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Pavement's Bob Nastanovich Gets Back on the Horse

Ahead of Pavement's upcoming reunion tour, we caught up with the band's adored junk-drawer percussionist Bob Nastanovich, who discusses how he joined the hugely influential '90s underground rock band, his passion for horseracing, and the anticipation circling around the long-awaited, expanded edition of Pavement's swan song, Terror Twilight.

Design by Lily Foster

Most of the time when you hear about Pavement, their cheeky, enigmatic frontman Stephen Malkmus is always at the center of the conversation — pretty sure I once even saw him on national news as the "dad of indie rock." Despite the slacker-rock supremo usually always getting the attention, the other members in Pavement have been quietly living their lives or focusing on their own musical endeavors considering the band has done one reunion tour after calling it quits in 1999. Bob Nastanovich, Pavement's adored junk-drawer percussionist and occasional shouter-of-the-chorus, joined the band in 1992 to simply assist original drummer Gary Young, who was often-unpredictable during live performances while struggling with alcohol abuse. Referred to as "Bob Nasty" by the die-hards, the multi-instrumentalist and "hype man" became more involved in Pavement's middle years — primarily on the charmingly sloppy and experimental Wowee Zowee and the definitively more refined Brighten The Corners, where his eccentricity shines. In the 2002 Lance Bangs-produced Pavement documentary Slow Century, we learned that Nastanovich was also practically the band's tour manager, who carried all the money the band made while on the road, guarding it in a duffle bag while onstage. Nastanovich also apparently influenced one of Blur's most famous songs, "Song 2." In brief, Nastanovich played a much larger role in Pavement becoming the indie rock giants they are today than he gets credit for. Ahead of Pavement's upcoming reunion tour, we caught up with Nastanovich to discuss how he became involved in the band, his passion for horseracing, and the anticipation circling around the long-awaited, expanded edition of Pavement's swan song, Terror Twilight.

Paperface Zine: You host a podcast alongside Mike Hogan called the 3 Songs Podcast, where you share hidden music gems you love. I was wondering if you could share with me some favorites you discovered in 2021?

Bob Nastanovich: Senyawa, Ata Kak, the Liminanas, Mansfield. TYA, Shin Joong Hyun and Bush Tea are some of my favorites.

PZ: You've owned and bred Thoroughbred racehorses since 1996. You're a clocker, chart-caller and the lone known American to have attended race meetings at all 60 British racecourses! What got you into this field of work and what do you love most about it?

BN: Gambling addiction really [laughs]. I admire and adore the horses themselves.

PZ: From what you remember, tell me about your time spent growing up in Rochester, New York before your family moved to Richmond, Virginia.

BN: I remember snow tunnels, white hots, Burgundy Basin Inn, Broad Street Bridge, my turtle Pumpernickel, tether ball, and getting hit by a jart.

PZ: You already knew Stephen Malkmus from the University of Virginia prior to joining Pavement, but what were your initial thoughts when coming in and assisting Gary Young as the band's percussionist in the early '90s?

BN: I was intrigued. He was a marvel to me. Amazing personality and grand storyteller. At his best, his drumming and spirit was Keith Moon-esque.

Pavement performing at Brixton Academy, London, December 14, 1992. Pictured from left to right: Stephen Malkmus, Gary Young, Mark Ibold, Bob Nastanovich and Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs.

PZ: I know you've fulfilled many roles in the band as a multi-instrumentalist, but if you had to describe to somebody on the street your part, what would you tell them?

BN: I'd say, "I can teach you all of my parts in less than an hour and you can do it. Can you scream?"

PZ: Looking back at every project you've been involved in from Pavement to Silver Jews to Pale Horse Riders, what was your favorite and why?

BN: Easily Pavement. Just myriads of marvelous experiences and hundreds of beloved friends made.

PZ: In 2020, Wowee Zowee turned 25 and you said before that it's your favorite Pavement album. Why is it your favorite and also what was the recording process like for it especially following up the success of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain?

BN: Wowee Zowee featured all five members in full effect. We did it at Easley Studio where we felt at home. It may not sound cohesive, but it was cohesively done. Crooked Rain was done in many pieces. It was a project. Wowee was representative of the band as a quintet.

PZ: I feel like you guys were at your artistic peak during that time too. Do you hope future fans and critics will give it the same treatment as other sprawling classics like The Beatles' White Album or The Clash's Sandinista!?

BN: [laughs] Highly improbable, but that would be cool!

PZ: You're a longtime sports fan so what was it like seeing Mina Kimes including a self-painted reproduction of Wowee Zowee as her backdrop during her from-home reports for ESPN? Also, what sports teams do you follow?

BN: She's an ace. I sent her a bunch of Brokers Tip [Nastanovich's label] stuff along with a Pavement poster as a thank you. She truly loves Pavement. And I love the Pittsburgh Pirates and Virginia Cavaliers basketball the most.

PZ: I read a while back that Pavement tried to get Weezer instead of Veruca Salt for the music video to "Painted Soldiers." Is that true?

BN: Hmm I have no clue. That would have been dumb though.

PZ: What do you think about the obscure B-side "Harness Your Hopes" being Pavement's top song on Spotify? Gen Zers seem to enjoy it, especially on TikTok.

BN: Yeah it's a bit unreal. I suppose we should learn how to play it for the touring we do in 2022.

PZ: If Pavement continued playing music in the 2000s, would you have recorded an album entirely based around "Robyn Turns 26"?

BN: I'm sorry. I don't know what that is [laughs].

PZ: Do you have any crazy untold Pavement touring stories? Also who was the best at Scrabble?

BN: Many, although we were PG-13. And probably Malk.

Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich playing a game of Scrabble while on tour.

PZ: What are you looking forward to on Pavement's upcoming reunion tour?

BN: Hopefully, we'll make people laugh and smile. Going on the road again with these guys will be a blast.

PZ: After nearly a 20-year hiatus, you revived your label Brokers Tip Records in 2017. What made you want to revive it and what's the philosophy behind it now?

BN: I became friends with Schwervon! And they wanted to put out a seven-inch. I was down with that. That led to other great things I love like Post Pink, See Night, Quattracenta, Piranha Rama, Lucy Arnell, Odd Pets and Crooked Torus coming out. The label remains tiny.

PZ: I've seen some teases online to the long-awaited expanded reissue of Terror Twilight. What are some of your favorite tracks from that era and can you drop any other hints to the upcoming deluxe version or is it all confidential at the moment?

BN: Well, what I can say is that it's coming and I think the whole shebang comes out early this year! Also, I like "Folk Jam" and "Billie" as a pair.

PZ: Those are my favorites too! Especially that performance of "Folk Jam" you did on Later... with Jools Holland. Lastly, what was it like knowing the late, great David Berman? I know you and Stephen were longtime friends with him and I was wondering if you have any favorite quotes from him?

BN: I loved him. He was a handful. I got to say my favorite quote is one he came up with at 18 that eventually became a Jews song: "You can't change the feeling, you can only change the feeling about the feeling." I miss his relentless brilliance.

Pictured from left to right: Stephen Malkmus, David Berman and Bob Nastanovich.

To purchase tickets to Pavement's upcoming world tour, click here.


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