told Whitfield or Hammond to remove the disc from the jukebox if he was that uncomfortable with it. But he was concerned enough to call the band's new manager, Chris Blake (who once handled Toad the Wet Sprocket, poor guy), and ask him what the consequences might be of the album's being available for consumption so well in advance of the release date. After all, even radio stations don't have a single--OK, like it matters. Blake told him it was no big deal.

An Elektra spokesman who doesn't want to be named says the label isn't too thrilled with Fight Songs showing up "months ahead of time" on the jukebox. "You try to coordinate an effort to make an impact at once, and when it goes out piecemeal, it can lessen the impact," he says. "Even though this may seem minor, it's not, because every little thing like this adds up. It keeps happening and happening." He mentions that there's also a Bay Area radio station that has been playing at least one cut from the album, which is an industry no-no this far out from release. "Plus, the other thing is, from a sales point of view, if someone hears something they like on a jukebox and they can't buy it for two months, they tend to forget it."

But leave it to Rhett Miller to put the whole thing in its best perspective.
"I would rather they read the good review Spin has committed to giving it, and I'd rather just wait and let it all happen naturally," he says. "But it's not like it's the new R.E.M. record. Nobody cares that much." Boy does have a point.

--Robert Wilonsky

The Education of Arun Pandian
Arun Pandian plays on only one song on Lauryn Hill's 1998 solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It's a tune titled "Tell Him"--the hidden track, no less, certainly not an auspicious way for a 22-year-old fifth-year University of Texas senior guitarist to make his major-label debut. He doesn't even receive credit on the album. But what could the lad expect? Pandian joined Hill's posse last July, and the record was near completion. Hey, better to be hidden than not included at all.

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