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 thirteen 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.
Bell performing with Weezer in 2013
|Birth name||Brian Lane Bell|
|Born||December 9, 1968|
Iowa City, Iowa, United States
|Origin||Knoxville, Tennessee, United States|
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 University of Tennessee, and Linda Menasco, an elementary school assistant principal, and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. He first took an interest in music at age four, when his parents took him to an Elvis Presley concert at the Stokely Athletic Centre in Knoxville . Soon after, Bell became obsessed with his father's record collection, and played it constantly. Bell was forced by his mother to take piano lessons, and refused 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, Bell's parents allowed him to take guitar lessons from Knoxville musician Ben Bolt.
During his first year in high school, Bell had to switch 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." During this time, Bell had a job delivering pizzas in the Knoxville area at Stefano's Pizza. He worked with Blair and Todd Mitchell (who he introduced to Queensryche's music). He worked and started playing in a band with school friends, Trey Counce, and Tim and Glenn Maloof, named Blooshroom, which Bell described as "Pink Floyd-meets-The Stooges."
After completing high school at Bearden High School in 1987, Bell decided against college, 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 a band named Carnival Art, which released 3 official albums and an EP, with Bell playing bass guitar. The band had low record sales, and were dropped by their record label, Beggars Banquet.
As Carnival Art was disintegrating, Bell became acquainted with the members of Weezer. He said: "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." In mid-1993, Bell quit Carnival Art. At 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.
Despite being credited for guitar and vocals in the liner notes, Bell's last-minute arrival at the Blue Album sessions meant that he only had time to re-record Cropper's backing vocals, while Cuomo re-did all of Cropper's guitar parts. Besides doing back-up vocals and playing lead and rhythm guitar, during Weezer's live performances, Bell takes on many of the multi-instrumental duties, including keyboard or harmonica.
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 Bell, although the band demoed and played his song "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, Bell 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.
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 March 2017, Bell announced that the band's newest album, Clara Obscura (meaning "Clear" and "Obscure"), would be released on April 18.
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 he 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.
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.
As of 2014, Bell solely uses Gibson Guitars, his current main instrument being a 2001 Gibson Explorer in limited edition diamond sparkle finish, which he found in Rivers Cuomo's basement, with a chrome mirror pickguard. 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.
Bell was offered a role in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as "Orc Number Three", but declined the part. A few years later Bell stated in an interview that it was "not the right move for (his) movie career at the time".
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)
- Clara Obscura (2017)
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 October 10, 2007.
- Luerssen D., John, 2004 p. 97
- Heisel, Scott (May 9, 2014). "20 Facts You May Not Know About Weezer's Blue Album". Alternative Press. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- "Weezer discography: Make Believe: Track By Track". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- "The Relationship". Myspace. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- "09/24/06 I want people to be afraid of how much they love me". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on November 29, 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "Brian Bell Fan Interview 2006". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
- "Episode 24 - Brian Bell (Weezer/The Relationship)". Cigar City Management. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
- "Brian Bell Autographed Guitar". Lyon Guitars. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- "Stoke Factor 4: January 12, 2005". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- "03/09/06 Zero Tolerance". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on November 29, 2006. Retrieved October 24, 2007.
- "12/20/06 Fritters, Homefries, Bunions, Yamlets". Weezer.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
- Chicago Sun-Times Archived January 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine