The First Time: Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus talks Three Dog Night, smoking weed, and owning a racehorse in the latest installment of “The First Time.”

Malkmus kicks off by describing the first song he ever wrote, “Psychopath,” comparing the key to Dr. Demento’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”

“It’s hard for a 12-year-old to be a psychopath,” he says. “I think the stats are really low on mass murders at age 12.”

Malkmus can’t recall what his first concert was — either Elton John or Neil Diamond — but he does remember the first song he fell in love with: Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.” “I probably mentioned that before,” he notes. “You have to be really into me to know that I mentioned it.” He describes how it’s a kid’s rock song, even if it was performed by “twentysomething perverts.”

The former Pavement frontman admits he’s never fallen in love with a guitar. “It’s more of a working relationship,” he says, cradling his prescription glasses in his palm. “Sometimes it happens at work, and that can be good and bad. But we keep it in the friend zone.”

Elsewhere in the clip, Malkmus suspects that he doesn’t think smoked weed until the ninth grade. “I don’t think I tried it in eighth grade, so I feel like that’s good.” He remembers owning a racehorse named Speedy Service with Bob Nastanovich in 1994. “He’s like Uncut Gems,” he says about the Pavement percussionist, referring to 2019 movie starring Adam Sandler. “He’s basically that guy.”

Malkmus’ new album, Traditional Techniques, is out today. He previously released the singles “Xian Man,” “Brainwashed,” and “Shadowbanned.” He’ll reunite with Pavement in-between his upcoming solo tour. “It’s been on people’s minds for a while from the Pavement camp, and it’s been 10 years since the last one, and some things were lining up,” he told Rolling Stone of the reunion. Then these guys from Prima, who I know well through touring and going to Barcelona and hanging with them and partying with them, whatever…They came up with this plan, and I just was like, ‘Yeah, OK.’ I guess I would say it’s been a while, and also those guys are cool. Is that OK?”

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