Rivers Cuomo

Rivers Cuomo Channels His Inner Boy Bander: The Secret Behind His Songwriting Success

Rivers Cuomo is proving that he’s more than just the front man and musician of his band, Weezer. He’s highly versatile when it comes to writing new music for the Monkees, and being personally inspired by the Beach Boys.

Rivers Cuomo wrote the song “She Makes Me Laugh” for the band’s upcoming 50th anniversary album, Good Times! This is the Monkees’ first album since their 1996 release, Justus. The lyric video for the new song “She Makes Me Laugh,” written by Rivers Cuomo was released earlier this week.

“I’m super stoked to be writing for a song for the Monkees. I’ve always identified with their musical aesthetic – the chord changes and melodies.”

Good Times! is a special album that celebrates the life and time of the Monkees, along with their 50th anniversary as a band. It will also include songs by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and XTC’s Andy Partridge. The album was produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, and also includes songs written by Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller.

Even the three original members Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork headed back to the studio to record the band’s first record in 20 years.

Rivers Cuomo told Rolling Stone that he’s been a huge fan of the Monkees as long as he could remember.

“I’ve always felt a personal connection to the Monkees because I’m from the same small New England farm town as Peter Tork. I used to hear that one of the Monkees went to my high school, which was an amazing fact to me because it was such a small school out in the middle of nowhere. It gave me the feeling that if an E.O. Smith kid made it to the top once, it can happen again. So let that be an inspiration to you E.O. Smith kids now, maybe 30 years into the future you’ll be writing a song for a new Weezer album.”

Check out Rivers Cuomo’s song “She Makes Me Laugh” below.

The songwriting process has always been important for Cuomo, even when he’s not writing for his own band. Cuomo is dedicated to a daily practice that involves meditation, studying Shakespeare, and writing songs. When it came to the White Album, he had to tap into his inner Beach Boy by opening the album with a nod to the band’s hit song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and end it with the melancholy hit “Endless Summer.”

The White Album is the 10th studio album by the band that was released earlier this month. In an episode with Wired, Cuomo broke down the songwriting process for the track “Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori,” and the varying versions that the track went through. Cuomo added that he used the chord progression from “Walk Away Renee” by The Left Banke. He then used an anagram generator to bring the song into a different direction.

But Cuomo is focused on the new album, the Black Album, which is the antithesis to the White Album’s chipper summery beats.

“This is going to sound really dorky, but I feel like, more than any popular artist in the history of rock, I have used more references to different species of animals and birds.”

So, what’s the secret behind River Cuomo’s songwriting success? Spreadsheets. Seriously. The lovable dork says that he uses it to get his ideas across. He will use various spreadsheets to not only collect his ideas, but also to analyze them as the songwriting process goes along.

What are your thoughts on River Cuomo’s new song for the Monkees 50th anniversary album? Are you looking forward to new music from Weezer? Sound off below in the comments section.

[Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for CBS Radio]

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