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Interview: Pixies 'Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa' New Zealand Show

Interview: Pixies 'Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa' New Zealand Show

C.C. / Interview by Tristan Deck / Photo credit: Travis Shinn / Wednesday 4th March, 2020 1:56PM

Boston-bred alt-rock pioneers Pixies bring their weird and wonderful songs back to Aotearoa this Friday, for a headline spectacular at Auckland's Spark Arena. Pixies co-founders Black Francis (aka Frank Black), Joey Santiago, David Lovering and recent addition to the team Paz Lenchantin (subbing in for Kim Deal) are playing both their seminal 1987 EP Come On Pilgrim and their inarguably classic 1988 debut album Surfer Rosa in full for the event – plus a selection of fan faves and material from their new album Beneath The Eyrie. They'll be supported by none other than local guitar-pop champs The Beths, who are no slouches in the catchy tunes department either. The Beths' drummer Tristan Deck heroically put himself forward to chat with guitarist Santiago ahead of the show, peep the details here and scroll downwards to read their conversation, delving into the veteran band's touring lifestyle and the creative nitty gritty of their songwriting process...

Pixies - Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa
Friday 6th March - Spark Arena, Auckland w/ The Beths

General public sales available via Live Nation

Tristan Deck: To introduce myself properly, my name is Tristan and I play drums with a band called The Beths and we’re lucky enough to be opening for you when you play in Auckland next week. We’re really excited. It’s quite a surreal little weekend, we play for you and then we play for Rick Astley and A-ha the next day, which is a pretty crazy schedule for a New Zealand band.

Joey Santiago: What! That’s cool, that’s really cool.

Yeah I’m really excited to see what a Rick Astley show looks like these days, he’s still really popular. I’m excited to see at what point in the set he plays 'Never Gonna Give You Up', or if he doesn’t play it at all.

Na, he’ll end with it. He’ll play it, he’ll have to play it. If I was a promoter, that would be in his contract.

I imagine that you’ve got a few dates lined up now, but your touring schedule must be nothing like it was in 1987 to 1990, when you were just going flat-out as well as producing albums. What are some nice benefits of touring now compared to back then?

Well it is easier now. I would say that when you’re travelling... we don’t have to go look at a map anymore and figure out if we’re having a nap, how much longer we have left. Now, we can stay in our bunk, pull our phone out and just hit directions and we know how long it will take to get to a destination, we can just carry on with our sleep.

I’ve only started doing a bit of touring in the last year or so. From talking to people who were touring a couple of decades ago before the advent of smart-phones made me realise how much I take for granted, As you said, being able to know how long its gonna take to travel somewhere or having an itinerary that everyone can access and check at anytime is extremely valuable.

Oh yeah, and you have a traffic report.. The whole thing is great and makes travelling a lot easier. I don’t know about buses though, buses have to stay in a certain road, they can’t veer off into another lane or it would disturb the whole neighbourhood.

We’ve just been driving ourselves in a van and it’s a lot easier being able to look ahead and plan so easily, We don’t even have to stop and find phone booths to make calls because it’s just in our pockets… Do you keep creative on the road or have anything you do as a ritual to keep yourself in a good headspace?

Write and get plenty of rest, its good to exercise on the road too.

Do you take anything on the road as a comfort item? Anything that you take wherever you go? For me it’s a bottle of hot sauce.

Gee, now that you mention it used to take my little stuffy animal around, a stuffed dog. I’d take that around and... comfort stuff... socks! Very comfortable for me, my little striped socks. I know what you’re talking about, something comforting - maybe a book? I binge watch, I download a bunch of shows on my computer and I watch those in my down time as well.

Do you get nervous before a show? You’ve played so many, but is there anything that still makes you nervous about performing.

I get anxious, I guess that’s the same thing. I’m just waiting for it to start. I’m more concerned about peaking at that time, but it doesn’t matter because sometimes when I’m tired, I'll do a better performance because I’m not thinking so much about it, or I don’t expect anything from it. I’ll go, ‘Aw shit! We gotta go..." and then you go on and say "Fuck! That was easy."

At the moment, what part of the music making cycle are you in? I know that you’ve got a bunch of shows coming up, but are you rehearsing or recording?

Well we’re gonna be there rehearsing in New Zealand, since Japan got cancelled, and Hong Kong. So we’re gonna go there four days early, and we’re gonna rehearse, and then probably we’re gonna be knocking around.

Great! So the rehearsal process is still quite a creative time for you?

Yeah, it will be.

Do you get creative on the existing material?

Ah no, that’s more when we’re putting together songs or something. We’ll be working on new stuff also. The old stuff - there’s nothing else to create on.

When you are working on new material do you often record yourself and listen back and discuss things?

Yeah of course! Yeah, listen back to it, discuss it, but usually it’s pretty set. Usually, 90% of the time the right thing. Yeah, ‘cause I work on it in my little workstation already, or it’s already put together. While we’re knocking down ideas, if there’s a part there’s a part, that’s it. I think it just sticks.

If someone was to bring a song into the Pixies’ band rehearsal, would you do what you like with it, or do you bring it in with some parts already figured out?

Oh I see, you mean when Charles (Black Francis) brings it in? No, everyone is just contributing to their own style. I don’t think there’s anything else written on it ya know, and then everyone just… ya know, Dave’s on the beat, a particular pattern, signature stuff, Paz plays the way she does and then I play what I do. And then blammo, you have uh… you have something.

Is it fairly democratic? Is everyone able to make suggestions or direction on each other’s playing? Or do you all work on it in your own time?

Yeah sure, sure, everyone makes comments, everyone wants comments. Everybody wants constructive criticism. Ya know? As long as people are open to it.

What are some qualities that attract you to music, when you listen to music what are some things you really like to hear?

Something unique. Something very different, something that just drops out of the sky and makes you surprised.

That's a simple concept but very difficult to achieve, you could spend a lifetime trying to create something unique.


Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

Thank you man, I’ll see you in New Zealand!


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