Interview with Matt Sharp of the Rentals

matt sharp and the rentals at spaceland

A rock legend will hit the stage tonight. Matt Sharp the alleged heart of Weezer was with the band for their first two records, the debut "Blue" record, and the initially-overlooked but spotlessly perfect Pinkerton. Since he split ways with the band they've never produced anything as good and everyone knows it.

Sharp's band The Rentals has been around 13 years now and although that music is sweet and cute and poppy and consistently good, it is obvious to anyone keeping it real that it's precisely the missing ingredient of one of the best rock groups of today.

It's almost as if Sharp was the chocolate chips in the Weezer cookie. The cookie is still good without the chips, and the chips are delicious alone, but together there's some crazy magic.

Well, the all chocolate chip majesty of The Rentals can be so sweet that it can give you cavities after a while, what with its swirling Moog synths and angelic female vocals layered behind Sharp's lovesongs, which is why the most recent offering, Last Little Life, was perfect as an EP.

Tonight Sharp brings his band back home. After spending a month-long residency earlier in the summer at Spaceland, The Rentals will rock the spacious confines of the Henry Fonda Music Box tonight.

matt sharp and the rentals at spaceland

LAist was lucky enough to catch Sharp on the tourbus where we interviewed him on the telephone. Sadly our recording device was faulty and our notes were worse. But here's some of the things that we can confirm.

- although he loved his residency at Spaceland, Sharp says that when the Rentals played the Fonda last year was "more significant" because it was they were the first two shows in a very long time. There was an "emotional thing to it", he said.

- Sharp credits the newest member of the band Sara Radle for being the reason the Rentals got back together after a hiatus. He says that even though there are other female voices in the sound of the band, Radle brought something different to the band. She also helped him focus on making records "for the long haul".

- On why he wears glasses when he sings, he paused and finally said, "that's a good question." And finally said, "because I like to". Is he afraid he will fall off the stage without them? "I would fall off the stage with them or without them."

- Sharp says that recording the concerts are encouraged since it would be a "hopeless battle" therefore "why collect that kind of anxiety?"

matt sharp and the rentals at spaceland

- In regards to Weezer and social networks, we asked him if he knew that on Myspace the Rentals is their #2 top friend (Weezer guitarist Brian Bell's side project The Relationship is #1), he laughed and said "no." (The Weeze are The Rentals #1 top friend).

- We asked about a video on YouTube of a show in 2004 at Cal State Fullerton where Rivers joined Sharp for a few acoustic numbers during the encore. Was the show as intense and nerve-wracking as it appears on that video? "It was tremendously emotional," he said, "the audience was in sync with us. People were coming up to me afterwards in tears. It was surreal to say the least."

- Are we supposed to infer anything by the fact that the EP is called The Last Little Life, and the single is called the "Last Romantic Day"? Sharp laughed and said, "I don't think you should infer anything from that. I have a lot of songs that start with the letter L."

- When Weezer moved from the east coast to LA, Sharp found a rental home in West LA that had an attatched one-car garage that they remodeled into a rehearsal space (immortalized in the song "In the Garage"). We asked Sharp how he convinced the owners (who lived just feet away in a different house) to allow them to... be a band right behind their domicile. "The owners were quite nice. We lied and said we were three college students majoring in sound production."

- Finally we asked Sharp the question he is probably asked every day, should oldschool Weezer fans and Matt Sharp fans give up hope of him rejoining the band. His answer was proceeded by a long painful pause followed by "that's a really tough question." Sharp said that he and Weezer still stay in contact and have good relations and they still have a connection. He also said that there was a time not too long ago where Rivers was helping him write songs, "it was a good experience for me. Cathartic and good." Sharp acknowledged that the pair talked about working together and although it's not completely out of the picture, "I wouldn't bet the house on it."

Matt Sharp also said that there will be a "few guests" performing with him at the show tonight.

The Rentals, Goldenboy, Copeland
The Henry Fonda Music Box
Tonight, 9/21/07

matt sharp and the rentals at spaceland

photos by Sonny I. LaVista for LAist