Malkmus Interview: You're the Maker of Modern Minor Masterpieces for the Untrained Eye

The potential for greatness was all here, but it didn't quite deliver. Two rock stars talking about rock and roll- slam dunk, right? Not so much…

Ian Svenonius of VBS.TV's Soft Focus interviewed Stephen Malkmus in a 4-part interview that was, in a word, abtruse. Intervewer and interviewee seemed out of synch for much of the piece, which made for a frustrating viewing. Even their physical presences seemed at odds– Malkmus appeared as serene as the Blessed Virgin Mary (perhaps with some liquid or herbal assistance), while Svenonius appeared twitchy, distracted, and almost manic at times

The line of questioning was bizarre, disconnected, at times inane, and it seemed several times as though Malkmus wasn't allowed to finish his thought before Svenonius was onto a completely new and unrelated topic. Many of the questions were excellent, and it would have been really interesting to hear Malkmus' full response, were he allowed to give it. One could see on a couple of occasions the confusion that would cross Malkmus' face during a particularly strange line of questioning.

Example: 

Svenonius: Because so many films about the south were filmed in Stockton where you grew up, do you feel this influenced the Southern qualities of your music?

Malkmus looked genuinely perplexed at this particular moment, but somehow managed a coherent response that playing in Virginia helped with that, as did Southern groups like REM, etc.

All in all, the interview was an interesting glimpse into Malkmus' way of thinking, and proved him to be an intelligent person with a wry, fun sense of humor. At the end of the interview, he said with a sly smile, "Do you want to know why I have socks tied around my knees?" (Which appeared to have never occured to Svenonius) and replied that he and his daughter play dress up and thought it would be really fun to do for the interview. In closing, he said "All I do is pick up children and play guitar anymore…," a charming thought to entertain after listening to something like "I Wanna Mess You Around."

Click here for the interview.

Highlights:

Part 1: Discussion of musical influences and scenes.

Part 2: Disappointing discussion of the meaning of "indie" (a question he probably gets a LOT though). Does not like David Bowie. Does not like John Cale's violas and Warhol involvement in the Velvet Underground. Says of Cale "Maybe he should work behind a desk (meaning he's a better producer)." Discussion of fine art (another disappointing topic that Svenonius kind of derailed).

Part 3: Discussion of whether or not Pavement and the Jicks "shred or rock?" Explored the idea of shredding being a "pejorative term." Described the Jicks' sound as "melodic west coast with bent notes." Claims to be "out of touch with underappreciated bands."

Part 4: Discussed move to Portland, being a basketball fan. Said "No one in the NBA has a Jicks album. Steve Nash should, but he probably likes Maroon 5 or something." Mentions with pleasure Manute Boll is a Pavement fan and called to tell him so.