Scott Kannberg and Mark Ibold - 1994

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Back when skies were blue and there was no pain, I was given the opportunity to interview Scott Kannberg (Spiral Stairs) and Mark Ibold of Pavement fame for UNC-Chapel Hill's little dinky TV station. This would have been on the Crooked Rain Crooked Rain tour, back when I was a long-hair. The video is a half hour long, and thanks to the valiant DVD-transferring efforts of my old college buddy Jeff Robins, I was able to finally transcribe it for you now here today! Before we began, we spent three minutes conducting idle chit-chat about goodness knows what while my colleagues Jame Lathren and Matt Schofield set up the camera. My words are in bold, and their words are nothing of the sort.


Jame Lathren: Yeah, a little bit to the right. In between those two poles would be great.

Am I supposed to pick up the mic?

Jame Lathren: I don't know. I think it may pick up - you guys talk some. Say your name - "Mark."

Do you want me to sit down?

Jame Lathren: Yes. Just say something, so I can...


Mark Ibold: Hi.


Jame Lathren: Okay, again.


Mark Ibold: Do you read me?


Jame Lathren: Okay, that's good.

Scott Kannberg: Damien.

Jame Lathren: I think we can just leave it there.

Scott Kannberg: You will come here.

Should I be sitting or standing?

Jame Lathren: I'll leave that to you.

Okay. Umm....

Jame Lathren: Let me get this camera ready real quick. All I gotta do is put a tape in it and the battery and we're ready to go.

Mark Ibold: Alright. Are you gonna sit down with this? Or you gonna -

I don't know!

Jame Lathren: You could sit right there if you wanted to. There's plenty of room.

(to SK): Are you Spiral Stairs?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

So you were in the original duo.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

Just wanted to make sure. I've got questions aplenty. My name's Mark and my brother's name is Scott, so it's just...

Mark Ibold: Really.


Mark Ibold: Heh.

Do you like New York City?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah, it's a good time.

Mark Ibold: I love it, but I live there, so...

Scott Kannberg: It's a good place to live, as long as you know some people.

Mark Ibold: (points at Scott Kannberg) He lives in San Francisco.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah. It's not too bad.

Where do the other band members live?

Mark Ibold: Three in New York, one in Louisville, Virginia and one in San Francisco.

They were great - really funny on "120 Minutes" the other night.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

Mark Ibold: Yeah! Bob did a great job, I thought.

Scott Kannberg: I haven't seen it yet, but -

"Lewis? Lewis?"

Mark Ibold: Yeah, we watched them from the plane. That was in our plane.

Why was Steve so bored-looking? Did he just not want to be there?

Mark Ibold: Umm...

Scott Kannberg: His girlfriend was there.

Mark Ibold: His girlfriend was there and it was on MTV, and I know that was kinda weird, you know.

(to Jame Lathren) Should I go?

Matt Schofield (to Jayme Lathren): Can you still hear everyone's voice?

Jame Lathren: Yeah, it's pickin' up. The needles are coming up pretty good there. Mark, you're gonna be the one that needs to speak up the most though.


Jame Lathren: Because you're the furthest away. When you were talking just now, it wasn't getting anything.

You want me to go? Are you set up?

Matt Schofield: Almost. Okay, whenever you guys are ready.

Scott Kannberg: We're ready.

Hello! Is that loud enough, Jame? If I talk like that, is it picking that up?

Jame Lathren: Yeah, that's perfect.

Okay, I'm talking to Mark and Scott from Pavement. They're playing the Cat's Cradle tonight with Helium, and it was sold out a long long time ago.

Mark Ibold: Really?

Yes it was. A couple of weeks ago. Anyway, so I'm gonna ask them some questions. First of all - Scott!

Scott Kannberg: Yes.

Pavement was originally a duo, right?

Scott Kannberg: Well yes, originally.

How did you guys get together? Did you know Steve the singer from -

Scott Kannberg: Yeah, well actually I met Steve on a soccer team when I was ten years old. He was kinda the brat of the neighborhood, and I was the black sheep of the neighborhood, so we kind of bonded a little bit because he used to always tease me and I used to always beat him up. So that's how we met, and I don't know.

How did "Slay Tracks" - (to camera) the first single! - (back to Scott Kannberg) come about?

Scott Kannberg: It just came about by us wanting to put out a single for ourselves. We had a few songs that we just recorded in this little studio in Stockton and we thought it would be kinda fun to put out a single. And we only pressed a thousand of them, and maybe 800 of them actually were sold.

How did you guys meet up with the rest of the band?

Scott Kannberg: Well, we knew Bob - Steve knew Bob from school. He went to school in Virginia, and those guys knew Mark from New York City when they were living there for a while. And then Steve West our new drummer was also living in New York City. And we all kinda bonded.

And when was the whole band finally - for what release or whatever did you finally have a whole band, with Gary the drummer?

Scott Kannberg: What do you mean?

At what point was it no longer - like by the second single were you no longer a duo?

Scott Kannberg: Oh. Well, we went into Gary's studio in the first single, but Gary only played on maybe one song. He played on another couple of songs on the second single. But when we toured for the first time after the second single, it was a trio I guess. Then Bob came on that tour. Then there was, I guess after "Slanted And Enchanted" came out, Mark came along for that.

(to Mark Ibold): You were with the Dust Devils, weren't you?

Mark Ibold: Mm-hmm.

Are you still in the Dust Devils?

Mark Ibold: No.

Are they still together?

Mark Ibold: Nope. No longer together.

Oh. I saw you I guess about two years ago.

Mark Ibold: That was one of our better shows, actually.

And you had a man singing! I didn't remember your vocalist being a male.

Mark Ibold: Sorry.


Mark Ibold: Yeah.

Okay, I'm gonna continue here. Now, you live on opposite coasts. How does that work out? Do you just see each other when you need to make an album or tour? Just a few months of the year?

Mark Ibold: Yeah.

So you live in New York.

Mark Ibold: Right. New York City.

Along with two other members of the band.

Mark Ibold: Right. Well, the other two - yeah.

Scott Kannberg: Bob's in Louisville.

Okay, where do you meet to put together a record?

Scott Kannberg: We've met in New York and in California so far.

Why did Gary leave the band?

Mark Ibold: He left for several reasons. He actually kinda quit. Well, actually it started when he quit in Denmark.

Scott Kannberg: Gary's really into UFOs. He has dreams about UFOs coming down and taking him away. One night he had this dream that this band of UFOs and aliens were gonna take him away if he didn't quit the band.

How long was it before you picked up a new drummer?

Scott Kannberg: A couple months.

Okay. Do you feel like it's easier to play live now?

Mark Ibold: In some ways, yeah.

I remember there was a lot of bickering. I don't know - it may have been play bickering. It was very funny.

Mark Ibold: When?

When you played with him at the Cat's Cradle about two years ago.

Mark Ibold: Ah, that was play fighting.

It was amusing!

Mark Ibold: There'll be more of that tonight.

Okay. "Slanted and Enchanted," the big debut album - how did that sort of - It took off sort of. I mean, it was definitely raved about at least.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

Did that change your lives in any huge way? Was it hard to walk around your town?

Scott Kannberg: No. It made it harder work because we had to tour and do that kinda stuff, and give it more time than before. But it's been nice.

Is it to the point now where you can get by with just the band or do you all work jobs?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

You all work jobs?

Scott Kannberg: No, just the band.

Just the band! Wow. So what sorts of things are you hearing about the new album? I saw that you're the Platter Du Jour in Spin.

Mark Ibold: Yes.

And I noticed that they put down "Range Life" - the "nadir of the album"?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah, that was... that was strange.

Also kind of expected, since you put down two of their coverboys.

Scott Kannberg: Oh yeah, that's right.

Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins. Do you feel like since you put out "Slanted and Enchanted," you've picked up things about the music industry that have been pleasing or displeasing, like it's not something you wanna get involved with? Or do you like where you are?

Scott Kannberg: We like where we are now, but a lot of the lyrics and sound of the new record was because of where we recorded in New York City. It was the music building with all these struggling bands. Had all these rehearsal spaces in the place, and we'd see these people every day. Just kinda made us a little sad.

It does seem like a very - I don't know if you would say darker - it seems like a sadder album. It's not the upbeat sort of pop that you were doing before. Musically it seems like you're a little more tired or a little more jaded or something.

Scott Kannberg: Oh, I don't know.

You don't feel that way at all?

Scott Kannberg: No. We have 15 more songs that were recorded that sound completely different from those songs. We just put together those songs because they kinda sound really good together, and there's a little kinda theme musically running through it all.

Yeah. I heard - I don't know where it came from, but I heard a tape of "Crooked Rain" before it came out and it had this song called "Grounded" on it. Then this thing came out and it was gone! What happened to "Grounded"? It was gone!

Mark Ibold: We play it a lot better live than the way it came out on the record. We'd like to take another stab at recording it, so we took it off the record.

The other songs you recorded - will you do something with those?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

How do the songs come about? Does he make up the words and put them onto your music, or do you all make up songs together? Or -

Scott Kannberg: Well, on this album Steve wrote most of the music.


Scott Kannberg: Just because he had more time off than the rest of us to write songs and play with his guitar. So when we got to the studio, he already had the basic ideas. And we got together with Steve West, our new drummer, and the rest of us - it just kind of, you know - sometimes there'd be things we didn't like so it would get changed. It was very uh - (*looks at Mark Ibold for comment*)

Mark Ibold: I wasn't listening to you.

And what are your feelings about this?

Mark Ibold: I'm really happy to be in the band. I have a very good time. We're very famous. It makes my parents very happy.

And then you have that song about REM. How about that? You don't like their newer stuff?

Mark Ibold: I actually only started liking - I never really liked REM before, but I like their new stuff, and these guys have been listening to them for a long time.

You like "Automatic For The People"?

Scott Kannberg: I do, I do. I think it's their best record since, I don't know, "Document" I guess.

Would you guys be interested in playing with them?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah! I'd like to meet them. I haven't met any of them. I actually did meet a couple of them at one of their concerts a long time ago. I'm sure they don't remember me. We're actually playing in Athens, so maybe they'll take us on a tour of their mansions.

Do you play "Camera" live?

Scott Kannberg: No.

Do you play any other REM songs? Just curious.

Mark Ibold: No. (to Scott Kannberg): Don't lie.

What? Was he going to lie? The Wedding Present covered "Box Elder." Did you know they were going to do that before they did it? It wasn't credited to you guys when it first came out.

Mark Ibold: It was credited.

Oh, it was?

Mark Ibold: On the American record.

Scott Kannberg: No, I had no idea until I read something in a music magazine saying that they covered "Box Elder."

Are you a Wedding Present fan?

Scott Kannberg: Well, I hadn't even heard of them before that, and I picked up a few of their records and they were fine. Not bad.

Have you heard the Zip Code Rapists' cover of "Cut Your Hair"?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

Mark Ibold: Yeah.

Do you like that?

Mark Ibold: I love that!

Scott Kannberg: Yeah, I think it's great.

That whole single was pretty funny.

Mark Ibold: Yeah, "Tomboy"'s really good.

Let's see - Ah! People call your music "Slacker Rock" and label you as spokesmen for the Generation X.

Mark Ibold: Well, we're big Richard Linklater fans, so when "Slanted And Enchanted" was recorded, we were setting out to make like "Slacker Rock." But now the thing is that this album is more influenced by his second film, "Dazed And Confused." So we don't really like being called "Slacker Rock" anymore because we feel like we've sorta kinda gone beyond our "Slacker" stage and gone into our "Dazed And Confused" stage.

Your '70s arena rock stage?

Mark Ibold: Actually yeah, our '70s arena rock stage, but "Dazed And Confused" is more like stoner music, you know. We were stoned when we recorded it, and people who are stoned in the audience will get it more than people who aren't stoned. And we just hope Richard makes a great third film.

Have you ever met him?

Mark Ibold: No, not yet. But we're about to go down to Austin. I don't know if he still lives there. He might've moved to Hollywood.

Is he doing a third film?

Mark Ibold: Did you know we're gonna be on the Jay Leno show?

Ooo! Talk about it. How did that come about?

Mark Ibold: We just have - Matador - Ha! I can't even believe it. We're gonna be on the Jay Leno show.

Did Matador set that up?

Mark Ibold: Matador set that up, they've got - Matador set THIS up, right? Didn't they?

Jame Lathren: Yeah.

Mark Ibold: Didn't Spencer Gates set this up?

Jame Lathren: Yeah. That's how I got it set up.

Mark Ibold: Well, that's Spencer Gates for ya; she gets us on TV.

Jame Lathren: Don't you feel fortunate.

That's pretty amazing though.

Mark Ibold: Yeah, I think that she's gonna be getting everybody - Every Matador band is gonna be getting on TV. It's pretty weird.

That's very weird. Maybe - let's see, David Letterman, Jay Leno --

Mark Ibold: That Leno show must be having it tough if they have to like - ha! We're gonna be vegetables by the time we get there too.

When is that?

Scott Kannberg: Two weeks.

Mark Ibold: It's like in 15 days, and we're gonna be playing a show every day between now and then, so it's gonna be -- everybody should tune in.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah, definitely.

Mark Ibold: Actually this will probably be on after that, right?

Matt Schofield: Umm... hard to say. Two to three weeks? It just depends on when we can get it edited.

Mark Ibold: Well, maybe it already happened. I don't know - we might even try to think of something wild that we should do, like, I don't know...

Break all your instruments!

Mark Ibold: ...start a huge fight onstage - but it's not live. It's taped. It's taped.

Scott Kannberg: So if we do anything outrageous, they'll probably just kick us out.

Throw something at Jay! Hit him with an amp!

Mark Ibold: Jay's alright. I'd actually like to talk to him about some of the old Letterman shows that he was a guest on. You know, how sometimes on David Letterman, he'd have Jay Leno come on? He did some really good things.

So he's gonna interview you after you play?

Mark Ibold: Maybe.

Scott Kannberg: I don't know. I don't think so.

Mark Ibold: We're not really sure. It really depends, but most of the musical guests that are on there normally get a chance to talk.

Scott Kannberg: Did you ever see Husker Du on, uh...

Matt Schofield: Joan Rivers?

Scott Kannberg: Joan Rivers Show, yeah.

Matt Schofield: Yeah, I did see that.

Scott Kannberg: They talked to the band. It was pretty weird.

Matt Schofield: At that time I wasn't really familiar with Husker Du, and I was kinda surprised to see them on the show. But that was around "Warehouse," right?

Scott Kannberg: "Warehouse," yeah. It was good.

Matt Schofield: What was Husker Du - what was the interview like with Joan Rivers?

Scott Kannberg: They seemed to be very like, uh... They weren't very nice. They could tell that she didn't know anything about the band, and they treated her like that.

Matt Schofield: Did you think Steven was very nice to Lewis -


Matt Schofield: Yeah.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah, he was!

Mark Ibold: Steven wasn't. No, Steve did -

Scott Kannberg: He didn't talk much.

Mark Ibold: Did Steve really say anything? What did he say?

Matt Schofield: Well, I watched it today and, uh -

Mark Ibold: Today?

He has a video.

Matt Schofield: Well, somebody gave me a tape of it.

Mark Ibold: Oh wow. I'd love to see that.

Matt Schofield: So I watched it on tape. Well anyway, you know, he didn't talk a whole lot, and then at the end, you know - the end remark was something like "You've misinterpreted me twice now."

Yeah! He did say that.

Scott Kannberg: They put that on? I didn't think they were gonna put that on.

Yeah. Lewis said, "This looks like it's just hell on you or something."

Mark Ibold: Yeah.

And he said, "No, I think you just misinterpreted me again." It was pretty funny, I thought.

Mark Ibold: Yeah. But Bob I thought was pretty -

Oh yeah, he was very nice.

Mark Ibold: Did they show him singing those Morrisey songs?

Matt Schofield: Yeah.

Mark Ibold: Oh, good.

Matt Schofield: I guess -- well, I don't know if there's any way for you guys to watch it. I have the cassette at home.

Jeff Robins has it. I could call him.

Matt Schofield: I've got his cassette.

Mark Ibold: We have a VCR in our van.

Matt Schofield: Oh you do? Okay, I'll go get it and maybe you guys can check it out.

Scott Kannberg: I think we should watch it.

Matt Schofield: Yeah, I'll be here.

Mark Ibold: I don't know if there will be any audio though.

Scott Kannberg: Yes, there would.

Mark Ibold: You can hear it? I guess you can. I mean, I've played stuff on there before.

Matt Schofield: What uh, we -

Mark Ibold: Actually, we should probably get along with whatever - you know, if you have some more questions, instead of just rambling on, we should probably get to your questions.

Well okay. You've got a video that's on MTV now - "Cut Your Hair."

Mark Ibold: Yeah.

It looked very -- I don't know; I was expecting a low budget-looking video and it looks very nice.

Mark Ibold: Really!?


Mark Ibold: You think it looks good? I think - See, I still haven't seen it on MTV in context with the other videos, but I just assumed that it would just look like a complete piece of shit!

No, it's really funny!

Scott Kannberg: I've seen it. It looks good!

Mark Ibold: Well, I mean the guys that shot it have actually done like Mariah Carey videos and stuff, and the cameraman was like - the director of photography was pretty good. So I figured the shots would look good, but (points at Scott Kannberg) this is one of the editors, and the guys that actually directed the thing are first-timers. And I didn't think that the visuals really go along with the song.

Scott Kannberg: They're really quick. The gags.

Mark Ibold: Yeah, the gags are all really quick, so I just thought it looked... I don't know, I think it was pretty funny. I was wondering whether other people would think it was funny, not really knowing who we are or you know, not really knowing us personally. Because all of our friends laugh when they see it, but you know, I was just wondering what someone who doesn't really know us would think. I don't know. I just thought maybe alongside other videos with all the flashing lights and the cool camera angles and wide-angled lens stuff that it might not work.

I think it's hilarious.

Mark Ibold: I'm glad you like it.

(to Scott Kannberg) Did you help write that?

Scott Kannberg: A little bit. It was my concept, but it was our directors' idea to do the sight gags.

The crown and the tear are just hilarious.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah.

Mark Ibold: The other idea was gonna be like this chain of 50 people, and it was gonna be along the lines of that old Coca-Cola commercial - "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." It was gonna be like this line of people and the camera was just gonna roll down and each person - one person was gonna turn and kiss the next person, and then the next person would kiss the next, and we'd get like boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-boy-girl-dog-girl-boy-Pavement-Pavement-Pavement...

Scott Kannberg: And the last person was supposed to be Gary Young.

All one shot?

Mark Ibold: Yeah. Just going down the line, this chain of kisses.

Scott Kannberg: One shot.

Do you still talk to Gary?

Scott Kannberg: Yeah!


Mark Ibold: Yeah, he's got a single - Gary Young's Hospital for the Chemically Insane. It's an EP that he's gonna be putting out. He's working on that right now, and that should be out - Well, we're gonna see him, we'll see him when we're in California, so - or I think so. Our sound master's gonna stay with him for a couple of weeks.

Matt Schofield: I was talking to him the last time you guys came, and I was curious as to how you guys met had met him, since he seemed a little bit older than the rest of you. He said he owned a studio or something.

Scott Kannberg: Yeah. Well, he was this guy who played in this punk band in Stockton, and we kinda knew about him from there. He was also a pot dealer for all of my friends. He WAS a pot dealer, and then he used that money to buy a studio - or, you know, build a studio, get all the equipment. And he just pretty much recorded anything for a while there. I met him through a friend that I worked at a record store with.

I was just gonna ask - any upcoming releases on the horizon?

Scott Kannberg: Well, I think we're gonna put out "Range Life" as a single. It'll probably be the end of May when it comes out.

Any interest in a major label signing? Or are you gonna stay with Matador?

Scott Kannberg: No, Matador's fine.

Mark Ibold: No reason to.


Mark Ibold: We're happy where we are. Right here in Chapel Hill. Or Carrboro, wherever we are.

Jame Lathren: You're in Carrboro, actually. I think this is Carrboro.

Well, we just moved.

Matt Schofield: Okay, well thanks a lot guys. I appreciate your time.

Scott Kannberg: No problem.

Matt Schofield: I'll bring that videocassette.

Scott Kannberg: That'd be great!

Mark Ibold: Don't go out of your way. I mean, I'm sure that somewhere down the road, we're gonna run into somebody who has it. Our families have probably taped it and stuff too. But yeah, people are talking about it, so I guess I should at least be able to know what they played.

Matt Schofield: I'll bring it tonight. If you guys wanna check it out, I'll approach you about it.

Mark Ibold: (shaking my hand) Thanks, Mark.

I'll be there tonight. Along with the entire town.

Scott Kannberg: (shaking Jame Lathren's hand): Thanks a lot.

Jame Lathren: Have a good show.

You're well-loved here.

Mark Ibold: Oh! Good, I hope we remain that way after tonight's show.

Matt Schofield: I'll send you guys a tape of this too. I'm wanting to do that, but I don't know, uh -

Mark Ibold: You can send it to Matador Records, or send it to our address on the record.

Matt Schofield: It's on the record?

Mark Ibold: Yeah.

Matt Schofield: Okay, yeah. That's what I'll do then.

(pointing at Mark Ibold's "Pram" shirt) What is that?

Mark Ibold: Have you ever heard of this band? Pram?

Oh, it's a band? No, I've never heard of them.

Mark Ibold: They're an English band. They're also sort of like a stoner-type band. I think they're gonna be touring with Sebadoh when Sebadoh goes over to England. It's a couple of keyboard players, a drummer and a guitar player. They're on that label Too Pure that Stereolab used to be on, and Moonshake. They're one of the few interesting English bands.

One of the guys quit. Do you know the status with Sebadoh? Who's in the band now?

Mark Ibold: Bob Fay, their old friend is in the band. And Eric the drummer quit.

Okay. Well, thanks a lot!

Mark Ibold: Yeah! Maybe we'll see you later tonight.


Jame Lathren: Later on! I didn't stop that.

(directly into camera from mere inches away) "Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo! Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo!"

(you see, I was singing "Cut Your Hair")

Reader Comments (Rev. Jasper Patrick Leach)
Mark, did anyone tell you that you're in the Slow Century documentary? They took the part of the interview where they talk about the Leno show and the video for Cut Your Hair...every hardcore Pavement fan has seen your long hair. (Kevin Edelman)
Video of your interview with Spiral Stairs and Ibold is on my television right now as part of the package "Slow Century", a DVD set Pavement released after their demise. Fame is that much closer.
Mark, you're a fucking cult figure.

I've got you up now too. You look different, young maybe :D

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