What are you going to do after an alien invasion wipes out the entire population, leaving only you and a new pal? Wander around, drive some cars, take a boat ride.
The video is beautifully shot by American Primitive’s Jacob Mendel and Travis Keller. Keller, who you will remember as the founder of Buddyhead, said, “The themes are isolation and the end of the world… should be pretty relatable to everyone this week.”
But, you and I, we didn’t die; we’re still alive
Just waiting for the world to end (is this the end?)
That’s the question we’ve all been asking lately.
This latest version of the Rentals features Matt Sharp along with Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Ronnie Vannucci, the drummer from the Killers. They’ve been trickling out singles and videos every couple of weeks since November, and the double album is due in June.
New Rentals announcement from Matt Sharp: “Nick Zinner, Ronnie Vannucci, Dave Fridmann & I’ve made the Rentals’ 4th Official Album, together. It’s a 16 track Space-Western titled Q36.”
Sharp says the song is “a science fiction fable that imagines an overpopulated future where the spacefaring nations of the world decide to shoot their citizens dealing with mental health conditions into deep outer space for experimental purposes; essentially using them as laboratory specimens, testing their tolerance of extreme levels of radiation. But a funny thing happened on the way to Europa… the inmates commandeered this intergalactic psychiatric ward, taking control of the ships and ultimately, their lives. They flipped their mobile home, converting it into a Parliament Funkadelic-style flying party saucer and went looking to start a more tolerant new world.”
About the video, Sharp said, “I was talking with my friend Clark Duke about possibly making a shot for shot recreation of Falco’s Der Kommisarr video, together, went he sent me this amazing video, from 1980, for the song “Eisbaer” by the Swiss band Grauzone. About seven seconds in, I pressed play on Spaceships and it immediately sync’d up like Dark Side Of The Moon to The Wizard Of Oz.”
They’re apparently releasing a new song every two weeks. And in fact they just released the second single, “Forgotten Astronaut,” dedicated to Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 pilot who stayed aboard the Columbia command module while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle lunar module on the moon.
It’s rarely healthy to compare yourself to extremely successful people. Unless you wanna feel terrible about yourself. I remember when I found out Mary Shelley was only like 20 when she wrote Frankenstein; that made me feel like a loser. You gotta let that stuff go. We’re all on our own path, and we all end up in the same spot. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The Rentals’ Matt Sharp descended into this kind of head game when he realized he’s pretty much the same age as Elon Musk, the inventor and investor behind Tesla and SpaceX. They both grew up around the same time, in similar circumstances, and they even received similar gifts as kids:
In nineteen eighty-two, on Christmas day
Santa gave us each a brand-new Commodore
I used mine to make fake IDs and buy beer in junior high
While my foe studied every bit of that 8-bit whore
We all know what happened next. Musk became one of the word’s most powerful people, and Sharp played bass for Weezer for a couple of albums and then left to start his own band.
But for a second, there’s no question I had the lead in ninety-five
But the small ambitions of a musician, I could not keep my eye on the prize
Make me the first one out of that door
First boots out on the Martian floor to proclaim…
Oh, that Elon sent me all the way, son,
A hundred thirty-nine million miles away!
“Elon Musk Is Making Me Sad” is a collaboration between Sharp, Nick Zinner, and Dave Fridmann. It doesn’t appear that anybody who’s ever been a Rental before is involved. So no Cherielynn Westrich, Rod Cervera, Petra Haden, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Haden, et al. But it retains the melancholy, synthy vibe of all the best Rentals material.
I love the Rentals. I still think Return of the Rentals is an underrated 90s classic. Maybe “Friends of P” had “one hit wonder” written all over it (one minor hit, of course: it peaked at No. 82 on the Hot 100), but it works great in the context of a perfectly conceptualized and executed album. Neither Return of the Rentals nor its 1999 follow-up Seven More Minutes charted on the Billboard 200 but they both rank pretty high on my personal all-time Top 200 Albums chart.
And it’s good. None of the people from the first two albums other than Matt Sharp have anything to do with it, but the guy from the Black Keys plays the drums on it, so that’s kind of a big deal, right? It came out last August, but they finally got around to making a video for it, and it looks like a bunch of semi-futuristic, quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo, so it’s pretty much perfect!
Matt Sharp and the Rentals have a new multimedia project they’re calling Songs About Time, billed as “one year in photography, film and music.” According to the site, the band will record and release three new digital mini-albums over 2009 with the first appearing in April, and the next two in July and October. Each mini-album will sell for “around ten dollars” exclusively from the band’s music store (driven by Topspin, by the way, who are cool people).
The project also includes a daily photo diary and weekly short films about the writing and recording of the music.
There will be a limited edition deluxe box set for sale “that encompasses the film, music and photography that we have created over the year.” The set will be individually numbered and signed by the Rentals and includes 180 gram vinyl, original artwork, compact discs featuring all the music as well as the complete original score from the film soundtrack, and other goodies to be revealed in April. The first 365 people to purchase the limited edition deluxe box set will receive extras including backstage passes to upcoming Rentals shows.
Give them your email address and they will send you a link to download a new MP3 “within a day or two.” Haven’t gotten ours yet but we’ll be sure to let you know how it is when we do.
Let’s get up and leave this town
I just want to go right now…
We’ll find some new place nice
Some other city or the countryside…
—”Move On” by the Rentals, 1995
It’s been almost a decade since the world first got to know Matt Sharp. He was the goofy bass player in Weezer, jumping around like a maniac and singing those falsetto harmonies. Within the Cult of the Weez, it’s understood that Sharp gave that band its soul, and things were just never the same after he left to focus his attention on his own band, the Rentals. Although his “side-project” was initially laughed off as a one-joke novelty act, their 1995 debut album Return of the Rentals has held up great since its release; it sounds better today than it did back then.
According to the official Rentals mailing list, Matt Sharp will be doing four “really low key shows acoustic style/solo style” shows at Cafe Tropical, a Cuban bakery in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. He will be performing two shows per night on Sunday March 17 and March 24 at 7pm and 9pm.
This will be the first time Sharp has played out since some Rentals shows in Japan in 1999. According to a note from “fifth Weezer member” Karl Koch, Sharp made “an album in Nashville, in 1999, I think, but I dont think he’s on good terms with [Rentals label] Maverick for a variety of reasons, most of which appear to be his fault at the core. I think he’s in the bad position of being on a major label that won’t help him because he made them mad, but won’t let him go either as they probably consider him capable of making them money at some point. But all that is just speculation really.”
Hopefully, these new live dates mark the return of the Rentals at a time when we could really use them…
Update…From Matt Sharp via the mailing list: “I’d appreciate it if these shows weren’t bootlegged. I know there’s not much we can do about it, but we can ask. There are going to be a ton of shows down the road which I’ll be into that whole thing.”
Update #2… For reviews of these shows and tons of other Rentals/Matt Sharp information, head on over to Overlee, a site formerly hosted by Glorious Noise…