Ahead of Thursday's STL Show, Joey Santiago Talks The Pixies and New Music
The Pixies are finally back on tour after the release of “EP1” and “EP2” recently. With the current North American tour stopping in St. Louis this Thursday, and a third EP scheduled for release later this year, local Pixies fans are extremely excited about seeing the band perform both their old music and new tunes live. We caught up with lead guitarist Joey Santiago to talk about the new music, how things have been since longtime bassist Kim Deal left, what Paz Lenchantin (the new bassist) brings to the band.
ALIVE: So, the new music keeps coming! What did you think of the new EPs and getting back to the music-making process?
Joey Santiago: Not to pat ourselves on the back or anything, but we all work hard. It’s what we do. We knew what we had done was good. But whether people were going to accept it was another story. Part of that was the missing “Deal,” you know, Kim. Overall, I think people have enjoyed the music. We knew it was good, and we couldn’t think about Kim at that point.
We do grow as a band, and there was this moment of choice that I had where I had to think about, who would we rather please? We had to grow and couldn’t be too nostalgic toward “Bossanova” or “Doolittle.” We’d rather go into the future than delve too far deep into the past.
ALIVE: What was the inspiration behind the recent single “Bagboy?”
JS: Charles [guitarist and lead singer, Black Francis] brought it to the table more than half-baked, so you’d have to ask him about the meaning behind it and his original motivation. But the rhythm was very busy and bluesy, and we kind of took those chords and turned it into two distinct notes. That seemed to work really well. It made a bit more room for all of us, and the sound was excellent.
ALIVE: With the release of the first two EPs and the third EP to be released soon, how did you all decide on this process? Did you all get to choose which songs were released first?
JS: Oh, well, the three of us would have had really different opinions on what to do there. The manager kind of knew that, and he asked his so-called committee to choose. So, they were chosen, and we thought, “Alright. That’s acceptable. You all know what you’re talking about, and we make the music. You guys can break this up tastefully into pieces.” We just play the music. It’s the best we could ask for.
ALIVE: What were some of your favorite tracks to record, personally?
JS: I really like playing “Magdalena,” sonically. And “What Goes Boom” as well. I just went crazy on these tracks and did all these weird sounds, and I think our producer was impressed. He didn’t even know what was going on and would ask, “How did you make those sounds?” So, that was good.
ALIVE: Many music critics have said that the new EPs still sound like The Pixies. How would you compare your new work to the music from, say, a few decades ago?
JS: There’s always a signature stamped on it. I mean, Charles is always going to sound like Charles. And any guitar I pick up is going to sound like me. It’s even frustrating sometimes—I can pick up a totally new and different guitar, and I still get that sound. I think it starts at the fingertips. For some reason, I just can’t change for the life of me. That, and the combination of the drums—we just have a signature. We could put any song into the factory, and it still comes out as a Pixies-sounding song. We’ve done it with Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and even The Jesus and Mary Chain. That’s just what we make.
ALIVE: How were you all anticipating the music release knowing Kim Deal wouldn’t be with you all? Has it affected any plans going forward?
JS: We’ve got to assume that the people listening to the music are blind, that they can’t read the articles, that they see us live and just see another person stage-left and really can’t see anything. At the end, it’s really all about the music.
It was hard, believe me. At first, it was like a shock to the system. But then, we have like five more weeks in the studio already booked. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We just said, “Okay, that’s it.” When she told us she was leaving, everyone really gave each other a blessing. We told her we were going to keep going, and she knew that. So, we just worked. This is all we know how to do. I guess I also make a great stew.
ALIVE: On that note, what kind of stew?
JS: Oh, you know the goods. I’ll probably tick Morrissey off, but I make beef stew. You can’t really do tofu that well.
ALIVE: So, talk about the tour that’s just kicked off. What are you all most excited about with the tour?
JS: I’m excited to have our new bass player, Paz Lenchantin, on board. She’s an awesome person and super chilled-out. Most importantly, she’s got it. She just has it. She can play like nobody’s business and can sing like nobody’s business. She’s what we deserved in the beginning of all this. Finally, we’re getting what we deserved there. She’s talented and kind of the same personality as us.
That, and also traveling around. Getting to have my girlfriend visit a bit. Everyone’s just so much more chilled-out and relaxed now, you know. We’ve grown up a lot.
ALIVE: What are your goals over the next few years? What do you hope for The Pixies in the near future?
JS: For now, we just have to keep going at it and making the music. I guess, Charles and I had briefly —as in 40 steps’ worth of walking around —talked about possibly making like a film of us playing live. Obviously, that would be super cool and all that. I have a few exclamation mark ideas on me.
ALIVE: Did you have anything else to add about the new music, tour or what fans can expect?
JS: Yeah, that we’re going to be tighter than ever. Just go in there, blinders on and not so nostalgic with the look. That doesn’t matter. With Paz and everything now, it’s awesome. She’s got plenty of fans anyway. But just embrace it. You’re there to hear the music, not watch it. I mean, I don’t know how to watch music, besides reading it. But if you’re going to this concert, go and pretend you’re blind. Just listen to the music and enjoy.