If you have ever been to a live show of the Pixies, you know that the seminal rock group has no desire to pander to its audience.
“We don’t have a setlist … We don’t speak. We just do the show for 90 minutes, from top to bottom. No setlist, no stunts, no talking,” said drummer David Lovering to Philadelphia Weekly. “We’re not being socially competent or anything like that. This is just what we do, so hopefully, you enjoy it.”
Fans can witness this purest musical experience when the Pixies head over to the Fillmore on March 18. Currently co-headlining with Weezer for a second time, the Philly stop will feature only the Pixies in a special one-off night.
Formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts, the alternative rock band was originally comprised of bandmates Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bassist and vocals) and Lovering. In its heyday, the Pixies released popular songs, like “Where is My Mind?,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Debaser” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”
The band then faced an ugly break up 1993 after Deal left the band and went full force with her side-project The Breeders. When all seemed lost, the Pixies reformed in 2004 and officially replaced Deal with Paz Lenchantin in 2016.PW chatted with the Lovering about the Pixies’ upcoming Philly concert, the band’s highs and lows, and his side gig as a professional magician.
The last album the Pixies put out was Head Carrier in 2016. Is your touring a sign of a new album to be released in the near future?
Yes, that will be out in September. When we did the tour last summer, we didn’t have really new songs. We were just doing whatever everyone knew. I mean, I certainly would not want to do anything new now. I would wait for it to come out. But you never know.
Playing some of the songs may be a good chance to see how people respond to the upcoming album. How would you classify the record’s sound? Does it still have that Pixies feel?
I can’t compare most [albums] to others. I think this one is interesting. We’re using Tom Dalgety again, the same producer for Head Carrier. I think the songs on this are much more eclectic, each is like a different world. It’s quite eclectic or dynamic. It’ll be interesting to see what we do play though and how you know they convey certain things. I mean we are happy with it ourselves, but we will see how people like it.
You’re coming to Philly as the sole headliner, but you’ve been co-headlining with Weezer. How do you like playing with them?
I love Weezer. They have been around a while, we’ve known them back in the day. They’re great guys, we’ve done shows with them. I really like their music. They do put on one hell of a show. But I think [we go] well together. I think somehow it works with the symbiosis of it, so it will be fun to do it again on this level.
Weezer has been getting a lot of attention lately, particularly for their cover songs. What do you think of them?
Oh yeah, I’ve only heard a couple of them, especially the “Africa” one which started last summer. But they are amazing, I can’t believe the amount of material they put out. I knew Weezer, especially the early stuff and all that and just knowing them through the years. But I happened to be on Youtube and I watched the “Africa” video, and then I just saw all the other videos that they did. And I just cannot believe the number of videos they’ve put out.
You formed in 1986. Looking back on more than 30 years of performing, what would you have done differently, the same?
Thorns and roses question if you will.
The band broke up and we got back together about 12 years later, and we have been on this reunion since and continuing where we left off. Just in hindsight, because I don’t know if things would be different, but what it has given me or what knowledge it’s given me is an appreciation at least. This was something that I learned just from the loss of it. I loved playing drums and it was something that was taken away and lost. I didn’t get to do it for a long time, and to have come back from something like that I think I appreciate playing a lot more or at least having work a lot more. That whole side of it.
In light of the today’s resurgence of women’s rights, do you think the band regrets its treatment of Kim Deal and not allowing her to take more of a leading role in the musical direction of the band? There were even reports that Black Francis threw a guitar at her.
We were just a dysfunctional band, and it was nothing about it being a male or female. We were just a dysfunctional band and as people. And no, I don’t think anything would have been different. In fact, we are such an innocuous band. We are just a working band, an innocuous band, and we aren’t trying to raise a brow or anything.
Do you still talk to Kim Deal ever?
We haven’t spoken in a while. It’s been a long time.
Kim Deal was a major influence on the Pixie sound, and she wrote big hits like “Gigantic.” How has replacing Deal with Paz Lenchantin affected the band’s overall sound?
It was a scary thing when Kim did leave. We didn’t know what we do as a band. Right now, we’re on about five years with Paz Lenchantin. I mean she’s wonderful. She has made me play better as a musician. She’s so good, I can’t really sludge it back anymore. And I’m not saying anything about Kim, but it’s just wow, she’s really wonderful. We’ve been very lucky that people have been very accepting of Paz.
Out of all your music, do you have a favorite song? Why?
Well, I like playing fast ones, like “Pain” or “Vamos.” The fast ones are always fun to play and I think that’s probably one of my fortes. It looks like I’m playing it fast, but I’m not, it’s usually just double time or something like that.
What still gets you out of bed to keep touring?
It’s something I love doing. It’s wonderful work. It’s something I enjoy as a job.
I can’t complain in the least about touring and doing the shows. It’s never bugged me, I’ve done it for 30 years. What’s nice is when you were young you could sleep on the floor and do shows, you can sleep in the van and drive 500 miles to do a show, and that’s what we did. As time went on, things got better. It’s not like we live in the extreme of comfort, but once in a while you’ll get a hotel or you’ll sleep in the tour beds. It’s very comfortable and we get to call what we do. So it’s all good. I have no complaints whatsoever. It’s just that I’m getting up there in age, so we’ll see how long I can continue on with it.
You are also a professional magician. How did you get into that?
I started trick years ago, and I just had to learn how it was done. I used every method by buying books, videos, taking classes, and just worked as being a magician. I’ve done it ever since, I’ve had a stage show, I’ve done parties. Right now, just with the band being busy, I just primarily do magic backstage.
Do you ever get to incorporate your magic into the live show?
Not really. I’ve actually opened up for the Pixies twice with my magic show, believe it or not. I was the opening act, and after the show, I had to get back and do the show with the Pixies.
Do you have like a true vocation? If being a magician and being a drummer were being run down by a bus, which one would you save?
Both are interesting. Musician and magician are just a couple letters off. With whiteout and a business card, I can go either way. But I’ve done drums longer, so I guess I may be a little bit better at that one.
How do you like playing in Philadelphia?
I love the city, it’s is very unique with the buildings and the architecture. Being from New England, I’m not a fan of the sports teams, I must say that. I’m only kidding. But I’ll always hit Jim’s and I’ll get a sub there. Everything is complete after that and the show.
Pixies | March 18. 7:30 p.m. The Fillmore, 29 E. Allen St. thefillmorephilly.com