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If not for Pavement all but deconstructing the dominant paradigm of rock music throughout the '90s with albums like Slanted and Enchanted, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee!, so much of the underground rock that's come out since the band parted ways in 1999 would have been much more bland.
At the very least, Pavement helped to make it even more acceptable for bands to dispense with fitting into a conventional mold in terms of melody and rhythm. Pavement's signature warped guitar sounds and fractured rhythms and vocals somehow received airplay during a time when anything that went too far outside the lines of established artistic acceptability didn't.
A decade after breaking up, Pavement got back together last year for a string of dates that stretched into this year. We spoke with percussionist and sometime tour manager Bob Nastanovich about the band's one-way conflict with Mark E. Smith of the Fall, as well as the potential pitfalls of reunion shows and the tours that follow.
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Westword: Did Pavement ever get to play with the Fall, or have you met Mark E. Smith despite his semi-public expression of disdain for Pavement?
Bob Nastanovich: The ATP [All Tomorrow's Parties festival] we curated in England, we asked them to play. It's a three-day thing, and they played on a different day than us. I actually didn't say a word to any of them myself. I've heard that Mark E. Smith is a nasty person and that he doesn't like Pavement, and I certainly didn't want to incur his wrath. I don't need to get chewed out by a miserable old Mancunian [laughs] — life's hard enough. But I watched them play for about fifteen or twenty minutes.
I saw the Fall in 1986, at the 930 Club in D.C. It was a fantastic show, and that was the peak of my Fall fandom. But you know when you see a band do an amazing show and you're sort of apprehensive about seeing them again, so they don't sully the previous performance? That's why I'm worried about reunion shows in general.
A lot of people have fond memories of their favorite Pavement shows, and you don't want people to go, "Yeah, they came back and did it, but they're not as good as they used to be." I'm sure a lot of people who saw us this year did it for reasons of nostalgia, but it didn't do the same thing it did for them when they were 19 or 24.
A lot of people have come forth and said we were a lot better. Unless you're a jerk or aggressive with your opinions, you're not going to come forth and say, "Oh, yeah, you guys used to be a lot better, but it's really cool that you did this." But some people really feel that way, and that's just the way it is.