There is only one band on the planet who can slip the words ‘centrifuge’ & ‘echinacea’ into a song and pull it off without missing a beat – that band is Californian rock quartet, Weezer. They were in the country recently to promote their eleventh studio album, ‘Pacific Daydream’, playing alongside Foo Fighters on the Fooeys’ ‘Concrete and Gold’ tour, and I had the chance to sit down with guitarist, Brian Bell shortly before they hit the stage for the last Australian date of the tour.

“It feels great to be back,” Bell started, “Australia’s a very neat place to visit. It feels very comfortable, very similar to what we’re used to. It’s kind of a combination of America meets England meets Canada, meets, y’know… Melbourne is unlike any part of Australia that I’ve been to; it feels more cosmopolitan, like San Francisco in the middle of Florida. But every place has been really neat, including Brisbane – I thought it was really a nice city, really chill and relaxed. People have just been nice, audiences have been good, touring with the Foo Fighters is a blast. This is one of the better tours we’ve done, ever.”

Rivers Cuomo (vocalist/guitarist) had made mention previously that he had been planning an Australian tour before the chance to play with Foo Fighters arose. When I asked Brian, though, he wasn’t entirely aware. “You know more than I do. I didn’t know that, that’s news to me,” he laughed. “It’s very likely that we would have wanted to do that, but this was just a great opportunity for us to play to many more people.”

Weezer and Foo Fighters are old friends, having toured their home country together in 2005 on a bill affectionately nicknamed ‘FooZer’. Dave Grohl (vocalist/guitarist, Foo Fighters) played several on-stage jokes on Weezer, and I wondered if he had struck again on this tour. “Not yet, but it’s not over yet. They seem to pull that stuff at the end of the tour.” Of the FooZer tour, Bell reminisced, “It doesn’t seem like that long ago. When you say 2005, that seems like a long time ago, but I remember that tour vividly and have fond memories of that tour. I’ve seen Dave throughout the years since then, so it doesn’t seem like a huge gap since I’ve seen him, but 2005 does sound like a long time ago. We would have been touring ‘Make Believe’ then.”

“Well, I went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary outside of Brisbane,” he mentioned when talking about highlights of his time in Australia, “and I got a magical shot with a koala that I’ll cherish. The shows have all been good, so there wasn’t one that stood out from the others. They were all really solid.”

Prior to building ‘Pacific Daydream’, the band had planned on writing a follow-up to the ‘white album’ with its thematically darker counterpart, the ‘black album’, but it was shelved temporarily when the songs they came up with fit a different theme. Is the band planning to release the ‘black album’ next? “That’s what I’m told, yeah. I’ve already heard the demos for it and I’ve already started coming up with parts for it. What it’s gonna sound like, who’s gonna produce it, all that – we don’t know yet.” I expected that there would be a while before it would be finished, given that they’ve only just released ‘Pacific Daydream’ – “Well, you’d be surprised. It won’t take long, we’re gonna go fast.”

Weezer explored some less familiar territory with some of the tracks on the new record, contrasting with their previous work. “There’s some loops and stuff going on that are kinda like the catalyst for the creation of a track. They go through demo stages, and I think… sometimes your ears are used to a certain thing and the goal was to erase that and build from it. But sometimes you can’t beat it or it’s such a cool part of the sound that you leave it,” he described, “I did mostly all of the guitars and all of the background vocal stuff, anything that’s counter-melody. I didn’t really work on harmonising, I worked on counter-melodies and coming up with lines within the lines. Whenever you hear something that’s, like, against – I guess people wouldn’t know what’s what, but that’s what my contribution was. There’s a lot going on, a lot for your ears to hear, which you pick up on repeat listens. I think a lot of my guitar work is sort of buried, but it’s textural and that’s the type of playing that I like anyway.”

“There’s an element of music that I would like to have for the next record, and that is the simplest of all forms, and that’s space – the absence of sound. If there’s anything I think ‘Pacific Daydream’ is lacking, it’s the absence of sound,” he opened, “In modern music in general, I feel there’s a lot of too much filling up, too much ornamentation. You can’t be afraid of silence. The silence is more powerful when used as a compositional device.”

“I liked everything I did on ‘Pacific Daydream’. I’m really proud of all my work on it,” he said when trying to pick a favourite track, “I think, maybe, QB Blitz – if you isolated the guitar, I’m really proud of the licks that are going on against it. It’s quite beautiful sounding, borderline – I sound like an asshole talking about myself this way, but – virtuosic. I don’t ever think of myself as a virtuoso, but it has that element because I worked really hard on coming up with the ideas and then executing them. If you listen to it, it’s pretty complicated against what’s happening.”

“And if anybody in Australia doesn’t know what a ‘QB Blitz’ even means, QB stands for quarterback,” he explained, “and it’s a play in football where the defence – the team that doesn’t have the ball – will run to ‘sack the quarterback’, we call it, or attack the quarterback. Like, go off of your assigned player and rush the quarterback, so he doesn’t have the time to make a completed pass. It’s a risky play for the defence, because once you bring a person off their man, the man he was covering is now wide open. I love that we have a football play as the name of one of our songs. When I heard that as a title, I got really excited because I am definitely an NFL fan.”