It’s been a tumultuous year for the Pixies. Founding bassist Kim Deal quit last summer – albeit on friendly terms - and in April the band released "Indie Cindy," their first album of new material in 23 years.
The album took some time to gain traction, and Deal’s replacement, the Muffs’ Kim Shattuck, didn’t work out so well. But like much that goes with this pioneering indie rock quartet, everything has seemed to work out.
The band, as well as their fanbase, adores new bassist Paz Lenchantin, and "Indie Cindy" has been embraced by a whole new generation of listeners. 2014 marks a decade since the band reunited – three more than their first run in the '80s and early '90s – and things are going better than ever.
SoundDiego talked with guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering about all of it before their sold-out show Saturday night at Humphrey’s By The Bay.
Scott McDonald: "Indie Cindy" was 23 years in the making. What made this the right time?
Joey Santiago: It’s really about what made it wrong. [laughs] When we first got back together, we toured around the world and that took a while. We had thrown around a few different concepts here and there, but then we did the Doolittle Tour. After that, we seriously started considering it. And then we took time off specifically to make the record – Charles (Frank Black) wrote it and we just went for it. It was all about the time frame we were up against.
David Lovering: It really was a variety of things. And we did think about it when we got back together in 2004. But it was a long time coming for many reasons. Not only are we constantly touring, but not everyone was on board to do something new. There was a lot of trepidation there, especially after getting back together after such a long time. It was kind of a scary thought. I think it was 2012 when we finally said that this was something that we should do. At that point, we had been together for as long as we were the first time around. And that’s just too long to do your old music. But everyone was on board, so we knew we had to do it. And our trepidation was eased when we got back into the studio. And it made us feel like we were still a band and could do it. And we like doing it. So it was all good, all around.
SM: The album came out as three separate EPs. Was that a fan-based decision?
JS: It was. That’s exactly why we did it that way. Also, the lifespan of an album just isn’t that long anymore. It used to be at least a year that people would embrace it. Now, it’s diddly. I mean, am I right on that?
SM: Absolutely. But I’m still one that wants a physical copy of something so I can see who played on it, produced it, etc.
JS: That’s a good thing to do with every record. It’s a shame that you have to go online to look into it these days. That’s the beauty of hardcopies and vinyl. I really wish that digital downloads did a better job at informing people. People can’t find the lineage for why it sounds like that. And don’t get me wrong. I love the technology too. I hear a song with my kid and we can bring it up right away on Shazam or something? That’s amazing. I can buy the song right there on the spot. Couldn’t do that back in the day.
SM: You’re now 10 years into this reunion. That’s longer than you were together the first time. And now you’re making records again. Is this a significant milestone?
DL: We’re a very fortunate band. When we broke up, I never, ever thought we’d get back together. And when we did, I looked out at a sea of people in the Coachella crowd and the majority were kids who weren’t even born when we were a band back in the early days. Yet, they knew every word to every song, and they sang them all. It was an eye-opening and surreal experience for me. And from that point on, it made me realize what a wide range of ages we have following the band. That was 2004, and there were 15-year-olds singing along. Now it’s 10 years later, and there are still 15-year-old kids that comprise a lot of our audience. And they’re still singing along. There are people my age bringing their kids to these shows. It’s crazy. We were very fortunate to have that kind of demographic.
JS: We’ve been lucky. I mean, there were plenty of people who thought we didn’t need to write another album. And we just weren’t comfortable with that. After some time, we missed getting back into the studio, and doing Indie Cindy was a great experience. And I think it was a good jump from (1991’s) "Trompe le Monde." It was a good bridge. And now that we did it, we proved that we can. And that means we can do anything again.
SM: I know it’s hard to talk about while you’re still an active band, but are you able to acknowledge the influence you’ve had on music?
JS: We never intended to do it. But we are happy that people are picking up instruments because they heard us. It’s certainly something we did. I picked up a guitar because of AC/DC, the Beatles and ZZ Top.
DL: What I did recognize was that when we first got back in 2004, we were bigger than we ever were before. And as I said earlier, I had no idea our audience had changed. Back in the day it was a lot of young guys. But seeing all of these new fans made me realize it was due to these bands that have cited us in some way. They’re the ones that turned these kids onto us. So that’s great. But I’m still just Dave in a band. It’s cool that people like us, but it’s hard to see it from any other perspective than that. We did what we did because we didn’t know any better.
SM: How are things with Paz?
DL: With Paz, it’s seamless. She’s fantastic. She’s amazing up on stage and the audience loves her. And it’s another one of those things like, "Are you kidding me?" We just had a major personnel change and everything’s the same. It’s just another fortunate thing about this band that I can’t figure out. But it’s wonderful.
JS: We’re hoping that we can have her for a long, long, long, long time.
SM: What’s next? Can we expect more new music?
JS: Of course. We’re a real band again. We were before, but bands tour and make records. We did the touring part, so we needed to do the record part. Now we can do both. People are embracing the new stuff, and I chalk that up to a stroke of luck. But as they say, ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get.’ And being a Pixie is the best job in the world.
DL: This is something we had a great experience with. And there’s nothing we like better than the whole mechanism of writing and touring. So we’re going to continue on until I’m in a wheelchair. We’re feeling pretty great about moving forward.