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Pavement


Four Sure Signs The Band Is Breaking Up:

1) On the tour bus the singer pulls a coat over his head , refuses to speak to anyone, and calls himself "The Little Bitch."

2) The set list includes a number of early songs, so it feels like the group is playing their greatest hits on a farewell tour.

3) The singer/guitarist attaches handcuffs to his microphone stand, and tells the audience, "These symbolize what it's like being in a band all these years."

4) A founding member tells other band members. "I just don't want to do this anymore."

All of the above are courtesy of Pavement's Stephen Malkmus.

Three years after Pavement's '99 break-up there was a 2 DVD documentary titled Slow Century with band member interviews and concert footage shot professionally and by fans. Then came the band's biography Perfect Sound Forever: The Story of Pavement. If that weren't enough, there was talk of a twentieth-anniversary reunion in '09. Nothing came of it, but the next year saw the release of the compilation album "Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement." The band did finally make good on all the reunion talk in '10 by playing a show at the Fox Theater in Pomona, CA. "I'd say it's nice to be back," remarked percussionist Bob Nastanovich. "But I've never f***ing been here before!" That was followed by festival appearances and a tour.

So why does a Stockton, CA, band who never had much commercial success in their initial ten year run, garner so much attention on the rebound. Credit it to the indie Rock ethos, Pavement's influential lo-fi approach, their five studio albums and a string of EPs. It's also a classic case of not knowing what you've got until it's gone - for both the audience and the band.

Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg, a pair of guitarists/vocalists, began recording EPs in '89 at the home studio of drummer Gary Young, who also played on the tracks. But he was soon replaced by Jason Hawkes. But Malkmus and Hawkes didn't get along so Young was brought back. In '92 bassist Mark Ibold and percussionist Bob Nastanovich signed on. Nastanovich was added in part to back-up the increasingly unreliable Young.

Pavement's full-length debut "Slanted And Enchanted" arrived in '92 and led to a world tour. However, Young dug himself a deep hole due to his eccentric behavior and his propensity for drunkenly falling off his drum stool. When confronted about his actions Young simply quit. He was replaced by Steve West who had met Malkmus through a prior day job.

"Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain," was a '94 release. Though "Cut Your Hair," one of the band's best known tracks received radio and MTV play the song that caused a raucous was "Range Life" which criticized Alt. Rock stars, particularly the Smashing Pumpkins. Malkmus and Pumpkins' frontman Billy Corgan kept things lively trading barbs and insults in the music press for the next few years.

According to Malkmus '95's "Wowee Zowee" was the last "classic Pavement record." One of the more notorious events from this period was the band's disastrous Lollapallooza performance. Playing alcohol/drug fueled jams, rather than their more familiar tunes, got them pelted with rocks and mud.

Only Malkmus, Nastanovich and West worked on The EP "Pacific Trim." The session was originally planned for a Malkmus side project but that fell through.

"Brighten The Corners" was notable for the singles "Stereo" and "Shady Lane." The '97 effort was Pavement's most commercially successful album to date.





Two years later "Terror Twilight" dropped. The title referred to the time between sunset and dusk when a lot of accidents happen - due to poor visibility.

Pavement began recording the album in Portland, OR, but there were near immediate difficulties. Malkmus' initial refusal to record any of Kannberg's songs resulted in obvious hard feelings. Eventually, attempts were made on two Kannberg compositions but they were quickly abandoned. Since there was little to show for their work, it was decided to bring in an accomplished producer, namely Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, R.E.M.). He put the focus on Malkmus who wrote the entire album with minimal musical contributions from other band members (Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood played harmonica on two songs ). That didn't sit well either. "It was not fun to do that record from the very beginning," noted Kannberg. "It was the hardest record to make."

The EP "Major Leagues" contained Malkmus originals and covers including "The Classical by The Fall, a band that Pavement was compared to early in their career. Pavement embarked on a stressful world tour that seemed to make the break-up inevitable.

But there was still one more, slightly bizarre, occurrence. "You need to change the {Pavement} website to say we aren't a band anymore," Malkmus told Kannberg in '00. "People keep asking me if we're breaking up and you know we're not a band anymore, right?" Kannberg asked Malkmus to inform the other band members. But Malkmus refused to so the task fell to Kannberg. Oddly, West later claimed that he was never officially notified and only found out about the group's dissolution online.



Pavement Discography

Pavement is a post-Grunge strum and jangle outfit leaning on Malkmus' quirky twists and turns (both vocally and in song structure).

Pavement sounds to the left of The Replacements as the songs often seem to chart a course of their own volition. That's a major drawing card for fans but it can be confounding. Cutting to the chase, there's "Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement."


 

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