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Janet Weiss of Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Grand Champion on the Kit

After years of beating drum kits from coast to coast with her defunct band Sleater-Kinney and Quasi, Janet Weiss is heading to San Francisco on a U.S. tour with Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. The band performs at The Fillmore on April 27th in support of Real Emotional Trash. Weiss, a former San Francisco resident who now lives in Portland, talked to SF Station during a tour stop in Boston.

SF Station (SFS): You couldnt talk earlier because you were driving to a tour stop. I thought you would have a nice, big tour bus with a driver after all the press the new record has received.

Janet Weiss (JW): No, no. We need to make some money and come home with some cash. A bus is just a big money drain. The crew drives in a big van and we drive in a mini-van.

I like it better. I like to sleep in hotels and not in a little coffin. I get a little carsick on buses and its smoky. The drives on the tour have been pretty short, so it is not very difficult. A bus is better if the drives are longer.

SFS: How would you sum up the years you lived in San Francisco?

JW: Collegiate. Those were my formative years that kind of sculpted me into the person I am today. I started playing music and met my ex-husband when I lived there. There were a lot of landmarks for me there and I have very fond memories of San Francisco.

SFS: Would you ever move back?

JW: No. I love Portland. I wouldnt want to move anywhere else. I have two dogs and a really nice house. Im very comfortable and I wouldnt want to live somewhere where the cost of living is so high. I need space and fresh air when I go home.

SFS: Did you have to look-up the definition for jick before you joined the band?

JW: I did not look it up. I didnt expect a definition for that in the dictionary.

SFS: Is there a definition?

JW: I dont think so. You would have to ask Steve and Im sure he would not give you a straight answer. I feel like there is a definition, but I just dont know what it is. I feel like Im a part of something; being a Jick; it feels cool.

SFS: How did you become a Jick?

JW: Stephen and I have been friends for about 10 years and Ive been friends with Joanna the bass player for maybe 20 years. It just seemed like a logical progression. I like to play rock music, he writes rock music and they needed a drummer. They like to improvise and I really enjoy improvising. It seemed almost tailor-made.

SFS: So this will probably be a long-term gig for you?

JW: I hope so, but you never know. This has got to be the most unpredictable job you could ever have. You never plan for more than a year in advance. I think we are going to want to make another record. I just try to get through sound check, get some dinner and sleep somewhere. Its very day-to-day, like a migrating herd or something.

SFS: You recorded the album in Whitefish, Montana -- what did you do for fun while you were there?

JW: We just checked our Fantasy Basketball stats. You dont really do many fun things when you record. We just sat on our computers like nerds. We were too tired to do any hikes and we didnt really have time. We saw a little bit of nightlife but during the day we just stuck around the studio for the most part.

SFS: Who did well at Fantasy Basketball?

JW: I was the victor last year. I was the grand champion, but Steve could take it this year.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks performs at The Fillmore on April 27th. Tickets cost $22.50 in advance and the show starts at 8pm.