Matthew Kelly “Matt” Sharp (born September 22, 1969) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer. He is best known as a founding member and former bassist of the alternative rock band Weezer. In 1994, he started a band called The Rentals, who released their debut album shortly after Weezer’s first release, their second album in 1999, and an EP in 2007. In addition, he has released one full-length album and one EP as a solo artist.
During his time with Weezer he was known for his warm and fuzzy tone of his bass guitar and his falsetto background vocal abilities. During live performances he was the one that usually moved around on the stage the most, performing jumps, dances and slides. Sharp is left handed but plays bass right handed.
Matt Sharp was born in Bangkok, Thailand to American parents on September 22, 1969. When he was one year old, he and his family moved to Arlington, Virginia. At the age of nine, he made his first musical purchase, which was a 45 rpm single of the song “Le Freak” by Chic. When he was fourteen, he found himself being drawn to thrash bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and D.R.I. Becoming tired of the classic rock radio format in Arlington, Sharp moved to California at age sixteen, ending up in San Diego.
In 1989, Sharp started fronting a goth band called the Clique. This band lasted less than one year. About six months later, he befriended future Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson. They created the band, 60 Wrong Sausages, later acquiring future Weezer guitarist Jason Cropper to join the band.Wilson was also in a band with future Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo called Fuzz. In need of an 8-track player, Wilson convinced Cuomo to move into the same apartment that Wilson and Sharp were sharing. During this time, Sharp was also working as a telemarketer.
In the summer of 1991, Sharp moved north to Berkeley to pursue what Karl Koch called, “some sorta symphonic keyboard sequencing music.” Other members of the band moved to separate apartments during this time. In January 1992, Sharp reconnected with his former bandmates; Cuomo, Wilson and Cropper, when Wilson showed him material from his and Cuomo’s “50 song project.” Sharp was pleased with the material and returned to Los Angeles to join the band, consisting of Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson and Jason Cropper, now under the name Weezer.
Weezer and The Rentals
Sharp was a founding member of Weezer, which was formed on Valentine’s Day in 1992. After the success of Weezer’s first album The Blue Album, he founded The Rentals in the spring of 1994, who released their debut Return of the Rentals the following year, which featured the radio hit “Friends of P” and “Please Let That Be You”. He left Weezer in February 1998 two years after the release of the band’s second album, Pinkerton.
The Rentals released their second album, Seven More Minutes, in 1999. Among the record’s more notable contributors were Damon Albarn (of Blur), Donna Matthews (of Elastica), Miki Berenyi (of Lush), and Tim Wheeler (of Ash). Maya Rudolph (later of Saturday Night Live fame) was a member of the touring version of the band during this time. The track “My Head is in the Sun” was co-written with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. The album sold considerably less than Return of the Rentals, and the band eventually went on hiatus in 1999.
Solo records and legal battles
Sharp moved to the small town of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, about an hour outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and began recording while living there. In an interview with MTV News, Sharp told the reporter he was trying to disconnect and cut all ties to the music world.
After a four-year hiatus from the public eye, Sharp returned to the music scene with an EP entitled Puckett’s Versus the Country Boy in late 2003. Puckett’s and Country Boy were the 2 restaurants that Sharp ate at while living in Tennessee, and the name comes from having to choose one. Sharp also went on an acoustic tour in the fall of 2002, touring with former Cake guitarist Greg Brown.
Sharp filed a five-count federal lawsuit against Weezer on April 19, 2002. He alleged he was owed money for co-writing Weezer’s first hit song, “Undone – The Sweater Song,” and that he owned a 25% interest in the first nine tracks of Pinkerton (which had been credited solely to Rivers Cuomo). Sharp also claimed he had handled most of Weezer’s business affairs during their early success, such as hiring accountants and attorneys, and also had helped the band land their record deal. According to the Weezer biography Rivers’ Edge: The Weezer Story by John D. Luerssen the lawsuit also stated that Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo was going to ask him to appear in the music video for the song “Island in the Sun.” Finally, Sharp charged his former band mates with breach of fiduciary duty, legal malpractice, dissolution of partnership, and declaratory relief. The lawsuit was later settled out of court. As a follow-up of sorts, when Sharp was asked about his future with Weezer, he brought up the fact that he hadn’t heard any of their music since he left and that “if [the albums] were bad, they’d probably be just as bad if I was there.”
Reunion with Cuomo, re-formation of The Rentals
On February 12, 2004, Rivers Cuomo and Matt Sharp ended their public separation when they reunited onstage. Rivers sat in during a Sharp solo show at Cal State Fullerton. Sharp and Cuomo played four songs together: the Sharp/Cuomo collaborations “Mrs. Young” and “Time Song,” and the Weezer tunes “Say It Ain’t So” and “Undone”. At the show, Sharp announced that he and Cuomo would be working on a collaborative record together. Yet later that year, he announced on his website that although they had come up with “15 or 16 new song ideas” for their new album, their “special brand of dysfunctionality” might keep them from finishing the project any time soon.
Sharp released a solo EP in 2003, a solo full-length in 2004 and continued to tour in 2004–2005 with the band Goldenboy.
In 2004, Sharp recorded synthesizer on So Jealous by Canadian indie pop band Tegan and Sara. Sharp continued to work with the band on their next album, The Con, later appearing at a Tegan and Sara concert in 2008 to play bass in a cover of Weezer’s “Tired of Sex.”
After a slow period in 2005, Sharp contemplated what to do next, considering either a new solo album or starting a new collaborative partnership (although he didn’t state with whom). The possibility of him rejoining Weezer was also an option. Thus he decided to re-form The Rentals after a six-year absence. Work has begun on a third LP and they released an EP entitled The Last Little Life EP on August 14, 2007. The lineup of the reformed band is different from the original, including original backup vocalist Rachel Haden on bass/vocals, Sara Radle on vocals/multiple instruments, Ben Pringle of Nerf Herder on synths, Lauren Chipman on viola/synth/vocals and Dan Joeright on drums. Sara Radle tells the story of when she first became aware of Matt Sharp’s idea to reform The Rentals on her Myspace profile in her blog. The Rentals toured in North America in the summers of 2006 and 2007; these tours were notable for featuring a version of “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams,” a Weezer b-side that Haden sang lead on and Sharp played bass on, the latter still being in the band at that time.
After the release of “Songs About Time” in 2010, Matt and The Rentals went on hiatus.
In October 2010, Matt Sharp sold most of his equipment from his Weezer and The Rentals days on eBay.
His famously used Orange Matamp Lead 200 was purchased by Greg Veerman, Bass player of Canadian rock band San Sebastian.
In November 2010, Cuomo mentioned in an interview with Spin Magazine that “the idea came up” of having Sharp rejoin the band for their “Memories Tour,” in which they play The Blue Album and Pinkerton. Cuomo stated “I think we left that idea behind pretty early on. I don’t remember. I wasn’t involved in the discussion so I don’t know what the issues were.”
- 1994 – Weezer (The Blue Album)
- 1996 – Pinkerton
- 1995 – Return of the Rentals
- 1999 – Seven More Minutes
- 2007 – The Last Little Life EP
- 2009 – Songs About Time
- 2011 – Resilience: A Benefit Album for the Relief Effort in Japan
- 2014 – Lost in Alphaville
- 2003 – Puckett’s Versus the Country Boy
- 2004 – Matt Sharp
- 1998 – Meet the Deedles Soundtrack (co-producer and background vocals on “American Girls”)
With Tegan and Sara
- 2004 – So Jealous
- 2007 – The Con