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10 Questions for Joanna Bolme

by: Courtesy of Leah Nash 
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, with bassist Joanna Bolme (second from right), will perform songs from new album, “Mirror Traffic,” Oct. 13 at the Crystal Ballroom.

As the bass player for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Portlander Joanna Bolme has a lot of touring ahead of her.

The band recently released a new album, 'Mirror Traffic,' which was produced by Beck and picked up good reviews in local and national media. The U.S. leg of its tour begins Sept. 20 in Detroit.

The last chance to see the band perform in Portland will be Oct. 13 at the Crystal Ballroom, and then the band is off to Dublin and other major cities across Europe. For info, see the band's website, www.stephenmalkmus.com.

Bolme was born in Florida, but grew up in Portland, graduating from the Multnomah Learning Center in 1985.

The Tribune got ahold of Bolme to find out a little bit more about her and the band:

Tribune: How long have you played with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks? And what the heck is a Jick?

Bolme: I've been in the Jicks from the beginning, 11 years! We don't really even know what a Jick is, it just sounded so stupid we went with it.

Tribune: Tell us about 'Mirror Traffic.' When was it released? What cuts are destined to be big hits?

Bolme: 'Mirror Traffic' was released on Aug. 23, and the first single is called 'Senator.'

Tribune: When did you appear on the 'Jimmy Fallon Show' and what songs did you play?

Bolme: We played 'Senator' on 'Jimmy Fallon' on Aug. 30 and [Stephen] forgot about the expletive in the middle of the song and they had to bleep that. Also, Jimmy Fallon has started this web-only, bonus track thing that's pretty cool. Bands always play last, so after the show finishes you get to play another song that's available on the web. You can say and do whatever you want for that one. We decided to play a brand new song called 'Surreal Teenagers.'

Tribune: What was the whole 'Jimmy Fallon' experience like?

Bolme: It was real fun doing the show. Everyone who works on it is very nice, and why not? It's a pretty great job. Before the show started Jimmy came into our dressing room to say hi and he ended up doing an impersonation of David Bowie singing 'Senator.' It was pretty cute. He's taller than I thought.

Tribune: What other bands have you played with?

Bolme: I have played with Quasi, The Minders, The Spinanes, Jr. High and Calamity Jane. Aside from the Jicks, I still play with Rebecca Gates and the Consortium and The Shadow Mortons. I also can put together a shredtastic wedding band if anyone is interested.

Tribune: Why did you take up the bass? Are there many female bass players in the music world?

Bolme: I took up the bass because I got bored with guitar. I always liked playing rhythm guitar more than lead anyway, so I taught myself how to play by playing along with Rolling Stones records. There are many female bass players in the world, one of the most famous, Esperanza Spalding, grew up right here in Portland.

Tribune: Is it true that Stephen and his family have moved to Germany? How will that affect your work together?

Bolme: Steve did move to Germany. We're still going to tour; it's a little complicated logistically, but it shouldn't be a problem. We had plenty of time to play together before he left town. We even have a whole bunch of brand new songs to play.

Tribune: Are you married to a British musician - what is his name?

Bolme: Yeah, I'm married to a Brit. His name is Gary Jarman. (Jarman is a British multi-instrumentalist, best known for being a bassist and singer in the The Cribs, along with his twin brother, Ryan and younger brother, Ross.]

Tribune: How did you two meet and when did you get married?

Bolme: We met when our bands toured Europe together, and we got married 2 1/2 years ago in the coldest part of winter. I know people love to get married in the summer, but it's a really nice excuse to have a party in the winter, and trust me, everyone is ready for a good party in February.

Tribune: You were in an episode of 'Portlandia' last season. How did that all come about?

Bolme: I ended up on 'Portlandia' because my friend Janet got food poisoning. She was supposed to play the mayor's wife but had to call in sick, so she suggested me. I got a last minute phone call from Carrie (Brownstein) and just ran downtown and did it. I didn't have any lines or anything so it wasn't too hard. The hardest part was keeping a straight face while Kyle MacLachlan was riffing on reggae bands. He's pretty funny.