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Stephen Malkmus Gets Weird

Ex-Pavement frontman's next album due next year

July 2, 2002 12:00 AM ET

Stephen Malkmus is recording his second solo album at Bear Creek Studios in Seattle. "Five of the twelve [songs] could have been on the last album," Malkmus says. "And they would have fit with the more melodic, standard-tuning, slightly traditional songs. The others are stranger, more progressive, acid rock or something with more parts -- maybe too many parts -- more solos and stuff like that." The album is due early next year on Matador Records.

Malkmus' self-titled 2001 debut was littered with snide jokes and asides, but on the new LP he's battling to keep the laughs in check. "I'm trying not to be funny," he says. "The last album was kind of funny, and I'm trying to curb that, but it's hard to do. Just like a Catholic priest with his urge for young boys, natural instincts take over sometimes. Some of the songs have jokes in them, but there's some serious songs."

The songwriter sees his solo career following a classic progression. "The first album has a sound and a feel like a first album for a solo guy," Malkmus says. "That's why I put my face on the cover in a Sixties way, like Tim Buckley or even Captain Beefheart. People do their first record usually kind of straight, and maybe the label says, 'This has to be this way on it.' And then they grow their hair longer on the next record and do weird shit and get dropped after that and take drugs or something. So we're at that long-haired weird part before we get dropped."

On breaks from recording, Malkmus and his band, the Jicks -- bassist Joanna Bolme and drummer John Moen -- pass the time by throwing stones to a German Shepherd. "You can throw a rock, and the dog will find it," he says. "The exact rock. You can throw it, like, eighty feet into the woods. They think he's crazy. They say it's [because] the Afghan Whigs fed him acid or something, supposedly. I don't know. Never been the same. Gotta find rocks."

In Pavement news, Matador will reissue the band's 1992 acclaimed debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, later this year. The tenth anniversary edition will feature bonus tracks, extensive liner notes and photos.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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