Born in Santa Monica, California and raised in Stockton, Malkmus attended high school in Carpinteria, at Cate School, a prestigious boarding school, and Tokay High School in Lodi, California, from which he graduated. During high school in Malkmus played guitar in Bag O Bones, Bass for The Straw Dogs, and sang in Crisis Alert, all Stockton-based punk bands. After graduation, Malkmus followed in his father's footsteps by attending the University of Virginia, where he majored in history and was a disc jockey for the college radio station WTJU, along with David Berman (Silver Jews) and James McNew (Yo La Tengo).
Malkmus formed Pavement with Scott Kannberg (aka Spiral Stairs) while he was living in Stockton, California during the 1980s. Their first album, Slanted & Enchanted, was released to critical acclaim, and the band continued to receive attention for subsequent releases. Pavement, and Malkmus in particular, was hailed as spearheading the underground indie movement of the 1990s. In 2001, following the 1999 dissolution of the band, Malkmus released his first self-titled solo album. He also was a member of rock group The Silver Jews along with poet/lyricist David Berman, but was not involved with the Natural Bridge recording. Malkmus' current solo career is backed by musical band The Jicks. In early 1999 Stephen Malkmus participated in a Sonic Youth side project that included bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon, guitarist/vocalist Thurston Moore, Chicago avant-garde veteran Jim O'Rourke, and renowned Japanese drummer Ikue Mori. The project was named Kim's Bedroom. They never released an album, but did play a few live shows.
On May 23, 2003 in Milwaukee, while touring with his new band The Jicks, Malkmus opened the show by saying, "This is off our first record." The band then proceeded to play an evening's worth of Pavement songs. This show has been dubbed by fans as The Milwaukee Show.
Stephen is most noted for his using of single coil electric guitar tone. This is most attributed to his guitars and playing style. He predominantly uses a Fender Jazzmaster, his main guitar, used extensively on Brighten The Corners, a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe and a Fender Stratocaster, which he used for the majority of his time with Pavement although he didn't have it with him on his 2008 tour. He has recently also played a Danelectro Silvertone (Sears model dating to 1962 or 1963).
See Pavement discography.
With Silver Jews
- Dime Map of the Reef (1992) 7"ep
- The Sabellion Rebellion & Old New York (1993) 7"
- The Arizona Record (1993) 12"
- Starlite Walker (1994)
- American Water (1998)
- Hot as Hell - Live 1993 (1999) CD/7" Single
- Tanglewood Numbers (appears on "The Farmer's Hotel") (2005)
With The Crust Brothers
- Marquee Mark (1998)
With The Jicks
- Note: Even though Pig Lib and Real Emotional Trash are the only albums that titularly recognizes the Jicks by listing the artist name as "Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks," the self-titled album Stephen Malkmus is, in fact, a Jicks recording. Initially, Malkmus simply wanted to call his post-Pavement band the Jicks with no mention of his name, but Matador records resisted the idea and released the new album from SM as Stephen Malkmus, although "the Jicks" is printed on the CD itself. Face the Truth is technically Stephen Malkmus's only true solo affair, though the Jicks do provide instrumentation on nearly every song.
- Discretion Grove (2001) - w/ "Sin Taxi" and "Leisurely Poison" (2001)
- Jenny & the Ess-Dog (2001) - w/ "Keep the Faith", "That's What Mama Said" and "Alien Boy"
- Phantasies EP (2001) - w/ "Malay Massaker"
- Jo Jo's Jacket - w/ "Polish Mule", "The Hook (live)" and "Open and Shut Cases" (2001)
- Sex Life of Robinson Crusoe, Pt. 2 (2001) - b-side available only on official site
- Us (2003)
- Dark Wave (2003) - w/ Pig Lib bonus disc b-sides
- Post-Paint Boy (2005)
- Baby C'Mon (2005) - w/ "Wow Ass Jeans"
- Kindling for the Master EP (2006) - w/ 4 remixes
- Cold Son 10" EP (2008) - w/ "Walk Into the Mirror", "Pennywhistle Thunder" and "Carl the Clod"
- Gardenia (2008) -w/ "Walk Into the Mirror"
- subUrbia Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1997) - "Unheard Music" (with Elastica)
- At Home With the Groovebox (2000) - "Robyn Turns 26"
- All Tomorrow's Parties 1.1 (2002) - "Good Kids Eggs"
- Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernicklel (2002) - "Blue Rash Intact (Quarantined-Hallucinations Due To Severe Allergies)"
- Under the Influence - 21 years of Flying Nun Records (2002) - "Death and the Maiden"
- Matador At Fifteen (2004) - "It Kills (live)"
- This One's for the Fellows: A Sonic Salute to the Young Fresh Fellows (2004) - guitar on "No One Really Knows" (with The Maroons)
- Chokes! EP by Silkworm (2007) - guitar on "Spanish Harlem Incident (live)"
- I'm Not There (Music from the Motion Picture) (2007) - With [The Million Dollar Bashers]: "Ballad of a Thin Man" and "Maggie's Farm"; with Lee Ranaldo: "Can't Leave Her Behind" and "What Kind of Friend is This?" (iTunes only)
- The New Yorker College Tour: University of Washington, Seattle: A Conversation with Stephen Malkmus (2006)
Biography from Wikipedia