Pavement wrestled with the elements to bind their hooks in the rabble rousing rain-shed rush of distorted ghosts, splinters, and styles. With the universal praise afforded their first two albums 'Slanted and Enchanted' and 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain'; the band felt like they needed to change things up.
'Wowee Zowee' was produced by Pavement at Easley Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee with additional work done at Random Falls Studio in New York. The sessions featured Stephen Malkmus on vocals and guitar; Bob Nastanovich on percussion and vocals; Scott Kannberg on vocals and guitar; Steve West on drums and percussion; and Mark Ibold on bass; with Doug Easley adding pedal steel guitar to "Father to a Sister of Thought"; and Sibel Firat playing cello on "Fight This Generation". The album was engineered by Doug Easley, Davis McCain, and Mark Venezia; and mixed by Bryce Goggin, Jan BL, Stephen Malkmus, and Rich Costey. Many fans and critics were disappointed by the album when it was first released; but it broke the band in several countries; and it has gone on to be considered a lost classic.
Malkmus would express: "Do you like progress? Not me. Progress is predictable and predictability involves science. I want nothing to do with science. Life is not a chemistry test. We spend our time in the smoking section, killing ourselves slowly, avoiding the light at all costs ... ['Wowee Zowee'] was like, my song order, and what I thought, you know, was a really cool album, and it kinda got shot down by a lot of people at the time. Or it was maybe just time to have enough of Pavement, because we'd have a pretty good run of it, media-wise and critic-wise. But it's turned out to be a cool, cool album...'Wowee Zowee' was more off the cuff and more odds-n-sods, everything included, warts and all. There's sloppy takes and stuff that we still liked, songs like "AT&T", I'm playing drums on it and I don't even know how to play drums. It was better than the tight version, so we put it on there. It was more like 'We're just going to do this at Mitch Easter's studio and it's gonna be all this sound, and it's all gonna be mixed in the same place.' I don't remember it being necessarily tighter, but when we were mixing it and stuff, there were certain directives, like not as much compression. On 'Wowee Zowee', the engineer did more experimental mixing-- messing around while we were mixing with compressors and echoes ... People are always saying that bands are referential or something. When you talk about a band, and people just say they sound like someone else. I was just saying no one has a trademark to any sound, you should be able to take what you like and instead of treating it like a door, and shutting the doors to different sounds that are supposedly not correct for like an indie-rock band to use, there should be windows all around that you can look through....That’s the attempt to make it sound different each sound, and have different voices, and keep it interesting in that way, but it’s not quite up to those standards. The White Album — that’s a great one...it is the same style... It is not really like one sound is omnipresent on every song. Some of the songs were recorded in different studios, and they were all mixed at different times. I was consciously wanting to do that to just make it seem different."
"Rattled by the Rush"
"Father to a Sister of Thought"
All songs written by Stephen Malkmus, otherwise noted.
"We Dance" – 3:01
"Rattled by the Rush" – 4:16
"Black Out" – 2:10
"Brinx Job" – 1:31
"Grounded" – 4:14
"Serpentine Pad" – 1:16
"Motion Suggests" – 3:15
"Father to a Sister of Thought" – 3:30
"Extradition" – 2:12
"Best Friend's Arm" – 2:19
"Grave Architecture" – 4:16
"AT&T" – 3:32
"Flux = Rad" – 1:45
"Fight This Generation" – 4:22
"Kennel District" – 2:59 (Scott Kannberg)
"Pueblo" – 3:25
"Half a Canyon" – 6:10
"Western Homes" – 1:49 (Scott Kannberg)