Pixies’ Joey Santiago Talks New Material, Touring, and the Novelty of the Pixies

Legends of late 80’s and early 90’s rock ’n’ roll, the Pixies, stopped by Philly in January to play a sold-out show at the Electric Factory. The group, who has influenced such worshiped bands like Nirvana and Radiohead, are on top again with two new releases, EP-1 and EP-2, which debuted in September 2013 and January 2014, respectively. I recently had the chance to talk with Pixies’ lead guitarist, Joey Santiago. Joey’s guitar playing on the EP is just as solid as ever, so we talked with him about their 2014 world tour, life after founding bassist, Kim Deal’s departure, and what makes the Pixies so special.

Pixies Live @ El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, September 10, 2013

Joey Santiago live at El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, in Sept. 2013.

Photo credit: Andy Keilen

 

ROP: Hey Joey, thanks for talking with us today! Where am I catching you at?

Joey: I’m in St. Louis right now, just standing in my room. We’re playing a show tonight.

ROP: Awesome! So, you guys have a new release out, EP-2. When did you all decide that it was time for something new? What motivated this?

Joey: Well, at some point we just said, “Let’s do this”. Charles had written these songs that had to get recorded and played.

ROP: When recording EP-1 and EP-2, what direction did you have in mind? Did you want it to sound as close to the original Pixies material, or did you want it to sound a little different as new material?

Joey: We wanted it to sound a little different and new. The object for a band, especially like us, is to grow. Again, Charles wrote the songs, but I wrote most of the guitar parts. That’s how we collaborate.

ROP: Definitely. So, of course, Kim Deal leaving is a big deal for you guys. After her departure, how does working with touring bassists affect your group dynamic, both on stage and off?

Joey: With Paz, it’s been great. I can’t really compare her with Kim Deal, but all I know is we enjoy playing with Paz immensely. There’s no real comparison, but playing with Paz has been awesome.

ROP: Have you stayed in touch with Kim?

Joey: No, but that’s a very normal thing for us anyway. We only get in contact with each other when we have something going on to work on, and that’s not going to happen with Kim.

ROP: So, moving on to playing live, how would you describe your current tour?

Joey: Well, I just feel very lucky and grateful.

ROP: Which song gives you the most nostalgia when you perform it live?

Joey: It changes. I would say “Here Comes Your Man”. [We’d] never played it again until the reunion. Also, there’s a song that Charles had played for me-“U Mass”. It was called something else at the time, but that too.

ROP: Digging into the past a little more, when you guys first started out in the Boston area playing, did you ever think, ‘Hey, this sound has got something’?

Joey: We certainly weren’t cluttered. Our arrangements weren’t cluttered. It was basic, but at the same time had something more to it. Our music had weird turn-arounds, but we would have drum fills and we would hold it in. We knew we had something special.

ROP: What was the most prolific moment you’ve had being with the Pixies?

Joey: Guitar-wise, the most prolific moment was later than I really would have liked it to be. It was on Bossanova, back in 1990.

ROP: It’s been some time since you first started playing music. Does anything new inspire you, or do you have similar influences on your music and ideas?

Joey: I’ve come to a place where I have a formula for writing for the Pixies. I could just write it down on a piece of paper and it makes sense to me. It might not make sense to other people, but that doesn’t matter. I have these notes when I go to the studio and play on my own, and it sounds right. I knew it would be right.

ROP: Now, thinking about the future. What are you looking forward to this year?

Joey: I’m really looking forward to visiting places. We’re going to South America again so that’s great. Just touring is exciting. We’re going to Istanbul and Reykjavik again, so yeah it’s great.

ROP: That’s awesome. So, where do you see the Pixies five years from now?

Joey: Hopefully, we’ll have four more albums under our belt. Hopefully, that is something that is embraced more than our old catalog, which is probably impossible, but that’s what I hope.

ROP: That’s great! Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Joey: I’m just looking forward to playing out every night. I just enjoy playing and touring.

ROP: Well thank you so much for your time Joey! Have fun tonight!

Joey: Thank you. Okay I will.

 

You can download the Pixies’ EP-1 here and EP-2 here.

Cover photo credit: Michael Halsband

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