The Pixies are inaugurating the New Year with a 33-city headline tour of North America, starting January 15 in Toronto, Canada. January 25th The Pixies hit The Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland (Pitt Campus) without founding member, bassist Kim Deal, but with a bunch of new material after audiences not hearing anything for a decade. This is not your typical “reunion show” from the band you listened to in college. Acclaimed as the most influential pioneering band of the late 80s alt/rock movement, The Pixies are just as vital, vibrant, and poignant today as they were in the late eighties and early nineties. The Pixies disbanded in 1993 and launched their reunion tour in April, 2004 when virtually every, single date sold out within minutes. The Pixies shattered sales records around the world, SPIN called it 2004’s “Comeback of the Year,” and the band wrapped up 2004 in New York City with 24,000 tickets sold for an unprecedented eight-night, sold-out run at Hammerstein Ballroom. The Pixies continued their reunion tour in 2005, and then, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their 1989 album Doolittle, launched the “Doolittle Tour” on October 1, 2009 in Dublin, performing the entire album, beginning to end. In May, 2013, it was announced that founding member Kim Deal had decided to leave the Pixies. Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering made it clear that Kim’s place in the band would always be there for her.
Jump to January 2014 as EP 2 is being released and the fire is still burning and the passion runs deep, all you have to is speak to drummer David Lovering (pictured below) and you immediately are hit with his love for music and what The Pixies are doing in their current state.
After a decade of not releasing material (even though they have been toying with it since 2004), The Pixies have finally put out some new tunes and have done so in a very modern way; they have done it without the help of a record label. When asking David about it he simply states that, “it’s the day and age right now…we are very fortunate to have enough of a fan base to do it”. One of the first things The Pixies did was to release “Bagboy” as a free download to let their fans and the general public know that they were back, “it was a benefit for us to do that”. But of course while they were in the recording studio was when David says that the biggest “emotional rollercoaster” began when Kim Deal left the band. Although Kim would be welcomed back with open arms, David, Francis Black and Joey Santiago decided to keep moving on and to keep touring. At first, in Deal’s place was Kim Shattuck. For the North and South American and European festivals coming up Paz Lenchantin will be filling in.
Lovering has been quoted as saying that he wanted to write new music because he “didn’t want to turn into a casino act”. Even though there was some trepidation about putting out new material David is quick to say, “you have to love what you are doing”. Producer Gil Norton seemed to be their only choice, not for only being known as the ‘fifth Pixie’, but also to “recreate the sounds of Doolittle, Bossa Nova and Trompe Le Monde”. In October 2012, the Pixies convened to Rockfield Studios in Wales, as Lovering recalls, “We had (five) songs going in to the studio and we wrote (another seven) there. We’d never done that before, and some great songs came out of it, in fact. It worked out pretty darned well.”
With EP 2 being released in January 2014 via their website, Lovering and I spoke a lot about the creation of those songs. Some of that material was written in the studio. David has been quoted as not liking the studio because “he is a perfectionist”. But this time was a different experience. According to Francis, the first tune on The EP, “Blue-Eyed Hexe” is “a tale from the northwest of the country and it’s a witch-woman kind of a song. That’s what a hexe is. And she’s a blue-eyed hexe!” Lovering states, “That was on the spot that we came up with that. I wanted to record that as quickly as possible. We rehearsed it and I had it in my head and I just went in – and it’s a really simple track, kick drum and a snare and a hi-hat – and it was the quickest track for me to record. It kind of reminds me of “UMASS” because of the cowbell in it; so I’ll be using the cowbell again since the cowbell goes through the whole song. ” David assures me that he is absolutely prepared for the ‘more cowbell jokes that are sure to ensue’. “Magdalena” is a “a blues song with a Beatles-esque left turn” according to Francis and Santiago says that, “It was a very mood-based sound, not based on any lyrics or anything. ” When Lovering talks about this song it really speaks to where he is at in his playing these days, “with this song you can hear that I’m just playing the beat and accompanying the song for what it is and this song exemplifies that. It’s about being true to the song, and this is pretty, simple, cool and moving”. When I ask David if it is sometimes hard for him to hold back on songs he said, “It’s actually the opposite.” Today he has changed back to more of a traditional jazz grip that allows him to flow better and makes his playing a more visually beautiful experience. Clearly David has the mature wisdom of an experienced musician. As with a lot of the material on EP 2, Greens and Blues came out of the studio as well. Black explains, “it’s kind of a goodbye song. A goodbye song, but really more of a “good night” song. Snakes was also written in the studio, Santiago’s guitar phrasing may explain a bit where the name derives from, “I had this little idea and I did that sliding guitar just to emulate a snake.”
As far as what one will hear on tour, Lovering is quick to point out that The Pixies are planning on “changing material every night” including a lot of new stuff from both EP1 and EP 2.
With the great acoustics and atmosphere of the Carnegie Music Hall in uptown Pittsburgh (Oakland), the show on January 25 will be a not to be missed experience.