Being Steve Malkmus|
While taking my dear sweet time constructing
this website, I stumbled upon a doorway into the conciousness of Steve Malkmus,
lead singer of indie rock pioneers Pavement. Here are some of the more
interesting things I observed on several trips into his mind...
[Disclaimer: If you haven't seen Being John Malkovitch yet, and you have no
familiarty with indie rockers Pavement, this is going to sound like gibberish. If you haven't seen Being John Malkovitch, but are familiar with indie
rockers Pavement, it will only sound mildly stupid. If you have seen
Being John Malkovitch and are also aware of indie rockers Pavement,
then you will find this article to be uproariously funny and send me the
contents of your wallet.]
October 1999 observations:
Steve Malkmus Sleeps a whole lot.
On his fridge, there's a magnet that says: "At least you're not in
He let Spiral Stairs out of his cage for a little while one morning.
Everything was going fine until Spiral picked up one of S.M.'s guitars
and started writing a song. Needless to say, S.M. kicked him in the stomach
HARD. After Spiral went down, a few more well placed shots to the head-and-neck
region ensured that there would be no more "Dates with IKEA" anytime soon.
"How's that for creative input?" Malkmus said as he stood over Spiral's
crumpled frame and admired the tracklisting to "Terror Twilight."
November 1999 observations:
Steve tours the UK. He decides that making a living by sleeping and
playing the least popular songs off of all your albums is no way to live.
He resolves to break up the band. He sits in the back of the
tour bus listing possible witty retorts with which to close their "final
show" on a sheet of plain white paper. This is what it looks like:
|Highly quotable closing retorts.
Remember! Must speak as though you just made
- "Have you ever been in a particularly ugly mental ward? Because
that's what being in Pavement is like."
- "I'm wearing Handcuffs because that's what it's like being in this
- "I'm holding Joni Mitchell's "Misses" album, because it's very similar
to a Pavement show: You will hear no hits."
- "Have you ever been handed money for doing nothing but what
you would probably do anyway? Because that's what it's like being in this
[At this point he fell asleep, and Bob Nastanovitch obliviously used
the back of the list to keep track of his bookie debt.]
December 1999 observations:
He got a call from Axl Rose while I was observing. Here's a
rough idea of how the conversation went:
Axl: Hello, is this Steve
Malkmus of rock band Pavement?
SM: Yes. Who is
Axl: My name is Axl Rose,
you probably remember me from my multiple million-selling records.
Axl: Anyway, my agents
gave me the names of a bunch of guys who I should consider collaborating
with, and your name was on the list.
SM: Wow. Uh...
Who else is on the list?
Axl: Well, I just got
off the phone with some guy called Bob..(Muffled)..Hey, what was that last
guy's name? (Pause) I don't know...Bob Pollack or something.
Axl: Excuse me?
Axl: Bless You.
SM: No, No...Was
it Bob POLLARD?
Axl: Sure, whatever. He was raving about how prolific GN'R were for a major label band and
telling me how he's mastered the prolific part, and would really like some
pointers from me on keeping up the quality.
SM: I see. Wow.
Yeah... Then he started talking about some fucking weird conceptual
shit, like writing from the point of view of a ribosome or something. I was
like - Dude! I was in Guns and Fucking Roses, not Rush.
SM: That was definately
Axl: Great. Anyway..
if you wanna fly in and come by the studio, we could set up a jam-session.
I could probably fit you in somewhere between the sessions with Peter
Gabriel and Tori Amos... What was your band's name again?
Axl: Okay... Let me just
write this down...(writing) Studio time... with... Steve Malkumus... from
Pavement. Got it. Pavement, eh? What kind of music do you guys
play? Do you sound like Concrete Blonde?
no.. uh... we were telling the press "sports-rock" on the last tour...
Axl: Sports Rock? That's
cool. Hey, did you know I had an endorsement deal with Converse?
Axl: Yeah, dude. They
made me these shoes that had my name stitched in red block letters on the
tongues. Before that me and Duff were always getting our sneakers mixed
up. We have the same shoe size, you know.
SM: I wasn't aware.
Axl: Fuckin' Duff. (Long
SM: Right... so.. What
exactly did you want me to do on this recording?
Well, you know, just bring in a few riffs, y'know? And we'll just lay
that down, I'll feel it out for vocals, maybe lay down a few tracks with
my baby grand - but not too soft! I still can't believe I did that fuckin'
Elton John thing. I kind of want to try this "post-rock" thing I keep
SM: Well, anything anybody
released after "Illusions" is post-rock as far as I'm concerned.
Those were some killer rock albums.
Axl: Thanks, dude. Right
on. Anyway, we'll do all that, maybe call Moby in to put some of his
mechanichal farting on top, and just kind of build the song from the ground
up, but modularly, you know?
Axl: What about drums?
I don't want Moby pulling any of his drum machine crap on me again. Fuckin'
Anyway, how's your..what was the band name again?
Right, Pavement. How's Pavement's drummer?
SM: Which One?
Axl: You have more than
At the same time?
SM: Uh huh.
Axl: Fuckin' a! That's
tripped out dude.
one of them is like our, I don't know, primary drummer, and the other one
kind of plays and runs around and shouts and stuff.
Axl: Crazy Man! Are
Axl: Are they stupid?
In my experience, all drummers are virtually retarded.
don't know about that... Yeah. I guess they are both pretty retarded
now that you mention it.
Axl: See? You know who
the dumbest drummer ever was?
Axl: Oh, I don't know
too much about them. Anyway, no, the dumbest drummer ever was Lars
Ulrich. You know who I mean?
SM: The guy who lip-synchs
in Metallica videos?
Axl: YEAH! (Laughter)
DUDE! you just reminded me of the funniest fuckin' thing! Remember
when GN'R did that wicked tour with Mettallica? The one where Hetfield
got lit up like a fucking Christmas tree?
I remember that...
Axl: Killer show huh?
Hetfield deserved it if you ask me. And now he's pulling all this shit
on VH1 about how I could have stopped the riot and whatever. Cry me
a fucking river, James. Him and Stephanie should get together and just
cry their fucking eyes out together.
Axl: Anyway - funny story
- while Metallica was playing we had these monitors backstage right?
So Lars would wear this microphone, one of those headset microphones
so he could talk to the crowd and shit, right? So we would have the sound
guy mix our monitors so all we got was that Microphone. I'm tellin' ya Steve,
it was the fuckin' funniest thing I've ever heard. Every single song
- just Lars' off-key ass warbling the words. I think I still have a
tape of some of it somewhere. I'll have to dig it out for when you
Axl: Anyway, glad you're
into it, guy. Maybe if it really comes together while you're here we
can set up a secret show at the whiskey or something.
Axl: All right dude,
I'll be in touch. Rock on.
Steve hung up and went back to sleep for a few more days.