Pavement were a Cult Classic
indie rock band from Stockton, California, initially active between 1989 and 1999. They were known as the figureheads of the indie rock movement in the USA during the 1990's and one of the Trope Makers
for the lo-fi genre alongside Guided By Voices
. The band was one of the first indie rock bands to gain moderate success on Alternative Rock
radio with their sole big hit "Cut Your Hair" in 1994.
Its members were:
- Stephen Malkmus ("SM") - guitar, vocals
- Scott Kannberg ("Spiral Stairs") - guitar, vocals
- Bob Nastanovich - percussion, backing vocals, multiple instruments (1993-1999)
- Mark Ibold - bass (1992-1999)
- Gary Young - drums (1989-1993)
- Steve West - drums (1993-1999)
First formed as a studio project for Malkmus and Kannberg, Pavement became a full-fledged band around 1992. While their initial material was marked by low recording quality and Noise Pop
and Post Punk
influences (especially from The Fall
), the band became more accessible, at least sonically, starting in The Nineties
- their albums Slanted and Enchanted
and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
established them as indie rock heroes and brought them a degree of popularity. They moved away from outright indie into Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
territory starting with Wowee Zowee
(a change Malkmus attributed to excessive marijuana smoking), without losing their trademark messiness, while their last two albums are noticeably mellower and spacier (Terror Twilight
verging on the OK Computer
ish at times due to being produced by Nigel Godrich).
Pavement broke up in 1999 due to intra-band conflict (especially between the others and Malkmus), and reunited pretty epically in 2010. However, Malkmus has said that no further tours are planned, and Nastanovich ruled out the possibility of new material.
They guest-starred in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast
episode "Pavement", where they were misidentified as "The Beatles
" and played a noisy cover of the show's theme song while Space Ghost attempted to interview another guest.
- Slay Tracks (1933-1969) EP (1989)
- Demolition Plot J-7 EP (1990)
- Perfect Sound Forever EP (1991)
- Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
- Watery, Domestic EP (1992)
- Westing (By Musket and Sextant) (1993) - compilation featuring their first three EPs, some B-sides and compilation tracks
- Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
- Wowee Zowee (1995)
- Pacific Trim EP (1996)
- Brighten the Corners (1997)
- Terror Twilight (1999)
- Major Leagues EP (1999)
- Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement (2010)
Tropes represented by Pavement:
- Affectionate Parody: It's generally accepted that "Flux = Rad" is a tribute to Nirvana, considering the quiet verse, loud chorus nature and the Broken Record nature of the chorus.
- The Alcoholic: Gary Young was kicked out of the band because of his drunken antics (doing hand-stands, failing to stay on his stool during live performances, running around the stage while the band played, handing out cabbage and potatoes to fans).
- Author Appeal: Stephen Malkmus was a history major in college, which explains "Conduit for Sale!" and the other historical references in their songs from time to time.
- Careful With That Axe: According to the liner notes of the Sordid Sentinels Edition of Wowee Zowee, the reason Stephen Malkmus screamed "My God, I can't believe I'm still going" in "Half A Canyon" was out of genuine disbelief; he recalled feeling lightheaded recording the track and thinking he was going to faint or at least lose his voice after all the screaming.
- Cool Old Guy: Gary Young. He was a former hippie who owned a home studio where the band recorded, and joined after hearing the first demos (and was quoted as saying, "This Malkmus idiot's a complete songwriting genius!").
- Dreadful Musician: Nastanovich was said to have been hired as percussionist because Young's drumming on Slanted was too shaky.
- Stephen Malkmus once said he thinks anyone can be a singer if he can make a career out of it, since he's not exactly known for having the most tuneful voice.
- Executive Meddling: The original version of the video for "Rattled by the Rush" features the band performing, as the camera makes sudden movements and pans. Their label was totally fine with this video, but MTV was not, and it was banned from the network on the grounds that the camera effects caused viewers to become nauseous. The second version of the video contains the same footage, except its being projected onto a single ceramic tile on the wall next to a bath-tub.
- Greatest Hits Album: Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, released in 2010 to coincide with their reunion.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Stephen Malkmus has gone on record to say not even he knows what he's yelling about in the studio version of "Best Friend's Arm." Most lyric sites replace a majority of the lyrics with question marks.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
- New Sound Album: Brighten the Corners
- Arguably, each of their albums starting with Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is this when compared to the album before it. Wowee Zowee is one of the more infamous examples due to its experimental nature. Though Pavement's Greatest Hits Album, Quarantine the Past, contains rarities such as "The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" and much more than just the "hits," it still only contains TWO tracks from Wowee Zowee (the same amount of tracks that are pulled from an early EP), neither of which were released as singles.
- The Nineties
- Non-Appearing Title: Roughly half their songs.
- One-Hit Wonder: The only really successful single they had was 1994's "Cut Your Hair" (#10 Billboard Modern Rock Tracks), which funnily enough is a snarky criticism of selling out and caring more about one's image than the music. In the UK, their equivalent big hit was 1999's "Carrot Rope" (#27).
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice
- Refuge in Audacity: Wowee Zowee was originally going to be titled Dick-Sucking Fool At Pussy-Licking School, before the band decided it was too risque.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: A graphic mistake on the back cover of Crooked Rain led to a lot of people thinking the song "Silence Kid" was named "Silence Kit".
- Shout-Out: Wowee Zowee is named after an early Frank Zappa song ("Wowie Zowie") and its cover art is reminiscent of Känguru◊ by the Krautrock band Guru Guru. The back cover showing a wizard with the speech bubble "Pavement Ist Rad!" is probably an additional nod to the origin of the cover.
"What about the voice of Geddy Lee
How did it get so high?
I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy?
(I know him and he does)
And you're my fact-checkin' cuzz"
- Most of "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" is Stephen Malkmus gushing about REM
- Step Up to the Microphone/Vocal Tag Team: Scott Kannberg's turns at lead vocals fall somewhere between the two: He sings one or two songs on nearly every full length album except for Terror Twilight, but Stephen Malkmus still definitely has the majority of vocals. In addition, "Painted Soldiers" is the only Kannberg-sung track to have a music video, and even then it wasn't officially a single.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Spit on a Stranger," "Box Elder," and "Here."
- Trope Maker: For the genre known as lo-fi, along with Guided by Voices. By the time of their first album however, they stopped completely relying on lo-fi recording equipment.
- By extension they're also the Trope Codifier for the general sound of Indie Rock as a whole during the genre's formative years of the early and mid 90's.
- Visual Pun: At one point in the "Cut Your Hair" video, Mark Ibold coughs up a live cat and gives it away to the barber he was about to get a haircut from. This is a reference to his involvement with the band Free Kitten.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: "Gold Soundz"
- What Could Have Been: The video for "Painted Soldiers" had a plot where the band members got word that they were fired from the group, one by one - it's eventually revealed that The entire band have been replaced with members of Veruca Salt, who then mime the end of the song. The original idea they had for this cameo would be Weezer note
- Word Salad Lyrics: Oh dear god, "Conduit for Sale!"
Unable to bear the scandal, Ray, philanthropist
Rents low-down scab house in conduit
Herr Proctor offers said land for a song
But no one wants to sing
In an attempt to retain social privileges
Yet mask it as goodwill
He says to the conduit members,
"Take this rotten old tree and make it bear fruit."
Cheers erupted throughout the thin settlement
- Some people seem to believe it's about the fall of the House of Savoy in Turin.
- Many of their lyrics are presented in such a fashion it's difficult to discern what they're about. For example, on songmeanings.com, the comments section of "Carrot Rope" debates whether the song is about religion, sexual molestation, cricket, a stream of consciousness where every other line is a non sequitur, or something else entirely.