Brian Bell (musician)
|Brian "The Sassmaster" Bell|
Bell in Bangkok, Thailand, 1997
|Birth name||Brian Lane Bell|
|Born||December 9, 1968|
|Genres||Alternative rock, power pop, emo, pop punk|
|Instruments||Guitar, bass guitar, drums, piano, harmonica, vocals|
|Associated acts||Weezer, The Relationship, Space Twins, Carnival Art|
|Gibson Les Paul
Brian Lane Bell (born December 9, 1968) is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is best known as the rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and occasional lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Weezer, with whom he has recorded nine studio albums. Bell also fronts the rock band The Relationship, and was previously the lead vocalist and guitarist of the indie rock band Space Twins.
Moving to Los Angeles at the age of eighteen, Bell played bass guitar in the band Carnival Art, releasing three studio albums with the band before departing in 1993. Bell subsequently joined Weezer as its rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist, at the request of band member Matt Sharp. Replacing founding member Jason Cropper, Bell joined the band during the recording of its debut album, Weezer (1994). Backed by the singles "Buddy Holly", "Undone – The Sweater Song" and "Say It Ain't So", the album was a critical and commercial success.
Bell was born in Iowa City, Iowa to parents Tom Bell, a geography professor at Western Kentucky University, and Linda Menasco, an elementary school assistant principal. He was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. He first gravitated to music at the age of four when his parents took him to an Elvis Presley concert at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium. Soon after Bell became obsessed with his father's record collection, playing it constantly. At a young age, Bell was forced by his mother to take piano lessons, refusing to let him take guitar lessons until high school because she "wouldn't believe that he would practice." Eventually, during his freshman year in high school, his parents allowed him to take guitar lessons from Knoxville musician Ben Bolt. Also, during his first year in high school Bell was forced to switch high schools, "I was zoned to go to County School and my mom taught in the city, which meant I could go to a more privileged school. In doing that I was surrounded by snobs. I was kind of finding myself at the time, so I decided to go to the school I was zoned for." He started playing in a band with school friends Trey Counce and Tim and Glenn Maloof called Blooshroom which Bell described as "Pink Floyd-meets-The Stooges."
After completing high school at Bearden High School in 1987, Bell decided not to pursue higher education feeling it would be a "waste of money." At the age of 18, Bell moved to Los Angeles, California, and enrolled at G.I.T. In 1991, he became a member of Carnival Art, which released three official albums and an EP with Bell playing bass guitar. Unfortunately, the band had extremely small record sales and were eventually dropped by record label Beggars Banquet. It was around the time Carnival Art was disintegrating Bell became acquainted with the members of Weezer, "They started playing on the scene, and I instantly saw something unique in them. I didn't necessarily want to be in their band. They were for some reason, in with the wrong crowd and playing at the wrong venues. I wanted to help them out any way I could and I wanted to play a show with them." One night in the late summer of 1993, while driving home Bell decided once-and-for-all to quit Carnival Art. When he got home he found on his answering machine a message from Weezer bassist Matt Sharp. Sharp called again the next day, and Rivers Cuomo took the phone and asked him to join the band.
Bell then joined Weezer in 1993 during the recording of The Blue Album, replacing Jason Cropper. Since then he has remained a member of Weezer. Besides doing back-up vocals and playing lead guitar and rhythm guitar, Bell takes on many of the multi-instrumental duties during Weezer's live shows. When songs call for the use of a keyboard or harmonica, Bell often plays them.
Although all songwriting credits on Weezer's 2005 album Make Believe are credited to Rivers Cuomo, Bell wrote the intro to "We Are All on Drugs" and the dueling guitars in the solo of "This is Such a Pity." Bell also contributed the song "Thought I Knew" to the band's 2008 self-titled album as well as "It's Easy," an iTunes exclusive demo that serves as a bonus track to that album. This marks the first time Weezer has officially released a song written and sung by Brian Bell although the band demoed and played Brian's "Yellow Camaro" live in 2002. The song eventually made it onto the Space Twins debut LP The End of Imagining.
In 2005, during live appearances with the band Brian sang lead vocals on "Why Bother?", "Smile", "Getchoo" and "Keep Fishin'". In 2008 during the band's Hootenanny Tour he began taking lead vocals on "El Scorcho". He continued singing "El Scorcho" and sang "Suzanne" as well on the band's Troublemaker Tour in 2008.
Beyond his musicianship Weezer fans often note Bell's strong sense of fashion, dubbing it "sassy". Fans lovingly call him the "Sass Master".
Throughout the years Bell fronted his own band, Space Twins, who have had various incarnations since 1993. They have released three EPs and an LP, The End of Imagining, in 2003. Yet in 2006, Bell stated that he was "not presently pursuing" projects with The Space Twins.
In 2007 Bell recorded for a side project called The Relationship. The recording took place at Henson Recording Studios and Padre Terrace in Los Angeles and is produced by Weezer engineer Eric J. Sean Lennon mentioned in an interview that he will appear with Bell on The Relationship's debut record. Rivers Cuomo and Bell co-wrote a song together for the project titled "Hand to Hold," but Bell does not think it will be on their debut album. In May 2007 he uploaded "Hand to Hold" on the band's Myspace page. It is a reworking of the Weezer song "Private Message," which was originally in the running for inclusion on Make Believe.
In November 2006, Lyon Guitars (by Washburn) introduced a limited edition guitar series called "Limited Edition 2006," each of which had been hand-signed by Bell, and were in the same "strat" body style that Brian prefers to play.
Bell has also expressed an interest in the works of William Shakespeare. During the band's downtime in 2003 and 2004, Bell and his ex-girlfriend Peggy Nunez studied Shakespeare and poetry theory at collegiate level. They also appeared in a production of Twelfth Night, in which Bell wrote four songs, all using Shakespeare's words.
Recently, Bell has appeared in one-off performances on guitar with other bands. Playing on March 17, 2006 at The Troubador in LA with Weezer tour-mates Ringside, and performing "Our Lips Are Sealed", with the Go-Go's member, Jane Wiedlin, on June 1, 2006 at the Viper Room. He sat in on guitars and back up vocals for Ringside's winter '06 tour in Russia.
In December 2010, Bell made an unintended cameo appearance in the video "CALIFORNIA ON JEWS" on YouTube.
Bell currently plays several Gibson and Fender guitars live including a Les Paul and a Telecaster. His main amplifier is a Matchless Independence, a three channel, hand-wired tube amplifier, providing the thick distortion that Weezer is known for.
In 2006, Bell made his on-screen debut, playing Lou Reed in the Edie Sedgwick biographical film, Factory Girl. Bandmate Patrick Wilson also appeared as John Cale, another member of the Velvet Underground.
- Weezer (1994)
- Pinkerton (1996)
- Weezer (2001)
- Maladroit (2002)
- Make Believe (2005)
- Weezer (2008)
- Raditude (2009)
- Hurley (2010)
- Death to False Metal (2010)
- Everything Will Be Alright in the End (2014)
With Space Twins
- No Show EP (1994)
- Osaka Aquabus EP (1997)
- TV, Music & Candy EP (1998)
- The End of Imagining (2003)
With The Relationship
- The Relationship (2010)
With Carnival Art
- Dig EP (1990)
- Thrumdrone (1991)
- Welcome to Vas Llegas (1992)
- Blue Food & Black Sparks EP (1992)
- Meet the Deedles soundtrack (1998) – backing vocals on "American Girls"
- Luerssen D., John. Rivers' Edge: The Weezer Story. ECW Press, 2004, ISBN 1-55022-619-3 p. 91
- Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 92
- Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 93
- Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 94
- Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 96
- "Carnival Art : Biography". CMT. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 97
- "Weezer discography: Make Believe: Track By Track". Weezer.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "The Relationship". Myspace. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "09/24/06 I want people to be afraid of how much they love me". Weezer.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "Brian Bell Fan Interview 2006". Weezer.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "Brian Bell Autographed Guitar". Lyon Guitars. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "Stoke Factor 4: January 12, 2005". Weezer.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "03/09/06 Zero Tolerance". Weezer.com. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "12/20/06 Fritters, Homefries, Bunions, Yamlets". Weezer.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- Chicago Sun-Times[dead link]
- "California on Jews". YouTube. December 12, 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
- Brian Bell at the Internet Movie Database
- The 2006 Brian Bell fan interview
- Stereokill interview: February 19, 2009
- Space Twins web page
- MySpace page for "The Relationship"