The former Pavement member talks to us about the last 11 whirlwind years and music for the long haul
What can be said of Stephen Malkmus that hasn't been said before? The oft-proclaimed godfather of indie, former member of Pavement, and leader of Stephen Malkus and the Jicks for the last 11 years is an iconic figure on the music scene. He's truly a 'lifer' as he calls them - those people in the music industry who are in it for the long-haul. We met with Malkmus as he reaches the end of a whirlwind international PR tour for new album 'Mirror Traffic', an LP that sees him at his lackadaisical best. Wearing a salmon pink shirt and a wry smile as he meets us, he's friendly enough, but it's endearingly when he talks about his family that he becomes most animated.
Dazed Digital: Mirror Traffic is your first album post-Pavement where you’ve handed production duties over. How did you find that?
Stephen Malkmus: Great. It was nice to just focus on being a performer and be a piece of meat, where you go in and someone else is cooking.
DD: Why did you work with Beck?
Stephen Malkmus: He mentioned to me that he’s a producer now. He’s unproven in the production side, even though he’s a beloved pop star, so I liked that. If you were to do it with Rick Rubin, you’d be on that conveyor belt of other bands that have worked with him.
DD: Mirror Traffic sounds closer to Pavement’s material than the rest of your …Jicks material. Did the reunion have any influence at all?
Stephen Malkmus: Not so much, we started recording it before the reunion. But I can’t say it’s not in there, the fact that I was aware that the Pavement thing was coming. It probably rubbed off a bit. Anything that’s Pavement is basically from me anyway. Maybe some of the albums I’ve done I was consciously getting away from doing things that I did before. This time I didn’t worry about that so much.
DD: Are you glad that you did the reunion last year?
Stephen Malkmus: Sure. I’m glad that it’s finished too, ‘cos living in the past like that is really fun, but also a bit solipsistic.
DD: Which is your favourite song on the album?
Stephen Malkmus: The second song. It’s called ‘Noone Is As I Are Be’, and it’s a different feeling, it’s a one-take song. It’s nice to know that you can do that in the studio.
DD: Janet Weiss [drums] is leaving for Wild Flag. How do you feel about that?
Stephen Malkmus: Bittersweet, she’s a force of nature, she has such dedication to her craft. She’s a lifer. But new avenues - it’s almost always a good thing, except maybe when the Beatles broke up. The drummer that I have now, Jake Morris, he’s great.
DD: How do you know Jake?
Stephen Malkmus: He’s in this group called The Joggers. He’s on my softball team. And he’s part of this posse of bros that I go over to their house and watch sports and drink shitty beer, and pretend like I’m still in college.
DD: Escaping from family life?
Stephen Malkmus: Yeah, that’s one of my places where I can go and just dude out. Paradoxically, my daughters love it over there whenever they get to go.
DD: What are your plans for this year in terms of touring?
Stephen Malkmus: We’re gonna get on the treadmill, which is two months in America, a month in England, and then festivals. Me and my wife are moving to Berlin in September…
DD: What prompted that?
Stephen Malkmus: We just wanted a change. It’s kind of an artsy place.
DD: Did I hear that you have another album of material already?
Stephen Malkmus: We do. We’re definitely gonna do one more thing. But that’s the long view. Things slow down when you get a little older. You try not to overburden people with your presence. Even Lady Gaga has to give us a break.
DD: What do you think of Lady Gaga?
Stephen Malkmus: I think she’s a CIA sex slave. She’s brainwashed. [chuckles] I think she’s a workaholic.
Text by Laura Foster
Photos by Leah Nash