Stephen Malkmus: indie warriors slack for a living

Posted on September 9, 2014

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Stone cold indie rock legend Stephen Malkmus is touring his latest album ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’. More than 20 years on the circuit as lead singer with Pavement, solo and now The Jicks has given the slack rocker iconic status with the kids.

Pushing into the crowd at Newcastle’s Riverside to watch Malkmus and The Jicks it is acutely obvious that there is no such thing as a stereotypical fan: young stoner, balding marketing manager, weirdo in tennis shorts, a hippy chick with a flower behind her ear and a member of the farmers union. We all have to drink Pistonhead in cans or shut the fuck up.

Band leader of the jumbled up Pavement, whose greatest moments came in the final three albums ‘Wowee Zowee‘s experimental pop majesty, ‘Brighten The Corners‘ and closer ‘Terror Twilight‘ – literally the best indie rock album ever, produced by Nigel Godrich – he has successfully survived their demise (and one reunion) with a second career as SM and The Jicks.

Taking ‘TT’s melancholic pop moments and adding an extra pinch of hazy West Coast psychedelia, Malkmus has built organically on the legacy: arch-raconteur, sweet guy and floppy haired stoner whose lyrics swing effortlessly in and out of sense. Guitar solos are melodic jams that segue into reverb just enough to push you into teary-eyed reminiscence. So in a salute to the might of Malkmus I’ve assembled some of The Jicks’ output here for you to enjoy.

Tigers
Best lyric: “I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks. A scary thought in the two K’s”

Malkmus on West Coast influences: “I’ve always played with those California references. But it’s always amazed me how California just doesn’t give a shit. Unless you’re Kobe Bryant or Jack Nicholson, L.A. just doesn’t care what you do. It’s so hierarchical.” Rolling Stone

Cinnamon and Lesbians
Best lyric: “I’ve been tripping my face off since breakfast. Taking in this windswept afternoon. Onward ye Christian sailors, you smooth-talking jack-off jailors. A one-stop shoplifter’s narrow convenience. Life should be free, take what you need.”

Out of Reaches
Best lyric: “I can drink the day away, suck the water straight out from the stone. We got omens that are tailor-made, for every situation that you’re conjuring.”

Malkmus on his love of Can’s ‘Ege Bamyasi’: “I always liked groups like Devo and Kiss. Devo was a band that had a mysterious weirdness to everything they did – you didn’t really understand it. For an American kid, Can was even more; it was really baffling. I listened to it for a whole summer at my parents’ house, just kept it on the turntable at night. It’s a really good album to listen to at night because it’s kind of round and warm sounding and has some jammy parts. But it’s also kind of a spooky night-time record I think.” Deutsche Welle

Lariat
Best lyric: “Only a chariot could carry it, across this void. I wouldn’t jerry rig or candy coat your Latin kisses”

Malkmus on Style: “Music that’s too tidy and over-thought, I just don’t like it. I’ve found when someone’s singing with their heart, even when it’s nothing, it’s more important. If it’s not exactly something, or it’s a little bit vague, what they mean, that’s more important than… if I know somebody sweated over these lines and it’s all tight and perfect. Slacker at heart, I guess.” The Quietus

Malkmus on the mix of sadness and sunniness in his songs: “Yeah, there is. But there was a bit of a flatline underneath of something depressing. That’s what my wife says, but she goes to more therapy than me. So I started making an effort to be positive. It’s okay to be funny. Nothing classic is probably going on here, let’s face it. So just have fun with your time.” Rolling Stone

Live on KEXP
The Jicks play a session for Seattle independent station KEXP-FM to promote ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’. The tracklist is as follows:
1 The Janitor Revealed
2 Shibboleth
3 Lariat
4 J Smoov

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