Matt Sharp launched The Rentals in 1995 with The Return of The Rentals while Weezer was on hiatus between the Blue Album and Pinkerton. The album spawned the hit “Friends of P” and the project became Sharp’s full-time gig departing Weezer after Pinkerton’s release in 1996. The Rentals’ official fourth LP, a sci-fi themed, 16-track double-album opus Q36 is out now, featuring contributions from Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (The KIllers) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, Mercury Rev, etc.). Over the past quarter century the amorphous group has featured contributions from Petra Haden (That Dog), Maya Rudolph, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz/Blur), Tim Wheeler (Ash), Donna Matthews (Elastica), Miki Berenyi (Lush), Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig (Lucius), Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), amongst many others. With Q36 Sharp takes the collaborative nature even further, creating new merchandise items for every single with visual artist Ivan Minsloff and connecting with the community at HITRECORD.org.
ZeroZeroZero is a show about a single drug deal that involves and Italian component, a Mexican component, and a shipping company in New Orleans.
As this thing was just starting to infringe on our daily lives, everyone was flocking to Contagion — like, “Is that what we’re in for?” But we as an American society hadn’t really gotten into the muck yet. Like most folks, my girlfriend and I watched that. It didn’t have a more anxiety-inducing effect on us, we were just watching it out of curiosity. Then in the weeks that followed that, America was in the muck with everybody else, and we were glued to the news. As that was going on, we started getting all of those real-time performances, people singing from their bedrooms — not begrudging them, but we got instantly inundated with all of that creation that was reactive to the pandemic. My manager suggested I do some of those things, but I wasn’t interested in watching any it from other people or doing it myself. I think it brings comfort to other people and that’s wonderful, but there’s something about it that doesn’t resonate with me.
So I found myself seeking out things that were created without any of this in mind, which is most stuff. ZeroZeroZero is quite and incredible achievement. I’ve heard very few people talking about it. I’m not someone who’s normally attracted to super violent content, but for some reason the way the violence in it is done, I don’t find it particularly repulsive to the point of not being able to watch. People talk about escapism, and I really found myself deeply in the escape of this show. It took me to some place where I felt completely immersed in the three different story lines that run simultaneously. It made so many incredible choices. In the midst of watching, I’d be like, Well, never seen a character like that before — with those traits, that background, that affect.
The show could have been about any subject matter. It’s the quality of the acting, the depth of the characters, and how odd they are as far as choices to be in the situations they find themselves in. Basically, the characters are a grandfatherly Italian drug lord who has been in hiding for an undisclosed amount of time, but lives by himself in a country field in an underground bunker. He’s somehow running his mafia from this place, but from what I can tell he has no phone lines or electronics — there’s no way to find him, because he’s in absolute isolation. His grandson is basically trying to undermine him and take over the business.
The other story line is a man, Manuel, who is in the Mexican special ops, but is also working on the side for the drug cartels. He’s deeply religious, and whenever they’re in the midst of anything, he turns to — I don’t know if it’s a podcast of this priest, or something he recorded himself, but he has these recordings he listens to about being connected with god, while he’s dealing with all these ungodly acts.
The third is a family from New Orleans who runs a shipping trade. It’s part-legitimate, but their major funding is from getting shipments from Mexico to Italy. They’re getting this one massive shipment, and the shipment itself is like the fourth main character in the show, in a way. The family is a father, who doesn’t turn out to be as central a figure, but he’s the one running this business that’s been in the family for hundreds of years. There’s a daughter, Emma, who is more or less the Michael Corleone of the family. Then there’s a son, who has been kept out of the business; he’s basically a ticking time bomb, suffering from something like Lou Gehrig’s disease. He’s got a bit of a laissez-faire, what the fuck’s the point element to the way he carries himself. He’s also partially deaf, so if he doesn’t have a hearing aid in, he can’t hear anything — so if he pops it out, everything goes silent and it’s quite a beautiful effect they go to in certain times of chaos. You just see what’s going on as a visual, and not get overtaken by the sonic element.
I might be being hyperbolic, but it’s one of the most visually beautiful shows I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those things where, in art and especially with film, someone is in their moment and everything seems to go right. With The Godfather, everything Francis Ford Coppola does seems to go right — the casting is exactly right, the script seems as natural and fluid as it could possibly be, the score comes in at the right point, the cinematographer is so in sync with the director and his vision. Everything has a harmony to it. Similarly with this show, everything seems to be in exactly its right place.
It’s a globe-trotting epic of a series, but it’s not the fact that they’re going from this environment to that environment — it’s the places within those vast locations that are just so perfectly chosen. The character Manuel attends this church, and the location of it and how it looks looks like no other church I’ve seen, but it looks realistic. I just found myself completely swept away. The soundtrack is done by Mogwai; the score is just perfect with every image, a perfect tone-setter.
I guess my one criticism of the show is that, there are moments with the timeline where I was like, how are you physically getting from this point to that point so effortlessly? There’s a moment or two where Emma — when you need her, she can be there, and it’s seemingly with a Star Trek transportation device. That’s the only thing I found slightly curious, but it never derailed me to the point of losing interest.