'Rock star' redefined.
Stephen Malkmus redefined the term "rock star" for music fans in the 1990s, when his band Pavement released legendary lo-fi tunes like "Cut Your Hair." The titles of several Pavement albums, in particular Slanted and Enchanted, are fitting descriptions of Malkmus' off-kilter approach to songwriting.
Malkmus has brought a similar sensibility to the Jicks for more than a decade. Their new album of indie rock, Wig Out at Jagbags, includes a song about two Wisconsin sports figures: former Milwaukee Bucks player Brandon Jennings and coach Scott Skiles. I asked Malkmus about the record, the Bucks reference and his recent stint in Europe before the band's Feb. 19 show at the High Noon Saloon.
You wrote Wig Out in Berlin. Did living in a different country affect the songs in any way?
I'd say environment has little effect on the wellspring of creation. But what you do with the water, that's when environment counts. [Songwriting] is like when my kids describe the perfect dress: It's a collision of extravagant ideas.
Why did you include former Milwaukee Bucks in the song "Chartjunk"?
I used the Skiles-Jennings mind game to examine the pride of youth and the pride of wisdom.... It's like in a movie where the ninja student finally beats his master, or when the son can destroy his father.
Fans often mention Pavement when talking about you, but the Jicks have a solid history as well. What do you hope this band's legacy will be?
There are hopes, and then there are realistic hopes. The dream would be that we can all live off this band and develop a cool, loyal mob of people who dig the band. All band members could have houses and health insurance. And two weeks of vacation to such exotic locations as Laos, the Seychelles and perhaps Zanzibar, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. We would all live to be 87 and die in our sleep. The band would be more illustrious than the Jesus & Mary Chain, Elbow and Phish, inspiring generations of young bands to pick up instruments.