Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus on 4 July 2005 at the River To River Festival show in Battery Park in New York City
Background information
Birth name Stephen Joseph Malkmus
Also known as SM
Born May 30, 1966 (1966-05-30) (age 45)
Santa Monica, California
Origin Stockton, California
Genres Indie rock
Instruments Guitar, vocals, drums, Bass
Labels Matador Records, Domino Records, Drag City
Associated acts Pavement, The Jicks,
Silver Jews
Website Official Website
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul
Fender Jazzmaster
Fender Stratocaster
Gibson SG

Stephen Joseph Malkmus (born May 30, 1966)[1] is an indie rock musician and icon, and a member of the band Pavement. He currently performs with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.



Early years

Stephen Malkmus was born in Santa Monica, California on May 30, 1966 to Mary and Stephen Malkmus, Sr. [2][3] His father was a property and casualty insurance agent.[3] When Stephen Jr. was 8, the family moved upstate to Stockton,[3] where he attended Carpinteria's Cate School and Lodi's Tokay High School. As a teenager, Malkmus worked various jobs, including painting house numbers on street curbs and "flipping burgers or whatever" at a country club.[4] At age 16, he spent the night in jail after consuming alcohol, urinating in the bushes, and walking on the roofs of several residential homes.[2] Later, he was placed on probation for underage drinking,[2] and was also expelled from school "for going to a party in the woods where people were taking mushrooms. I didn’t take them, but some guy narc’d on me."[2]

Malkmus learned the guitar by playing along to Jimi Hendrix's recording of "Purple Haze".[3] During high school, he played in several Stockton-based punk bands: Bag O Bones, The Straw Dogs, and Crisis Alert. After graduation, Malkmus followed in his father's footsteps by attending the University of Virginia, where he majored in history and was a disc jockey for the college radio station WTJU. During this time, Malkmus met fellow WTJU DJs David Berman (who would later front the Silver Jews) and James McNew (of Yo La Tengo).[5] In the late 1980s, he was employed as a security guard at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, along with Berman and Bob Nastanovich.[2]


Malkmus formed Pavement with Scott Kannberg (aka Spiral Stairs) while he was living in Stockton during the 1980s.[1] Their first album, Slanted & Enchanted, was released to critical acclaim, and the band continued to receive attention for subsequent releases. Pavement, and Malkmus in particular, was hailed as spearheading the underground indie movement of the 1990s. In 2001, following the 1999 dissolution of the band, Malkmus released his first self-titled solo album. He also was a member of rock group Silver Jews along with poet/lyricist David Berman.[6] In early 1999 Stephen Malkmus participated in a Sonic Youth side project called Kim's Bedroom that included bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon, guitarist/vocalist Thurston Moore, Chicago avant-garde veteran Jim O'Rourke, and renowned Japanese drummer Ikue Mori; they never released an album, but did play a few live shows. Malkmus is currently frontman of The Jicks.

On May 23, 2003 in Milwaukee, while touring with his new band The Jicks, Malkmus opened the show by saying, "This is off our first record." The band then proceeded to play an evening's worth of Pavement songs, marking the second time Malkmus had played any of his previous band's songs since their 1999 breakup, the first was on April 22, 2002 in São Paulo, Brazil, where he played In The Mouth a Desert.

In 2007, Malkmus provided 3 songs to the Todd Haynes' film I'm Not There, based on the life of Bob Dylan. He contributed on the songs "Ballad of a Thin Man", "Can't Leave Her Behind" and "Maggie's Farm". Malkmus has admitted that he was never "really a really big fan of Dylan,"[7] but noted that his involvement with the film had made him listen "to him again a little closer."[4]

Malkmus's fourth studio album with The Jicks, Real Emotional Trash, was released in March 2008.[8]

Pavement reunited in March 2010 and have since embarked on a world tour.[9]

Personal life

Malkmus at Bonnaroo 2006

Following the dissolution of Pavement, Malkmus moved to Portland, Oregon with his wife, artist Jessica Jackson Hutchins. In 2005, Hutchins gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Lottie. The couple had their second child, called Sunday, in 2007.[10] In 2011, before the release of Mirror Traffic, Malkmus and his family moved to Berlin.[11]

Malkmus is a sports fan, and is known to play golf and tennis;[2][12] he also plays second base for the Portland-based Disjecta softball team.[13]


Stephen currently plays a 1960's Fender Jazzmaster -- which can be traced back to the Brighten The Corners era—a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, and a Fender Stratocaster, which was his guitar of choice during the majority of his time with Pavement. He used a Gibson SG with Pavement during the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain era. For the 2010 Pavement reunion tour he used his Stratocaster extensively. He has also played a Danelectro Silvertone (Sears model dating to 1962 or 1963) for one-off solo shows.

Typically, he uses an Orange Retro 50 head through a 1970's Marshall 4x12 cabinet when playing live, though he has used various other Orange and Fender amps, including a vintage Silverface Twin Reverb during the early Pavement years, an Orange OR120 during later Pavement years, and a single channel Orange AD30 with the Jicks. Malkmus's other confirmed (though not constant) gear includes: Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, Diamond J-Drive, Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler, T-Rex Replica, Lovetone Big Cheese, Lovetone Meatball, BOSS TU-2, DigiTech Whammy, Crowther HotCake and Pro Co RAT.



With Pavement

See Pavement discography.

With Silver Jews

With The Crust Brothers

With The Jicks

Note: Even though the Jicks are not credited within the title, the album Stephen Malkmus is in fact a Jicks recording. Initially, Malkmus simply wanted to call his post-Pavement band the Jicks with no mention of his name, but Matador records resisted the idea and released the album as Stephen Malkmus, although "the Jicks" is printed on the CD itself. Face the Truth is technically Stephen Malkmus's only true solo affair, though the Jicks do provide instrumentation on nearly every song.


  • Discretion Grove (2001) - w/ "Sin Taxi" and "Leisurely Poison" (2001)
  • Jenny & the Ess-Dog (2001) - w/ "Keep the Faith", "That's What Mama Said" and "Alien Boy"
  • Phantasies EP (2001) - w/ "Malay Massaker"
  • Jo Jo's Jacket - w/ "Polish Mule", "The Hook (live)" and "Open and Shut Cases" (2001)
  • Sex Life of Robinson Crusoe, Pt. 2 (2001) - b-side available only on official site
  • Us (2003)
  • Dark Wave (2003) - w/ Pig Lib bonus disc b-sides
  • Post-Paint Boy (2005)
  • Baby C'Mon (2005) - w/ "Wow Ass Jeans"
  • Kindling for the Master EP (2006) - w/ 4 remixes
  • Cold Son 10" EP (2008) - w/ "Walk Into the Mirror", "Pennywhistle Thunder" and "Carl the Clod"
  • Gardenia (2008) -w/ "Walk Into the Mirror"



  • The New Yorker College Tour: University of Washington, Seattle: A Conversation with Stephen Malkmus (2006)

Music videos

Year Title Director
2001 "Discretion Grove" Grant Gee
"Jo Jo's Jacket" Shynola
2003 "Dark Wave" Scott Lyons
"Baby C'Mon" Lana Kim & Andy Bruntel
2005 "Mama" E.J. McLeavey-Fisher
2008 "Gardenia" Daniel Woods
2002 "Death And The Maiden" Mitchell Hawkes
  • Cover of "Death And The Maiden" by New Zealand band 'The Verlaines'. Available on Flying Num DVD 'Very Short Films'.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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