2016 marks not only the 30th anniversary of Pixies’ formation but also sees the release of new album ‘Head Carrier’ this Friday (September 30th).
Teaming up with British producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood) and with Paz Lenchantin truly filling the Kim Deal shaped hole that hurt previous release ‘Indy Cindy’, the band find themselves in their most creative space since their barnstorming 2004 reformation.
We managed to grab drummer David Lovering to discuss the new album, the idea of legacy and if having David Bowie fawn over your band goes to your head...
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You’re sounding a lot punchier and cohesive on ‘Head Carrier’ - how was the recording process for you compared to ‘Indy Cindy’? You spent a lot longer in the studio than some of your records, didn’t you?
The difference for this one is really the pre-production we had. With ‘Head Carrier’ we spent at least seven weeks, either on the road or in rehearsal rooms, just in other places we’d meet to work on songs. That was just a luxury for us. ‘Indie Cindy’ was a different story, we didn’t really have that much time to go over it…but then I can say the same for ‘Tromp Le Monde’ or ‘Bossanova’ and ‘Doolittle’!
As each album came on we had to move faster and faster, so to have that luxury to just play the songs in clubs for six months, just holding them down, that was just a joy. Working on those songs for all those weeks and to know them, throw our babies away, then just work on the ones we liked. It was so easy going in the studio. To go in there with confidence and knowing what we were doing.
How did the band end up working with producer Tom Dalgety? Were you a fan of his production work before?
Yeah we were. We were toying with the idea of getting a new producer just because we wanted to change everything. We’ve worked with Gil Norton for a load of albums and in this time of changing, now having Paz in and touring with us for the past three years, it was time to bring in the new. Of course we looked at all the different names out there but his just punched up with the work he’s done and we’d met him on occasion before actually. He just knew what he was doing, he was a Pixies fan and it seemed obvious.
How’s it been having Paz in the mix now, songs like ‘Classic Masher’ are really made by her input. How’s the dynamic at the moment?
She’s been a joy. It’s funny, she’s been with us for three years and to us she still seems like the ‘new’ woman. The three guys, Joe, Charles and myself, are behaving extra well, still! Because she’s the new person (laughs). We’re not being jerks or anything, so the band is getting along famously. Also she makes me play better because I don’t wanna embarrass myself because she’s so good!
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We’re the Grateful Dead of alternative music!
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We caught you guys perform at Bilbao BBK the other month, the group standing next to us couldn’t have been more than 19 and they were also singing every word. How’s it feel to have such an impact on different generations?
It’s funny. It’s amazing and I think we’re a very fortunate band because of that age spread and the rapport we have with our audience. It’s only been since we got back together in 2004 that it’s been all brand new to me. When we played Coachella for the first time there were a sea of kids that weren’t even born when we were a band. In 2014 we did Coachella again, same thing! It’s not just that same kids back there again, there are more young people singing along to all the words. It’s pretty trippy, I feel very fortunate to have such a diverse audience - we’re the Grateful Dead of alternative music!
Tying into that we wanted to ask you about the idea of legacy. The Pixies have produced some of the most beloved tunes of the last thirty years and really connected with a certain audience. But some people take an odd, almost entitled stance about their beloved bands ‘daring' to produce music later on, not understanding that they’re musicians after all. Do you worry about the past when writing new material or just look to the future?
I think with ‘Head Carrier’ we there was nothing in our heads. There was never a formula, for any of us or even Charles writing the stuff. But I think definitely for ‘Indie Cindy’ we worried about that. This was the first album we’d made after a number of years and we knew people would be really analyzing and comparing it to other stuff, a lot differently than earlier with the succession of albums.
So working on that it was a little scary, the only thing we all thought of... with the Pixies every album is different and we liked these songs and because of that we put out ‘Indie Cindy’. With ‘Head Carrier’ it was a different story, with before it was a race. Here we were improving and improving them.
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I’m just Dave in the band, I don’t think about what we are as a legacy or the influence we had...
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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the bands formation, and like many acts you’ve had plenty of highs and lows. If you could go back and give your younger self any advice what would it be if any?
Oh gosh! Tough one. It’s outstanding to me it’s been thirty years. The only advice I’ve learned is they say when you get older you get wiser, but I don’t think so. I think for this band to be going on now, despite the fact they we were supposedly a dysfunctional family ‘back in the day’, it’s just easier to put up with other peoples bullshit when you get older (laughs). You just let everything fly. All people are different.
Bowie was a huge fan of yours and once described you as a sort of ‘psychotic Beatles’. Do you think there’s any merit to the description and how’d it feel to have such a music legend adore your band and even cover you?
It’s something else. I don’t think about it a lot, I’m just Dave in the band, I don’t think about what we are as a legacy or the influence we had. It’s nice that people like us, especially with someone like Bowie and it was a joy to actually meet him and he likes our music, how cool! I think we’re just a different band; we have a certain sound that people like and Charles just writes great songs. That stands the test. To me I’m just in a band, I like these songs and I love playing them.
We know you’re only just about to drop the album now and tour behind it but it sounds like you had a great time making ‘Head Carrier’ and now with Paz in tow are there any rough plans to return to the studio?
We had so much fun doing it and did it in record time, as opposed to three weeks on other albums. ‘Indy Cindy’ broke the ice and I think it’ll be wash, rinse, repeat. As soon as ‘Head Carrier’ is done with I’m sure Charles will start thinking up the next one.
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'Head Carrier' will be released on Friday (September 30th).
Words: Sam Walker-Smart