SHOW / EPISODE

MMT50 - 227

Season 2 | Episode 24
37m | Jun 17, 2024

jD hangs with Stephen on today's episode of the Top 50 Countdown. First, as usual, he shares his Pavement origin story and then reveals song 27!

Transcript

Track 1:

[0:00] Previously on the Pavement Top 50. You can exhale now because track 28 is Stop Breathing. Amir, what are your initial thoughts about this song? I love this song. It appears in my Top 20 that I sent you. I think it's number 14 there. So it's half of your number. Hey, this is Westy from the Rock and.


Track 3:

[0:22] Roll Band Pavement, and you're listening to The Countdown. Hey it's jd here back for another episode of our top 50 countdown featuring seminal indie rock band pavement week over week we're going to count down the 50 essential pavement tracks that you selected with your very own top 20 ballots i then tabulated the results using an abacus and some fucker named gene how will your favorite song fare in the ratings well you'll have to tune in to find out. So there's that. This week, I'm joined by Pavement superfan, Stephen. Stephen, how the fuck are you? I'm very good, JD. How are you? I'm doing quite stellar, in fact. It's a good day to be breathing and upright, you know? It is. It is. Spring's in the air. You know, winter's gone. Things are looking up. Funny enough, it's snowing here today. First, you know, we've passed spring. We didn't get any snow at all. And then, you know, it turns into spring and all of a sudden we've got snow. So, you know, who can fucking tell?


Track 3:

[1:30] No, no, but yeah, thanks for having me on. It's like we said before, just before we started, I've been listening to the whole countdown so far. And, you know, it's been great. It's a nice little pick me up on the Monday morning when it drops. And it's a good feeling to think that, you know, there's going to be one a week for the whole year pretty much. So, yeah, I've been really enjoying it. Well, thank you so much. That means a lot. So let's get, you know, let's make this about you now and let's get right into your Pavement Origins story. Yeah, okay, yeah. So, I mean, I'm 42 now and I got into Pavement when I was about... Sort of 15 16 so it was basically when uh terror twilight came out.


Track 3:

[2:19] When i was a teenager i was really into radiohead at the time i mean i still am but uh, they were they were my band at the moment so i was obsessively into everything that they did and i would read all the interviews and you know get every release and bootleg and ep and thing that came out uh from that band and i remember i was on holiday once and uh i picked up a music magazine in the airport on the way over and there was a a big article in there about pavement and the terror twilight release um and i'd kind of heard of them a little bit uh i kind of knew off them but it was always but they were always sort of mentioned in the same breath as um, the fall and john peel and things like that and so yeah in my mind i kind of built them up as a kind of scary alternative loud punky i don't know abrasive sort of band that was sort of unlistenable, um and i kind of remember at the time also around that time in the 90s um blur brought out their uh.


Track 3:

[3:27] Self-titled album the one that has song two on right graham graham coxson was going around on the interview circuit and saying oh yeah this this this album's influenced by you know really really hard understandable american bands like like pavement and i was like oh okay yeah so this in my head i kind of built them up as um something a bit difficult and then i read this saw this article in um this music magazine it must be key magazine or enemy or something and they just came across like a really nice bunch of guys and i thought right when i get back from holiday i'm going to buy that record it sounds really good also so yeah the other thing was that the main draw at that time was uh the radio head rich sort of connection godrich yeah so he he nigel godrich produced it they had johnny greenwood playing harmonica for some reason on uh platform blues and on billy and so i bought the album purely on that uh that sort of thought really i'd never heard any of their songs didn't know anything about them and i remember getting home putting putting the CD on, and the first song is Spit on the Stranger. So that was the first Pavement song I'd ever heard. Wow. And it's got such a lovely, warm introduction, and those sort of synth pops, and the vocal, and the melody. I thought, wow, this is great. This isn't what I was expecting at all. I was expecting something really hard, and almost the kind of stuff that you hear on Westing.


Track 3:

[4:51] Yes, yes. And so, no, I loved it. I got really into that album. them i loved uh every track on it really um uh especially carrot rope loved carrot rope but i don't i don't quite i don't quite get the kind of uh the sort of online hate that that song gets i think that's a great song um but yeah from terror twilight i then kind of worked backwards and picked up all the cds in kind of reverse order i got i think bright in the corners next, text uh and i kind of worked backwards uh crooked rain wowie zowie was hard to find i think in those days i couldn't find it so it took me it took me about a year or so to track that that cd down.


Track 3:

[5:33] Um so yeah i wonder why that is i don't know i think it it was in the 90s it was kind of like, you know there wasn't the internet wasn't so prominent you couldn't you almost didn't know what a band's back catalogue was. You had to kind of track it down and search it out in record stores and read about them in magazines and, uh yeah so for whatever reason that that record was hard to hard to track down but uh yeah so it's by the time i went to university i think i had all the albums, uh but then unfortunately they broke up yeah so i kind of missed the boat on the on the sort of original incarnation uh uh but then the the sm debut came out which is absolutely, that is my absolute favorite album by anybody of all time. It's really fucking good. Yeah, it's so good. I mean, I still listen to that album now. Like it's, what was it, 24 years old, is it? 23 years old or something, as we speak. Yeah, pretty close. I think I listened to it last week. I still get something from that album. Me too. I do. I listened to it for like three days in a row, Les, two weeks ago. Listened to it for like three days in a row, just straight. It's still got it, hasn't it? Every song on there is fantastic.


Track 3:

[7:00] The sort of guitar work, the melody. And I think sometimes with... It's quite a poppy, immediate album. And sometimes those sorts of albums don't really have the longevity. But for whatever reason, this one does. It's really got a lot going on. Um so so yeah so then so from that i i kind of so from 2001 onwards i kind of picked up all the, mountainous solar stuff as it came out uh uh but none of them really grabbed me like the debut did um up until um traditional techniques so yeah that that that's another one that's really got under my skin that album it's a great one um i think it came out i think it came out just at the beginning of lockdown yeah it was 2018 yeah and it might it might be something to do with that you know sort of being trapped in the house with this with this new record and i listened to it every day for for a long time over over lockdown uh but yeah that that's that's a really good one as well yeah um and it was around that sort of time that um.


Track 3:

[8:14] That i uh found your podcast and uh yeah oh wow it was it was kind of the traditional techniques album that made me kind of think oh i need to get a bit more into to revisiting some of the other mountainous stuff that i've not really got into the first time around and i found your podcast and the uh uh the mountainous conundrum podcast yes yes the guys did yeah that was great so uh yeah kind of that that period that lockdown period for me is kind of synonymous with listening to a lot of pavement podcasts, listening to traditional techniques, and sort of going back and re-exploring some of the other Mount Masolo stuff.


Track 3:

[8:55] But yeah, so yeah, I didn't catch them live. Well, I saw Mount Masolo a few times when he was touring the first album at festivals and little venues, and that was really cool. Here's one for you. I saw Radiohead, and opening for Radiohead was SM and the Jicks. Oh, really? What year was that? Yeah, that was Hail to the Thief, when they were touring for Hail to the Thief. Yeah, 2004, something like that. Oh, that'd be cool. That's about right, yeah. So they were doing, were they doing Real Emotional Trash or something at that time? What were the Jicks doing?


Track 3:

[9:40] Whatever came after Pig Lib. uh pig lip okay cool yeah no the one after pig lip uh shit i can't i can't think of what it was face the truth i've got it up here somewhere uh face the truth, Or Real Emotional Trash, one of those two. That's pretty cool. Yeah. So did you get a chance to see Pavement live ever? I did. Well, when they regrouped in 2010, I seem to remember. Yeah. And they did a series of shows down in London. But it was the week I was getting married.


Track 3:

[10:19] Tough to escape that. So I didn't go, but I thought about it. It was almost like you know travel down to london come back get married the next day and i thought no it's not that's not gonna work so i'll uh i'll skip that but then i thought yeah wise uh but then i caught them on the um on the most recent tour and that that tour was fantastic that really.


Track 3:

[10:40] You know i was completely obsessed with that tour it was so good where did you where did you see the manchester uh yeah so i saw them in leeds um and manchester uh and then the following year, they played a little one-off uh festival in the uk called blue dot and they were headlining right yeah yeah and that was really cool um yeah you got some of the uk gigs didn't you yeah i saw every every stop except for leeds oh no that's a shame yeah oh so you're at manchester yeah yeah that was a good one i thought yeah too yeah that i remember on that one they, they opened with major leagues didn't they which i think which is a bit i always think that's a bit of an odd uh odd intro song it doesn't really get things going in the same way it sort of set the mood for the night like it was a more mellow show for sure definitely definitely it's but still great still a great song yeah, but yeah no but then so the funny thing about the Leeds gig was um.


Track 3:

[11:52] I went with my brother and we went for some food beforehand and a couple of drinks. And we're in this Indian restaurant. And the waiter comes over and says, oh, are you guys going to the pavement gig later? Because he must have seen our T-shirts and things like that. Well, oh, yeah, yeah. And he goes, oh, the band ate next door just an hour ago. So there was another slightly more upper class Indian restaurant next door. And he's like, oh, no, they just ate there recently. and so i was like really really buzzing from that i was like oh yeah we've eaten in the restaurant next to the one that pavement ate in so we finished up there and we're walking up to the venue and the doors opened i think at seven and it was probably about you know one or two minutes to seven o'clock and we're walking up through the town center and as we're walking, we kind of notice that we're kind of walking in step with this other group that are kind of walking in this at the same speed and in the same direction you know it's a bit awkward when you're kind of trying to overtake each other and uh i thought hang on they've got they sound like american accent and um so i look over and it's uh it's bob and spiral walking up walking up to the venue um and bear in mind that the doors are just about to open so they're just like strolling up through the city center like they've got all the time in the world.


Track 3:

[13:15] And I was like, oh, you know, I don't normally, you know, don't normally do this but i'll have to i've got to say something you know and i've had a couple of pints by this point so i was feeling a bit more uh confident but uh so so as we got to the traffic lights i stopped them and said oh sorry guys you know just got to say hello you know you're a big fan and they were really really nice guys just stopped and we sort of stood there by the road and chatted for about five minutes or so and you know they were in no rush at all to to get to the venue or start the gig or anything like that um yeah so really really nice um, really nice guys uh and then and from that point yeah it was just a great gig uh yeah yeah oh that's so fun that you got to meet them they're so gracious right yeah no really good guys and just yeah just chatting like you know like it was like it was nothing you know yeah and you know asking where we were from and you know uh they were talking about how they'd played at the same venue with sonic youth like back in the 90s and you know and stuff like that just really yeah it's really nice little little moment um and then managed to to meet them a second time um at the blue dot festival uh the year after wow uh because they and i don't think this was really.


Track 3:

[14:40] Picked up online that much but on the first event of the day at the festival it was on the poster described as a listening party, And I thought a listening party with pavement and it was a sort of event curated by Tim Burgess from the charlatans. Okay. He does these sort of online listening parties where he plays an album and people listen along live and, you know, that sort of thing. And so I thought, okay, that's probably just, you know, in a tent somewhere, they're probably playing a pavement album and maybe talking about it on stage, that sort of thing. So I thought, well, I'll head over to that before, you know.


Track 3:

[15:20] Before we go and see any bands. And so I head over to this tent, turn the corner, and the entire band are in this tent, up on this little stage. And it's probably about, I don't know, maybe 200 people on sort of chairs. It's like a sort of wedding tent, you know, like chairs. And they're playing Wari Zari through the speakers. And they've got this interviewer on stage, and she's just talking to them about the album as they play it through, like track by track.


Track 3:

[15:50] Um and you know so you got like a sort of track by track rundown of every wow it's like it's so surreal to sort of turn the corner step into this tent and you know mount merson the rest of them were all on stage and they're doing that kind of track by track blow by blow rundown of every every you know every song on the rise alley i was just i was just like i wish i wish i had a bit of paper to write some of this stuff down or to remember what they're saying because it was it was really good really good sort of um director's commentary yeah exactly it's like you know those sort of um uh on tv here on say like you know on like a friday night we might get, a sort of behind the scenes documentary on some 80s band or something and they're sitting at the mixing desk and they're talking about how they recorded this album years ago it was like that but for a band you actually like and for an album you know um an album you're actually really invested in um yeah so that was really cool, uh and then yeah so what's your go-to record these days uh these days i would say it's um yeah uh because i think it's got the most variety sure does uh it's probably like the best.


Track 3:

[17:10] Single if you were to sort of say what if you were to give one record to somebody and say this This is what pavement's like. I would say it's Wari Zari because it's got the louder stuff, the quieter stuff.


Track 3:

[17:21] It's really eclectic.


Track 3:

[17:26] Yeah, when I was younger, it was Crooked Rain that was always the one that I would go to. But I think now it's Wari Zari.


Track 3:

[17:37] Well, what do you think there, Stephen? Should we flip the record and talk about song number 27? Let's do it, yeah. Alright, we'll be back right after this.


Track 3:

[23:35] It's the fourth song from Terror Twilight on the Countdown. Song number 27 is the fantastic The Hex. Stephen, what are your initial thoughts about this song, The Hex? The Hex. It's a really cool song. It's, I think it's completely different to anything else that Pavement does. I think it's very unique. um it's got a style which isn't really isn't really there in any i can't think of any other song that looks like it it's um you know it's kind of it's kind of slow kind of lurching, atmospheric um it's got a kind of it's almost a kind of proggy kind of vibe um Um, uh, but yeah, no, no, it's really, it's really cool. Um, I love the guitar solo. It's, it's absolutely brilliant. Did they play at any of the live shows you went to? They did. They did. They did, uh, at Blue Dot. Yeah. I was, um, they, they didn't take leads on Manchester and I was really hoping they would. Uh, and yeah, and then they, they played it at the last one. So I was happy. Yeah. Really happy with that. They really open it up live. Don't they? Oh, it's great. Yeah. Yeah, really cool song live.


Track 3:

[24:57] It's one of those kind of jammy songs. You know, you can tell it's come from a, you know, a band session rather than something that's been kind of written in advance.


Track 3:

[25:10] And in fact, you've got the, there's that other version of it, isn't there? And then the Hex. Yeah, and then the Hex. Yeah, that's on the B side. and that's i think that was part of the bright in the corners sessions yeah i believe so yeah yeah yeah and so that that version is pretty cool as well but that's much more it hasn't really got that kind of haunting sort of vibe to it it's more kind of crunchy and rocky it kind of i don't think it really emphasizes that sort of guitar line so much it's more straight into the kind of chorus and then like Magnus is doing the kind of scatting yelling bit over the top, it's quite a cool version. Yeah. So you can kind of see how that kind of rocky jam that they started with sort of evolved into this kind of more atmospheric, proggy song and I'd imagine quite a lot of that is probably down to Nigel Godrich. I bet you're right. I bet you're right. Because it's really dense as well, isn't it? Yeah. Whereas a lot of Pavement songs tend to be sparse production-wise, the whole Terror Twilight is so rich and atmospheric. Yeah. This song is a great example of that. Definitely, definitely. It's almost kind of claustrophobic. You can kind of get lost in it.


Track 3:

[26:33] Yeah, it's a really cool song. um in fact yeah on the on the nigel gottrich uh sequence i think he puts it at number two, so he obviously thinks it's like uh you know should be up there at the beginning i do think it works a bit better at the end as a uh you know as a sort of finale rather than pin it right right up there at the beginning yeah i like the sequence that that they put together for uh terror twilight uh i think i like it a little bit better than the gottrich sequence but it's cool that we have both. Definitely, yeah. Yeah. It changes the record. It does, it does. It's funny how a sequence can change the feel of something. Yeah. But like I was saying before, Spit on a Stranger is just the perfect opening for an album, I think. It's spot on to put that at the beginning.


Track 3:

[27:28] But to start off with The Hex, it's pretty dense. It's pretty yeah um but yeah no yeah really cool so do you have a handle on what this song is about, well i was having to think and yeah i mean i've been listening to this song a lot, over the past few weeks in preparation um and trying to get a sense of what's what's going on but to me it feels kind of it's kind of in some ways it's a bit radio heady because i think it's it's kind of, it's kind of a bit about um existence and alienation and feeling sort of lost and uh like some of the lyrics um, He's talking about, you know, sort of been reeling around a parking lot, being, you know, being lost in life and not knowing where you're going.


Track 3:

[28:27] There's some great stuff in the lyrics. That line about the epileptic surgeons with their eyes X'd out. You know, it's pretty creepy stuff. Yeah. You know, attending to the torn up kid. so you can kind of imagine this sort of you know you can kind of read that as someone who's sort of physically broken or someone who's maybe emotionally torn up like you know life has just got too heavy and right broken them down and you've got these sort of zombie, twitching surgeons attending you know attending to this kid um so pretty pretty sort of nightmarish childish kind of stuff um i love that line about the uh the secondary stumbles because the cadence of the count has led him astray i just love the sort of syncopation of that line it's it's brilliant um and then you've got uh uh the the sort of section about the architecture students which i love that yeah that's got to be one of his uh one of his best lines definitely It's, yeah, really funny. It kind of.


Track 3:

[29:50] Yeah, he has these lines like the bit about, you know, the architecture students with the itch they can't scratch, and, you know, the surgeons in the second verse and songs like Grounded where he's sort of taking a pot at doctors and it seems like he's got this kind of.


Track 3:

[30:09] He likes to sort of take the pot shots at the professional classes, I think. I think, you know, he's there from the sort of creative side, the artistic side and he's looking at the people that are kind of dedicating their lives to these sort of, you know to these professional and technical endeavors and he's sort of you know taking little pot shots at that I think that's I think that's great. I like that that's good but yeah it's kind of, it reminds me of a lot of like a Radiohead song something from OK Computer or something where it's talking about the state of the world and alienation and being lost and these sort of little nightmarish, the janets uh here and there um really good really good stuff um the the line about the swallow at the beginning is pretty cool as well i mean i think so too yeah i mean i think that's him kind of in some ways kind of showing off a little bit about some you know his knowledge about migratory birds which you know you can see that so it's quite humorous on that on that side but also i think it's kind of talking about um so so the line is uh swallow answer to your inner voice and please return god installed that radar in your pointy little beak so please return so it's kind of like it's a bit you know you could see it one way it's about nature about migratory birds or you could or you could see that it's something to do with kind of like destiny and fate.


Track 3:

[31:39] These creatures are kind of, you know, they're drawn back. They've got no sort of free will.


Track 3:

[31:47] And you can maybe see it like, perhaps it's kind of, maybe like a broken relationship and he's, you know, his partner's broken up with him and gone off and he knows they'll come back because they're drawn back with this sort of instinct, this kind of fate. You know, you can't escape this kind of instinct that's within you. Um good yeah so it's all yeah there's i think there's a lot of stuff in there like that which is i think i think different to to your average pavement song it's a lot more downbeat a lot darker a lot sort of um.


Track 3:

[32:24] A lot more sort of oppressive um and and that together with the whole sort of rhythm with the thing and the kind of sort of lurching piano guitar line that sort of just you know that sort of those sort of bass notes and then sort of that sort of descending guitar part all the way down yeah um yeah really cool really cool nice stab nice stab on the sm lyrics though because Because, for real, he's really tough to nail down, right? Like, it's really tough to figure out what he's saying because it does change so much. It is like phraseology, in a sense, you know? Like, just throwing out neat, syncopatic phrases and bits of thoughts and bits of ideas, and then you get this structure, you know? Very cool. Yeah, definitely. It's more about the kind of image. which, you know, it's kind of poetry in that sense, isn't it? Because it's more about the image it creates in your head than anything literal, you know? Yeah.


Track 3:

[33:28] How do you feel about the ranking of this song? Is it properly ranked? Is it 27? Should it be higher? Should it be lower? Yeah. I mean, not wanting to question the abacus, but I think it could be higher. I think uh i was just looking at my my uh submission to you and i think i had it at 13, that sounds more about right like just outside the top 10 i think it's one of the one of the one of the greats definitely i mean it's different i can i can understand why it's lower because i think i don't think it's a pavement song in that sense i think it's more of a it's not really really representative of what what they do it's quite unique um it's more of a shows you that sorry i apologize okay it all well it also shows you that terror twilight just doesn't have the same love that you know that other pavement records have you know like people like some of the songs are held back because you know people like a lot of people have terror twilight is number five. The rest of the records are interchangeable. You know, like, oh, I have Slanted at number one. Oh, I have Crooked at number one. Oh, I have Wally's Alley at number one. But most people have Terror of Twilight around five, it seems.


Track 3:

[34:50] Yeah, no, I can understand that. And I think maybe because this was the first record that I got, you don't come to it with all that sort of baggage, really. That's right. You can kind of see it as an isolated record rather than in the context of everything else. But no, I think it needs to be higher. Just for the guitar solo alone, it's like, it's so, so, so good.


Track 3:

[35:16] It's almost kind of a bit Pink Floyd-y, a bit kind of prog-y. It's probably like the cleanest guitar solo that he does really like most most of the guitar stuff he does is kind of you know sort of intentionally sloppy and and you know distorted and he's hit you know hitting these off key notes on purpose and you know like like the um like the solo on thin which is another absolutely fantastic solo but that's all like you know that's that's completely all over the place which you know in a really good way but uh in a great way yeah Whereas this solo is much more tightly controlled and sort of almost like classic rock. You know, it's really nice. Interesting. Classic rock. Okay, I can see that. Yeah, I could see it on the, you know, downside of the moon or something like that. Yeah. I was just listening to Dark Side before we got on the call. Yeah. Nice, nice. Yeah.


Track 3:

[36:16] Yeah. Well, man, it's been great having you on to talk about your origin story and the hacks. Is there anything that you want to plug or anything like that? No, not really. No, I don't really have much internet presence or produce anything creative. Well, that's cool. That's cool, nevertheless. No, no, no. I really appreciate your time. And I thank you so much for doing this. No worries. it's no it's been it's been a lot of fun i was i was looking forward to this for a long time and you know like i said i've been enjoying the countdown so far uh and uh looking forward to see what seeing what comes up at the top i'll never tell yeah well i'll tell in december but yeah all right steven thanks so much talk to you soon watch your goddamn hands.




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