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flag US - California - Full Moon 32 - 05/30/99

Scott says (by e-mail)

The twilight singers

Terror Twilight is the name of the new album from the band that needs no introduction, Pavement. Even on the first listen it sounds different - a lot more accessible than the previous ones to be precise - yet is has all the elements you've loved on the old records as well. But actually the band is just playing tricks on us. By putting all the pop songs on the first side of the album and all of the weirder songs on the second, you just get the impression that the album is a lot poppier. At least that's how mastermind Stephen Malkmus explains it in the press release. Pavement will visit Europe several times to promote the album, in mid-May for a few selected club dates, in the summer to do a round of festivals (including England's prestigeous Reading weekender) and then again in the fall for a headlining club tour. So, without further ado, here's a quick e-mail interview with Scott Kannberg (aka Spiral Stairs) I did a couple of weeks ago.

Carsten: How do you feel about your status in the - dare I call it that - "indierock" community?
Scott: I don't think that word really applies to us. We've always thought of ourselves as a "rock band". But, there is a sense of community to "rock bands" our size around the world.

Carsten: There seems to be a huge buzz about Terror Twilight even months before it will be released. obviously that will help to shift records, but do you generally like it when expectations skyrocket like that?
Scott: It's both positive and negative. The huge buzz is beyond our control. At least someone cares.

Carsten: Looking back on past experiences: do you think commercial success makes it more difficult to live up to everybody's expectations? Or how do you manage to stay focused on your own vision despite those 'evil' outside influences?
Scott: We've never been forced to do anything we haven't wanted ourselves. There really isn't that many evil influences around. Our vision has always been focused on putting out cool records.

Carsten: Is being influencial an influence as well?
Scott: It's hard to see yourself as influencial. Our influences come from cooler things.

Carsten: What exactly are your expectations for this new album? Do they differ from the past?
Scott: No real expectations. They do differ from the past because I probably had more of them.

Carsten: Do you expect the record to be received any different compared to your previous ones?
Scott: It should be. It's a great record even with no spiral songs on it.

Carsten: Do you see this album as a deciding factor in where you go from here as a band? Probably more so than the previous ones?
Scott: No. We're getting older anyway. We are into different things than before. If we do let it decide, then the only change will be slowing things down a bit. Take more time between albums etc.

Carsten: Do you care about what is written about you at all?
Scott: Sure! We all have egos.

Carsten: What was on your mind when you had finished the album? Did you know that you had a hit record on your hands, as everybody seem to tell you now?
Scott: We had an inkling! We love the record.

Carsten: Did you ever regret that you never signed a major deal? Do you think that's an option for the future? Also, what's the story behind the different first singles to be released in the states and over here in Europe?
Scott: No! it can be an option for the future. Domino wanted Carrot Rope because it has a cricket reference, and we know how those English love their cricket.

Carsten: Terror... is probably the first Pavement album I really liked from start to finish. On all the others there were songs that were just to 'edgy' to me. So is the whole album really a bit more polished (and did you do that on purpose?), or is it just a trick cause the poppy songs all come first?
Scott: I tried hard to make the record more cohesive start to finish. It's a goal of mine for each record. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Carsten: Apparently you haven't been that happy with Brighten the Corners (1997) in retrospect. Did you actually sit down and discuss what to do different on this album, or did the changes just come about naturally?
Scott: Stephen wasn't happy with Brighten... because of the performances weren't up to his standards. But, he says that about every previous record. We do try to do something different for each record though.

Carsten: Also, how much of an impact did Nigel (Godrich, who has produced Radiohead's OK Computer and Beck's Mutations - editor's note) have as the producer? In what ways was working with him different than working with for example, Bryce (Goggin - editor's note)?
Scott: Nigel was very skilled at crafting new and different sounds from our music. He also liked Sushi. Bryce did some cool stuff too. But, they were from completely different backgrounds. Bryce was a vegan.

Carsten: You recorded the album both in New York and London. Did the surroundings have a major influence on the recording (or even on the songs, if they weren't written before you started recording)?
Scott: I think the London influence comes out more. It's pretty dark and people love to suffer.

Carsten: Is there a musical line you wouldn't cross?
Scott: Touring with Dave Matthews.

Carsten: Do you ever listen to your own records? Do you have any special favourites in your own back catalog?
Scott: Not really that much. We probably listen to our records more than anyone initially. My favorite is the first single.

Carsten: You're gonna do a long tour this year I guess, even though in the past you didn't always seem to be that happy about playing live that much. Is working in the studio more important to you than performing on stage?
Scott: We are actually doing about half of the touring we usually do. The studio work is worth more in the long run. But we love to tour.

Carsten: What can we expect from your upcoming live shows? Any visual extras?
Scott: Lots of little birds with lights screaming through the sky.

Carsten: How do you put together a set for a live show (and does it vary from night to night)? Do you find it easier or more difficult to select songs now that you have your fifth (or sixth) album out?
Scott: Mostly new songs. Some oldies for fun. It varies night to night. It's not that difficult to play any Pavement song.

Carsten: What do you see in the furture for Pavement, where do you want to be in say, five years from now?
Scott: The future? Who knows? In the indierock hall of fame!

Carsten: Will Pavement be the Rolling Stones of indie, or can you imagine doing something other than music at this point?
Scott: There's always the Beatles!

Copyright © 1999 Carsten Wohlfeld e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Pavement articles/reviews: Glasgow Barrowlands, November 18th 1999, Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement, The Secret History, Vol. 1.

© 2011 Luna Kafé