No-one had a clue that Rivers Cuomo was Weezer's frontman when he studied at Harvard

Weezer's Rivers Cuomo
(Image credit: Mauricio Santana/Getty Image)

When Weezer's career went stratospheric after the release of their 1994 debut album – it sold over a million copies within eight months – frontman Rivers Cuomo began to tire of the repetition of touring rock and sought some "intellectual stimulation". While the band were in Boston, he went to Harvard University, filled out an application to study classical composition and was accepted.

In a recent episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, Cuomo explained how he lived a life of relative anonymity on campus as he took classes, grew a beard and rehabilitated from surgery to lengthen his left leg.

"I was undergoing this procedure on my leg so I was walking with a cane," he told the Late Night with Conan O'Brien host. "I just looked like some really weird, super old weird guy."

Cuomo says that it wasn't until the end of the first year that his classmates had an idea of what he'd achieved before enrolling at university.

“Most of our fans at that time were like 10 years old, literally," he explains. "We connected to a very young group of kids and it wasn’t really like a college audience. Also it’s kind of hard to remember, but at that time there was no sense of like me as the frontman or like famous or anything. People knew the name Weezer and they knew a couple songs but that was about it. I’d be riding the bus with other students that were wearing Weezer shirts that had no idea it was me.

“In my music class I remember having a conversation with some other kids and one of them said, ‘So, what are you doing for the summer?’," he adds. "I was like, ‘Uh, we’re going on tour with No Doubt. I’m in Weezer.' Minds were blown at that moment.”

Watch the interview below.

Simon Young

Born in 1976 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Simon Young has been a music journalist for over twenty years. His fanzine, Hit A Guy With Glasses, enjoyed a one-issue run before he secured a job at Kerrang! in 1999. His writing has also appeared in Classic RockMetal HammerProg, and Planet Rock. His first book, So Much For The 30 Year Plan: Therapy? — The Authorised Biography is available via Jawbone Press.