Weezer and Toto: the inside story of music’s unlikely love-in

The two bands have released reciprocal covers of each other’s hits, Hash Pipe and Africa. Toto’s guitarist, Steve Porcaro, reveals how it happened

It is surely the weirdest musical love-in of the year. Geeky emo/power-pop kingpins Weezer covered Toto’s 80s megahit Africa, a love story about the continent, and, in return, the west coast rock veterans have covered Weezer’s 2001 hit Hash Pipe, a song about a transvestite sex worker.

This improbable meeting of minds began in May, after 15-year-old Mary Klym had spent months spamming Weezer on social media, begging them to cover the Toto smash. “Eventually, they trolled the girl back,” Toto’s keyboard player, Steve Porcaro, chuckles, “by covering our song Rosanna instead of Africa.”

Toto’s Africa
Toto’s Africa Photograph: PR Company Handout

However, a week later, Weezer’s Africa duly appeared and the band invited Porcaro to play keyboards when they performed it on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. “Such sweet guys,” he says. When Weezer’s respectful cover gave Toto their first Billboard Hot 100 hit in eight years and introduced them to a different audience, Porcaro wanted to “return the favour”.

The initial plan was to cover the song Beverly Hills, which “lent itself to a Toto vibe”, before Porcaro’s neighbour, a Weezer superfan, suggested some alternatives. “He talked me through their hits,” Porcaro explains. “Then he looked up with a little gleam in his eye and said something about driving down the freeway with Hash Pipe cranked up, and that really stuck with me.”

At first, Toto’s singer, Joseph Williams, needed convincing to record the much harder-rocking song, but Porcaro reminded him that Toto weren’t “a bunch of studio guys distorting their amplifiers for the first time. We started off as a garage band who played a lot of rock’n’roll.”

This just left the contentious issue of the lyrics, with fans and lyric websites divided over whether they are: “I got my eyes wide” or, ahem, “I got my ass wide”. “I heard it as ‘ass wide’ myself for a long time,” Porcaro says, “but Joseph corrected me. He said: ‘It’s a much better lyric than you’d think.’ Despite the title, it’s not about partying. It’s actually quite dark.”

Nevertheless, when Toto debuted the cover in Vancouver, the guitarist, Steve Lukather, quipped that the song suited the band because “we were smoking hash since before they [Weezer] were born”. The two songs now feature in both groups’ setlists. As Porcaro explains: “Now we’ll both probably have to play Hash Pipe and Africa for the rest of our entire lives.”


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Tracks of the week reviewed: Cher, Toto doing Weezer and Aphex Twin
Cher continues the Abba love-in, there’s a goosebump-inducing tale from Ray BLK, and Aphex Twin offers a yummy mummy-free answer to meditation

Hannah J Davies

17, Aug, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
CD: Weezer, Weezer
3 stars (DGC/Interscope)

Betty Clarke

12, Jun, 2008 @11:00 PM

Weezer, Hammersmith Apollo, London

Hammersmith Apollo, London

Betty Clarke

25, Aug, 2005 @2:04 AM

Weezer: Hurley | CD review

The new one from Weezer follows a long-etablished trend, says Michael Hann – that of not being as good as their first three albums

Michael Hann

16, Sep, 2010 @11:30 PM

Article image
CD: Weezer, Make Believe


Dave Simpson

05, May, 2005 @11:01 PM

Article image
Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright in the End – a partial return to form
Flashes of power-pop skill – but some real stinkers, too, writes Lanre Bakare

Lanre Bakare

02, Oct, 2014 @10:00 PM

Article image
Pop, punk and protest songs: the hottest music on the horizon in 2019
With the uproarious Idles hitting the road, Kamasi Washington play a mind-expanding UK show, and new albums from the Specials, Weezer and AJ Tracey, here are the sounds the new year will be shaking to

Alexis Petridis

01, Jan, 2019 @3:00 PM

Weezer to record new album – already

In the tradition of 1994's Weezer, 2001's Weezer, and 2008's Weezer, the US geek rockers will be calling their next record, er, Weezer. But which colour will it be this time?

Sean Michaels

22, Sep, 2008 @9:21 AM

Article image
Weezer cancel tour after bus crash
The band have pulled the rest of their US tour following an accident that left singer Rivers Cuomo hospitalised with 'very painful internal damage'

Sean Michaels

08, Dec, 2009 @12:17 PM

Article image
Weezer 'offered' $10m to split up

Frustrated fans launch fundraiser to persuade band to retire, urging them to 'take our money and disappear'

Sean Michaels

07, Oct, 2010 @9:06 AM