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Interview: Bob Nastanovich Of Pavement, Silver Jews Talks Record Stores & More

Bob Nastanovich rocking with Pavement           

At Yelp, we love all kinds of great local businesses, including record stores. To celebrate Record Store Day, in addition to unveiling our lists for Yelp’s Top 25 Record Stores in Canada and the U.S., we talked to one of the chattiest legends of indie rock around, Bob Nastanovich. As a member of Pavement and Silver Jews, his recordings are in record stores around the world. Bob shares some stories about his favorite records stores he has shopped at over the years, including Peaches in Midlothian, Virginia, and Pier Platters in Hoboken, New Jersey, both which saw the fate of so many record stores over the years and are sadly no more. Bob is an authority on horse racing (read on for his list of 5-Star worthy tracks), owns a boutique record label, co-hosts a musical podcast, does a monthly DJ-ing gig at a Belgian Beer bar, and is the inspiration behind Blur’s “Song 2“–how cool is that?

Want more Record Store Day fun? Read about Phonopolis in Montréal.

What was the first record you ever bought and where did you buy it?

Steve Martin–“King Tut” at a Peaches in Midlothian, Virginia.

What’s your favorite record store ever?

Plan 9 in Richmond, Virginia.

Back in your touring days, did you have time to do much record shopping?

Absolutely. Had a lot of fortune buying stuff at Au Go Go Records in Melbourne.

Why do you think Pavement was one of those bands record store clerks would recommend? 

I think Pavement was well-treated by rock critics, both from big distribution music magazines all the way through to pamphlet-like fanzines, for the most part throughout our existence. We ended up on plenty of Top 10 and Top 100 lists which was good treatment by listeners and effected the choices of record store employees. Many of these employees are dishwashers, pot smokers, college radio DJs, rock burnouts and road trippers. Thankfully, Pavement appealed to this ilk.

What was the best recommendations on a band you ever got from a record store clerk?

Where I shopped, the clerks appeared unwilling so I would not solicit their help and didn’t want their advice. Many would snicker when I bought a record that they thought was lame.

What was your favorite Pavement record and why?  

“Wowee Zowee.” 1995 was a lot of fun. Toured Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Made “Wowee Zowee” in Memphis. My pal Sherman Willmott let us stay in the apartment above Shangri-La Records, the great shop he owned. He was a true expert on Memphis food so I had spicy barbecue sauce stuck to my face for a month. “Wowee Zowee” has some far out songs and all five Pavement members played a significant role in the recording process. Doug Easley, the engineer, had a great way of making you feel confident and at home in his old studio that sadly burned down.

Pavement’s album “Slanted and Enchanted” is Blender Magazine’s No. 1 Rated Indie Rock Album of all time.

Tell us the story of how you “SABOTAGED,” A Beastie Boys set by accident?

It was New Year’s Eve of 1996 and we were playing on a cool music festival called Summersault in Sydney. Bands like Bikini Kill, Beck and Sonic Youth were on the bill and Beastie Boys headlined. I can scream loudly so Mike D. asked me to do the big scream after the long break on “Sabotage,” which was their most popular song at the time. There was six hours between the invitation and “Sabotage” and I got gooned up in the interim. At midnight, I blew my cue and started screaming far too early. I humiliated myself and botched their hit in front of many confused Australians who must of thought that I was some fool that won “a sing with Beastie Boys” contest or something… I did some sincere apologizing afterwards and everyone was cool about my foolishness.

What has been your favorite music venues to play? 

The New Adelphi Club, Hull, England; Vera Club, Groningen, The Netherlands; La Trastienda Club, Buenos Aires.

Silver Jews’ record label Drag City recently put its entire catalog on streaming services. Do you stream music?

I do. It’s handy for communique involving choices on @3songspod, the music podcast I do with Mike Hogan from Queens.

Thinking in terms of Yelp’s 5-star rating system, what horse racing tracks are 5 out of 5 stars in North America?

Del Mar, Santa Anita, Keeneland, Saratoga, Tampa Bay Downs.

Any tips on who will win the Kentucky Derby this year?

Watch out for two unheralded colts called Quip and Restoring Hope. It would be cool if the regally-bred Irish-trained Mendelssohn won too.

What musician has the best record collection you have ever seen?

Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth).

What did it feel like the first time you saw a record you played on in a store?

Pier Platters, Hoboken. “Dime Map of The Reef,”  a 7-inch EP by Silver Jews. It was nerve racking because the band name caused a worrisome stir in Hoboken.

When you DJ and you pull out a record do you remember where you got it?

Sure…about half the time. For things from before this millennium, it’s nice to see the faded sales sticker on the idle cover.

Did Pavement or the Silver Jews ever do any rad in stores that you remember?

Pavement did plenty…two memorable ones were playing with Huggy Bear at Rough Trade in London and playing outside a cool shop in Philly in the rain. We were lo-fi to the max back then so we probably should have only played in small record shops.

Where do you buy your record now?

Usually I buy directly from the bands on the internet although I did just get a few oldies from the massive Bananas Music in St. Petersburg.

Bob with Carrie Brownstein of the band Sleater Kinney and star of Portlandia.

What’s your favorite record ever?

Gang of Four–”Entertainment!

What’s a go-to record to pull out while you’re DJ-ing?

Noga Erez–”Off The Radar.”

When’s the joint Pavement/Silver Jews reunion happening?

Asap.

If you owned a record store what would you call it?

The Mug Punter. Same name would apply to a bar if I had the money to make one happen but I’ve blown money on slow horses and cool records.

Record Store Day is April 21st. If you are looking to buy records on Record Store Day or any other day of the year, find great local record store on Yelp!