retreated to a solo career, recording the remarkable Puckett's
Versus the Country Boy EP in 2003 and a full-length solo album
in '04. Instead of playing in front of arenas filled with screaming
fans, he found himself hosting somber candle-lit acoustic shows,
like his two Sokol Underground performances in '02 and '03.
Then last year,
Sharp was faced with a choice of continuing his solo career, rejoining
Weezer or reinventing The Rentals. "I kept looking at my manager
and saying, 'You know what this entails? This is the most difficult
of all the choices.'"
together a band that included original back-up vocalist Rachel Haden,
ex-Lucy Loves Schroeder frontwoman Sara Radle (who Sharp credits
as a major inspiration), ex-Nerf Herder Ben Pringle, viola player/vocalist
Lauren Chipman and drummer Dan Joeright. Goldenboy guitarist Shon
Sullivan rounds out the touring band.
Sharp said this
new band is a different kind of juggling act. "It involves
working with multiple very strong personalities all contributing
creatively," he said. "Seven people on stage at all times,
all of them multi-instrumentalists, all constantly shifting instruments
throughout the performance."
The band first
toured last summer before pulling together the music that makes
up their just-released EP, The Last Little Life (Boompa Records).
Sharp said the EP followed a similar path as the first Rentals record.
"Both were situations where we recorded in home studios really
without the thought that some day someone would hear these songs,"
he said. "We were just trying to find out where to go in the
The final product
casts aside the quirky goofiness of The Rentals' debut while retaining
all of its hooks and charm and ever-present harmonies. Opening track
"Last Romantic Day" is a lush pop song where the Rentals'
trademark synth sound takes a back seat to acoustic guitars and
warm strings. "Little Bit of You in Everything" is a top-down,
blue-sky back-beat chugger, while trombone and viola embrace on
pop life lesson "Life Without a Brain." The EP closes
with Rentals' classic "Sweetness and Tenderness" reborn
as a dense, multi-instrumental set piece that Sharp said inspired
the band's direction throughout its rebirth.
Later this year,
after the band finishes the tour that brings them to Slowdown Friday
night, Sharp and Co. will enter a real studio to record their first
full-length in eight year. Though he hasn't been a member of Weezer
in a decade, Sharp doesn't mind that fans still associate him with
no goal to distance myself from the past," he said. "I
face it every day on the road when people come up and say something
sweet and generous about my past with Weezer. I feel blessed that
anyone takes the time to appreciate anything I was a part of. It's
something I don't take for granted, something I don't run from or
feel embarrassed about or challenged by. I feel lucky that the situation
occurred and that people got something out of it."
Published in The Omaha Reader Aug. 9, 2007.
Copyright © 2007 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.