F or some, the name Brian Bell might not ring one (get it?), but the band he plays guitar in sure does. Maybe you’ve heard of a little group called Weezer that has been a fixture of the LA music scene since before I was born? Alas, even playing in one of the coolest bands around can get old when you’ve been “Sayin’ It Ain’t So” for almost 25 years.
To shake things up, Bell is dusting off his other band, The Relationship, after taking time off to record the Grammy contender, Weezer (aka The White Album), and the departure of guitarist Nick Shaw. They’ve got a mysterious new power-pop album on the way—a long-awaited follow up to 2010’s self-titled debut—and a small tour.
I caught up with Bell to talk about the LA music scene, becoming a frontman, and the Grammy’s
MD: How did you come up with the name, ‘The Relationship’?
BB: I’ve always been drawn to band names that have multiple layers of meanings and that are easy to remember. Also, I’m drawn to the weight of the word, The Relationship. It’s all in how you say it.
MD: I love that you guys released a 7” with Burger Records in 2015 (“Oh Allen” b/w “Young Temptations”). What was your favorite thing about working with the Burger guys?
BB: My favorite thing about putting a 7” record out on Burger Records was playing Burgerama IV in Costa Mesa and seeing all the inspired young faces that will shape our music scene in the future.
MD: What’s been the biggest adjustment for you, going from sideman to frontman?
BB: I didn’t start this band to be a front man. I’d call it Brian and the Belle’s and have an all-female backing band if that were the case. But quarterbacking a band is really about being a good communicator and listener. No one wants to just paint by numbers and recreate a demo. The depth of the music comes from the players working together. The reason to have a band is for that synergy.
MD: You’ve been a part of the LA music scene for around three decades now, so you’ve seen a lot of things come and go. How would you describe the current vibe?
BB: LA has been very kind to me. All the musical knowledge I was seeking was here. I just had to go out and find it. I wasn’t going to find it back in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. I’ve seen so many bands and trends come and go. What’s the same with all the decades that I’ve been a part of the scene, is the way the industry can hype something but always it’s the underground that dictates what is going to stick and what isn’t. This is what is exciting about the emerging music scene in Los Angeles. Audiences aren’t going to trust or stand behind a corporate machine, not because it’s a corporate machine, but because if that artist they are digesting isn’t legitimately ground-breaking they’ll see right through it.
MD: What would you say has changed the most about the scene from when you first moved here, ’til now?
BB: One very exciting thing that has changed with music since I’ve been in LA is that most every band I see live these days is really good. Maybe I’m just being more selective. But I feel that something is in the air and that gives me hope for our art form.
MD: What was your favorite album of 2016?
BB: My favorite record of 2016 was Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker.
MD: Congrats on the Best Rock Album GRAMMY nomination by the way! Will you be attending?
BB: Thank you it’s always nice to be acknowledged in regards to the Grammy nomination. I’m very proud of Weezer’s Weezer (aka The White Album) and thrilled to be nominated for the Best Rock Album of 2016. Since I can’t vote for myself I’d give the award to Cage The Elephant for Tell Me I’m Pretty. Yes, I will be attending the Grammy’s. I’m looking forward to just being a part of the spectacle.
Listen to their 7″ here, and check them out on tour.
Feb 9 The Constellation Room Santa Ana, CA
Feb 10 The Hideout San Diego, CA
Feb 11 The Valley Bar Phoenix, AZ
Feb 16 Gas Seed & Seed Festival Davenport, IA
Feb 19 Beat Kitchen Chicago, IL
Mar 15 SXSW Austin, TX
Mar 16 SXSW Austin, TX
Mar 17 SXSW Austin, TX
Mar 18 SXSW Austin, TX
Apr 18 Bootleg Theater Los Angeles, CA
Apr 21 Analog Theater Portland, OR