How Nirvana Helped Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Find His Sound

In the mid 1990s, Weezer made their debut with theirĀ Blue Album, an alternative rock throwback to artists of the 1950s and '60s that set the standard for nerd rock in the form of a masterpiece. Weezer made their sound something unique by combining catchy hooks with harmonized guitars and heavy chugging riffs, vocals full of soul, and lyrics inspired by daydreams and heartbreak.

Before Weezer had brought together all the musical elements to define their sound, frontman and songwriter Rivers Cuomo would listen to tons of artists and genres he once considered "garbage" and "noisy," per Rolling Stone. The awful sounds Cuomo was referring to were bands such as Sonic Youth and Pixies. After listening to them over and over, he would soon love their music and see it as inspirational.

"I thought, 'None of this is catchy,'" Rivers said. "But I came to love it all. Now I don't understand how I missed it." He would also go on to listen to bands such as The Beatles and Beach Boys, loving their sound as well. Yet in the midst of it all, no band was as influential as Nirvana.

While working at Tower Records, Cuomo would first hear "Sliver" by Nirvana, a song that would make him change everything about his music. "It's like, 'Oh, my God. This is so beautiful to me. And I identify with it so much.'

Weezer's Rivers Cuomo discovers Nirvana at Tower Records

"Hearing him sing about Mom and Dad and Grandpa Joe, these personal family issues, in a really heartbreaking kind of innocent, childlike way, over these straightforward chords in a major key. But then the distortion kicks in, and he starts screaming. Sh*t! That's what I want to do," Rivers told Rolling Stone.

Nirvana's music video for the song "In Bloom" would also be a huge influence for the band. During the video, the members of Nirvana are dressed in suits, playing as musical guests on a rendition of an old variety show, similar to the Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Cobain would wear glasses, which helped Cuomo feel comfortable wearing his own while performing.

Cuomo also hoped Weezer would have the same impact as Nirvana. "I seriously thought we were the next Nirvana," Cuomo admitted to Rolling Stone. "And I thought the world was going to perceive us that way, like a superimportant, superpowerful, heartbreaking heavy rock band, and as serious artists. That's how I saw us."

Some critics would have a different take on Weezer, with one in particular calling their lyrics "comical." "And that's when I started to realize the world wasn't going to see Weezer like I did and the world wasn't going to see the Blue Album like I did." While Weezer may not have had the same impact as Nirvana, they're still one of rock's greatest bands, and have demonstrated that with their body of work ever since their first album.