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Alt-rock slackers Pavement prove disciplined enough for worldwide comeback

16 Comments
By Dan Grunebaum

Nineties U.S. alt-rock icons Pavement made a virtue of their rangy, shambolic sound—the aural counterpart to their disheveled appearance. But this sound was likely more calculated than it seemed, and the band was never anything less than hardworking.

“By the time we get to Tokyo, we’ll be razor sharp,” says founding member Bob Nastanovich over the phone from his home in snowy Iowa. The keyboardist/vocalist/percussionist is relaxing after 11 days of practice in Portland with frontman Stephen Malkmus, guitarist Scott Kannberg, bassist Mark Ibold and drummer Steve West in preparation for Pavement’s much-hyped comeback.

“We rehearsed an arsenal of 43 songs and are ready to go,” he continues. “It does feel like a reunion—but it doesn’t feel any different from any Pavement tour other than [that] we’re doing a wider range of eras. I think we’ll be as good or better than ever—that’s the goal.”

The tour launched March 1 in Auckland and sees the band dust off material ranging from formative classics off 1992’s "Slanted and Enchanted" to later songs from 1999’s "Terror Twilight." With the worldwide tour and a greatest hits release, the group is being introduced to a new generation of fans who’ve embraced their music but have yet to experience them live.

“The tour is a little grueling, but it always has been—we were always unable to say no, which was a mistake,” Nastanovich muses. Which leads to the obvious question: was this behind their breakup… er, hiatus?

“No,” he answers emphatically. “The band went on hiatus because Stephen wanted to do something different, and he felt like Pavement had run its course and he wanted to work in a more traditional band environment where all the members are in one town and he could play with people who are technically proficient to meet his satisfaction. It was just one of those things.”

Next obvious question: why the reunion now?

“It’s just a matter of scheduling,” says Nastanovich. “It’s been a little over 10 years, and the reception to our reissues has been very favorable. Anyone under 30 didn’t get a chance to see the band—and the band is more popular now than when we stopped. So it was a matter of timing: among the five members, we have four children, and everybody has gone their own ways in terms of employment and endeavors. Last summer, it was determined that 2010 was a good time to do it.”

Final obvious question: will there be any new material?

“No… I don’t know,” he hedges. “Right now, all we’ve been able to manage is a two-week period to practice old songs. In the course of the year, that might change. But there has been no mention of anything past October. I just hope that we can have a good time and am thrilled that the enthusiasm is there for it. I hope that people will say, ‘They’re almost as good as they were in ’95,’ or even, ‘They’re even better!’ Hopefully there won’t be any, ‘I can’t believe I paid $35 for that.’”

Nastanovich says he was able to get right back into the musical groove after the 11-year layoff, during which time he worked in the horse racing industry.

“I was a bit apprehensive from an individual standpoint,” he admits. “I don’t play music very often, so I was happy that things came back pretty quick. And I was concerned about the enthusiasm level, which was pleasantly high, and the preparation of my bandmates, who were well-prepared—we even enhanced the versions [of our songs].”

Unlikely as Pavement’s success was, it’s even odder that the band should return as a veritable rock ’n’ roll institution. It’s not a status Nastonivich rejects.

“Any time that people show appreciation for what you did, you take it as a huge compliment,” he says. “So the main reason for all this is that people want to see it. For lack of a better way of putting it, we want to make them happy.

“One thing you miss about being in a band for 10 years and having really good support is entertaining people,” he concludes. “You miss the excitement, the challenge and, as corny as it sounds, you miss the applause. I’m also looking forward to traveling again, to going back to these countries, and to seeing how their economies have been destroyed by the Bush administration.”

Pavement will play at Studio Coast in Shin-Kiba, Tokyo, April 7-8. Tickets cost 7,500 yen.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp)

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


16 Comments
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What's a rangy, shambolic sound?

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What's a rangy, shambolic sound?

Clearly you weren't part of the mid-to-late 1980s music scene.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shambolic

"Range Life" was one of Pavement's most beloved songs. Unless you're Billy Corgan

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So it was a matter of timing: among the five members, we have four children, and everybody has gone their own ways in terms of employment and endeavors.

...is a hipster way of saying they did it for the money.

Love their cover of CCR's Sinister Purpose though.

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reunions usually blow but DJr came back to true form after 20 years gap. 10 years for Pavement, easy. malkmus solo/jicks is great but really geed up to see Pavement again

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One of the worst music genres spawned by the collapse of the record company giants in the 90's. And one of the worst musical outfits to be part of that pitiful scene. While legitimate 90's groups like Prong, KMFDM, and (of course) Napalm Death are still hard at work, these slackers were, and continue to be, mere shadows of other shambolic ne'er-do-well shoegazing losers. If you want to experience an exciting concert with real musicians playing important music, check out Triptykon this June in Kanto. Hipsters must be eliminated.

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@Shinhiyata: Even by the lofty standards set by the Japan Today posters, that's a ridiculous comment. Pavement were/are a great band, and the fact that you referred to them as "shoegaze", only goes to prove that you don't know what you're talking about. If you don't like them, then just stay away, and let the fans enjoy their first chance to see these guys in a decade. I've already got tickets to see them on the North American leg of the tour.

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shinhiyata, I happen to know Warrior from Triptykon, and he would disagree. Pavement is just one of many musical acts from a genre that differs from your personal appeal, but that in no way makes it less legit. Pavements tour will be amazing! J Rock is right...just stay away.

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To my above posting detractors, let me restate the obvious... This band sucks. They are not entertaining. They are not talented. They are about as legitimate as Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem from the Muppets. Ridiculous? Charging 7000Y while handing out mashed potatoes at the door is reason enough to stay away, although I would gladly pay that to watch Tori Amos singlehandedly open up a can of whoopass on these dorks. I included shoegazing because an equally in need of extinction Dinosaur band was noted. When I spoke with Mr. Fischer and Mr. Ain a few years ago, they particularly mentioned clowns like these as reasons for doing what they do. Keep to posting about shopping at H and M unless you have some insightful criticism.

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shinhiyata, you really are talking a load of old tosh and I know what I am talking about. Frost have been my fave band since about 1988. I first saw Napalm Death in 1989 on their UK tour with S.O.B., saw Prong a bunch of times in the late 80's early 90's. KMFDM however were and always have been crap, revco without the talent. Pavement are one of the greatest bands from the early 90's and they are very welcome back. Do you think T.G. and Ain only listen to death metal? get a grip man. hipsters? laughable comment.

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While your reminiscence on a few well spent tuppence from your adolescent allowance is quaint, faving over the Frost during it's Cold Lake era leaves you with a staggering lack of credibility. But I digress, this is about the monumental failure at artistic expression which is Pavement. To dismiss creative geniuses like Bill Reiflin and Martin Atkins as crap, yet extol an outfit devoid of any intrinsic musical value to be one of the greatest bands from an easily forgettable time period only proves that thou doth possesseth a wealth of ignorance. I would sooner welcome back a case of recurring shingles than this measly excuse for a rock band. So to all you Pavement death metal DinosaurJr fans, the next time Mike Patton exposes himself onstage, get a grip.

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if you really knew what you were talking about you would know that the members of dinosaur jr were a bigger influence on your heroes napalm death than anyone else. mascis invented blast beat drumming. never heard of deep wound? no thought not. fawning over cold lake? no, pandemonium please, too much lame guesswork on your part. Atkins and Rieflin were in great bands Pil, revco, lard etc, but KMFDM were always naff. more guesswork on yr part. as for the reminiscence on tuppence spent from adolescence, wrong again. I have been to a gig a week since I was 16, over 20 years. Pavement many times. Frost many times. Napalm death have been crap since barney joined. maybe they should take a break. you see, the bands that keep plugging away for years past their prime or relevance just get worse usually. the bands that decide to call it a day and then in some cases come back original line up 10 or 15 years later have more credibility. Djr, Bad Brains, Pixies are good examples. all reformed recently after long absence and are as good now as they were before. they didnt sell out. Pavement never sold out. broadrick left ND soon after forming cause he thought there wasnt much else they could do that would interest him. he wasnt thinking about people like you eh

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Your expansive dearth of musical knowledge is absolutely dumbfounding. When I interviewed Justin during GFs 94 US tour for a radio station I worked at, he explained that ND were totally focused on a particular direction and the amount of commitment required would not allow him to pursue different creative opportunities. As for your other boasts, Mel Torme was playing blast beats back in the 40's. BBs only listenable release is the one with Israel singing. And the Pixies are another perfect example of a band who didn't have to sell out because they sucked from the get-go. Key indicators that your band sucks: You drive around in golf carts in your videos. Your signature guitar is purple and sparkles. The girl who plays bass in your band doesn't know how to play bass and has to steal one in order to join your band. You have to hire a 2nd drummer because the one you have can't keep time. You give out cabbages to fans in line to see your shows. Your frontman quits to play with musicians who can actually play and don't suck. Mike Judge describes your band by coining the new term suckability. Maybe he was thinking about people like you eh?

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There is not much more I can say to you it is obvious you only think in one direction and is not the right one and also have a remarkable knack of not reading .Mike judge? Real tolerant guy that one but at least he doesn't shill himself around like porcell does nowadays. I'll be at triptykon and pavement

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let me restate the obvious...

shinhiyata is exactly correct. This band does indeed suck. Not to mention they may be very stupid as well.

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I remember partying with Reiflin & Atkins after a Ministry concert in Toronto (T.M.I.A.T.T.T.T. tour). Al Jourgenson fed me pizza and gave me his sunglasses, and they also gave me their drumsticks for some reason. Good times, good times. I dont mind Pavement; overrated maybe, but there's certainly worse bands out there. Do you guys really have such a hate-on for them that you've got to flood the message board with seething disdain? Why not save it for the ocean of talentless hacks that usually take up articles in JT`s entertainment section? Gackt or Glay anyone?

Your 1-up-manship of kooler-than-thou, inside info on the down low and 80's-underground-obscure-post-punk-artcore-thrash-speedmetal-alt rock knowledge (yes, we're all really impressed) is getting a little tired.

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Your 1-up-manship of ko...

zzzzzzzz

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