On the brink of releasing his first solo effort since the dissolution of Pavement, singer Stephen Malkmus has asked Elastica’s Justine Frischmann to join his touring band. Old pals, the two had previously worked together when Malkmus guested with Elastica on a cover of X’s “Unheard Music” for the soundtrack to 1997’s Suburbia. Frischmann will handle secondary guitar duties and keyboards as well as backing vocals for the group, which also includes drummer John Moen and ex-Minders bassist Joanna Bolme. The latter two backed Malkmus for his forthcoming album, Stephen Malkmus, due Feb. 13 on Matador.
If all goes according to plan, the quartet will make its public debut Jan. 25 at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Following that show, the band plans to head out on a March/April U.S. tour, with dates in Europe and Japan to follow. Frischmann’s involvement with the band is at this point just for the first tour. Afterwards she will rejoin Elastica in London, where they are currently demoing material for the follow-up to this year’s Menace, the band’s first album since their self-titled Britpop breakthrough.
As for Malkmus’ album, it should prove good news for fans of Pavement’s poppier side. More accessible and straightforward than the last few Pavement albums, the twelve tracks document Malkmus’ flare for quirky cultural references and gift of whimsical storytelling. “The Hook” sets one man’s tale of kidnap, torture and eventual acceptance by Turkish pirates atop a funked-out groove, while “JoJo’s Jacket” opens with a sample of Yul Brynner’s voice before Malkmus’ typically dry voice busts in declaring, “I’m not what you think I am/I’m the King of Siam.”
“It felt really free,” Malkmus says of his post-Pavement writing/recording process. “We didn’t have any baggage at all. We were just in there to make a great record. I’m a control freak, but I can’t imagine making music all by yourself. You’d just feel like the poor little rich boy up in your castle, like Howard Hughes or something.”
As for his relationship with his new bandmates vis a vis the often turbulent waters of Pavement, Malkmus says, “Joanna says I get angry when I play Scrabble, but other than that, musically, we all get along great so far.”
The CD single from the album, “Discretion Grove,” hits stores Jan. 16 and contains two B-sides, “Sin Taxi” and “Leisurely Poison.”