Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks have recorded part of an album in Whitefish, 2008’s “Real Emotional Trash.”
They’ve even stopped in Missoula. But the Portland, Ore.-based group never booked a show in the Treasure State.
“We have never played Montana before, which I think is kind of weird, because I know a lot of people who have,” said Joanna Bolme, who plays bass, keyboards and sings backup for the Jicks.
On tour, they’ve even had the “dumb drives where you spend the night in Missoula and you’re like, ‘why haven’t we played here?’” she said.
They will on Saturday, April 5, when former Pavement frontman Malkmus stops by the Top Hat with his free-ranging rock band. The quartet, which has now been in existence longer than the group that made Malkmus famous,
is rounded out by Jack Morris on drums, and Mike Clark on guitar and keyboards.
The Jicks released their fourth album “Wig Out at Jagbags,” in January on Matador Records. It may seem like an unusual title until you remember this is Malkmus, an influential stylist who fills his discography with goofy titles such as “Wowee Zowee” and “Pig Lib.”
Bolme broke down the free-associative name – “wig out” is just a freakout. “Jagbag” is a “Chicago-speak” neologism that combines two derogatory terms for loathsome persons. The band selected it from a list of 30-some other titles – “Morrissey’s Train Wreck Daughter,” “Chocolate Gyros,” etc.
Names aside, “Wig Out” has earned strong reviews for its humor and playful attitude – two uncommon traits in the world of indie rock at the moment.
“Well, you know we’re a little big older,” Bolme said. “Our ... young breeding years are behind us,” she said. “We’re just happy to be here.”
While the Jicks do a fair amount of genre-hopping, “Wig Out” falls under the style Malkmus developed as the main songwriter and guitarist for Pavement, considered by some to be the best band of the 1990s.
Bolme said he has a way of “pushing and pulling” that she’s never experienced before, landing musical accents in unusual places. Hum the the lyrics from most any Malkmus song and you’ll see what she means.
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Bolme said the Jicks had a “soft landing” as a band. Bolme had worked at a recording studio where Malkmus and Pavement demoed “Terror Twilight.” Sometimes they’d listen to records, drink beer and play Scrabble. After Pavement went on hiatus, he asked Bolme and a few others to play on the record, and they “ended up kind of making a touring band out of it,” she said.
Most of the basic live tracks for “Wig Out” were recorded in a small village in Belgium over the course of about two weeks, and Malkmus cut vocals in Berlin, where he lived at the time. (He’s since moved back to Portland.)
Horn parts for songs such as “Chartjunk” and the retro-soul tune
“J Smoov” were also done in Europe.
Bolme said the live sets will include some of those older songs that lend themselves to longer, loose guitar parts, which they’ve veered away from since 2011’s Beck-produced “Mirror Traffic.”
They’ve also become fans of “weird covers” during encores that Malkmus chooses on the spot – sometimes Bolme doesn’t even know what it will be.
The examples are all over the place stylistically. “Mother of Pearl” by Roxy Music. “Everyone’s a Winner,” by Hot Chocolate. “Last Time,” by the Rolling Stones. Offspring, Grateful Dead, Sheryl Crow.
They’ll even play some Pavement songs, which they initially avoided when they formed in 2000. Bolme said people were still “mourning the death” of Pavement as the Jicks were trying to establish themselves, and Malkmus had tired of playing many of the songs. (Their greatest hits album is even titled “Quarantine the Past.”)
Now that the Jicks are more firmly established and longer-lasting, they’ve warmed to revisiting the occasional Pavement track, in their own style.
“It sounds different for us. We’re just a different band,” she said.
For the most part, people no longer shout out Pavement song requests – she said they’re there to hear Jicks songs.
Yelling out requests is a jagbag move anyway.