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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Stephen Malkmus and Tim Heidecker talk classic rock, shared hatred of Frank Zappa

Illustration for article titled Stephen Malkmus and Tim Heidecker talk classic rock, shared hatred of Frank Zappa
Photo: Stephen Lovekin (Getty Images), Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

As part of the promotion for Stephen Malkmus’ new album with his band the Jicks, Spin decided to set up a phone call between the former Pavement frontman and comedian, movie reviewer, and fellow musician Tim Heidecker. Why? Because why the hell not. Well, actually, it’s because the two are apparently pretty big fans of one another and, given their eclectic knowledge and shared passion for music, Spin figured it was going to be a pretty interesting back-and-forth.


They figured right. The sprawling conversation reads a bit like two guys sizing each other up in a record store—simultaneously trying to impress each other with their hot takes on revered classics and simply reveling in their mutual obsessions. While one might assume the conversation would be localized to indie rock or outsider artists, Heidecker and Malkmus actually spend the majority of the time discussing chart-toppers like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and U2.

“I think there’s a guy underneath the stage that presses all his buttons. He just goes, stroke, downstroke, just kind of moves his hands randomly,” Malkmus says, half-joking, about U2 guitarist and famed pedal-enthusiast Edge. Heidecker goes on to speculate that Edge has a whole team of guys playing guitar for him, like he’s reached a point in his career where he’s more conductor than musician.


Though the discussion is peppered with a few opinions that fans may take umbrage with (including Heidecker’s own admission that he doesn’t bother with the first Pavement record—“Forget it!”), the two men predict their most potentially volatile take is their mutual distaste for Frank Zappa:

Malkmus: I’m not a fan, to be honest.

Heidecker: I have never met a fan! I’ve never met a fan!

Malkmus: Yeah, I don’t think it’s good music. I know a lot of people compare me to him, especially in Brazil. For some reason, the Frank Zappa underground there thinks of me as Zappa-esque. It’s parody in the end, but you can’t put all your chips on parody unless it’s full parody. Weird Al is one thing, he’s awesome. But that’s a different thing.

Heidecker: We were sitting around the other day and were like, let’s just randomly play some Frank Zappa songs, just go through his library. And one after another, we were like “No way! No way! This is awful! I hate this!” I always get that comparison too, like “Yeah, you guys remind me of Frank Zappa, man!” Fuck that! No! It’s a pain in the ass.

Malkmus: It’s not fair.

The interview ends abruptly with Heidecker casually offering that the two “connect or whatever” and Malkmus agreeing. So, perhaps we’ll be seeing more conversations between these two in the future. They may even discuss their own work at some point. Either way, we’ll be eager to read it.


You can read the full Spin-curated discussion here.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Pay me to write for you, you coward.

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