Rivers Cuomo Reveals Which Metallica Riff Inspired Weezer’s ‘The Sweater Song’
Weezer famously offered a nod to Rivers Cuomo's metal upbringings with their 2021 album Van Weezer, but did you know that a Metallica song may have subconsciously served as an inspiration for one of their earliest hits? During an appearance on the Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend podcast (seen below), Cuomo reveals a tie to Metallica with "Undone (The Sweater Song)" that he never realized until years after the track was released.
"I remember the moment I came up with that riff," says Cuomo. "I was about 20, 21-years-old and I had been exposed to cool music finally after moving to L.A. from Connecticut. I got a job at Tower Records and started listening to Sonic Youth and Pixies and Velvet Underground and I was like, 'I'm going to try to write a Velvet Underground song.' And I sat down and came up with 'The Sweater Song' riff and I was like, 'Yes, this is so cool.'"
The singer then flashes forward, stating, "A couple of years went by, we got signed, put out a record, it blew up, very happy. Then in 1995, we end up playing a big festival in New York City and Lars Ulrich was there from Metallica and I saw him backstage. The truth is, I was a huge metalhead in high school and that's how I learned to play my instrument. And then suddenly it occurred to me, 'The Sweater Song,' the riff, it's actually very similar to 'Sanitarium.'"
In that moment of seeing Ulrich, it all clicked. "If you play them right next to each other, they're pretty much identical. 'The Sweater Song' is in a major key," stated Cuomo, who added, "So I had to tell him that right then and there."
When asked how Ulrich responded, Cuomo revealed that he was "so cool" about it, and the two bands have actually been friendly in the years since then.
Cuomo also revealed that they had been covering "Enter Sandman" on tour of late, and upon playing a same bill as Metallica, he reached out to Lars again. When mentioning the idea of playing "Enter Sandman" on the same stage that Metallica would be player, Lars joked that then they wouldn't have to play it that night, but Cuomo reveals they ultimately chickened out.
Check out Cuomo's chat with Conan O'Brien below and then listen to both songs and see if you pick up the comparison.