Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
A band of old friends with an "awful good guitar player"
By Simon McCormack
“They needed a drummer and I needed a band,” the former member of indie grrrl standout Sleater-Kinney explains. “It’s not like they were deficient in any way, other than needing someone to fill the drummer’s seat. I just stay true to my style and my personality and try to make the songs as good as they can be.”
Weiss has known Malkmus—who started the band shortly after Pavement, his highly influential indie outfit, went on hiatus—and the rest of the Jicks for a number of years. (Jicks bassist Joanna Bolme also plays in Weiss’ project, Quasi.) The transition was a smooth one, and the ease with which all four members learned to fit each other’s style is evidenced in the band’s cut-and-dried indie rock album Real Emotional Trash.
Compared to past collaborations, there’s a more egalitarian creative process at work on the album released last month. The give-and-take is especially noticeable in the instrumental jams, which are fully fleshed out and allowed to run until they’re completely out of breath. “It’s a little bit heavier than the other Jicks releases,” Weiss says. “The guitar playing is definitely more epic.”
“It’s a visceral thing, where the people are the band and they are the music,” Weiss says.
It’s no coincidence Weiss mentions the guitar when searching for the record’s essence. While Malkmus gets plenty of input from the Jicks, his instrument of choice is what churns the band’s releases. “He’s an awful good guitar player,” Weiss muses. “I don’t know if I’ve ever played with a guitarist quite that talented.”
Though it will always be compared to its predecessor, Weiss doesn’t see any reason why the Jicks should be likened to Pavement or any other outfit. “It’s a visceral thing, where the people are the band and they are the music,” Weiss says. “Pavement will never happen like it did then, because there are so many magical things that make up a group that you can’t put your finger on. No band can be duplicated and that’s what makes it beautiful.”
After witnessing her share of outfits dissolve in front of her eyes, Weiss is hesitant to attest to the staying power of any ensemble in an industry where change is especially common. But, for Weiss, stability isn’t as important as maintaining the desire to share her talents with fellow musicians and fans. “Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow?” Weiss asks. “You try to learn from your mistakes, but it’s not easy being in a band. All I know is that I want to keep playing, so I just go out there and try to make it work.”
See Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ palpable chemistry for yourself at the Sunshine Theater this Wednesday, April 23. The Joggers will open the all-ages show, which begins at 7 p.m.
Jacked-up about the Jicks? Find out more at www.stephenmalkmus.com.
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