On Tuesday, slack-rock icons Pavement arguably the progenitors of the 1990s' lo-fi, ‘indie rock' movement will finally bring their victory-lap reunion tour to Texas to rock a sold-out audience at Stubb's.
Both the music press and hip music fans alike always adored Pavement, and history continues to venerate the band led by hyper-literate Everyman Stephen Malkmus.
Malkmus and band mastered the ability to write songs both cheeky and earnest, allowing their unpretentious Stockton, Calif., cool to infuse music that felt as loose and off the cuff as the Rolling Stones' hedonistic sessions from ‘Exile On Main Street.' Add that to the pop craft of British post-punk bands like the Fall and you have Pavement's secret formula, which immediately rendered the 1990s ‘alternative' rock scene played-out.
We recently caught up with Pavement percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Bob Nastanovich while he was enjoying a two-week hiatus between the European and United States legs of Pavement's reunion tour.
Austin American-Statesman: How did Austin get booking priority?
Bob Nastanovich: Austin was prioritized because we've always had a good time there and it's always been a good place for us to play. Seems like there's a lot of interest in Pavement down there. It's the only Texas show. So I guess we're hoping (people) will travel in from Dallas and Houston.
Does everybody still get along?
Some people have more in common with others and spend more time together, but generally speaking, everybody always got along in Pavement. The tension that's written about towards the end of the band was really not that big of a deal. It was really more of a case of exhaustion and crankiness ...
I think the main reason for the breakup was that Stephen wanted to not continue to work with a band that didn't live anywhere near him. I think he felt like it would be a better working situation for him ... to work with musicians that lived in his town.
Do you have any specific memories of Austin?
My clearest-cut memory of Austin was the first show we played there with Sonic Youth, and we showed up in our van named Gina. She was tough, but she was a crappy old van. And we had about, all total, $400 worth of equipment, and things were really in a shabby state of disrepair. We unloaded our gear ... and looked up at everything they had. And we wondered what in God's name a band like us was doing opening for them.
Gary (Gary Young, their eccentric ex-drummer) was so freaked out at the size (of the crowd) and the magnitude of the experience that he played everything at least twice as fast as he was supposed to. So we only played for like, 20-25 minutes.
I was (also) the tour manager, and I remember the nice folks at Liberty Lunch (Mark Pratz and J-net Ward) saying, ‘Look, we're gonna pay you, but you were supposed to play for 45 minutes.'
We only knew how to play 14 songs and we played them twice as fast as they're supposed to be played. I remember that being kind of humorous, saying, ‘Look, Gary, you're gonna have to slow down or else we might not get paid.'
You and Stephen met at the University of Virginia. Did you two meet in a classroom? At a party?
We definitely met at Virginia in 1985. And basically through the college radio station there - WTJU. We both had radio shows. We'd go see all the bands that we thought were cool that came through Charlottesville.
Then we started taking a lot of road trips to Washington D.C., New York and Richmond, VA to see bands. There was a group of about 10 of us that had similar taste in music and we'd go see bands together. That's how we solidified our friendship.
And was your friend (and former bandmate) from the Silver Jews, was he also in the group of 10?
Very much so.
What have you been up to since Pavement broke-up, prior to the reunion?
I live in Des Moines now. I work in horse racing...and it's a pretty transient life style. Fortunately I've got a lot of different jobs at the race track here, which is called Prairie Meadows.
What do you do at the track?
I work a lot of jobs in the racing office here. I also work for a company called Equibase, and we chart the races. We collect data that is used by the daily racing forum and the program. The jobs I work in the racing office include building the program and doing the morning line and just doing basically whatever they ask me to do.
And obviously this year I've had to take a leave of abscense to do the touring. It was a no-brainer-type decision because this is something - for the last several years when the members of Pavement have spoken about it - we were just automatically gonna put down whatever we were doing and devote whatever year we decided to do a reunion tour to that tour. And hopefully - although it's not guaranteed - I'll be able to get some semblance of my jobs (at the race track) back in 2011.
Touring with such a popular band is a worthy thing to let your employee go do!
It is. And they understand, although I had to explain it to a lot of them. Horse racing is one of those businesses where there are very few people into "indie rock." So I had to explain the magnitude of it...that it wasn't just a bunch of dudes getting together and jamming...that it was a band that made several CDs and did a lot of touring (in the past). And there was a fair amount of anticipation for it.
And you know the biggest concern with trying to get your job back is that obviously somebody had to replace you. Therefore they might have really liked the job and they might want to keep it.
So I guess probably in the next month or two I'll send some letters out to find out what's there. I've got a good relationship with my bosses.
At this point we've got this big month in front of us in the US. And we're actually gonna conclude the tour by playing a couple of shows in South America in November. So around Thanksgiving we'll be done with the touring this year. And then we'll be able to go about resuming a normal life.
When you attended the University of Virginia, was horse racing your first love...so much so that you thought that's what you would want to do after college?
No, not at all. From a teenager on, I was a very big fan of the sport...in the same way that I was a record collector and a college radio DJ and stuff like that. Horse racing has been something that I've always been very into...and that's just grown over the years. And you know, at this point I've done a lot of different jobs in racing. When I finished college, I finished with a government degree...and I've never really applied that to anything I've done subsequently.
First off, in 1989 I moved to New York and ended up driving a bus there. Then managing the bus terminal for four years. So that was obviously a case of not using my degree. And then fortunately Pavement got to a point where we were able to put down our real jobs and devote the next 7 or so years to Pavement.
And then after Pavement ended, I was able to make a living in horse racing doing jobs both on the front side and in the office. I was also a jockey agent for several years - which means you're representing jockeys - so you spend a lot of time actually with the horses trying to essentially get your jockeys to ride the best horses possible.
So yeah...I've done a lot in racing since Pavement stopped. This year is something that...you know, it wasn't mentioned on a constant basis, but it was always a hope of mine that Pavement would get back together. And fortuantely we were able to devote everyone's schedules in 2010 to making it happen.
Didn't (Pavement's original, very eccentric drummer) Gary Young join you guys for a show recently?
Yeah he played a couple of shows. He played in Stockton and Berkley, CA. It was right in his neighborhood. So he played a handful of songs in each place.
Did you enjoy that?
Yeah, I thought it was pretty fun. He does things quite a lot differently than (current drummer) Steve West, so it was pretty tricky. Although it was very similar to the way it was when Gary was in the band originally. It was highly unpredictable and I think his performance reflects that.
With Woven Bones
When: Doors at 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Stubb's, 801 Red River St.
Cost: $37.50 to $40. Technically sold out.