Allow Me to Meander for a Minute
You may have a love/ hate sort of feeling about Pavement. That happens to me sometimes when I learn about a musician’s personality or hear a story of them acting in a way different than I imagined them. My ears don’t want to believe my eyes, reality seeks and destroys my imagination, or I wish I never saw that person sing that line. I’ve never enjoyed watching someone sing, I think it’s the weirdest thing. I find myself looking away, usually at the crowd, thinking ‘Man, they are so into watching that person sing, they can’t look away and the singer looks so awkward,’ and I’m embarrassed for them. As a songwriting fan, I have always loved interviews and reading or listening to interviews of those I appreciate. I love what compels someone to persevere through the writing and recording process and continue to pour themselves out when they know they will be picked apart.
They might lose money, they might make fans, they might get a song on a hit TV show, they might want to finish their record simply to prove that they can. For me, seeing what someone looks like makes it difficult to hear their voice. Sometimes I get a person who exceeds my personification of them and I am even more interested in their writing approach and ideas. All this has little to do with why Pavement is cool, except that they have written and played songs through the years that don’t fit these particular templates.
I have been to two Pavement concerts, pre-reunion, and think Wowee Zowee is an interesting and diverse collection of songs. I loved it in high school and I don’t think I’m past it yet. Anyway, the top 5 reasons Pavement is cool:
1. Hype Man. Pavement was a rock band with a hype man. Bob. And yeah, he’s a talented drummer, but he ruled as a hype man and now everybody wants a hype man, or wants to be one. It takes the coolest guy in the band to rock out with nothing in his hands but a mic and spitting a couple key lines with absolute punk propriety. “Debris Slide!!” Flavor Flav got a post-hype man career as a reality TV personality, and that’s cool’n all, but Bob rules the hype man world with much due respect.
2. Talk Singing. Goes almost unnoticed, doesn’t it? You thought you were singing right along but you were really talk singing right along. Moonlighting as a crooning tenor, Malkmus blindsides his talk singing approach with clever, heady lyrics about stuff. Just stuff. Random stuff that’s hard not to like. It’s like pudding, what the hell is it besides good?
3. Noise Solos. Guitar solos of pure whammy bar distortion while grinding your pick to pure pick dust . Yes, it’s musical and yes it rules.
4. Homemade Videos. Homemade music videos. Anyway, I’m not sure how they shot some of their videos, but it sure wasn’t with a movie cam or anything fancier than what Dad breaks out on the family vacay. Wardrobe? We’ll take 5 Santa suits. Props? Bows and arrows. Story board? Just follow us. Ok. That’s a wrap. Just in time for lunch.
5. Pioneering Indie. Remaining signed to independent labels while growing in popularity.