Goofball makes good

Former Pavement drummer Gary Young recently took his wife up to the resort at Konocti Harbor to see the Tubes in concert.

That's hilarious right there. Konocti Harbor is funny. Fee Waybill is funny. Gary Young in the audience -- well, that's funny, but now we're laughing with Gary. His unabashed admission -- nay, his boast -- that he spent hard cash to see the Tubes is just the type of goofy candor that anyone familiar with Pavement has come to expect from this human oddity.

Anyone, that is, except the guys in Pavement. To sullen young guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannenberg, Young was a 12-pack-toting townie, a lunch-pail-lugging Stockton lifer who got to hang around because he owned a recording studio and hauled his own equipment. Although much older than the latest Lost Generation, Young endeared himself to Pavement ticket holders with his merry pranksterism, dispensing trademark party favors (hors d'oeuvres, shoeshines) to symbolically atone for his bandmates' miserly hoarding of clues to their riddlers' lyrics.

After playing on most of last year's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Young finally split with his oft-mortified colleagues. In October, Big Cat Records (Pavement's European label) released Young's solo stab at artistry. Its title, Hospital, refers to his stint in alcohol rehab a decade ago. Much of the record sounds like the shattered jingles of someone who's still being monitored.

An upstart video for the album's lead track, "Plant Man," features Young modeling an Astroturf suit (with guest Thurston Moore reprising his grade-school role as the Tree). The day before that footage was shot in Central Park, Young says, "They painted me day-glo, my whole body, completely. And I had to stand on this little turntable and say, 'Plant Man,' over and over again as they spun me around."

Sounds like a wrap. Generally, though, Young's brand of inspired lunacy tends to make the folks who arrange these things a tad nervous. And now he's a bandleader, having assembled an assortment of Stocktonians to flesh out a pair of upcoming gigs with Sebadoh, here and in L.A.

"It's really an interesting bunch," he promises, "a whole bunch of guitar players and singers that have been in 400 different bands and never got anywhere."

What to expect? We'll see either fantastic Youngian antics or a well-behaved boy with his hair parted perfectly -- or both. "It's like a job interview for me," Young admits. "I have a reputation for not being totally coherent at all times."

James Sullivan
Gary Young performs with Sebadoh, Godhead Silo and Rula Lenska Fri, Feb. 24, at the Fillmore in S.F.; call 346-6000.

 
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