Photos by J. Scott Shrader
This weekend was highly anticipated for Pixies fans. This was their second return in over four years which was thought as a once in a lifetime experience was about to become true for a second time.
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium filled up quickly and soon Cults took stage to open on an abnormally warm night in January for Asheville. Cults had a serious tooth achingly sweet poppy goodness that felt really good oozing into the ears. They showcased their new album “I Can Hardly Make You Mine”. While very pop influenced it has a retro-leaning sound, adding a heavier edge courtesy of fuzzed-out guitars and some distorted organ, while Madeline Follin’s reverbed vocals are the real focal point of their appeal. While everyone was enjoying what Cults were bringing to stage, no one came to see them. Everyone was waiting on The Pixies.
3 weeks ago this very night, Pixies were making their way out of a diner in Newhaven Connecticut to play their show at Shubert Theatre. That’s when I was given twenty minutes to call Joey Santiago and have a short chat with a most beloved guitarist.
Breanne: How are you doing Joey?
Joey: I’m doing great. Sorry, I’m leaving this diner (muffled noise and chaos)- (laughs out loud)
Joey: We love it! We know some great friends in town and it’s so quaint and we love it. Always really beautiful.
AVJ: So I caught you guys last time you were played Thomas Wolfe. It was one of my all time favorite shows, which was the Doolittle Tour. What makes this tour any different besides the absence of Kim- do you guys have any new light installations or rigs that we can expect?
Joey: Well we’ve got different lighting and obviously the new songs we’ll be playing those- we’re gunna be playing a bunch of them- off the new EP. So we’re gunna be different there. The screens we have behind us now are reminiscent from the studio- you’ll see.
Joey: Well you know, I guess it’s nothing like what we normally do. We are always being different in some form. I mean, Trompe Le Monde was a vast difference. We keep exploring and had been playing and we just decided to record it one day. Charles came out with some awesome songs and it took us a while but we decided “Okay, let’s go.”
AVJ: I’m sure you expected the Kim topic to pop up- is it a touchy subject?
Joey: Kim Deal? No. The topic is to be expected. It was a mutual parting. It was handled in a very adult way and that’s about it. That’s what happened. That circumstance, that’s what happened. It’s not like we were on tour or anything like that. Ya know, it just happened. That’s all I can say. It just happened.
AVJ: How did you find Paz- who is a totally underappreciated musician..
Joey: She certainly is! Oh- i’m sorry! What was the question?
Joey: We had an audition first off and then I have played with her- called The Martini’s. I called up a good friend of mine, Josh Freese, a great drummer who has played with her, and asked who he recommended and the only person he came up with was Paz. I trust his opinion and I love his humor (laughs) And I said, “Okay Paz is it.” She tried out for us and it was kinda odd because I got a vibe that she really doesn’t “try out” ya know? Cause it’s like “She can play! We know that.” Instrument pro. That’s what she does.
Joey: Well ya know, obviously yeah. We were hit pretty hard. It was just a shock. Whenever one of our heroes dies, it’s always a shock to the system. At the same time, no one lives forever. From the news, we knew he had cancer pretty bad. It was really too bad. That disease sucks. It will get ya. Although there are some survivors.. yeah.
AVJ: On the same vein, where do you think Pixies general style comes from? Because on the exterior you seem like such everyday people but your sound is so grungy and punk. Where do you think the sound comes from?
Joey: We’re real fortunate ones.. when we join forces it just mutates into something that sounds like The Pixies. We are just a magical combination. I couldn’t start another band and sounds anything like we do. And the same thing with Charles, same thing with Kim, ya know. We just can’t sound like The Pixies unless we’re together. It just happens. We don’t think about it. It’s just natural.
Joey: General anything goes (laughs) but I like to play “Dead” and the new ones.. the new ones I haven’t figured out as much but I like to play “Magdalena” a lot.
AVJ: Do you have anything other musical endeavours going on right now? I know you’re on one giant Pixies tour right now but I know you have a lot of constant side projects.
Joey: We have these 3 to 4 weeks/ days off I just hang out with my family and all that stuff. That’s about it. I don’t plan on doing anything when I get home when we take the break before touring in South America. But when it’s all over and we have an extended break, which I doubt we will, because we want to record again. If there’s blocks of time and the season is right, then I’d want to score a film.
AVJ: What are you listening to these days?
Joey: Well ya know, the usual suspects.. The Velvet Underground, Steve Bright, a few Beatles and few Bee Gees and predominantly the comedy channel of Pandora. I like Louis CK a lot.
AVJ: Well thank you for your time! I’ll see ya when you get to Asheville!
The Pixies took a foggy stage in front of a wall of amplifiers to a crowd ready for a new EP and some old classics. It’s hard to say what pulls such young fans into Pixie land. After all, their albums were written in and around 1988; the year most of the audience was born. But whatever the draw is The Pixies still got it and can churn out their hard-hitting hits.
With only five official releases over the course of five years, the band had little trouble hitting upon classics such as “Debaser,” “Bone Machine,” “Broken Face,” and “Where Is My Mind?” throughout the set, anchored by David Lovering’s rock-solid drumming, guitarist Santiago’s snarled, shape-shifting guitar melodies, and vocalist Black Francis’s frenetic vocal delivery.
Francis and company. also managed to avoid being typecast as a nostalgia act or “greatest hits” tour over the course of the night, incorporating numerous new tunes – their first new material in over two decades – into their thirty-plus song set.
New cuts from the EP were “Indie Cindy,” and “Bagboy” which stood alongside classics such as “Gouge Away” and “Hey” with ease, displaying that the band’s explosive start-stop, loud-to-quiet dynamics haven’t lost their edge over time.
In fact, Black’s oftentimes jarring mix of melodic verses and chaotic, screamed choruses melded as well as ever with guitarist Santiago’s abrasive, angular, and utterly creative guitar work on these new tracks. During which, Santiago proceeded to get out his phone, call a friend and play slide with the Iphone.
The only thing missing from the set was of course bassist Kim Deal, whose energetic stage presence and delicate vocal harmonies were a staple throughout the band’s original line up and reformation. Alumni and friend, Paz Lenchantin, filled the role with great enthusiasm and spot-on vocal harmonies alongside Francis. It also led the way for moronic fans who have apparently been under a rock to yell idiocratic things such as, “I love you Kim Deal!”
For a real fan, any Pixies show will do. Most would stand and enjoy listening to simple feedback from the speaker for a charge. It’s the simple fact that this band rocks and is still in their prime and still cranking out tunes that resonate 1988. The new EP might not be “The Pixies we know and love” but who doesn’t change after 25 years? I’ve had to turn the volume up and adjust the dials but one thing seems to stay the same; The Pixies live show. Stay inside and reminisce to “Surfer Rosa”- I’ll be at the show.
Wave of Mutilation
I Can’t Forget
I’ve Been Tired
What Goes Boom
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Blue Eyed Hexe
Here Comes your Man
La La Love you
Where is my Mind?
Planet of Sound