If you go
What: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12
Where: Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood, 303-789-9206
Cost: $20-$25
gothictheatre.com
Stephen Malkmus, besides being very good at making music, is very good at explaining himself.

“Well, it just came, in the end, from my weird mind.”

That's his explanation for the title of his latest record with The Jicks, Wig Out at Jag Bags. It really explains his entire career, though.

By now, there are more albums from Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks than Pavement. He's done more with this band than the iconic ‘90s indie rock group, and that says a lot. He's not bored and he's not out of ideas. To hear him tell it, a lot of his great ideas just crop up from a winding train of thought.

“There is an album called Wig Out at Dinkos, it's by this band called Dag Nasty. I mixed it with “jag bags” and it just looks cool and sounded cool,” Malkmus said. “It wasn't some big plan. It's just, you know, your mind wanders. It goes places you don't know. That's kind of fun, like in a dream.”

Finding the record's title was sort of the same process as writing lyrics. He said every song starts with a strong melody or rhythm -- guitar is his thing, after all -- but the lyrics are coming to him from just about everywhere.

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“It's hard for me to say, song to song. Like there are ones that are story songs. Others are just old ideas I had, just memories or things I always thought were cool and wanted to get in song. Some are the first thought you say, and you build from that, a psychedelic narrative from that,” he said. “I guess I just try to be around, be there for things to come to me and just be patient until the last vowel sound.”

And you should be listening to the lyrics.
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks.
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. (Leah Nash)
They're interesting, thoughtful, sometimes sad and often funny. Musically, songs that stand out on Wig Out at Jag Bags are notable for the musicianship. There's the battling psych-y guitars on “Planetary Motion” and the great, Pavement-ish “The Janitor Revealed.” But Malkmus has always had a fondness for words, and it shows.

When he's not being playful with the lyrics, he's being pretty damn straightforward and honest. On “Rumble at the Rainbo,” named for an indie rock bar in Chicago where “there would never be a fight,” he sings about “slam dancing with some ancient dudes.” It's a little bit of a jab, but it's a sentimental jab: “Can you remember the thrill and the rush? You're not out of touch. Come tonight you'll see. No one here has changed and no one ever will.”

His own song reminds him of a song by the Stray Cats called “Rumbled in Brighton,” which he visualized as a “West Side Story-style throwdown” between the mods and the punks. “Rumble at the Rainbo” manifested in a friendlier way.

“The song itself, when I hear it, I imagine a flyer for a show that's like, ‘Come to this gig and see our band.' The venue could be -- it could even have, every week, a reunited band playing. It's a fictional place where you go, there's the same cobwebs on the wall from 1984. It could even be two skeletons playing like the “Touch of Grey” video from the Grateful Dead,” Malkmus said. “You get a good show. They're just gonna play the hits, but maybe one guy has gone rockabilly or something. He's not as punk as he was.”

He likes reunion shows if they're good, but doesn't see the dominance of ‘90s nostalgia and worship in music and general culture right now. He's recognized a Pavement-like sound in Parquet Courts and Speedy Ortiz, but he's listening to what's wildly popular, too, and he doesn't hear the ‘90s.

“There's Dinosaur Jr. touring. But even Dinosaur and the Pixies are ‘80s bands, really. If there's a ‘90s thing, that's fine with me. Again, I don't feel it,” he said. “When I look at the media, I feel Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire are trying desperately to be 2004. There's, like, Odd Future or Kanye West. They're not really ‘90s either.”

“If there is, and it relates to us and people being into our band, that's great.”

Pavement is long done, though, and it's all about Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. In the wake of Wig Out at Jag Bags, the second in the line of more concise and less jammy records from the band, they're getting a nice, long tour in. That's where they get to play with the songs.

“I think we're still looking for some good things to improv on and stuff, and try to jam on, at least in concert,” Malkmus said. “It's not that hard for us to jam. We go places with it. I don't really like noise jams so much. The jammy jams. I don't like totally fluffy jams either, where it's totally soft and kind of too much, a little hacky sack. There's some middle ground there.”

Find out what that sounds like on Feb. 12 at the Gothic Theatre. And don't worry, the band still isn't done.

“You have to like each other a lot, and you have to trust each other, and we have that,” Malkmus said. We're not at a level of success where it's a job. We're just digging it.”