Last week Rolling Stone chatted up Rivers Cuomo about Weezer’s new album Raditude. Near the end we asked about the 15th anniversary of their debut single “Undone – The Sweater Song,” which he now admits is “almost a complete rip-off” of Metallica’s 1986 classic “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).”
If you read on, Cuomo mentions that he did not, as the title of the RS piece dictates, “rip off” Metallica, but rather, years later, realized the guitar riffs sound the same.
And it is uncanny. Take a listen:
Metallica – “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”:
Weezer – “Undone (The Sweater Song)” (live):
Obviously, each track undergoes their own transgressions and dips and turns, but that first set of guitar chords and that basic pattern is eerily similar.
If you believe that Cuomo ripped off Metallica, and even if you don’t, it puts another cog in the Weezer ain’t emo machine. For folks who’ve picked up Rivers’ Edge: The Weezer Story, there is a length of material in which it’s revealed that Cuomo was heavily into, well, heavy metal as a child, specifically those legendary licks from the likes of KISS. One of the many things that sets Weezer apart from most of the emo acts before and around their start is their heavy reliance on power-pop tinged heavy metal. Few acts outside of Fugazi wished to channel the same ideas and music of heavy metal in the emo/punk/post-hardcore/post-punk realm, although Weezer’s influence on the emo world since the millennium (along with various other contributing factors) has changed things around drastically.
But, I digress.
Cuomo was always something of a metalhead-loving nerd type, much like Chuck Klosterman, and was never one to hide it. And he managed to bring it out quite well in many a Weezer tune. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cuomo spun Master of Puppets back in the day, as that album still looms large in the metal community. Though he didn’t consciously rip off “Welcome Home,” it wouldn’t be surprising to think that the opening guitar composition somehow popped into his head in a new form while Cuomo wrote “Undone.”
But, as with so many things, we may never know what Cuomo was thinking at the time… or now really.