Last night as I sat in my living room in Covington, Kentucky, indie darling Stephen Malkmus ever so gently fondled my balls in front of my wife and 16-year-old son. I don’t recall the noise that forced it’s way out of my head as I read the news, but I remember thinking that I had never made it before and was concerned that I would later be mocked by my wife for making it. Perhaps I should explain.
On the ‘Rolling Stone Music Now’ podcast Steven Malkmus was asked about the chances of Pavement reuniting, presumably for the 30th-anniversary of the founding of the band in Stockton, California, back in 1989. “You know, realistic. Anything’s possible,” Malkmus replied. “If there’s interest, then that’s always a factor. If people are really psyched about it, I’d be psyched about it too. So we’ll see,” he added. Suddenly time stood still as I tried to process something I’ve been waiting for for nearly a decade, Pavement may reunite.
One of only two bands to have never sold out, Pavement was a major factor in the establishment of alternative music in the early ’90s despite never having a mainstream hit or signing to a major label. I’m guessing you would be hard pressed to find anyone within your circle of friends who would even know who they are and, if they do, your friends are way better than mine. Things went south for Pavement in the late ’90s when the pressure/boredom of touring started to affect the relationship Malkmus had with the rest of the band. Since then each member of Pavement has had a relatively successful career on their own through various other projects. A brief reunion in 2010 refreshed their prominence in indie rock lore, although the moment was short lived. Strange reports of behind the scenes antics makes the relationship between individual members mysterious at best, but none of this matters as much as the news that we may get another chance to see Pavement play live.
Malkmus current band, The Jicks, regularly tour and are honestly a delight live. Although, I must admit that upon seeing them last year at the Woodward theatre in Cincinnati, I noticed myself studying Malkmus’ vintage guitar collection, listening to their timbre, and wondering if I could identify which Pavement songs they were used on in studio. Malkmus still brings effortless enthusiasm to every song he performs, many of which are songs recorded with pavement, showing the pride he has in his past works.
Seeing Malkmus was like seeing a Unicorn. Perhaps it is because few people of relevance will visit Cincinnati, or perhaps it is because his Ty Segall like lack of conformity towards musical convention and the swagger with which he delivers it is confusing and wonderful. This begs the question: ‘What would Pavement sound like today, and is it worth it?’ Well… yes. As historically unpolished as it is with a group of former collaborators who all brought passion and an Avant Garde delivery to all of the art they made, how could it be anything less than weird and wonderful?
So to answer you, Stephen, yes there is interest. We are really “psyched” about it. So dip back into relevance just a smidge to wet the appetite of those loyal to Pavement, pick up a few more cool kids that had no idea you existed, and then retreat back to the low-key brilliance of your individual projects that keep us all cool.
Stop fondling my balls Stephen. Reunite Pavement.