Quoth the raven: “Cut Your Hair.” Stephen Malkmus sat down for an interview with Marc Maron for the interviewer/podcaster’s WTF podcast. The wide-ranging conversation covers the Pavement frontman’s adopted Portland, Oregon hometown, plus his time in Berlin, the pros and cons of parenthood, touring, how he started playing music, the Grateful Dead, and more. But Malkmus took a long detour into discussing the work of Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe came up when Malkmus was talking about his time in college — the singer and guitarist attended the University of Virginia, which Edgar Allan Poe attended for a year before getting kicked ot. Malkmus is reading a book about the great 19th-century poet (cleverly — though not, Malkmus insists, “scatologically” — titled The Poe Log), so he and Maron went into some depth on the subject. “He never did morphine — that wasn’t true,” Malkmus said of Poe. “He was just dissolute, and too smart for everybody. He’s a genius. He invented so much stuff … He made the science fiction and detective novels. He started all those.”
Discussing learning guitar, Malkmus recalled how growing up in Stockton, California, he played in a “jokey fast” punk band called Straw Dogs, who peformed alongside Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Code of Honor, TSOL, DOA, and others. As for the Dead, he said he admired how “they were able to build their own world.”
Of Malkmus’ current band, he explained that the Jicks’ sets leave a little more room to “go off the rails” than Pavement’s, despite Pavement being noisier. “We’re more dextrous musicians, for whatever reason,” he said of the Jicks. He attributed his former band’s “noise jam” element to influences like Swell Maps and Chrome.
“The music you do, some of it is you, but 80 percent of it is a fantasy of other people you liked, or you’re sort of expressing your love for what they did,” Malkmus said.
Later, though, asked about his musical heroes, he said: “The whole record collection melts into what you are, hopefully. And that’s probably a good idea, to not be too derivative. Everyone has the danger of being really derivative. You can’t help it. But if you have enough colors that it just comes out that yucky brown, that’s you.”
Listen to the entire interview on the WTF website (the chat begins around the 15-minute mark), download the episode here, or pick it up on iTunes. And be sure to read Malkmus’ recent SPIN interview, our review of his excellent new solo album Wig Out at Jagbags, and our piece about Malkmus’ lesbian ice cream.