No Regrets – an interview with Joanna Bolme of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Back in January, this blog posted a review of the new Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ album Wig Out at Jagbags.
Filled with observations on the record’s numerous “references to the West Coast,” and many tracks’ “eminently hummable choruses and clever couplets,” that article, as it turns out, was only the beginning, eventually resulting in this story posted on HearNebraska.org and featuring quotes from an interview this writer completed via e-mail with Jicks’ bassist Joanna Bolme (see picture, second from right).
Now, with the Jicks’ tour arriving in the East this week for shows scheduled in Boston and New York, the Northeast Underground proudly presents its entire interview with Bolme including portions that weren’t used in the finished article mentioned above. Scroll below to check it out!
Underground: First off, where I am reaching you for this interview? Are you at home or between gigs on the road?
Bolme: Home, but we just loaded the van and we’re about to head to Denver.
Your band’s last album, Mirror Traffic, was produced by Beck. But this time, the group chose to co-produce alongside Remko Schouten. What was the reasoning behind this decision, and what, if anything did this change about the recording process? Any regrets?
No regrets at all! We’ve almost always chosen to work with an engineer and produce the records ourselves. Mirror Traffic was a conscious decision to have another person’s voice in the mix. Remko has been doing our live sound in Europe since we began, and before that he did sound for Pavement. He probably knows more than anyone how we like to sound, it moved fast, it’s got a live vibe.
How has your experience as a recording engineer influenced your approach to cutting an album in the studio?
I don’t think it’s changed my approach too much, I’m old fashioned, still use my ears. I never got into Pro Tools too much, although I appreciate what you can do with it. Some engineers can get caught up looking at the waveforms instead of listening. That’s weird to me.
What is the band’s songwriting process like? How is it different or similar compared to your personal way of writing?
Steve [Malkmus] writes the songs, he brings them in either as riffs he just came up with or fully realized demos with most of the parts worked out. We play them until they turn into a Jicks song. I’m not much of a songwriter myself, but we all usually contribute with the arrangement and editing at some point. Like, “This part would have more impact if it only happened once,” or “That riff is my favorite we should stretch it out,” kind of stuff.
How would you describe the reaction you’ve had to this new material on Jagbags?
I’m glad people like it. We had a great time making it. I guess that’s coming through.
Watch the official video for “Cinnamon and Lesbians” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks here:
Has the band been playing a lot of new stuff on tour, or are you just mixing in a few select cuts alongside the older tunes?
Despite having about seven or eight new songs we’re working on, we have only played one of them live so far. I suspect that once Steve can remember the tuning he used for the other ones, they will start to pop up in the sets.
What might audiences expect and not expect at a typical Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks show?
Expect some shredding, maybe an unlikely cover song, maybe a Pavement song and some topical stage banter. Don’t expect the banter to make any sense.
What are some future projects or recordings you and the band have planned?
Private soirees for foreign diplomats.
For more information on Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks or to see future tour dates please visit stephenmalkmus.com.
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