Every year, that "Pavement reunion" rumor comes around, and every year it's a load of hooey, right? Right. Until now. Because this time it's true. Via an exclusive Rolling Stone interview, in a late-night call from Australia, Pavement guitarist Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg confirms that the Nineties' finest indie rockers are finally going back to those gold soundz. "It's been a long time coming," Kannberg says. "I think in the back of our minds, we always thought we'd do something again. But we never really talked about it until the last couple of months. It's come together fast."
Typically for Pavement, the decision to get back together was made in a lackadaisical way. Says Kannberg, "Steve [Malkmus] and I just had a conversation on the phone, and we'd never talked about it before at all. We've talked over the years, but the subject never came up. Then our agent asked us about these New York shows, so we went around to everybody in the band, and they said, 'Yeah, the time is right. If everybody's ready to do it, then we'll do it and see what happens.' There was no real impetus — it just kind of happened naturally."
Right now, there's only one gig booked, a benefit at Central Park Summerstage on September 21, 2010. Says Kannberg, "We'll do some rehearsing in the new year. The Central Park shows, we'll probably end up doing one or two of those. There's festivals and stuff that we're talking to, like Coachella. After that, anything that happens in the future is in the future."
Pavement played their last show in 1999, but since then, they've inspired constant wishful-thinking buzz about reunion shows, much like the Smiths or the Stone Roses. Their catalog has grown with the deluxe Matador editions of their maddeningly awesome Nineties records — Slanted and Enchanted (the "indie is for lovers" one), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (the "rock & roll" one), Wowee Zowee (the "dangerously baked" one) and Brighten the Corners (the "love is blue" one). A Terror Twilight reissue is on the way as well. "It's weird how over the last however many years, Pavement's become a much bigger thing," Kannberg says. "This whole generation of kids discovered Pavement after we had disbanded, and made us into a huger thing than we ever envisioned. So now I guess we can tour and make those people happy."
The Pavement lads have kept busy since they split 10 years ago, so it's not like fans have had to wonder what they're up to. Main man Stephen Malkmus has kept reaching new guitar-freak zeniths with the Jicks (see last year's superb Real Emotional Trash), while Kannberg has toured with Broken Social Scene as well as his own Preston School of Industry. Bassist Mark Ibold joined Sonic Youth a few years ago. "Yeah, we've all kept playing," Kannberg says. "[Drummer] Steve West has his project, Marble Valley. [Second drummer] Bob [Nastanovich] is still into horse racing, but he's heavily involved in the music scene. So I think everybody's ready." Has anyone talked to original drummer Gary Young? "Not yet, but eventually it might be fun to do something with Gary at some point as well. We love Gary."
Kannberg says the goal is to keep it fresh. "It's not gonna be like Echo and the Bunnymen, where they don't talk to each other, yet they tour every year. I flew in to see them do Ocean Rain at Radio City last year, and it was good, but it wasn't the same, you know? I don't think we'll be that way. We're not still trying to flog a record or anything. It'll probably feel like we're just starting again. It'll be fun to play these songs."
Which tunes is he looking forward to playing again? " 'The Hexx' is always a good one. And of course, the ones I get to sing are always fun. I've been singing them in my band, and I always get chills down my spine. So I can just imagine what it'll be like with the real thing."
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