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Interview: Pixies

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With three new EPs, and an album under their belts plus a renewed vigour on-stage alt-rock legends Pixies head to Europe for a summer of festival dates. Guitarist Joey Santiago explains why this is the best time to see them play.

PixiesReunions suck. Let’s face it, most of them do. Ten years on, when Pixies decided on a short reunion tour they never expected to be relevant again – with regular new music coming out and performing at their best ever.

But that is what has happened.

In fact such is the momentum of the Boston-giants that between our first conversation in November 2013 and our second in February this year they dropped EP2. Between that chat and the publishing of this guide a third EP has surfaced with news of an album collecting them all in one place.

They have also switched their touring bassist from Kim Schatuck to Paz Lenchatin. It’s all go on planet Pixies.

It is the throes of an epic North American tour and the day of an announcement of another UK headline slot, at Summer In The City in Manchester, that our transatlantic call to guitarist Joey Santiago takes place.

Having seen the band five times since 2004, last year’s Hammersmith performance (minus original bassist Kim Deal) was a surprise. The best I had seen them play. They seemed content, on the ball and truly on form.

“You know we’re a lot happier. Believe it or not we just got a lot happier. A new bass player who really gelled with us,” explains Santiago.

That new bassist Paz Lenchatin comes with a quality CV. As a member of A Perfect Circle and Zwan, and playing on albums by the likes of Queens of The Stone Age, Silver Jews and Jenny Lewis, she has is no slouch in the rock department. She also has had a positive effect on the Pixies on stage.

“She is a bit better than the old one, and we have a better time. We’re just having a better time, laughing more, you know goofy stuff. You’ll see it. If you think we were having a good time this time you’ll think we’re having a hoot. Right now, I think we’re playing the best we’ve ever, ever had.”

Initially when America just didn’t get their sound, the UK adopted Pixies as their own, meaning the band has a special relationship with this fair isle.

“It’s our second home, it really is. That’s why we recorded the album there, in Wales and also we are so comfortable in the UK. We pretty much know all the cities. We can walk around and go ‘let’s go there’ and we know where that it is. It’s almost to the point we can give people directions. We love it.”

With their history of playing UK events it makes sense they are headlining three events Field Day in London, the aforementioned Summer In The City and at the Eden Project. But what is Santiago’s favourite?

“Reading/Leeds, also T In The Park. Probably Reading because we have fond memories of that one. It was the first time we were on line-ups, that’s the one. It was the first time I almost threw-up, in fact I did throw up. It was nerves you know, and the Bad Seeds were before us I think. And I was like ‘oh shit’, I mean they’re one of my favourite bands and I was thinking ‘this isn’t even fair’ you know.”

Pixies are also heading back to Barcelona for a set at the magnificent Primavera Sound, a festival that the band last played in 2010 and have a history with.

“Oh yeah. God I have so many favourites in Europe but Primavera is one of them. I kind miss when it was in the village in the middle of the city. It was like where am I, am I in the middle of the city? It felt like no other festival. But you move on.”

2014 is an exciting time to see Pixies, they are no longer are just peddling the past with two new, surprise and self-released EPs worth of material out in the world and a renewed live vigour.

They have a new audience, one that the new music has re-engaged into the world of Pixies, they are no longer just a classic band on the road, but a vital band to people not even born when they first split.

“Our audience are so young right now. I’m sure the venues were playing in are losing money on the bar. Like ‘shit, they’re too young’! We feel good that there’s actually less drunk drivers out there. We’re doing a social service, you know.”

The last UK jaunt even threw in some surprises. At Hammersmith in November they dropped a cover of The Fall’s ‘Big New Prinz’ in the set. Does this indicate more covers coming and what would Santiago like to cover on stage?

“I think we should do something else, I’ll present that to the committee. There’s this one [I’d like to do]. It’s a David Bowie song, it’s pretty obscure. ‘Real Good Time Together’, you know that one? I think it’s almost our style, and it’s weird. I would love to do it.

So, potential Bowie covers, a drink driving social service, and a new bassist that is a ‘hoot’ – that is the life of Pixies on the road in 2014, and this could be their best tour ever.

It’s not just about seeing ‘Where Is My Mind?’ performed live these days (although that will always be incredible) it is about seeing one of the greatest rock bands of all time at the top of their game and full of surprises.

Catch Pixies this summer at:

  • Primavera Sound (Spain)
  • Rock in Idro (Italy)
  • Optimus Primavera Sound (Portugal)
  • Field Day
  • Eden Sessions
  • Glastonbury 
  • Northside (Denmark)
  • Orange Warsaw (Poland)
  • Hurricane Festival (Germany)
  • Southside (Germany)
  • Best Kept Secret (Germany)
  • Inmusic (Croatia)
  • Rock Werchter (Belgium)
  • Summer In The City
This interview was first published in May 2014 as part of our Festival Guide

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