Pixies’ Joey Santiago Talks Tour, Recording With Steve Albini, Alt-Rock’s Early ’90s Explosion


Though Nirvana appears to all the time get the lion’s share of credit score for breaking down the doorways commercially for alt-rock, there have been a number of different similarly-styled bands that helped pave the way in which prior to 1991. And one such band was actually Pixies. Fashioned in 1986 in Boston, the traditional Pixies line-up was comprised of singer/guitarist Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, bassist Kim Deal, and drummer David Lovering.

By the daybreak of the ’90s, Pixies had change into one of many main “faculty rock” (a time period usually used earlier than the now extra frequent “alt-rock” tag) teams, on the energy of such albums as Surfer Rosa and Doolittle – plus such well-liked tunes as “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Right here Comes Your Man.” However by 1993, the band was kaput, earlier than reuniting in 2004.

Since 2014, Paz Lenchantin has been supplying bass rather than Deal, and in Might, the band will launch “leg one” of their 2023 North American tour – in help of their eighth studio album total, Doggerel. Santiago spoke with AllMusic shortly after the announcement of the US dates, and was up for discussing the band’s historical past and future plans.

AllMusic: I perceive the Pixies are planning on doing lots of touring this yr. What can followers count on on the reveals?

Joey Santiago: Properly…we don’t have a setlist – so that would curiosity folks. We have quite a bit to decide on kind every night time. However more often than not, we’ll do the “bread and butter ones” – “The place Is My Thoughts?”, “Hey,” “Debaser,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” These are all the time on the checklist.

AllMusic: How are you aware which track you are going to play subsequent?

Santiago: Physique language. Charles [Black Francis’ real name is Charles Thompson] will simply begin a track, and we’ll comprehend it. And, he has a microphone that he tells us, as a result of we’ve got in-ear displays – a walkie-talkie form of factor.

AllMusic: What are a few of the extra unusual songs you get pleasure from taking part in?

Santiago: From the outdated ones – as a result of we hardly do it – could be “Motorway to Roswell.” It isn’t exhausting, it is simply a type of, “Oh, we’re doing this tonight? Oh, shit…OK!” And the brand new stuff from the brand new album. A lot of the stuff is ingrained. I am leaving on the 18th…I begin practising on the 18th, earlier than my flight.

AllMusic: Final yr noticed the discharge of the album, Doggerel. Was it written and recorded in the course of the lockdown interval?

Santiago: It was. And doing that in the course of the lockdown, when folks have been simply beginning to tour – with out cancelling reveals – we had a tour deliberate and we have been recording the document, it appeared like, “OK. There is a mild on the finish of the tunnel with this virus.” For me, subconsciously, it had the sensation of hope. You document an album, you are going to wish to current it dwell – so, it has that really feel. And it is my first time co-writing songs – in order that felt good. Lyrics, too – what the fuck, man! That was a bizarre one. It is like, among the best lyricists on the planet is asking me to do lyrics? Are you kidding me? I gave it a shot – and it labored.

AllMusic: Why do you suppose it took so lengthy so that you can collaborate on songs for the Pixies?

Santiago: I simply by no means fastened something that wasn’t damaged, y’know? We have been doing wonderful like that. And through Covid, I simply began playing around with an acoustic guitar – as a result of I do not idiot round with an electrical guitar. And I began stacking chords collectively and making sense out of them, so, I introduced it.

AllMusic: Which songs off the album are specific standouts for you?

Santiago: I like “Get Simulated.” It is easy, and I just like the little nod to Keith Richards I did on it, rhythm-wise.

AllMusic: Who have been your guitar influences, and who’re guitarists who’re your friends that you just admire?

Santiago: The friends, proper now I’d say Tom Morello. His taking part in is cool and distinctive. And so far as the old-timers could be the plain ones – Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison.

AllMusic: When the Pixies reunited in 2004, what was it like taking part in a bunch of small warmup gigs, after which immediately, taking part in in entrance of fifty,000 folks at Coachella?

Santiago: The smaller gigs are actually extra nerve-wracking for us. For me, in any case – as a result of they’ll see you…and take a look at your laces, y’know? However what we did there was we toured via Canada. The primary present was in Minneapolis, however we went via Canada, after which we headed to Coachella. So, by that point, we have been actually comfy with taking part in the songs. I am not going to mislead you – after we have been at Coachella, I did not comprehend it was that massive. It felt just like the outdated days when performed festivals. We’ve that. We’re not like a brand new band on the market, that does not have this expertise. We have had this expertise earlier than. We headlined the Studying Pageant for crying out loud – again within the day. So, we’re used to the stress.

AllMusic: Gary Smith – who owned Fort Apache studios and recorded Come On Pilgrim – handed away not too long ago. Do you’ve any good Gary tales you’d prefer to share?

Santiago: I by no means actually frolicked with him, however he simply was all the time pleasant, good. I bear in mind going to a celebration in his condo. I made a remark about his lampshades and the way cool they have been. [Laughs] That is what I bear in mind. He gave the impression to be actually happy with the lampshades. There was lots of thought into that element. He is a producer – he is bought that “detailed thoughts.”

AllMusic: How would you describe the Pixies’ relationship at the moment with Kim Deal?

Santiago: I’d say it is how we left it. We stated our goodbyes, and that is it. We actually do not talk along with her, however there is not any exhausting emotions on my finish, and I am certain there is not any exhausting emotions on her finish. She’s dwelling her personal life. In between excursions, the 4 of us actually hardly mingled with one another. I do not suppose Charles and I’ve talked since we left no matter airport we left – Heathrow. So, it is regular that we have not talked.

AllMusic: It looks like the frequent narrative with ‘90s rock music is Nirvana got here alongside out of nowhere and altered the musical panorama and launched alt-rock to the lots. But it surely appears to get missed that a number of bands helped clear the trail, comparable to Jane’s Dependancy, Pink Scorching Chili Peppers, and naturally, the Pixies.

Santiago: You recognize once you play phone, once you whisper in somebody’s ear, and also you say, “Fudge.” And rapidly, it comes as much as you, they usually say “Lemon Tree?” It is form of like that. For me, it began in all probability with the Beatles, after which Lou Reed. It simply strung alongside after which got here to us – after which Nirvana blew up. It was only a good storm for them. The whole lot began getting accepted as that. It was really different on the time. Now, everybody’s different. It is virtually like, go pop and go the opposite method and you will be different. Different to what? What are you different to? 5,000 different bands?

AllMusic: On the time, did that entire explosion round 1991 catch you off guard?

Santiago: I had no concept it was going to explode that a lot – contemplating the music that Nirvana put out wasn’t in a industrial pigeonhole on the time. In that sense, it grew to become a shock.

AllMusic: Did you ever meet Kurt Cobain?

Santiago: No, I didn’t. However I met the opposite two – Krist and Dave.

AllMusic: What would you think about to be the definitive Pixies album?

Santiago: It will be Surfer Rosa. As a result of that is what blew all the things up for us. And to at the present time, lots of bands love the sound of Surfer Rosa.

AllMusic: Talking of Kurt, he was supposedly an enormous fan of the drum sound that Steve Albini bought on that album.

Santiago: Yeah, precisely. It was a mixture of songs and the sonics that we bought. So, it was the entire bundle of what you’d count on from an “audio artwork.”

AllMusic: How would you evaluate working with Steve Albini to Gary Smith, early on?

Santiago: Properly, Gary Smith did do a little bit of pre-production with us. With Gary, we labored quick – I feel we did it in two or three nights. We labored across the clock. He labored quick and was very gratifying to work with. With Steve, the identical factor – he was a humorous man. On the time, it was our second document that we have been doing, and I actually didn’t have any gauge on how you can evaluate folks. I used to be simply there to document. I actually wasn’t paying consideration – at the moment – to what a producer does. I wasn’t fascinated about gear, microphones…I did not give a shit about that. All I cared about actually was, “How come I’m going within the management room, and that is not the sound I am listening to on the market? What is going on on?”

AllMusic: Future plans? Tasks?

Santiago: Apart from touring, that is about it for now. I wish to get again into composing. That will probably be subsequent. That is simply exhausting to line up, however I actually, actually wish to do movie music.

For a whole checklist of upcoming Pixies tour dates, click on right here.


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