Stephen Malkmus on Bob Dylan, Rehearsing and His Favorite Venues Around the World

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In RS1046, associate editor Austin Scaggs talked to Stephen Malkmus about the new Jicks record, his favorite memories from Pavement and life in Oregon. Here are some outtakes from their conversation.

Stephen Malkmus on Rehearsing:

I'm not keen on rehearsing. I realize it's necessary and I know that for our new record a lot of stuff wouldn't have come out so unique if we hadn't have been rehearsing a lot or playing a lot of shows. I realize the necessity, and I like what can come from it. Maybe before a concert tour I don't need to go over everything four times for days and some people do, like the drummer and the bass player, but I can understand that. I've listened to some of the live tape from our last two shows. Normally I wouldn't listen to a live tape, but we're going to release them as an extra for the CD, and I noticed, "Oh, we're playing that too fast" or "We don't really have that part." When I heard it, I thought, "Maybe I'm gonna point out that we need to practice this part."

Stephen Malkmus on venues around the world:

At Slim's [in San Francisco], the atmosphere is good, and the sight lines are good and the size isn't too big. It's kind of like Bowery Ballroom [in New York] in that way, but it's probably a little smaller than the Bowery Ballroom. Almost every show I see there is pretty good. Whereas you go to Irving Plaza, and it kind of sucks, but you do it anyway because it's bigger.

The 9:30 Club [in Washington, D.C.] is really nice, as is the 40 Watt in Athens. The people are really nice. That's a classic, classic club. In Seattle they tried having hot tubs and saunas for the band at this theater that Pavement played at. The show was really empty so it was kind of a fiasco, and I felt bad for them. We weren't ready for the "hot tub backstage" level.

In Europe sometimes things would just get kind of odd. In Madrid we played in a sort of a mini festival with five bands thrown together, and I remember being in these modern bars that had a lot of colored plastic everywhere. In Norway there's a totally punk rock famous place that's built into a mountain — the back of the stage is kind of dug into the cave and it looks pretty caveman-ish.

Stephen Malkmus on Bob Dylan and recording songs for the I'm Not There soundtrack:

I've never been a really big fan of Dylan, but I'm in no way an enemy. I've just never listened to the records much, except the hits like "Visions of Johanna" and "Positively 4th Street." These kind of songs are almost songs of a generation, and in my adolescent time it wasn't some kind of transformative thing like it would have been for other poeople involved in the movie.

I was more into Creedence Clearwater Revival — I liked John Fogerty's voice, and his guitar playing — or the Doors and the Stones at that age. I was always more into bands as a kid. Dylan was a punk-rock guy and his records are undeniably genius. But you don't know what's going to speak to you, and his music didn't for me.

In the last few years I've gotten more momentum in my appreciation of Dylan. [About ten years ago] I played in this band called Silkworm and we learned a bunch of Bob Dylan songs. We made a bootleg CD of a New Year's Eve show we played in Seattle that was almost all Dylan songs. I think it was then that I listened more to the band that was playing with him and appreciated it.

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