Pavement has always been a band that the majority just doesn’t understand. Do you need a higher level of intelligence to get what Pavement offers? I would say you’d have to have some intelligence, but Pavement has always relied on their melodies and clever lyrics to keep their fans excited. A lot of people have missed the Pavement boat since their maiden voyage in 1992. To date their most impressive release, Terror Twilight is a modern masterpiece. It blurs the lines as much as anything Pavement has ever released, but this album is smarter and, thanks to Nigel Godrich, it is much more cohesive. I had a bunch of questions and percussionist Bob Nastanovich had a few minutes, so we ironed out some truths and rumors.
Hey, Bob. What’s up?
Not much. How are you?
Pretty good. I’ve been trying to hook up with you for a while.
Yeah, since your last tour.
Wow. Well, you got me now.
Right. So, what have you been doing since you’ve come off the tour?
I’m here (home) for a couple of days getting organized to go back on the road. Our tour starts on [September] the 24th in New York. So I’m packing and getting ready. I actually did another interview today with this horse racing magazine about my horses.
You’re in Kentucky, right?
You’re going on the road again. Is it going to be an American tour?
Well, we are doing like twenty shows in America and twenty in Europe.
I had a few questions about the album. What does the title of the latest album, Terror Twilight, mean?
Terror Twilight is a lyric from “Speak, See, Remember” on the record. Terror Twilight is specifically defined as about the fifteen or twenty minutes in the evening when the sun is going down, and it is actually the most dangerous time of the day to drive. It is based on that, from when people were told, ‘This is the most dangerous time to drive because people don’t have their lights on yet.’ And you also get this sort of chill at that time of evening. It’s just the most eerie time of the day.
How does this album compare to past releases?
Well, we used a producer on this one, and he had a few tricks up his sleeve that made it on the record. So, for the first time, a record was influenced by someone from the outside. We used engineers that helped us out a lot, but Nigel was a lot more aggressive in his roll with the recording of this record. We don’t set out to make every record different, but we like to entertain our fans. The song structures are a bit more complicated and unusual. It was a little more difficult and took a little more time to make. It was a little more expensive to make and probably a more perfect Pavement record.
How amazing is it to work with Nigel?
He is a perfect gentleman and a very confident professional. He is very organized and focused. These are all things that are advantageous to us because as a band our work ethic is not the best. (laughs)
How do you guys write?
Stephen [Malkmus] writes about ninety percent of the music and the lyrics. He has a home studio where he demos most of the songs. Then he sends out tapes to the drummer Steve West and the bassist Mark Ibold, and they sort of figure out or learn their parts from those. And, when we record, the song goes from being a blueprint sketch on a demo to a full piece by a five-person band. That is it. Stephen comes up with the ideas and brings them to the table and we sort of flesh them out into Pavement songs. Sometimes they work and sometimes the ones we thought were going to be good get scrapped.
What do you think when you hear bands, like Blur for example, say they’ve been listening to a lot of Pavement and that is what inspired their album?
You just take that as a compliment. Any time people are excited about your music it is absolutely cool. I do think it is a waste of time for one band to rip off another band, especially a current one and one that is far less successful.
Was “The Hexx” inspired by Black Sabbath?
Well, it was like a Pavement attempt at a song with a Sabbath feel. It is kind of a haunting, eerie song. That is the level of emotions that Sabbath inspires.
What is “Spit On A Stranger” about?
It is actually a nasty phrase to describe a one-night stand. (laughs) You know, you are exchanging spit with a stranger wondering how it is going on and why it is happening. It’s about lust, which is something all of us can’t get around. Right?
Whether you like it or not, we all feel lusty sometimes. (laughs)
It’s in our chemical make-up.
Especially being a guy.
Yeah, right. We are way worse, but there are plenty of lusty women, for sure. It’s not our fault; sometimes we are pieces of meat, too.
What about “Major Leagues”?
That song is actually one of the last songs to make the record. That was put together rather quickly and I wasn’t around for that part of the record. We were hoping to sell it to Major League Baseball but the album came out too late.
My favorite song by far is “You Are A Light”.
Mine too. It’s a groovy song and pretty good live.
Speaking of playing live, do you still play older tracks, like fan favorites I guess you could call them?
Yeah, we do half new and half old. I like playing “Billie” from the new record. Lately our live show has been really good, so I enjoy all of it. There used to be some songs, I used to wince when we played them live because I knew they didn’t sound that good. For example, “Carrot Rope”. That isn’t worked out very well, we are trying to get it better.
What do you think about being called an artsy band?
(laughs) I think we are pretty artsy. Our singer used to be a security guard in an art museum so I’m sure he was heavily affected by that experience. Some of the lyrics could be classified as being artsy, I guess, but everything is art nowadays, isn’t it?
It’s hard to categorize. You don’t want to put your own band into a category. You just want to be a rock band.
There are too many categories now.
Yeah. I meet a lot of people that ask, ‘Well, you’re a rock band, so what kind of music do you play?’
What do you say?
That it’s original music. (laughs)
Yeah, like you’re a cover band or something.
(bob’s phone clicks)
Hang on a second, okay?
(clicks over for a moment and clicks back)
They say I have like three minutes. (laughs)
Okay. Well, I was wondering, after all these years do you guys fight? And how do you get along on the road for long periods of time?
We get along very well. Everyone in our band has been friends for a long time. People respect each other’s space. Everyone knows friction will just end up being a distraction for us on the road. We all get along quite well.
There seems to be a rumor that is building, and that is whether this is Pavement’s last album?
Um, I think it is our last album for a while, but we always take a year off. So we are definitely going to take our year off. And when that happens it is like the end of a band and you get the feeling like you’re a new band when you come back together. There is no huge amount of pressure on Pavement to put out records on any sort of regular schedule and we still enjoy doing it. We still like to play live and write great albums, so I see no reason we wouldn’t crank it up again at some point. But for now we have about six or seven new songs that are unrecorded that we try to play live, but this year it hasn’t happened. I think we’ll sit out 2000 and make a decision in 2001 if people still want to do it. So, it is that laid back.
Is part of staying with a small label, like Matador, the fact that the pressure isn’t on you?
Yeah. We like to have a label that is as big as we are. And a label that is just happy to put out Pavement records when they are available.
by charlie craine