Stephen Malkmus Has No Problem With Houston, He Swears
For the guy widely known for putting "slacker-rock" on the musical map, former Pavement front man Stephen Malkmus sure stays busy. His current band, The Jicks -- which formed in 2000, immediately after the demise of '90s indie-rock gods Pavement -- has now released more albums together than the band that preceded them. Released earlier this year, Wig Out at Jagbags marks the Jicks' sixth album.
Photos by Leah Nash/Courtesy of Matador Records Stephen Malkmus (right) and the Jicks
Whereas relations among Pavement members grew static with time, the Jicks (bassist Joanna Bolme, guitarist Mike Clark, and drummer Jake Morris) appear to function on a different spectrum. Malkmus doesn't overthink why the Jicks have prevailed where Pavement didn't. Mainly, he credits the Jicks' functionality with increased maturity and an eased approach.
"We're older now," he notes during a recent phone call. "So we have more perspective...with Pavement, we tried really hard. We traveled a lot, we pushed our agenda on people -- and that got really exhausting for me. It wasn't fun.
"We don't keep our foot on the gas pedal so hard," he notes of the Jicks' relatively lax attitude. "We try to keep it fun, and we keep the touring schedule light to promote longevity. You burn out in a band if you go too hard.
"When you're 20, you can maybe pull that off," he considers. "Like Ty Segall -- he plays a million shows, but if he keeps touring so much, it's eventually going to come back to bite him."
Malkmus, now 47, still sounds (and looks) like his '90s-era self. He's blasé yet charming, and coolly confident. Now, however, his experience shows, as he acknowledges the inescapable changes that have materialized over the years.
"[Wig Out track] 'Rumble at the Rainbo' is about a certain kind of nostalgia for music -- even though the song's about punkers instead of us aging indie-rockers," he laughs. "But it's all the same -- eventually, the signifiers become settled and the wrinkles come -- and that's OK. It's part of life."
The slack-rock innovator is, in reality, quite insightful. But Malkmus has always been an anomaly in many ways. He's a pioneering musician, smart-as-a-whip scholar, skilled sports fanatic and noble family man. He's the guy girls have wild crushes on, and the man guys aspire to be like.
Part of that charm can be heard in Malkmus' uniquely witty lyrics, of which there are plenty on Wig Out.
And though he's has never been afraid of picking battles with his lyrics ("Range Life," anyone?), a particularly combative new tune begs some local attention.
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