The Pixies are one of the most influential bands to have come out in the last 30 years. Black (Charles) Francis (vocals/guitar), David Lovering (drums), Joey Santiago (guitar), and Kim Deal (vocals/bass) formed the band in 1986 and the music scene has never quite been the same since. The now overused term “indie rock” sprouted from the band’s extreme dynamics and sometimes abrasive songs. Their style of punk rock twisted up with a little bit of folk placed the Pixies in a league of their own. They were the pioneers of start-stop timing, using it in their songs to keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Their songs bounce from being soft and quiet, then within seconds are full of wailing guitar before quieting down again. The timing is surprising, the guitars are rough, and it is always perfect.
After a ten-year hiatus, The Pixies are back together, minus original bassist Kim Deal, and on tour. Fans have expressed reservations about the band without Deal. Despite this, The Pixies have released two EPs in the last year titled EP-1 and EP-2. Other than ‘Bam Thwok,’ (a song released in 2004 exclusively for iTunes) EP-1 and EP-2 are their first releases in 22 years.
All in all, the Pixies still sound like the Pixies. Their latest EPs are a new interpretation of their original sound. They are still gritty and raw but they have matured as bands should. The new material has nods to their past with songs such as ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’ which could easily be placed on Surfer Rosa without a second glance. Then there comes a song like ‘Andro Queen.’ The delayed ringing of the guitar mixed with Francis’ melancholy tone makes it magical. Slowing down a little bit for a few songs is not that big of a stretch for the band, great examples of songs from the past being ‘Caribou’ and ‘Sliver,’ however these new EPs are lighter, more dream-like, and downright pretty.
The Pixies played to a sold out, adoring crowd at the Fox Theater in late February. At the beginning of their set, the entire band walked to the front to wave hello. They then performed thirty songs in a span of nearly two hours. The set list was not decided beforehand, just made up as the show went along. New songs were tossed in-between classics, keeping the crowd enthusiastic while introducing EP-1 and EP-2.
Paz Lenchantin is currently playing with the band as the touring bassist. While Deal is missed, Lenchantin is lovable. Not only a very talented bass player, she is flat-out adorable. Lenchantin will continue with the Pixies for their North and South American tours, and the summer European dates as well.
We caught up with David Lovering before the Oakland show to pick his brain.
TUBE: It’s a risky move when a band gets back together to make new songs. What made you guys think it was time?
Lovering: We got back together in 2004…we thought we’d do one year of shows and it kept going and going and going and then by the 7th year it was just like are you kidding? We’ve been together as a band longer now then we were initially back in the late 80s…and it was surprising and we’re very fortunate…we had bands that kept scheduling tours and tours and tours and then it finally fell into where we were doing the Doolittle tour…we thought [it] was going to be one tour, but it turned into two years…It just kept going on and going on and going on and after that…we just started thinking to ourselves…we may be turning into a nostalgia act if we kept doing it. So we discussed…doing new material. It took a good four years of actually talking about it…writing songs and actually going to the studio and getting something done.
TUBE: So was it easy to just slide back into making songs?
Lovering: Back in the day when we first started in a band we had a rehearsal space and that’s where we would write all our music together. And we figured what the heck, if were going to record again why don’t we try that? So we all flew to Boston and we got a rehearsal room and…it was a nightmare. It didn’t work, it was kinda like the old days but it just didn’t work and so we were like, that’s abolished, but from it we started writing songs and over a period of time we just would go over the demos and stuff like that. So it was pretty easy. Especially for me. Recording, at least, all the five previous albums, Pixies albums, I kinda loathe recording studios cuz you’re always on the spot, you try to get everything perfect and since the albums get quicker and quicker as they did go you were always put in the position to like, I always wanted to be better as far as I go, so what was nice about this new recording that we did was that I really learned the songs a lot beforehand and I just went in with a new attitude and I loved it.
TUBE: Can you tell me a little about the creative process? When you come up with a song, who’s writing? Who’s doing what?
Lovering: Sure, it’s mainly Charles, he always comes up with a riff on his guitar stuff like that. He’ll just present it to us and we’ll work it out…and that’s the way it’s always been. It’s pretty much always been like that. The only things that can change are…when we’ve recorded in the past…a set producer is sometimes there for preproduction…You can get his thoughts on certain things like arrangement…as well as the time, the tempo of it, things like that.
TUBE: What’s your favorite memory of being in the band? On or off stage.
Lovering: I think the one I’ll always remember is the first show that we performed in London. The first time we ever went to London we played at a place called The Mean Fiddler. This is the first time we have ever been to London…and it was mayhem. It was kind of a club with…a couple of tiers around the side and it was just people throwing beers and pissing over the railing, it was mayhem but they were having a good time, that’s what it meant and it was the first time for us receiving that kind of crazy audience. It was great, it was something I won’t forget.
TUBE: Usually the drummer and the bassist have a large bond, is it different now creating music without Kim?
Lovering: Yeah, it’s a little different. I mean I think it is different on a personal level because you know I had played with Kim for so long. Not just playing bass with her but she was my friend, and still is, but you know you look and it’s Kim right there. That was a little different when she did leave cause it was like, wow, I look over there and it’s not Kim. But it’s nice we though, we have Paz Lenchantin playing with us right now and she’s fantastic. She’s an incredible bass player, she has a great voice and what’s great about it is that she’s making me play better… I’ve had to step up my game and it’s just like, uh-oh dude and…I like that. I like to improve.
TUBE: Do you think Paz will stick around for a while?
Lovering: She’s wonderful, and I don’t see why not.
TUBE: So you’re a magician too? Do you tour with that?
Lovering: Yeah, I started magic maybe 12 years ago and became a professional magician, and I have a stage show that I do which is kinda on the back burner right now called the Scientific Phenomenalist. And what it is is…a magic show but you wouldn’t know it’s a magic show because…it’s just combining my love [for science and magic]… I was, at one time, an engineer before this and into physics and science, so I just built everything around the science show. And I started doing…experiments and you don’t know [in the show] where that line is drawn between magic and experiment or science.
I’ve opened up for the Pixies twice with it, and I’ve opened up for The Breeders, Cracker…I work at the Magic Castle, I’ve done birthday parties, you name it. It’s a fun thing, except I don’t do it a lot now because of the Pixies. What I do now is close up magic and that’s real fun. I do that at the after shows and at bars, things like that. That’s the magic I prefer, its more powerful and its much better
TUBE: Any advice for musicians who are just starting out?
Lovering: The only thing, and the only real reason that I say this, is that I think that we [The Pixies] were different in a way…because of being different that’s what helped us. I think that’s with any music. It’s gotta be different, you can’t sound like everything else and that’s the one thing that I can say…if your music is good and it’s different it’ll work itself, you know what I mean?