Wigging out with Stephen Malkmus - Page 3

Post-Pavement reunion and adventures abroad, the indie icon talks Beyoncé, Portland fishbowl syndrome, and embracing his classic-rock upbringing

Stephen Malkmus

The only thing that will seem, to Pavement fans, to be conspicuously missing from the record: That old Malkmus sneer (or full on flipped-bird) in the direction of the record industry, and the accompanying, all-too-self-aware ambivalence about his role in it. This, from the former frontman of a band whose biggest mainstream radio single called out the entire record industry for, more or less, the concept behind mainstream radio singles.

"We were coming from a DIY scene, and we wanted to control our own destiny, start our own label, be our own boss. We were about artists' rights," he says, while noting that he doesn't begrudge anyone who goes the corporate route. "I mean, Beck [recently] signed to Capitol, but I'm sure he just did it because he was taking advantage of them as much as he could, because he's in a position of power. A lot of bands weren't back then."

In terms of newer music, Malkmus names SF "neo-psychedelia" bands like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall as recent favorites, as well as Oakland's own tUnE-yArDs, Sic Alps, Purling Hiss, Kurt Vile, and The War on Drugs. He thinks a minute. "I like Beyoncé," he says, like it's a challenge. "And Jay-Z. And Justin Timberlake; the kids really like him. We listen to a lot of Justin Timberlake in the car."

Looking back, I ask him — in the minute before he has to go, some other dude is supposed to be calling him soon, and he's trying to get Juanita to eat some food — can he imagine being 20, and starting a band right now? With the way the record industry is, with everything he knows about what happens after you "make it" — or even if you never do? He sounds relatively at peace on this album, to be sure, but it's taken long enough.

"Sure!" he replies, without hesitation. "I mean, I think everyone should start a band. It's really low-stakes, and it's fun. If you like music, start a band, and just mess around with your friends. It's better than a lot of things you could be doing, like wasting time on Facebook. Or playing video games. Or...what are kids even doing these days? Snapchat? Sexting on Snapchat?

"Stop sexting on Snapchat and start a band."

Stephen Malkmus
With Speedy Ortiz
Thu/27, 8pm, $21
333 11th St, SF

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