Friday, May 18, 2018

Guitar's Not Dead! May 2018 Playlist: Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Courtney Barnett, Parquet Courts, Ty Segall & White Fence

Don't let anyone tell you guitar is dead! These days, we who love the guitar and rock and roll oft times despair the dominance of auto tune, pop music, synthesizers, and so on. But fear not! Guitars still ring loud & true!

Out Today (All featuring Bold Guitar):

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Sparkle Hard
Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really Feel
Parquet Courts Wide Awake!
Ty Segall & White Fence "Good Boy" (single, album Joy out July 20)

Add to The Playlist:

Stephen Malkmus "Middle America" (solo, acoustic), "Bertha" (Jerry Garcia tribute live feat David Hidalgo), "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider" from Day Of The Dead: Tribute To The Grateful Dead, "Margaritaville" (Jimmy Buffett cover) and "Flaked Theme Song" from Flaked, "Solid Silk". "Shiggy", "Middle America", "Refute", "Freeze the Saints" and "Trigger Cut" (solo, acoustic from Live From Saint John's Episcopal Rectory)

Courtney Barnett "Never Tear Us Apart" (INXS cover for Aussie Apple Advert), and "Over Everything" & "Continental Breakfast" from Lotta Sea Lice with Kurt Vile

Parquet Courts "Soul And Cigarette", "Mount Napoleon", "Memphis Blues Again" from Milano (Daniele Luppi, Parquet Courts, and Karen O.), and "Frightened" (Mark E. Smith/The Fall cover) by A. Savage (singer/guitarist of Parquet Courts) and Thawing Dawn (A. Savage solo album)

Ty Segall Freedom's Goblin

Special Mentions: 

Folk/jazz legend Barbara Dane just celebrated her 91st birthday. Check out her new retrospective "Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard-Hitting Songs"

Highly anticipated release coming in June, 14 "new" songs from The Byrds' Gene Clark (circa 1967) Gene Clark Sings For You.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy released a video of a Susanna cover "Wild Is The Will" for the anti-gun violence protest #NationalSchoolWalkout . The powerful video evokes the hope and despair that survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, most notably Emma Gonzalez, have come to represent.

Other Artists We've Enjoyed Lately: King Tuff, Tim Buckley (and read two Buckley books, by Underwood and Browne, both great), Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Love (50th anniversary of their classic Forever Changes), Horse Feathers, Gabor Szabo (as per Lee Underwood in the Buckley book), Johnny Cash (Total Sun Collection), Neil Young (Tonight's The Night Live At The Roxy), The Who (Live at The Fillmore East 1968), Doug Sahm, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield, John Prine, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, The Vaccines, Mick Ronson, David Bowie, and many others...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Washington Post: Stephen Malkmus Had His Groove Denied. He Was Upset For About Five Minutes.

Stephen Malkmus in his Portland, Ore., home with Magic, his family’s puppy. (Jason Quigley/Washington Post)
 One night last November, an unexpected opening act popped up at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. Stephen Malkmus, best known for fronting the 1990s indie-rock giants Pavement, took the stage without even a guitar. Malkmus, wearing a trucker’s hat and T-shirt, brought a laptop, picked up a microphone and sang an album’s worth of the songs he planned to release as his next record. 
“I was blown away,” said Steve Doughton, who helped organize the event meant to kick off PICA’s exhibition of his 1997 art film, “DELTA.” “The album is phenomenal.”
Malkmus had created the music in his basement with Pro Tools, Ableton software and keyboards. It felt good to experiment, to move away from the guitar-driven songs that dominated his catalogue. Then he dropped the files to Matador Records. It had been more than three years since the last Malkmus record. His longtime label wasn’t thrilled to get a keyboard-based set driven by drum pads.
“They didn’t want to put it out,” said Malkmus. “Or they thought it was dumb to put it out first because it was a head-scratcher. Maybe some of my more traditional fans that know Pavement would scratch their heads.”
For some artists, a rejected record would spark an ugly standoff. As Malkmus tells this story, he’s relaxed, sitting on a puffy chair in the TV area of the basement.
His youngest daughter, 10-year-old Sunday, and her friends tiptoe, crawl and crouch around furniture. They’re spying. The family’s puppy, Magic, steals sips from a can of LaCroix on the floor.
Malkmus keeps an eye on the Trail Blazers game. It has playoff ramifications. Joe Ingles, the versatile small forward on the Utah Jazz, hits a three.
“He’s a piece of work,” says Malkmus. “He’s Australian. They call him Jingles.”
This is the first time Matador rejected anything from Malkmus. But instead of rage, the label’s dis actually inspired a name for his then-untitled electronic album: “Groove Denied.”
“It was probably a big deal to them, and to me it was like five minutes of kind of being pissed and then the rest was kind of pissing and moaning about it and not being pissed,” he says. “I could have just put it out myself, but I also listened to what they had to say. I was like, ‘You may know more about this than me,’ and I also always had this record.”
“This record” is “Sparkle Hard,” his album out on Matador this month, the one Malkmus is touring behind this summer with the Jicks, a band assembled after Pavement’s demise and now pushing 18. “Sparkle Hard” is also why he won’t share his basement tapes. He wants to focus on his first album since 2014.
Matador didn’t hate “Groove Denied.” Chris Lombardi, the label’s founder, says he definitely plans to release it. He just believed “Sparkle Hard” should come first.
It is all part of his mission to put Malkmus back atop the indie pedestal.
Lombardi knows what he’s up against. To the aging indie-rock intelligentsia, Malkmus, 51, is a legend, his catalogue packed with enough cheeky puns to power a Pitchfork alumni cruise. To the general public, he barely registers. His most marketable currency is a band, Pavement, that had one minor hit, “Cut Your Hair,” during Bill Clinton’s first term and that expired in 1999. The most recent Malkmus album, 2014’s “Wig Out at Jagbags,” was almost universally praised. It has also sold as many copies over its lifetime (21,000) as Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” moved by lunchtime last Nov. 10.
The notion that Malkmus had “Sparkle Hard” on reserve is startling when you consider how good it is. There’s the groove of “Bike Lane,” a takedown of suburbia framed around the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, the country-tinged “Refute,” a twist on the Nashville tear-jerker that features ex-Sonic Youth singer Kim Gordon, and “Middle America,” a song as beautifully melancholic as anything Malkmus has ever done.
Malkmus actually wanted to cut “Middle America” from “Sparkle Hard.” It bored him, and Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme agreed. “Okay, the lyrics are great, but to me, he can write that s--- in his sleep,” she says.
Naturally, that’s the song Lombardi pegged as “the one we want to go out with.”
And selling Malkmus, or reintroducing him, has become his latest mission.
“The music industry has changed, listening habits have changed, and we have to kind of direct people’s attention to something truly genius,” says Lombardi. “To kind of get everybody focused on what Steve Malkmus is again, we wanted to tell the story from a bit of a safer place.”

Stephen Malkmus, far right, with Pavement in the band’s 1990s heyday. (Matador Records)
The reluctant leader
Malkmus grew up in Stockton, Calif., about an hour south of Sacramento. The son of a conservative-leaning insurance salesman and a former schoolteacher, he excelled at tennis, picked up Aerosmith’s “Night in the Ruts” and the first B-52’s album at Tower Records, and played bass in a punk band called the Straw Dogs.
At the University of Virginia, Malkmus studied history (senior thesis: “Inventing Tradition in America: The Country Club of Virginia”) and, after his 1988 graduation, formed Pavement with his Stockton friend Scott Kannberg. Matador signed them and put out 1992’s “Slanted and Enchanted,” an album so acclaimed that there’s a chart on its Wikipedia page devoted to listing the publications that have ranked it one of the greatest albums of all time.
Early on, Malkmus established an aesthetic driven by spontaneity. Vocals were done in a single take. Lyrics were packed with slacker slang and obscure references. (Was that about Ad Reinhardt? A tennis serve? War?) Guitar parts were punched out almost as an afterthought. “Unrepeatable energy,” Malkmus later called it when talking about Pavement at its best.
“I can remember doing that track, ‘Rattled by the Rush,’ on [1995’s] ‘Wowee Zowee,’ ” says engineer Bryce Goggin. “We were mixing it and there was no guitar solo on it, and he picked up a guitar and played that guitar solo in one pass.”
Then there was the image. Other ’90s frontmen — think Eddie Vedder or Billy Corgan — delivered deadly serious dispatches with steely gazes. Malkmus wore untucked, button-down shirts and performed with his eyes half-closed. Bob Nastanovich, a UVA buddy drafted to become Pavement’s “auxiliary noisemaker,” believes his detachment was often misinterpreted.
“He was actually nervous, and the way that was portrayed was looking like he didn’t care,” says Nastanovich. “If you recall the few appearances he made on national television in the 1990s, he came off as incredibly awkward and often put forth a disastrous performance.”
Take a 1994 booking on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Pavement was set to play one of its most radio-friendly singles, “Cut Your Hair.”
And yet Malkmus, ignoring the blueprint laid down at rehearsal, opened the performance with a series of improvised chirps. When the song finally kicked in, he sang with his eyes partially rolled back in his head.
“I know I did not look cool,” says Malkmus. “I was just trying to play the song, probably. It feels weird up there. Jay Leno’s up there. Everybody’s acting like everyone’s normal. I’m sure basically I really did not want to do it, and I was just making myself, ‘Come on, you can do this. Please be over.’ That happens often on those types of shows. Like when Pavement played Coachella. I was like, ‘I can’t wait until this is over.’ ”
It would be over, in 1999, after which Malkmus recruited the Jicks to back him. Each record — “Sparkle Hard” is the seventh — has brought more critical acclaim, fewer albums sold.
“It’s kind of how we used to feel about ‘Arrested Development,’ ” says actor Will Arnett, who recruited Malkmus to score his Netflix series, “Flaked.” “And while in some ways I’m sure it is frustrating, imagine what his life would be like if he became the Stone Temple Pilots. His legacy artistically is immense but what he obviously wanted was to have a life, a real life experience, and he was kind of, in a lot of ways, unencumbered by superstardom on the surface. He’s probably the big winner in all of this.”
Secret words
Last month, during a Malkmus appearance at New York City’s Town Hall for public radio’s “Live From Here,” host Chris Thile gushed about one of his favorite rhymes, of “Tennyson” with “venison” in the 2011 song “Lariat.”
“Where did it come from?” Thile pressed.
“Well, Tennyson just comes to my mind,” Malkmus said, without a pause. “I think I like tennis a lot. I like sons. I like daughters. And then Venice. I like the town of Venice a lot. It’s both in Los Angeles and Italy. And I also love the sun. Who doesn’t? Today was a beautiful, sunny day!”
Walking around Portland, Malkmus is asked about his working method.
“I just play it, I sing into the microphone,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll imagine I’m looking at a crowd and I’ll be thinking, ‘What will I be able to say in front of a bunch of people?’ Sometimes, I’ll just do it, I won’t think of anything. I’ll have two glasses of wine and try it. Then I’ll listen back and see what I like.”
This question, of how he creates, confounds even those closest to him.
“I mean, his wife told me that she never heard him ever writing songs, but then he just seemed to have all these songs,” says Kim Gordon.
Jessica Jackson Hutchins, an artist whose work is in the Whitney and Museum of Modern Art in New York, says her attempt to understand her husband’s creative process has even led her to make peace with his longtime fantasy sports commitment. The activity used to get on her nerves. Now, she wonders if fantasy sports and crossword puzzles help free his brain to write.
“I don’t really see him working on songs,” says Hutchins. “Sometimes he walks around with his acoustic guitar and messes around with it. And he works on it downstairs, and I can hear him playing stuff and sometimes cracking himself up.”
This time around, Malkmus says he is trying to be more open, to give the people — or in this case, the press — what they want. Does he wish he could sell more records? It’s such a straight question. What he wants from “Sparkle Hard” is something new, whatever it is.
“I just don’t want to just put it out and have it come out for one week and have some attention for one week and do the same shows in the venues that we go,” says Malkmus. “Because that’s not fun. It gets a little boring. And I would have wanted that on the other ones, too. I’m just talking about it more. Why not just say why you’re really doing it instead of saying it’s about the art. You want to do well, you want to succeed, you want people to like you and think it’s cool music.”
Last year, in the midst of the “Groove Denied” dilemma, Lombardi and Matador co-president Gerard Cosloy flew out to see Malkmus to explain why they thought the electronic album would be wrong right now. Lombardi remembers Malkmus answering the door.
“Am I dropped?” he asked.
Malkmus, sitting at his kitchen table recently, laughs about the exchange. Yes, he did offer that up. But he says he wasn’t worried or concerned. Nobody’s untouchable.
“And I might as well ask first,” he says. “Make it easier for them to break up with you. Who knows what’s going on with their finances. I don’t know what Queens of the Stone Age sells. What if they gave them so much money hoping that they would be like the next Foo Fighters?”
Then he lets out one of those nasally giggles.

He loves Matador and considers Cosloy and Lombardi his friends. But if he had to go, “there’s plenty of nice labels for, like, over 50 artists.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Trump and The Rolling Stones... A Complicated Relationship

The New York Times today reports that the investigation into collusion between Team Trump and Russia was codenamed "Crossfire Hurricane" by the FBI, after the opening line of The Stones' classic song "Jumping Jack Flash".

Observers will recall that Donald Trump has been using another Stones song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" at rallies during the campaign and continuing to the present day.

Add to that Keith Richards badmouthing Trump in the press about the past and the present and you have a very complicated relationship between The Orange One and The Rolling Stones.

Personally, I've always thought "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is a strange song for a politician to play (shouldn't they tell you that you CAN always get what you want?). It's just Trump trying to do a Scorsese and use baby-boomer soundtrack memories to trigger emotional responses.

Trump's use of the song recalls debates would "fair use" and the history of artists asking politicians to "stop and desist" using their songs at rallies. Having an artist declare that they disagree with the message of a politician using their song ought to be enough to convince the politician to choose another song. Some question whether an artist can or will actually sue someone for using their song at a public rally without permission and if they would be successful in such a suit and at what cost in time, money, and publicity.

Add to that, in The Stones' case,  that much of their publishing rights were given to Allen Klein (the most successful non-musician in rock history) in a settlement, leading to the absurdity surrounding The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony", Richard Ashcroft's masterpiece that was nearly scuttled by Klein's maneuvering, which resulted in Klein receiving more profits from the song than the actual composer (and the composers Ashcroft was accused of copying). All due to a short sample (about 12 notes by my count) in "Bittersweet" of an orchestral version (by Andrew Loog Oldham of "The Last Time"). One of the greatest rock n roll swindles of all time.

Why Keith Richards had to get rid of Donald Trump

"Now America has to get rid of him (Trump). Don't say I didn't warn you!" 

Original at

Keith Richards and Mick JaggerImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionRichards and Jagger are in rehearsals for their tour which starts on Saturday in Dublin

Rolling Stones star Keith Richards says he can't be bothered to get angry any more - but the last time he did was nearly 30 years ago with Donald Trump.
"He [Trump] was the promoter for us in Atlantic City [during 1989's Steel Wheels Tour]," he told the BBC.
"[It was billed as] 'Donald Trump presents the Rolling Stones' [with the band's name written in miniature]."
"I got out my trusty blade, stuck it in the table and said: 'You have to get rid of this man!'"
He joked: "Now America has to get rid of him. Don't say I didn't warn you!" 
And he wasn't the only one talking politics.

Donald TrumpImage copyrightEPA
Image captionTrump chose You Can't Always Get What You Want to be played after his victory speech

Ahead of the band's No Filter Tour, frontman Mick Jagger spoke about Brexit.
"I'm not really happy with the status quo. In the UK I think we're going through a difficult moment. It's very hard to understand all the difficulties we're having with Brexit.
"The current government seems to be having a very hard time to navigate through it. Everyone would like to see a fast resolution and a united front rather than a split."

'Weird existence'

He also referred to Trump's choice of song to follow his victory speech when he became US president last year, the band's You Can't Always Get What You Want.
"It's a funny song for a play-out song - a drowsy ballad about drugs in Chelsea! It's kind of weird. He couldn't be persuaded to use something else."
Jagger says he's still enjoying being a rock star but admits he doesn't know what else he could do.
"I've really done little else in my life - it's a bit limiting. It's a very cloistered, weird existence. I'm very happy to do it but I don't know about much else."
The tour kicks off on 17 May in Dublin before taking in several UK dates followed by concerts in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.

On This Day In 1966, The Beach Boys Released Their Seminal Album, "Pet Sounds"...

Brian: “During the production of Pet Sounds, I dreamt I had a halo over my head. This might have meant the angels were watching over Pet Sounds...”

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rolling Stone: Stephen Malkmus - My Life in 15 Songs

A wise man once sang that you can never quarantine the past. His name was Stephen Malkmus, the year was 1994, and he had stumbled across something profound. Decades later, the zany, beautiful music he and Pavement were making in those days has transcended temporal limits, showing up as a Biblical influence on indie-rock bands from every subsequent generation. In 2010, when they put out a greatest-hits set to mark a brief reunion, they called it Quarantine the Past, like wizards trying to call back their most powerful spell.

On a recent morning at the New York office of his longtime record label, Malkmus is doing his best to make sense out of all that. He slumps back into an armchair, pulls a dingy orange-and-white baseball cap low over his eyes — he’s a teeny bit snoozy after attending a Brooklyn Nets game the previous evening — and thinks about his creative process in Pavement. "I was just trying to hit the notes and have it flow and maybe evoke something," the 51-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist says finally, in a characteristic understatement.

This Friday, May 18, Malkmus obsessives can sink their teeth into Sparkle Hard, the seventh album he's made with the Jicks since forming that band after Pavement’s 1999 breakup. It's a superb showcase for his mature style of songwriting, heavy on the melancholy ballads ("Solid Silk," "Middle America") with a guitar anthem or two thrown in ("Shiggy"). There are, notably, fewer jokes on this album than the last couple. Malkmus demoed Sparkle Hard starting in 2015 at the "unglamorous basement studio" he keeps in his Portland, Oregon home, later recording the album with his bandmates — keyboardist Mike Clark, bassist Joanna Bolme, and drummer Jake Morris — and producer Chris Funk of the Decemberists. "I'm liking that people like it, and I'm trying to keep my positivity up, but who knows, you know?" Malkmus says of the album. "Every day's different!"

With release day approaching, he chose 15 songs to sum up his life in music. Pavement are represented by the first and last songs on each of their five studio LPs (except for 1995’s Wowee Zowee, which ends with guitarist Scott Kannberg’s "Western Homes"; Malkmus picked "Half a Canyon," the next-to-last song on that album, instead). The Jicks get a motley selection of five album cuts.

And what do these wake-and-baker’s dozen songs reveal about Stephen Malkmus, the man, and how he’s changed since the early 1990s? Your guess is as good as his. "I'm unfortunately the same person with more time and more life experience," Malkmus says. "No big, fundamental shifts. I think it would have to be radical, like a religious conversion or sobriety, but that hasn't happened. I say that kind of wistfully. But it's too hard, isn't it? Nobody wants to change."

"Summer Babe"

Single, 1991; Slanted and Enchanted, 1992
"Summer Babe" is the start of Pavement front-loading their albums with the catchiest song first. Shots fired by Pavement! It's just three chords, if you can call them that, so musically, it's all about what you can wrestle from those chords. How far can you go? The lyrics are kinda silly. It mentions "Ice Ice Baby." There's some imagery from Stockton, California, where we recorded it, mixed in with a cryptic story about a girl and a guy. I don't think it makes all that much sense, but it's got some cool imagery.

I was living in Hoboken or Jersey City when I wrote it. I said, "I'm not gonna mess around with this noisy art thing. I'm going to make some real songs that people remember." So I had "Summer Babe," and I played it for Kannberg. One thing I can say that's good about Scott — I can say many things, but one thing specifically — is you know when he likes something. I remember showing it to him, and he’s like, "Yeah, that's good, dude, you gotta do that one."

"Our Singer"

Slanted and Enchanted, 1992
This one is very related to "Hip Priest" by the Fall. We were running out of time recording the album, and I was like, "I got this last one. I'm not even going to bother teaching it or doing any over-dubs, just get in here and play a waltz beat." Just some frustrated California 22-year-old. It has a certain directness and freshness that makes it a nice closing for the album.

There's another song on Slanted and Enchanted called "Conduit for Sale!" that's very similar to "New Face in Hell" by the Fall. There's a song called "Fame Throwa" that's very Fall, especially the chorus. And "I've got one holy life to live" [a.k.a. "Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era"] is "The Classical" done differently. So that's four solid songs I can directly trace to the lineage of specific songs by the Fall. The rest of the album, I don't really hear the Fall. But that's a lot. 

"Silence Kid"

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1994
A couple years pass. We tour the world, get some success by our standards. We're like the Cinderella story: We got picked, the shoe fit. We probably think we're pretty hot shit, but we're also so grateful that this even happened. So now I have to go back and think of some new ideas. 

Around this time, we parted ways with the drummer on the first album [Gary Young]. He was kind of a hippie drummer wild card, and we fell out for multiple reasons. I was still working part-time as a security guard at the Whitney Museum in New York, and [drummer Steve West] worked there with me. I started jamming with Steve at his loft on South 5th Street, right by the bridge in Williamsburg. Steve's got a different style — slower, groovier — so the songs become a little different with him.

"Silence Kid" starts with a broken classic-rock intro. It's funny to hear us do that. Obviously we weren't skillful rock stars. Then it's spinning through a lot of hooks really fast, and all of a sudden it's over. Lyrically, it's some kind of subconscious thing. 

Somebody in the city talking to a friend — definitely not me. At the end, the guy is on drugs, and maybe he's gonna masturbate. I just made some provocative lyrics and tried to sneak them by, like "What the fuck?" 

"Fillmore Jive"

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1994
As Crooked Rain was growing, the sound came to have some fake grunge, and some Eagles, and some Free, and some pop things. There were some lyrics about being in bands. It was almost conceptual — music about music. This last song encapsulates that. It's a little bit tongue in cheek. My voice sounds ragged, like I've been having some late nights as a hipster in New York. "Every night it's straight and narrow..." It's kind of intense. 

When I sang, "Goodnight to the rock & roll era," I wish I had been more like Wire and actually wanted to kill rock & roll. We did neuter many of the silly things about rock, but we still embraced a lot of them, too, because we're party kids and we like a Bo Diddley beat. I wasn't saying goodbye to that. I was probably hoping it would keep going and that we would be the best ones. 

"We Dance"

Wowee Zowee, 1995
We went down to a studio in Memphis called Easely and recorded 60 percent of Wowee Zowee there. "We Dance" could've been a B-side, but you put it first and it becomes important to the album. It sends a statement. That was one of the only albums I sequenced by myself. In my mind, it all fit together.

I had another version of "We Dance" that was kind of glam-rock. It was a little "Taking Care of Business," mixed with Simon and Garfunkel. But on the album, I did it in a down-and-out way, like the Frogs or David Bowie or something — a little torch song thing. I thought, "That's a good introduction to the album." It showed that we were doing something different.

"Half a Canyon"

Wowee Zowee, 1995
This song is pretty sick for a couple reasons. The lyrics are meaningless, so let's skip the lyrics. In a song like that, they're just there for decoration. But it has a really cool guitar tone that totally blew out the speakers of the Fender Twin reverb — this hideous, over-driven sound that I had never heard in my life. So I take credit for that. 

I'm acting like Damo Suzuki at the end of the song. I do this scream, and I scream as though my life depended on it, and I scream as long as I could. I passed out nearly afterwards. I thought I was going to have an aneurysm. I screamed so hard that I scared myself. I never screamed like that ever again. But at least my scream exists on an album, instead of at some gig, you know?  


Brighten the Corners, 1997
I wouldn't say that Wowee Zowee was a success. We probably had a chance, had I focused a little more, to capitalize on the attention the band got for Crooked Rain. For whatever reason, it was squandered, and back to the drawing board we went for the fourth album. So we went to Mitch Easter — I can’t remember if it was Mary Timony from Helium or Matador who put that idea in our minds. Mitch had a studio in his house in North Carolina, this old house wired with vintage gear. We liked to go to the South to record.

"Stereo" is based around the lead riff, which is more like a bass line. That's the whole song. The lyrics are in the realm of Beck or the Beastie Boys. I'm kind of rapping, but my voice sounds like there's been air deflated from a football or something — just sing-speaking some wacky lyrics, trying to get a rise out of people, like with the Geddy Lee line. The "fact-checkin’ cuz" part probably had to do with my friend Hunter Kennedy, who started an amazing magazine called The Minus Times. But really I have no idea why I wrote any of it. 


Brighten the Corners, 1997
This is kind of a jammer. The singer seems a little bit emotionally taxed by the song. It’s got those epic, Neil Young-y, last-song-on-the-album guitar solos. Slow feelings, pianos, echoes. The feels, before we even used that word.

"Spit on a Stranger"

Terror Twilight, 1999
This song has a Beatles feel to me. It’s a pretty song in the standard tuning, which, as Rolling Stone readers know, means tuning your guitar to EADGBE, in the way that the Lord told us to do it. And it has that Nigel Godrich production — he can make the average guitar sound so good. But in Pavement fashion, the singer has to say, “I could spit on a stranger,” which is a slightly bizarre hook. Kind of dark and fucked-up. It’s a sweet love song except for that. Maybe I was feeling the love for somebody. I can't remember. 

After Terror Twilight, it was nearing 10 years of the band, and I felt like it was going to be a struggle instead of a joy. I'm sure U2 has struggled through many albums and they’ve stayed together. But if it’s not fun, that's going to come across in the recording. Maybe it's good to stop when everyone's got the love and the self-respect. In the end, it was more or less my decision [to end Pavement]. I tried to spin it as a positive: “It kicked ass. Let's leave it as a relatively special thing in our minds.”

"Carrot Rope"

Terror Twilight, 1999
Some people might say that “Carrot Rope” is a rather odd way for Pavement to leave the Earth. Terror Twilight had a lot of interesting arguments about sequencing. In the end, one of the members of the band won out, and "Spit on a Stranger" went first and it was front-loaded. And one of the guys that wasn't in the band that worked on it a lot wasn't into that order, and he was right probably, but he wasn't in the band, so….Anyway, I have no idea what's going on with that song. Just completely absurd. Almost like a show tune.


Stephen Malkmus, 2001
I had just moved to Portland. It took me a year to find some people that I thought it would be fun to record with. I was oblivious. Through friends of a friend, I met Joanna and the drummer, Johnny Moen, and Mike on keyboard. It was fortuitous that they weren't really working in any bands and they liked me.
That was the end of the music business, as I see it, around 2001. There was the Internet, and passing a torch maybe to younger artists like the Strokes and the White Stripes. It wasn't my torch to pass. But all of a sudden it was a new century, and I was continuing on the struggle.

"1% of One"

Pig Lib, 2003
I was into some meandering British folk things — Mellow Candle, Fairport Convention — so I wanted to write my version of that. The lyrics are kind of stupid. They’re about a soundman listening to this band playing, and he’s getting blown away. Maybe he’s stoned. He trips out, and the song goes off into a dream world. The band is us, of course — who else could it be? Our sound man, Remko Schouten, from Holland... He’s not the first person to ever have a spliff while he's working, but that’s that.

"Kindling for the Master"

Face the Truth, 2005
I did most of Face the Truth by myself, although the Jicks play on significant amounts of it. This is one song that nobody but me plays on — this indie dance thing that I recorded in my basement in Portland with a real tape machine. It's based around a sample that I took out so I wouldn't have to pay for it, or even bother to ask. I’m not going to say what it was. If “Kindling for the Master” was on a Pavement album and it was a tiny bit more together, people would've been into it, but as it is, it went by the wayside. I was in on a new genre without knowing it.

"Elmo Delmo"

Real Emotional Trash, 2008
We had a new drummer, Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney, and she had in her mind that we were going to be a hard-rocking band and push each other to new heights of psychedelic expression. She's a very ambitious person, and I was very lucky to get to make some albums with her and tour with her. “Elmo Delmo” reminds me of Janet and that era of the band. I loved it, but it was also like, how much more do we need of that, after we did it? It kind of exhausted me. But I like the lyrics in this one, for whatever reason. They're trippy in the right way. It’s an acid-rock song, with “Led Zeppelin on badder drugs” lyrics. What kind of mystery will unfold?


Wig Out at Jagbags, 2014
This song is a little dark. It’s driven by an intense bass sound, almost like if the Pixies were into scaring people again. Lyrically, it has some rather complicated ideas about Christianity and the need for limits — something about how there can't be morality without sin. 

It’s got some funny things that have nothing to do with that, too. Like “I’m a connoisseur of scrapple.” I thought that was apropos of our world now. People are trying to make the best hamburger or the best taco or the best bacon, so I put in scrapple, which is a people's cheap meat.
As we juggle through all this bullshit that I've made that is quality at times — cheap meat — it’s still there. A line like that could easily have been in "Summer Babe," except I wouldn't have been worrying about life-hacking fast food. So, yeah, times have changed.