By Ethan Schmidt and Holden Carter
MTSU Seigenthaler News Service
In 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine came out with a listing of the top 500 albums of all time. Listed at numbers 135 and 212 were releases from a 1990s-era Indie rock band named Pavement. One of the northern California-based group’s songs, “Cut Your Hair,” reached the Top 10 in 1994 in Billboard’s alternative songs rankings.
The percussionist in the band was a 30-something musician named Bob Nastanovich, who grew up in Richmond, Virginia. At the University of Virginia, he met other members of Pavement and the group migrated to California, where they found a measure of success in the competitive world of rock and roll.
What does this have to do with Paris, Tennessee?
Well, Bob is a Parisian. In fact, many locals of a certain age who may remember Pavement will, no doubt, be surprised to learn that this Indie rocker could be sitting next to you at a local barbecue joint. He’s a lover of smoked meat, among other aspects of life in Henry County.
He also recommends the local restaurant LL’s Bar and Grill. “They might have the best fried catfish I've ever had in my life.”
Additionally, he enjoys taking his corgi, Mr. Ghost, to the local dog park.
Bob Nastanovich (left side of screen) waves hello during a Zoom interview with MTSU student journalists Holden Carter (left) and Ethan Schmidt. Photo: Leon Alligood
Why Paris? Well, of course, there’s a woman involved. His wife, Whitney, spent her high school years in Paris. When the couple was looking to move from Des Moines several years ago, Paris, and its slower pace of life, appealed to them. More on that later.
Let’s go back to the backstory of Nastanovich’s claim to indie rock glory. Pavement performed mostly as a recording project when they began collaborating. The group never intended to do live performances and tour, but they played a few gigs, which led to more gigs, which led to tours in venues across the country. The term “indie darlings,” was tossed around when referring to Pavement, as they had success in the scene, but all good things, including indie bands, usually come to an end. That happened in 1999, when the group disbanded. But as often occurs, the group reunited a decade later and they still perform live concerts today.
Many in the indie scene speculate online about whether Nastanovich’s charismatic stage presence inspired the hit track “Song 2” by Brit pop band Blur in 1997. Nastanovich isn’t convinced that he was an inspiration for that song, but he does wonder if he had some influence over the 1994 Sonic Youth song, “Bull in the Heather,” which is about a Florida Derby-winning horse.
What do racetrack horses have to do with Nastanovich?
Nastanovich breeds racehorses. His interest in horse racing blossomed after learning that the first cousin of his elementary school’s principal was the owner/breeder of famed Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Nastanovich worked at a racehorse track in central Iowa for 13 years, during his years that were primarily outside the music business.
After living in Des Moines, for 14 years, Nastanovich moved to Paris in 2021.
“When it looked like we (Pavement) were gonna tour in 2020, I was looking for a new location. I mean, the winters in Des Moines are pretty special. It’s like having a 100 days of not really being able to breathe outside air.”
Nastanovich’s wife, Whitney (they met in Nashville when he lived there from 2005 to 2006) attended high school in Paris and graduated from Murray State University. Having numerous connections to the town and the nearby Murray State University, and looking for a more affordable place to live, Nastanovich and his wife relocated to Henry County.
“I’m in Paris pretty much to kind of live in a place where Pavement doesn’t really matter…to an environment where Pavement is insignificant, just to sort of resume to a normal existence,” he said.
He added: “It’s a lovely place to sit outside, and barbecue, and listen to baseball on the radio and chill out and relax.”
Though he lives in Paris, Nastanovich still takes care of his horses across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom. There, he owns two racehorses: Range Life, a two-year old filly named after the ninth track on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, and Suitcase Smith, a one-year-old colt in England set to begin his training next year.
Meanwhile, Pavement is still on tour. Currently the band has 11 shows scheduled for this summer at music festivals in Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Iceland in July. In the fall the group plays dates in New York City and Cincinnati. The chill middle-aged man he’s become is not looking to break into the Billboard Top 100 anymore, but owning a winning horse would be nice.
“Like everybody else, you're chasing your dream.”
Ethan Schmidt and Holden Carter were two of 12 Middle Tennessee State University journalism majors who recently spent two weeks in Paris writing stories for the Parou can see more of their work at www.theroadtripclass.com.