Communication between band members was never Pavement’s strongest asset. Throughout the band’s heyday in the ’90s, there was hardly a time when they all even lived in the same state. But it was this sort of isolated cool that helped define their music, and the tone of the decade when indie rock slacked into the mainstream.
They had wide-open lyrics, soupy guitars, glorious hooks that almost felt accidental and an overall approach that embraced silliness and angst at once.
Oh, and they also had a guy who shook a tambourine and shouted all the unabashedly catchy “sha la la” song parts, who was arguably one of the most fun to watch sidemen in the past 20 years.
“I didn’t do music before I was in Pavement,” admits Bob Nastanovich without hesitation. His college friend, singer Stephen Malkmus, invited him to join the band to simply help the band’s erratic first drummer keep time.
Nastanovich also didn’t do music in the decade between his band breaking up (due to those pesky communication problems) and reforming for a wildly successful tour that hits town this week. He chose a career in thoroughbred horse racing and got into some serious debt.
“I basically bit off way more than I could chew by the end of the ’90s, and dug myself a substantial hole by the middle of the decade,” he says. “The Pavement tour helped me a lot in getting my head above water.”
But rescuing the percussionist from financial difficulties was just a byproduct of the reunion tour. The fan demand to see them was so high that the first Central Park show they announced sold out in two minutes.
“I think we had a good time this year, no matter which of the five you ask,” says Nastanovich. “Malkmus doesn’t want to let on about it, because he probably doesn’t want to admit that he’s had a good time because that’s not cool in his book.”