Pavement in concert tonight. Closing out the festivities for John Peel’s 60th birthday party at the Maida Vale studios and broadcast live on August 31, 1999 over BBC Radio 1.
Pavement formed in Stockton, California in 1989 as a studio project of guitarists and vocalists Stephen Malkmus & Scott Kannberg, known originally only as “S.M.” and “Spiral Stairs”. Their debut EPs were extremely lo-fi releases titled Slay Tracks: 1933–1969, Demolition Plot J-7, and Perfect Sound Forever. They were recorded at Louder Than You Think, the home studio of Stockton local and former hippie Gary Young who also played drums on the recordings. Upon first hearing the duo’s songs, Young was quoted as saying, “this Malkmus idiot is a complete songwriting genius.”
During this time the band was often compared to English rock band The Fall, however Kannberg stated in a 1992 interview that he preferred Minneapolis rock band The Replacements. The Fall’s Mark E. Smith claimed that Pavement were a “rip-off” of his band and that they didn’t “have an original idea in their heads”, although other members of The Fall have been more positive about the band.
After the release of Slay Tracks, a new drummer, Jason Turner, was drafted to replace Young both live and in the studio. However, after just one tour and a handful of recording sessions, when it became apparent that the percussionist and Malkmus did not get along well, Turner was ousted and Young reinstated. Malkmus later described Turner as “this depressed guy who might assassinate me one day… He’s very competitive.” Around the same time, Bob Nastanovich was incorporated into the live Pavement band as an auxiliary percussionist. Malkmus had been roommates with Nastanovich in New York City, and had told him, “You could be our drummer if we ever played.”
Around 1992 Pavement became a full-time band, with the addition of bassist Mark Ibold, who had been one of the band’s earliest fans, with Malkmus, Kannberg, Young and Nastanovich rounding out the lineup. Their debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, was released commercially in 1992 after copies had been circulated on cassette tape for nearly a year. Though the percussive influence of The Fall was still pervasive, as was that of English post-punk band Swell Maps, many of the songs also exhibited a strong sense of melody. Since its release Slanted and Enchanted has appeared on many critics’ best-of lists and is frequently cited as being among the most influential indie rock albums of the 1990s.
Later the same year, the band released the EP Watery, Domestic.
To get an idea what they were up to in 1999, and what was going on at John Peel’s 60th birthday party – hit the play button and crank this one up.