Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus Talks About Working With Nigel Godrich On “Overproduced” Terror Twilight

For the latest installment of the Talkhouse Music Podcast, Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus sat down for a conversation with Emil Amos of Om, Grails, and Holy Sons. Their discussion touches on everything from Elliott Smith’s love of recording gear to indie rock’s ’90s revival to, as Pitchfork points, Pavement’s experience working with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on 1999’s Terror Twilight, which Malkmus calls “overproduced”:

The only time we used a producer was with Nigel Godrich, who all engineers and studio people rightfully are in awe of. He’s pretty much the alpha of new-generation producers. He was interested in Pavement. He and Radiohead were fans of [Pavement] and Wowee Zowee. He told us he had time off and would like to do [Terror Twilight]. He also did Beck’s Mutations which he was really proud of. He played me some of that. So that’s when we used one and I didn’t know what that was going to entail. But he was cool. He was like “I just want my percentage points, you don’t even have to pay me a fee. I’m free and I’ve already made a lot of money and I want to work with you guys, so we’ll carry this to the end.” We paid for the studio time of course, which started to get expensive. Because he had his own, uh, standards.

That was a real, classic rock, overproduced, $100,000 record. With that much money you should be able to make something good. We made some things that weren’t as good as they could’ve been. There was a big argument about the order of the songs. No one really cares about this album that much. [Nigel] had a certain order that was with a difficult song first, like Radiohead’s OK Computer that had a longer more challenging song to set the tempo. Scott in our band, and the other ones, not only did they not like that song, but they barely played on it. They wanted this easier song first, like the hit song. So Nigel was like “I’m done with this. This is the wrong move. We made a stoner album and you’re going halfway.” He’s right probably.

Listen to the full podcast here.