So what's going on?
How was the show last night in Indianapolis?
Just watching the British
Open. Looks like Tiger's imploding. The show was good. It was kind
of nerve-wracking for me for the first few songs. We hadn't played
for a month or so, and there was a lot of people there, too. It
went all right.
So are you getting
tired of all the Pavement questions yet?
Not really, not really
at all. It's part of my history and I'm proud of it.
Does it take away
from what you're trying to do with Preston?
Not really. It's part
of the story and needs to be explained. Down the line it might become
a problem, especially after I have a few albums out and people are
still wanting to know about Pavement.
I guess you have to
look at it as an advantage over other bands just getting started.
You have that name recognition, sort of like a politician running
Yeah, I'm gonna use that.
Critics have always
said Pavement's life was like watching a youngster grow up -- the
rough-and-tumble beginnings, the experimental phase, then more adult-oriented
melodies. Did you feel that the band had to "mature"?
I don't think we ever
felt pressure, it just kind of came that way. We started thinking
about records from a career sense. When you look at R.E.M. or The
Replacements, you see this progression. That was what we were trying
to do. We were kind of getting older, listening to different things.
I suppose the challenge
was making every record different?
Coming up with new ideas
was kind of the hard part.
Pavement's now considered
one of the '90s landmark bands. How do you want that band to be
remembered in rock history?
I don't know. I never
really thought about that. We always tried to have fun and not take
things so seriously. We always kind of looked at our success as
kind of a joke. It was ridiculous for us to play that last show
in England to 4,000 people. I just looked around and said, 'What's
going on here?' You just make records that are special to you; it's
weird to think that they're special to others.
Were you surprised
at the critical response to Slanted and Enchanted?
We just did this 10-year
anniversary edition of that record, with all these extra tracks.
Looking back at it now, and listening to the songs again I was thinking
'Why? Why did you like this so much?' (laughs) It reminds me of
Dinosaur Jr. or The Fall or Buffalo Tom. It doesn't seem like a
It was also heralded
as one of the records that drove the whole 'low fi' movement.
To us, that record sounded
normal, like any other rock record. Maybe it was because it didn't
have a big low-end. Our early singles were really low-fi. Slanted
wasn't that low-fi. It was recorded on 16-track, it wasn't mastered
very well, but to us it sounded good. We were just trying to make
a classic rock record.
When your new full-length
was released last August, was there a sense of competition between
it and Malkmus' CD? Certainly they were compared to each other,
and to Pavement records.
It was both unfortunate
and fortunate that it came out around the same time as Steve's.
I did the record before I even heard his and didn't know when either
was suppose to be released. It wasn't competition early on. I like
Steve's record. It sounds like Steve.
Matador tells me that,
in some ways, it was good to have both records out at the same time,
but in some ways it wasn't. When ours came out, it got little press
at all because everyone had already done 'The Pavement Story.' Steve
had a lot of promotion on his record and I didn't have much. It's
started to come around now that we're touring a lot.
I'm sure people come
up and say 'I like yours better.' That said, I like yours better.
It makes you feel good.
Certain things come out of each record to different people. I really
like his record and think he's probably doing what he does best.
When Pavement started
in '89, there seemed to be an openness to new music and indie was
still pretty underground. Today, indie seems to be the shelter against
the universal amusement park of pop music. Is it easier now or back
in '89 to get a band off the ground and heard?
I think when I started
a label (Amazing Grease
back in 2000) it was a lot harder, but I think it's starting to
come back around. In the '80s, the indie scene was homegrown and
really underground. I think it's getting back to that point where
the infrastructure is there -- people helping people out, helping
each other figure out what clubs to play at. It's getting easier.
How did you wind up
with the opening slot for Wilco? And what's it like?
I met Jeff Tweedy a few
times over the years, and Pavement played with Wilco over the years.
Domino Records in England tried to put out the Wilco record, and
the owner of Domino befriended them. They ended up not doing the
record, but Domino pitched us for their European tour. We did it
a few months ago and had such a great time together that they called
us up to do it again in the United States. It's great, everyone
We played in Indianapolis
a month ago to 75 people, and I think there was something like 2,000
people there last night. We got a nice response.
Doesn't opening for
Wilco put you in the same dilemma you had with the Malkmus CD media-wise?
I figured we'd get buried
under all the Wilco press, but that hopefully there would be a little
mention of us on the end of their write-ups. I heard a lot of people
last night say 'Oh, that's right. That's the guy from Pavement.'
It's just the way it's gonna be.
Do you ever get the
crowd yelling Pavement requests?
They did in Europe. We
played a couple Pavement songs that I wrote that we never played
live with Pavement. I kind of avoid it. If I do it, I want it to
be special. It's fun to play them, but if you played them every
night it would be taxing.
How is it different
writing for Preston than for Pavement?
Pavement was fast and
frenzied and I would always get pushed back to the end of the recording
session. So it would be like 'OK Scott, got any songs?' If I did,
it would just be riffs and we'd work them out with the drummers
and Steve would come in and do his thing. This time, I had demos
of everything worked out and came in and recorded. I taught the
guys to play different parts. I had full songs worked out, whereas
Pavement was 'Work it out in the studio'.
How 'bout the lyrics?
I spend a lot more time
with them and try to tell stories. I really got into the John Prine
catalog and Springsteen stuff, which I didn't like before. I'm trying
to write those kinds of songs.
Do you ever talk to
Malkmus or the other guys from Pavement?
I talk to Steve every
once in a while to work out Pavement stuff. I saw Mark (Ibold) in
New York at one of our shows. I see Gary (Young) every once in a
while and have gone to his house to go through Slanted tapes.
The other guys were friends of friends who kind of got together
to record and play live. For the time we were together, we'd be
friends, then not see each other for six months.
What's next, when
do you start working on the next CD?
I got a ton of new songs
to work on. I'm moving up to Seattle in September and will work
on the new record then.
The above, minus the interview transcript, was published in The
Omaha Weekly July 24, 2002. Copyright © 2002 Tim McMahan. All
rights reserved. Photos by Peter
Ellenby © 2001