Stephen Malkmus: My Life in 15 Songs

The former Pavement frontman and current leader of the Jicks looks back on a quarter-century of indie-rock genius

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"Silence Kid"

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1994

A couple years pass. We tour the world, get some success by our standards. We're like the Cinderella story: We got picked, the shoe fit. We probably think we're pretty hot shit, but we're also so grateful that this even happened. So now I have to go back and think of some new ideas.

Around this time, we parted ways with the drummer on the first album [Gary Young]. He was kind of a hippie drummer wild card, and we fell out for multiple reasons. I was still working part-time as a security guard at the Whitney Museum in New York, and [drummer Steve West] worked there with me. I started jamming with Steve at his loft on South 5th Street, right by the bridge in Williamsburg. Steve's got a different style — slower, groovier — so the songs become a little different with him.

"Silence Kid" starts with a broken classic-rock intro. It's funny to hear us do that. Obviously we weren't skillful rock stars. Then it's spinning through a lot of hooks really fast, and all of a sudden it's over. Lyrically, it's some kind of subconscious thing. Somebody in the city talking to a friend — definitely not me. At the end, the guy is on drugs, and maybe he's gonna masturbate. I just made some provocative lyrics and tried to sneak them by, like "What the fuck?" 

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