“I remember she came in while Fred was rehearsing… Up the aisle she came and Fred stopped dead. They embraced and I wept. After all Fred and Ginger had been my dancing idols since the mid-thirties.” – Charles Walters, director of The Barkleys of Broadway
“[T]he film abounds with sequences that display Rogers’s considerable powers as a comedienne – as she parries with Astaire (who meets her tooth for fang), deftly undercuts her unctuous understudy, and feigns illness to cover her own thoughtlessness. In the process she creates a real human being – tough, self-centred, insecure, yet utterly appealing – and develops scenes with Astaire that are among the very best in the Astaire-Rogers series.” – author John Mueller
“Despite the intervening ten years, Astaire and Rogers have an innate understanding of each other’s verbal rhythms and mannerisms […] The self-conscious drive with which Astaire often attacked his lines disappears here, as Fred and Ginger blend – and interrupt each other – with a seamless intimacy that is heartwarming to witness.” – film historian Stephen Harvey
Happy BirthdayLucille Fay LeSueurJoan Crawford(23 March 1904- ∞)
“The quintessential Crawford character itself is far more complex than the jibes of the condescending intellectuals in her heyday ever conveyed. Time after time the talents of the actress beneath the mask of the star managed the delicate task of balancing an array of contradictory traits into a harmonized whole. The roles that Crawford made her own were ambitious individualists both willing and capable of carving out a secure niche in society for themselves; yet lest these characters were to seem too formidable for audience identification, they were tempered with the softer, supposedly more feminine qualities as well…
Yet Crawford’s most remarkable quality of all has undoubtedly been her staying power. No other actress has had such a long and continuous career in movies… She has been deemed passé at least once in every decade since she started, and each time she managed to pull a trump card from her deck and emerge stronger than ever. Stardom is a matter of timing at least as much as talent, and Crawford has always had an amazing second sense of the appropriate moment to shift gears and widen her range.” - Stephen Harvey
Stephen Malkmus on his new world record, Morrissey's Trainwrecked Daughter and romanticising the 90s
It’s a cold 31st January and after having played in Hamburg the night before, The Jicks arrive at the yard of an old industrial complex in Cologne – the home of the venue for tonight’s show.
“You think this is cold?” Malkmus asks, having a smoke. He then shows us the advantages of the pockets on his Wellensteyn parka. “They have a store in my neighbourhood.”
One thing why interviewing Stephen Malkmus is so special – To me, the 90s were pretty kitschy and not all that graceful when it came to music and when I think back, Pavement is pretty much the only band that embodies that other 90s feel in a good way without having become pathetic (as in members starting careers in crappy casting shows or trying to make money with absurd stuff) or old over the years.
Vanessa: Even though you recently said that most of the songs of the new album were written before you lived in Berlin – Has living in Germany still influenced them to an extent?
Stephen: Yeah, for sure! We spent the last two years here, so all my thoughts and all my ideas are coming from here. It depends on however the light or the weather is – wherever you live – and combined with that also we recorded in Europe…
(Woman on Jake’s mobile) “Take me, take me” (everybody laughs)
…we recorded in Europe even though it only was across the border in Belgium – not far from here. Just that sense of place affects the way things sound I think. Maybe it’s more a world record. New world record.
V: While you worked on the songs before recording them, how did you work with the others while they were overseas?
Stephen: We just did it on tour. We were touring and just started playing a couple of songs. I also came over there a couple of times, to America, while we were touring or for vacation. Once we went there in the summer and we practised. So just over that time we developed the songs.
Sabina: Which environment do you get your ideas in? Do you need a homely atmosphere?
Stephen: Not really. I mean it comes up my head everywhere I could be. Of course the instruments you have – what kind of guitar you have – what kind of equipment and probably the room – all these kinda really elemental things. All that affects it and also your personal life does. And that can be done anywhere, as long as you have time or some kind of freedom of time, something will come.
V: So, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is almost 20 years old soon. And 20 years back, still being in Pavement, would you have thought you’d ever get to where you’re at now with your life and career?
Stephen: I couldn’t think that far ahead. It’s really hard to imagine. I probably would have though, once that record became a little bit successful and we were touring around. I thought “Okay, I’m gonna be able to do this for a while”.
And then: “This is all I’m gonna do.”
I was probably thinking that way. But I didn’t know for sure. I guess. Once we found a musical community for this kind of music that people like, it made me feel pretty good. I thought “Oh, people like it”. You know. There aren’t only Heavy Metal or other indie bands that I’ve worshipped like My Bloody Valentine or others that were really big. And then all of a sudden we were also playing the same places and I thought “Oh, I’m one of them too now! This is cool!”
S: So what do you say about the 90s? They’re becoming the new 80s in terms of being romanticised.
Stephen: Yeah, I can’t even get a grip on that – it’s very strange for me. I guess my generation, we sort of romanticised the 60s - like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Psychedelic Rock. And the media always push that on us and on our generation because the parents, our parents were really into like Woodstock and all. So this was their most special time.
It’s hard for me to think that maybe it’s the parents of the 90s or the media of the 90s saying “Could that be the same as the 60s?” It can’t be.
The Beatles were the first band when music started out the way it is today. And they’re still big.
So it’s hard for me to take the 90s so serious. As in a way that it was so special.
But certainly I should be grateful for it, because that’s when we started participating in a music scene like The Beatles did.
They were just kids, making music.
V: Yeah, and it’s gonna happen again with the 2010s.
S: Or maybe not, because the 90s were the last generation without the internet.
Stephen: That’s true, that’s an interesting thing to. How much our lives are changed from that. You can only imagine. I mean what it was like. How old were you in the 90s?
S: I was born in 1990.
Stephen: Okay, so you were just a kid and you are a child of the internet. You’re an indigo child.
S: Just this Monday I saw Babyshambles here in Cologne. This was my first time seeing Pete Doherty and I was thinking: Is he really the last real rock star? What do you think?
Stephen: I never met him but from what I’ve heard from people that have met him before from my record label said he’s very charismatic; that there is some kind of shine to him. I don’t know what it is. But I think he has that. As far as his music, I don’t know if it qualifies to be really at a level of special. Cause I don’t know.
S: It is. You could compare it to Oscar Wilde actually. He did a song called “Salome” based on Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”.
Stephen: I haven’t heard him that much. I know that the Libertines were a band that changed people’s lives in England and that they made people want to start bands. Their shows must have been really special to a lot of people. But I didn’t see any of their shows in America. And when I hear that they recorded albums, I can’t hear it the same way. Maybe because I’m older or because it just wasn’t my generation of music. Like I said – I’ve heard a lot of good things about his aura – or not good or bad. He’s just got something shiny.
S: So you could compare his image to a rock star?
Stephen: Yeah, I mean that there are stars or something. Not certainly rock stars – just some kind of people that do have charisma or some sort of thing.
S: Like who?
Stephen: They’re not always good people. Like Courtney Love. She has it. That I’ve seen. I don’t like it. But it’s there. (laughs). I don’t know any movie stars. I’m trying to think of someone.
(To Mike) Do you know anybody that’s like especially charismatic?
Mike: Our T-Shirt guy! (everybody laughs)
Stephen: Yeah, some people don’t even make it to that. But they have it. But it’s not only how they look, obviously if it’s Courtney Love, or even that Babyshambles guy – cause they’re not traditionally beautiful people – in my opinion.
S: No, but interesting.
Stephen: Yeah. Interesting. Exactly.
Joanna: Nick Cave.
Everyone: Oh yeah!
Stephen: He’s cool. Maybe PJ.
V: Oh yes, PJ Harvey.
Stephen: And she also looks like a normal girl. I like her a lot. I wanna be her.
V: You said you’ve been thinking about making electronic music but couldn’t put your ideas into something real. Have you thought about working together with anyone on that? Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead said he loves your new album – and he’s a mastermind when it comes to their electronic elements.
Stephen: Jonny Greenwood said what? That our album is good?
Stephen: Oh, cool! Well then… I’ll work with him. He’s so talented, isn’t he? He’s a really really good musician.
V: Well, he’s kind of shy.
Stephen: He’s super shy (smiles).
V: Charismatic in his own way, I guess.
Stephen: Yeah, I mean he makes the music that makes the young girls cry… (sings)
He’s so good. I would love to work with him but he’s probably better for a modern classical. Remember the “There Will Be Blood” Soundtrack?
It sort of sounded like – was this show “Lost” popular in Germany?
Stephen: Every time something weird happened, they would have this music that would go like “Wheeeeeeoooooo” (imitates Lost soundtrack). And his music kind of sounds like that (giggles).
S: Any other genres you would like to try, apart from Electronic?
V: Dancehall, Hip Hop?
Stephen: Uhm… Schlager, yeah. Hip Hop would be like the ultimate, most fun thing. To be a rapper is the best.
V: You could do like a bonus track on the next album or single.
Stephen: That’s the dream, to be a rapper. I mean, when I see a rapper I think more of a guy from Atlanta with gold teeth. You know the kind. I don’t really apply to that. The things I would sing about would be (makes noises) you know…middle-class things.
V: You should make middle-class Hip Hop.
Stephen: Well maybe in Germany. I heard a lot of German Hip Hop. In Hamburg these kids were skating around and they were listening to it. But it sounds cool IN Germany. But you know, outside of Germany…
We heard something on the radio today that sounded like Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”, but like a German version. Not as catchy, but same idea.
S: Are there any other German artists or bands you heard?
Stephen: Can, they’re are these hippie old guys that play crazy improvisational music and they just experiment with things, but they also make somehow some catchy songs - You can even dance to it. I think they probably smoked a lot of pot back then. And it worked for them (laughs).
S: Speaking of rock stars and rock star clichés…
Stephen: Yeah, but they are so good I think, they’re just great musicians. They make real art I think.
S: We don’t have much of these in Germany.
Stephen: Not this kind of band, they’re from Cologne.
Of course there is also Kraftwerk, that’s also really special music. But it’s totally different, it’s from Düsseldorf. And even though it’s one hour away and they were active in the same years, it’s a different band…funny right? They’re almost like an early Pink Floyd. And it’s somewhat groovy and jazzy. It’s not typical of Germany.
V: One of the ideas for the album title you had was “Morrissey’s Trainwrecked Daughter”. What’s up with this?
Stephen: I was imagining, if Morrissey ever had a child – but he wouldn’t – probably – but if he did, I was thinking she would just be a mess. Cause he would be just psychologically freaking her out. She would end up… who knows. It’s kind of funny.
S: Are you thinking about writing your life down like Morrissey did?
Stephen: Maybe if I got paid in advance, like he did, I would consider it. Otherwise, not really. I mean, I haven’t thought about it yet.
S: Did you read his autobiography yet?
Stephen: No, but I heard it was good. I heard it was pretty dishy.
I like reading rock biographies of other people so I’m eventually going to read it.
S: Imagine you DID write an autobiography and it was made into a film. Who would play you?
Stephen: Maybe Jarvis Cocker.
(To the band) What do you guys love about The Smiths, what’s your favourite Smiths album? Let’s talk about Morrissey.
Mike: “The Queen is Dead” is probably the favourite. Or “Hatful of Hollow”, but that’s not really an album - it’s just a collection of singles.
Stephen: What’s that song that goes (sings) “Take me to the moor… you might dream, but you’ll never sleep” (“you might sleep, but you will never dream” - Suffer Little Children)? I like that song.
I have some friends in New York who are big Morrissey fans. Do you ever go on his message board? He comes there secretly and talks to people.
He loves his fans, the certain people he knew from when he first started.
They write him things like “I just listened to your new record and it’s so amazing and I loved this song, I listened to it by myself in my room” and he is answers “Oh really, what was it like?”
He’s really nice to them. It’s really cool that he’s interested in what these people have to say about what he does.
S: Yes because he too started out as a fan.
Stephen: Yeah and he has certain people who come out to the show right up front and he would go (does a Morrissey impression) “Julian, how are you?”, and then he gives them a scarf or something.
S: Or his shirt.
Stephen: It’s pretty cool! I mean, but he’s also maybe a little pathologic, maybe a little crazy.
S: Well aren’t we all?
Stephen: There’s something dark in there too.
V: He’s just flaunting it.
Stephen: But he’s a great performer too, isn’t he?
S: I haven’t seen him live yet.
Stephen: You have to see him!
I saw The Smiths one time and I took acid. Isn’t that stupid? Taking acid to see The Smiths, because of that one song.
S: How did it feel?
Stephen: Not good! That song that goes (hums) “I am the son…” – I thought that was going to be really trippy. But it was good to see Johnny Marr playing, he would just step on his pedal and go “Wheeeeeeew” (imitates pedal). He had that on a sample.
S: Have you seen him on his recent tour?
Stephen: I met him before. Did you know Joanna’s husband was in a band with him? The Cribs, are you familiar with The Cribs?
He was a friend of hers. I met him before a few times, he was very nice. And guess what - we even played a song at her wedding!
V: Tell us about that!
Stephen: We played “Emotional Rescue” by The Stones. And we were going to play an Al Green song, but he suddenly said “I don’t play Al Green! I don’t like that!”.
He doesn’t like that, he’s particular. But it was really fun to play.
So, I got to play with Johnny Marr once!
S: And you almost didn’t tell us about this!
Stephen: Well you have to bring it up! But I don’t know Morrissey, I never met him. One time we played a festival in Spain and he was playing. That was about… when was that Spanish festival, Mike?
Mike: That was like… 8 years ago.
Stephen: Did you go to the show?
Mike: Yeah, because my wife is a huge huge Smiths fan and she never got to see him live before, so it was her first time seeing him. It was as the sun was setting over that castle in Spain and he went (does a really good Morrissey impression), he basically wept. It was a good experience. But we heard from the promoter that he’s a bit of a drag.
Stephen: He made them get like a Cadillac with a certain colour of flowers in it. He made the Spanish people work really hard.
V: That’s some Britney Spears shit.
Stephen: Yeah. Diva style.
S: But he gives us so much.
Stephen: Yeah, he gives back. He takes and he gives, just like the Lord.