As the frontman for revered indie-rock pioneers Pavement, Stephen Malkmus helped mastermind some of the best albums of the '90s, including the genre-defining ''Slanted and Enchanted,'' recently reissued as a two-CD set. The band broke up in 1999, and Malkmus went solo. Now he's back with his second post-Pavement record, a sprawling and strangely dark CD -- recorded with his new musical collaborators, the Jicks -- that sounds nothing like 2000's cheerily accessible ''Stephen Malkmus.'' Mysteriously, the singer has titled it ''Pig Lib.'' Why? Read on for some answers. Sort of.
Is there a specific pig we're looking to liberate?
Um...maybe feral pigs from Hawaii that escaped during the hurricane in the 1990s. They're sick of tourists and roaming around with feral chickens. Maybe it should have been called ''Chicken Lib.'' The title is cryptic. You know, there's no real...it just kind of looks cool, I'm afraid to say. It sounds good.
It's not, like, an anagram?
Well...''Glib Pi''? I'm sure pi is pretty glib. Our guitarist Mike can do pi to 30 or 40 numbers. You should maybe talk to him. He's the pi guy.
Is it fair to say this record has some prog-rock influences?
I suppose. It's just hard-rockin' prog, like [veteran British blues-rock band] the Groundhogs or maybe the first Jethro Tull album. [Early-'70s English prog-folksters] Mellow Candle. Those are the kind of bands I can think of. I've never really even listened to Yes or E.L.P. Maybe Wishbone Ash's first album.
''Pig Lib'''s ''Water and a Seat'' has a weird time signature that's sort of E.L.P.
Yeah, that was an effort to do a messed-up hip-hop beat. I was making weird beats with this machine and I wanted to transfer that into a rock thing.
Could a Malkmus hip-hop album be in the works?
No, I don't know how to transfer it onto the computer and make it sound phat big. But I think I could come up with some of the rhythms. It's pretty simple. I think it is. [pause] No, it must be hard. Actually, no, I couldn't do it. You can say you can do something, but you never know what people will like. And I don't like [hip-hop] enough.
If your new album were a movie, what would it be?
''Aliens.'' Sigourney comes back with short hair and all's well at the box office.