A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Coming Soon: Wowee Zowee

Bryan Charles' book about Pavement is currently at the printers - we should be getting finished copies in the next few days. Here's an extract from it, and beneath that you'll find details of a few readings/events Bryan's doing to support the book's launch in NYC, Boston, Portland OR and Seattle - if you can make it along to any of these, it would be a treat to see you there.


They toured on their own for the rest of the year. West locked in on drums. Bob’s role expanded. Pavement was road-tested and stable in a way they’d never been. They left other forms of employment behind. Rock and roll was now their full-time occupation.

Crooked Rain was barely eight months old. Pavement had toured almost constantly for the last two years. But they figured now was the time to record a follow-up. The band booked time at Easley Recording in Memphis. Doug Easley and Davis McCain, a couple laid-back cats with deep roots in the local scene, ran the board there. Lately they’d been working with a lot of indie bands. Pavement traveled to Memphis and began to sort out and record new material. They worked quickly and the songs piled up. When they weren’t working they grooved on Memphis and snarfed local grub. They recorded an astonishing number of tracks—the Easley session lasted only ten days. A few of the songs had been attempted for Crooked Rain but rerecorded in Memphis. The Memphis versions were radically superior. Walleye was a good guy and he came through with tight pieces. But the Easley guys were total pros. They’d been doing this shit since the Big Star days. Some of the songs they put to tape were already live staples. They’d been in Pavement setlists for a year or more. Also floating around were the songs they’d done with Walleye earlier that year. Those tunes had a different feel. They were more off the cuff. There’d been no plan for them. Now there was. Stephen wanted them on this record too.

Pavement wrapped up at Easley. They mixed the tracks and recorded overdubs in New York. They took a step back and assessed the material. It was a wild scene. They had fully fleshed-out songs and whispers and rumors of half-formed ones. They had songs that followed a hard-to-gauge internal logic, sometimes drifting into the ether or flying totally off the rails, sometimes achieving an unlikely resolution. They had punk tunes and country tunes and sad tunes and funny ones. They had fuzzy pop and angular new wave. They had raunchy guitar solos and stoner blues. They had pristine jangle and pedal steel. The final track list ran to eighteen songs and filled three sides of vinyl. Side four was blank. There was an empty thought bubble on the label. The record’s title was a nod to Gary. He’d say wowee zowee when something blew his mind.

Major labels were still hounding them, offering them big dough. It was the waning days of a golden era but righteous coin could still be had. The Jesus Lizard was on Capitol. Royal Trux—Pavement’s old Drag City label mate—was on Virgin. Who had made these decisions? Who thought these weird fucking bands would recoup? Pavement weighed their options. They decided against signing a big contract. What was the difference anyway? Matador still trucked with a major. The Atlantic deal was history. They were with Warner Brothers now. Wowee Zowee would be the first record released under the new arrangement. The Warners people were psyched. They were ready to get the publicity machine rolling and make the band stars. The Pavement guys were psyched. They knew they’d made a good record and were ready to tour. In a wild turnaround they’d been booked to play Lollapalooza. It was by far the best lineup in the festival’s short history. The Jesus Lizard, Beck and Hole were on the bill. Sonic Youth was the headline act. Stephen picked Rattled by the Rush for the first single. It had hypnotic stuttering guitars and a staccato vocal pattern tough to get out of your head. It had a monster post-chorus riff. It had a catchy chant and killer guitar solo at the end. The time was still right for this kind of number. Rattled by the Rush was going to be big.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 7:30 p.m WOWEE ZOWEE book launch
Word Books
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn NY
Reading from the book followed by a Q&A with Matthew Perpetua of Fluxblog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m.Reading/discussion/signing
Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard Street
Brookline MA

Sunday, May 23, 2010, 7:30 p.m.Reading/discussion/signing
Powell's Books
1005 W Burnside
Portland OR
Also reading: Mike McGonigal, editor of YETI magazine and author of LOVELESS, the 33 1/3 book about My Bloody Valentine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 7:00 p.m.Reading/discussion/signing
University Book Store
4326 University Way NE
Seattle WA


David said...

I can not wait to read this! And just in time for the reunion too.

gih said...

If it's featured and will be published freely, would be better.

Tyrannosaurus Records said...

The only thing better than reading someone list off reasons why one of your favorite albums is awesome, is listening to that album... I am in L-U-V with this entire compendium. Thank you.