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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"Stereo"

Brighten the Corners, 1997

I wouldn't say that Wowee Zowee was a success. We probably had a chance, had I focused a little more, to capitalize on the attention the band got for Crooked Rain. For whatever reason, it was squandered, and back to the drawing board we went for the fourth album. So we went to Mitch Easter — I can’t remember if it was Mary Timony from Helium or Matador who put that idea in our minds. Mitch had a studio in his house in North Carolina, this old house wired with vintage gear. We liked to go to the South to record.

"Stereo" is based around the lead riff, which is more like a bass line. That's the whole song. The lyrics are in the realm of Beck or the Beastie Boys. I'm kind of rapping, but my voice sounds like there's been air deflated from a football or something — just sing-speaking some wacky lyrics, trying to get a rise out of people, like with the Geddy Lee line. The "fact-checkin’ cuz" part probably had to do with my friend Hunter Kennedy, who started an amazing magazine called The Minus Times. But really I have no idea why I wrote any of it. 

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