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Joanna Bolme of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: "I Want to Warn You: We Still Jam."

Joanna Bolme of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: "I Want to Warn You: We Still Jam."

Here's kind of a crazy realization: Stephen Malkmus has been performing and recording with The Jicks longer than he played and recorded with Pavement. But following Pavement's reunion (I saw them at Coachella 2010, and had one of those mythic "Brochella Moments" with a complete stranger during "Cut Your Hair"), all anyone could say in response to the Jick's 2011 release Mirror Traffic was how much it sounded like Pavement.

Of course the record doesn't sound entirely unlike Pavement, especially light of Real Emotional Trash's heavy, prog-rock intricacy. In comparison, Mirror Traffic is lighter, breezier, and spunkier. It doesn't sound like exactly like Pavement, but given Malkmus' singular voice, it's hard not to draw parallels.

"I like Real Emotional Trash, I love that record, and I think the songs are great, but after touring it heavily I think we got a little burnt on playing a bunch of nine-minute songs," says Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme. "They were kind of darker or something. I think we were feeling a little bit lighter, and wanted to express a more sunny side of the band, I guess."

Up on the Sun caught up with Bolme to discuss Malkmus' relocation to Berlin, the future of the Jicks, and "jamming out."

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks are scheduled to perform Friday, February 24 at Crescent Ballroom.

Up on the Sun: Every time the Jicks put out a record, people say it's 'the most Pavement-y thing the Jicks have done.' Joanna Bolme: Yeah. [Laughs]

Does that get annoying to you?

It was at first, just because aside from Steve's voice and a few of his sort of signature guitar styling and stuff, I don't really think we sound like Pavement. It's a little annoying, but whatever.

I love Pavement, and the Jicks, but I've had friends say that to me regarding every record. The records are pretty different from each other, let alone to the old band. But Malkmus' voice is pretty hard to get around. Mirror Traffic sounds a lot less intense than Real Emotional Trash. Seems like there's less prog rock influence on this one.

Yeah, I think so. I like Real Emotional Trash, I love that record, and I think the songs are great, but after touring it heavily I think we got a little burnt on playing a bunch of nine-minute songs and you know, they were kind of darker or something. I think we were feeling a little bit lighter, and wanted to express a more sunny side of the band, I guess.

This record seems strummier. There's some baroque elements, but here's also a lot of strumming guitars. It sounds like these songs might be less technically demanding than the last record, but not necessarily less interesting. Is that fair?

I understand what you're saying. Hmmm. That's hard to say. There are some songs I would agree with you. A lot of the poppier simple songs, there's always some little bit in there. There's always something trick in there. "Stick Figures in Love" -- on the surface it sounds like a bouncy pop song, but there's some timing trickery in there, stuff that didn't feel natural at first, but now it does. I think the other thing about having a more simplistic frame work is that it allows us to sort of improvise or jam when we feel like jamming. [With] Real Emotional Trash, there were sort of sections of the song that were prescribed for jamming, you know, "to jam." Like in "Hopscotch Willie,"-- "Now is the part where we jam." I think that sort of got old, like, "What if we don't feel like jamming here anymore?" [Laughs] With the Mirror Traffic songs, there's song structure, but if we feel like stretching a certain section out, it doesn't interfere so much with the song as it stands or something. In a weird way, it's loosened us up more in a way. It's a little bit easier to feel our way around. The jams come up in a more organic fashion. I want to warn you: We still jam.

 

What's the future of the band look like with Malkmus living in Berlin?

We already have a whole other album's worth of songs that we've been playing. We haven't played all of them on tour, but we've been playing probably six of them fairly regularly in the set. We'll play one or two every night. Last time I talked with Steve, or got an email from Steve, he said he's got even more since he's been in Berlin. So I imagine when he shows up in Portland to practice before we hit the road we might even work up some other ones. [As far as a new album,] it's not that hard to get to Berlin if we want to record over there. I don't think he's forming an all German version of the Jicks.

He's not forming a Krautrock version of the Jicks?

[Laughs] No. He's not the easiest person to play with...I've been playing with him for 11 years. This will be 12 years. So I feel like I have a pretty good musical relationship with him. I feel like I play really well with him. I don't think that...even though I'm just "the bass player" and sometimes what I play is really simple, I don't think my shoes would be that easy to fill.

Have you talked about recording in Berlin?

Briefly...even when we did our last tour of Europe he was still settling in with his family adn stuff. I think we'll probably try and figure that out. I don't know where we would record. We have talked about it, but haven't' solidified plans to record.

Whenever I think about bands recording in Berlin, I think of Eno and David Bowie -

[Interjecting] Iggy Pop.

Exactly. As a music nerd, it seems like it would be such a cool thing to do. But I imagine it takes some work to arrange.

Yeah, well, he's there. He can figure it out [laughs].

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks are scheduled to perform Friday, February 24 at Crescent Ballroom.

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