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Interview: Pixies

11th November 2013

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“First of all I never thought the Pixies would get back together, that was the furthest thing from my mind.”

PixiesDavid Lovering, drummer with the legendary Pixies, is talking about one of rock music’s unlikeliest resurrections. In 2004, the impossible happened and Pixies kick started a decade of non-stop touring to meet demand.

2013 has been a year of surprises. There was the bombshell of bassist Kim Deal’s departure which was followed swiftly by the shock-release of their first music in 20 years.

The reunion market, reviving the past, is big business – a circuit of acts churning out the old numbers for people who prefer to look back not forward. After 10 years peddling the past Pixies were running the risk of simply living off their old victories and becoming part of the furniture.

Repetition can lead to boredom. Is this what spurred Pixies into doing something new?

 “I don’t know if we were getting bored, really. But, erm, we had been touring since 2004 and at the seven year mark we were like, hold on a minute, we have been touring longer with the reunion than we were initially a band together. We didn’t just do one tour, we did two years of the Doolittle tour and it just kept on going and going, people still wanted to see us.

It just seemed logical. We were thinking years ago of doing new material it just took a long time, at least three years ago we were talking about doing something new. We can’t just go on our own laurels any more. We don’t wanna be one of those nostalgia bands, like Blue Oyster Cult, anything like that.”

And it all played out in true, turbulent, Pixies style.

Whilst working on new material bassist Kim Deal announced she was leaving the band. It was likely that the band were going to fold again, just on the verge of new material and pushing their legacy forward.

With new material on the cards they entered the studio anyway and drafted in Kim Shattuck of The Muffs to fill the gap on tour.

 “It’s whole different chapter we are going into now, I wouldn’t say version point two or anything like that. The first gig it was interesting playing with someone new. Since then, my mind set is just ‘Pixies all together – as a band’ and stuff, so it really hasn’t played a part in my emotions. The band’s just a whole other thing now.”

The idea of Pixies ‘all together – as a band’ is a refreshing change. The tensions within their relationships are well documented, not least on reunion documentary Loud, Quiet, Loud, which shows a group of people paying each other lip-service in order to do a job rather than friends doing what they love.

The most noticeable transformation in the 2013 incarnation of Pixies is the appearance of a new contentment and love for what they are doing. Does this indicate a new found harmony offstage to match that of their obvious unity on-stage?

“I would say that we are ‘professional’ now, we are definitely pro at it. Everywhere we go and everything we do is all pro, it’s taken years and years of doing this to get there. I think we are PLAYING BETTER, actually, myself, I definitely think I am playing better than I have. I may be older now and may not have the stamina or the reach I had when I was younger. But I am grooving more and having much more fun playing than I ever have.”

This new found contentment led to the unexpected release of ‘Bagboy’ the first new material in 20 years (if you ignore ‘Bam Thwok’ in 2004). It simply turned up online one day – cue fan and media frenzy!

“We had no expectations. Everything we have been doing so far has been in terms of surprises. I mean first with Kim’s departure, and the next surprise was the new music with ‘Bagboy’ and then the announcing of the tour and then more new music.

“I think with Bagboy it was more the fact we had something ‘new’, more than what the song actually was to how well it went with people and how it was received. It was just the fact that we had something new.

It created a little buzz, with the video and everything – it got the word out, which I am happy about.”

Of course that ‘buzz’ was easy to create with a legion of fans eagerly awaiting any Pixies-related new online. This online community led the band to forgo label involvement and go it alone, now controlling every aspect of the band themselves.

This control allowed them to drop another surprise release in the shape of EP-1 (a full new EP) that also appeared out of nowhere, with fans scrabbling to get their mitts on the various formats. As expected with a band of Pixies colossal cult standing, it received some mixed responses.

“I’m very happy people are still interested in us and especially new music. There are of course people that will say ‘oh the new stuff doesn’t sound like the Pixies’ but Surfer Rosa didn’t sound like Trompe Le Monde and Trompe Le Monde didn’t sound like Doolittle. And Doolittle isn’t going to sound like EP-1, so there you go.”

The new music launched the band right to the top of the media agenda with the full special concert broadcasting on BBC6 Music (and visually on the BBC Red Button) and a blinding slot of Later...With Jools Holland being the recent highlights.

In Lovering’s mind the new music lives up to the excitement is has caused.

“Yes, I am very happy with it. Some of the songs we had written before and we had been working on them. We went into the studio and did a little pre-production and started recording them.  I gotta tell you one thing, I hate recording, I can’t stand it – everyone I have done has been very hard for me. I want it all to be perfect. The songs and records that we did were having faster and faster turnaround times, and that was tough on me. But this one was something I worked on for a long time, I practiced and I went in there with a renewed outlook, I’m going to have fun, have a blast and do this correctly.  And that’s what I did, I am very happy with the drumming and the rest of the music.”

Putting yourself out there with new material after two decades is a risk. But with one aspect at least Pixies decided to play it safe in working with long-time collaborator Gil Norton on production duties.

 “There was no other choice that we had, we did talk about other producers but it seemed right. Gil is like an honorary fifth Pixies and he had done the last few albums, and it just seemed right that he did this one. Gil’s a great guy and a great producer- he’s very tactful and has great ideas. It worked out very well, we were very comfortable with it.”

Whilst they clearly have an active future, it is the ‘past’ that still really defines Pixies. Their releases in the late eighties redefined rock music with a new ‘quiet loud’ dynamic that caused shockwaves throughout rock influencing everyone from David Bowie to Nirvana.

The fact remains that without Pixies modern music would sound very, very different.

“I mean I hear that, but in my position it’s hard to see . I mean, I’m just Dave, I play drums in a band. We did have unique or different music and there were people liked it. We were very fortunate that a lot of bands, supposedly we influenced them and they carried on our name. Everybody helped us and the stars aligned for us to do this all again.”

The mid-nineties saw a resurgence of interest in the band when ‘Where Is My Mind?’ acted as the haunting sound to the end of film classic Fight Club. Over time Pixies music has appeared all over the place, but only one really matched the otherworldly appeal of their music.

“I think the proudest thing is. One of the JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratories which is in Pasadena where I live, who built all the Mars Rovers and Landers and stuff like that some of the scientists for one of the Rovers that was on Mars had a connection to wake it up and they used the song ‘Where Is My Mind? I think that is the proudest thing for me. Like ‘wow JPL technicians used that song’."

“Mars is the craziest place that I know of that our music has been played. That’s the pinnacle for me.”

So at the end of 2013, Pixies come into a new era, using their cult status as a springboard to continue to forge rock music in their own image. They’ve already changed history and been to Mars – that would be enough for most bands, but it would appear, not enough for Pixies.


Pixies return for more tour dates in the UK this month:

21 - Apollo, Manchester, England

22 - Barrowland, Glasgow, Scotland

24 - Hammersmith Apollo, London, England

25 - Hammersmith Apollo, London, England

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