Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo and guiatrist Brian Bell–headline performers at the U.S. Open of Surfing. Photo by Beau Roulette courtesy of the U.S. Open of Surfing.
It felt like a sell-out. We first took notice of the strange relationship between the band Weezer and the brand Hurley back at the U.S. Open of Surfing, when we first tweeted the news. Weezer, the band headliner at the event, which was sponsored by Hurley (and Nike 6.0 and Converse), had just announced that they actually recorded a lot of their new album at the Hurley headquarters and the name of their new album was “Hurley.”
While musicians and brand partnerships are nothing new and can often give a brand cred as the music association often helps the brand reach a much wider audience, never has a band named their album after the brand that’s sponsoring them. It’s as if Valiant Thor decided to name their next album “Volcom.” It just wouldn’t fly. (And Valiant Thor probably would never do it.)
While it’s true that the cover of Weezer’s 4th album has a picture of Jorge Garcia, the big guy that plays the character of Hurley on Lost, Weezer guitarist Brian Bell blew the whistle when he said to Rolling Stone magazine, “The inspiration came from a surf company called Hurley that was funding the record. We actually did some sort of advertisement [with Hurley] -I don’t even know how they’re tied in so much, although, we got some clothes and we did a photo shoot where we’re wearing these clothes and I think we’re selling these clothes in malls “
Obviously that was the wrong thing to say and in about a New York minute, a retractment of his statement went back out, particularly on Weezer’s band website and message boards, with Bell supposedly stating, “I mistakenly said that Hurley funded the album. Weezer paid for every penny of this recording the reason the record is called Hurley is because he’s on the cover.
Whether Hurley the brand funded the album or not, it is true that Hurley struck a deal with Weezer in a couple of ways: Weezer’s new record “Hurley” will be sold in Hurley sections of PacSun stores, and Weezer is supposedly designing a capsule collection with Hurley consisting of graphic T’s, jackets, and other apparel as part of Hurley’s “Rock You back to School.” There’s also a collaborative contest whereby fans can enter to win having Weezer play at their school.
The band is taking heat from fans for being “bought” by Hurley (which essentially is Nike) and selling out. The defensive tone on their website as though it’s really “just another merch deal” proves this. Meanwhile, Hurley, a brand that has always been immersed in surf and music cultures, still takes heat from the perception that they helped Nike break into action sports, particularly surfing, as indicated with their massive sponsorship and activation at the U.S. Open.