The Rentals are an American rock band fronted by vocalist Matt Sharp, best known as the former bass player for rock group Weezer. The band is best known for their mid-1990s hit single, "Friends of P.". The group has released two albums, Return of the Rentals and Seven More Minutes on Maverick Records. The band quietly dissolved in 1999 following the world tour for their second album, but reformed in 2005 and has since then released several EPs.
Return of The Rentals and Seven More Minutes:
The group is known for their quirky Moog-driven melodies and a mix of male and female vocals. Their first single, "Friends of P" off of their debut album Return of the Rentals, was a modern rock radio hit, peaking at #7 on Billboard's Modern Rock Chart and #92 on the Billboard Hot 100. The accompanying music video was shot with antiquated equipment, on black and white film stock, for a total budget of less than $1,000. Upon its release, the video was added to MTV's playlist in early November 1995.
Early the next year, "Waiting" was released as the follow-up single, and it was also chosen to be featured on the soundtrack to the MTV Films comedy Joe's Apartment. The music video that had already been shot for "Waiting" was edited together with clips of footage from the movie, and this version made its debut on 120 Minutes. Both versions of the music video were eventually released, and can be viewed on video websites like Youtube.
Band members on Return Of The Rentals included Patrick Wilson (also of Weezer) on drums, Rod Cervera (guitar), Tom Grimley (keyboards), Petra Haden (violin, vocals), and Cherielynn Westrich (vocals, moog). Petra's triplet sister, Rachel Haden, appears as an additional vocalist. After Sharp left Weezer, Wilson's studio replacement on the drums was Kevin March and Mike Fletcher was the band's most frequent touring drummer. Maya Rudolph, of Saturday Night Live fame, also handled keyboard and backing vocals for the group's first tours in support of its debut album. The group headlined its own club shows, and also hit larger venues, as the opening act for such well-established acts as Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Blur, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Sharp reformed The Rentals in 1997 and 1998 to record their second album Seven More Minutes. He recruited Petra Haden to replace Cherielynn Westrich as the main female vocalist, and Jim Richards replaced Tom Grimley on Moog synthesizer; Kevin March was again on drums and Rod Cervera on guitar. Maya Rudolph made a guest appearance on two songs. Members of Blur, Ash, Elastica and Lush also made guest appearances. The album was released in April 1999. It was well received by fans and critics but The Rentals' record company, Reprise and Maverick, didn't properly promote due to disagreements with Sharp on the mixing. Sharp formed a completely new lineup including former Elevator Drops guitarist Josh Hager (AKA Garvy J), replacing Rod Cervara, for a brief tour of Japan. The tour in Japan consisted of an acoustic set featuring no moogs or female harmonies and then an electric set. This tour resulted in the internet-only double live album Live in Japan.
Presumably influenced by his new friend Josh Hager, Matt retreated with Hager and former Cake guitarist Greg Brown, to Leipers Fork, Tennessee to record a solo album of acoustic material, much like the acoustic sets in The Rentals 1999 Japanese tour. These sessions resulted in an EP and an album, 2003 and 2004, respectively. Acoustic tours in between 2002-2005 also occurred, sometimes with Hager and Brown, sometimes with just Sharp, and sometimes with the band Goldenboy. These shows were characterized by an intimate environment, with Sharp often inviting the audience to sit in a round on stage with him for the duration of the concert.
On October 24, 2005, the tenth anniversary of the band's first album's release, Matt Sharp announced he was bringing back The Rentals after a six year absence. The band toured North America in the summer of 2006 with Ozma, with Matt Sharp wearing the trademark horn-rimmed glasses he wore during the band's initial run. Ryen Slegr of Ozma played guitar for both bands on the entire tour. The Rentals lineup included original backup vocalist Rachel Haden on vocals/bass, Sara Radle on vocals/multiple instruments, Ben Pringle (from Nerf Herder) on synths/trombone, Lauren Chipman on viola/vocals and Dan Joeright on drums. The tour received rave reviews from fans and featured a performance of the Weezer b-side "I Just Threw out the Love of My Dreams" reprised by Sharp and Haden.
On August 14, 2007 the group released their first new material in 8 years, a collection of home recordings called The Last Little Life EP. The latter includes a reworked version of "Sweetness and Tenderness". The band also announced a headlining US summer 2007 tour to coincide with the release of the new EP. The band played at Spaceland every Saturday in July before embarking on a nationwide tour in August. The bands Copeland and Goldenboy were "special guests" for the tour.
In July 2008, The Rentals announced the departure of Sara Radle. She left the group to focus on her new band, Calamity Magnet. On September 27, 2008, The Rentals released a new song titled "Colorado" on the band's official Web site.
Songs About Time:
On January 1, 2009, The Rentals announced their new yearlong multimedia project, Songs About Time, which consisted of:
Photographs About Days--365 photographs plus one roll of undeveloped film shot each day by Matt Sharp.,
Films About Weeks--52 short films with music and scores exclusive to the films.,
Songs About Time--three mini-albums to be released in April, July, and October as digital downloads. At the end of the year, the band will release a limited deluxe edition box set of the project, available both as compact discs and 180-gram vinyl records. Also, one of the 365 rolls of film will be added to the first 365 orders of the box set.,
The Rentals' Songs About Time collective features former vixtrola artist Jamie Blake among Rentals' alumni Lauren Chipman and Dan Joeright. On April 7, 2009, the first mini-album from Songs About Time was released, featuring Joey Santiago of The Pixies as a guest performer. Although there have been no official announcements (such as with Sara Radle's departure), neither Rachel Haden nor Ben Pringle appear on the EP or the Films About Weeks so far.
The group's second EP in the Songs About Time series, entitled Time To Come Home, was released on July 7, 2009.
The group's third EP in the Songs About Time series, entitled The Future, was released on October 20, 2009.
On April 12, 2011, The Rentals released an album entitled 'Resilience'. This was (as their official website states) originally recorded as part of the Songs About Time project, as accompanying music to the 'Films About Weeks' videos.
The album was originally titled 'Tokyo Blues' but renamed to 'Resilience' as a commentary on the band's perception of the character and resilience of the Japanese people after the Japanese Tsunami/Earthquake disaster.
2011 live dates:
The band are playing the 2011 Nano Mugen festival in Japan on both days and have assembled an incarnation of The Rentals which includes Songs About Time collaborator Jamie Blake, regular member Lauren Chipman and members of the bands Ash and We Are Scientists (according to a post on their Facebook page).