ATH Interviews: The Pixies
We jumped at the chance to sit down with Dave Lovering, drummer for The Pixies, prior to their trip to Austin. I chatted him up about his magic career, touring and, well, just about everything in between. Thanks so much to Dave for the opportunity; your graciousness is much appreciated. Follow the jump for full interview.
ATH: You’re said to be touring the Doolittle album. Are there plans to incorporate other classic tunes into the evening’s set list?
DL: What we do is we start with B-sides from Doolittle, then we do Doolittle from A-Z, then we do encores after that. That’s when we do all the oldies, because Doolittle is a rather short album when you think about it, so all the other songs make up a longer set, so it works out great.
ATH: Do you ever feel like you’re sort of a slave of sorts to the fans, as in you are expected to play certain songs each night?
DL: Well, yea, I mean, we’ve been doing Doolittle for almost a year. So, we know all the top songs, all the fan favorites. We actually put out an email asking for all the songs the fans wanted to hear. Usually we change it up every night, as far as the older songs, but we make sure we get the favorites. We hope we’re pleasing everybody.
ATH: What led to the decision to use Doolittle as opposed to Surfer Rosa or Trompe Le Monde?
DL: When we first got together for the reunion in 2004, and I forget what it was called, but there was this thing where a band would do one of their albums, do one show in one city. We thought we should do that, and we let it mull over for two or three years, and then about the time when Doolittle was approaching its 20 year mark, and we thought, let’s do that with a big production. All together, it’s the biggest production we’ve ever done for the Pixies, and its going rather well.
ATH: Would you rather be playing a normal tour, or the huge production you are talking about?
DL: It’s interesting because they’re two different animals. When we do our own shows, we come make a set list of all the songs, off all the albums, and we change the set list every night. The way we’ve always operated is just bang bang bang, knocking the songs right out one after another. When we do Doolittle, we’re pacing it a little slower because we’re trying to make it like the album, skipping between tracks, instead of bang bang bang. It’s funny, for me, Doolittle is the easiest album for me as a drummer to play. You know the songs, fast and slow, but nicely paced, where all the other shows are non-stop. It’s almost a month into tour before I’m like ‘okay, I can do this.’ For me, it’s a big difference, but I still enjoy both, so I can’t say which one I prefer, other than they physicality of the regular show.
ATH: Now that there is a huge resurgence in the band, how do you feel about the dichotomy of the audience, as far as die-hard old fans, versus new, younger fans? Do you enjoy that new dynamic?
DL: It’s great. It’s absolutely flooring us because when we got back together, and the first gig was Coachella, which spurned us. You know, back in the day, late 80s, early 90s, it was mostly young guys, and that was all the way up until we broke up. Now when you look into the audience, its kids, especially a lot more girls and women, and they’re all 17-20, all born after our albums came out. They know and can singalong to all the songs. For us, we’re just stunned, we can’t believe it. That’s the biggest thing that has hit us, you know, the audience we have now. We still have the older generation, but I’m sure they’d prefer chairs sitting down like I would.
ATH: You guys were one of the band’s Kurt Cobain alluded to as his influence. Do you think that had the break-up not happened, would your career as a band have gone differently, or are you happy with the way things ended up?
DL: I think this is the best way it happened. When we were together last, we were on tour with Trompe Le Monde, and we were dysfunctional, like most bands, and it was going a certain direction, and we were just getting farther apart, so I think it was just the natural progression for us to break up. I would have never dreamed we would have gotten back together, and now that we have, it’s the perfect way to go. This new audience that is appreciative because the band’s that say they were influenced by us, and I think it’s the best thing that could have worked out for us.
ATH: You sang one of my all time favorite songs, “La La Love you.” Do you wish you had more of an opportunity to sing with the band throughout your career?
DL: Not really, because I’m playing drums, and I’m trying to breathe the whole time I’m playing, it’s really not easy for me to do that. With “La La Love You” I can get away with sort of crooning it, but if I were to do some other song I dont think I could pull it off. I’m happy with that one. I did another B-Side called “Make Believe,” and I’m content with those two.
ATH: Since you’ve been touring recently, what is the biggest difference between touring back in the day, and now?
DL: I’d have to say the comfort level because we’re such a bigger band now. It’s just a joy, other than the audience reaction, and the time of audience. The comfort we’re traveling now is incredible. Back in the day, I was loading the van, unloading the van, and you’ve got to do it. I look back on those days fondly, you don’t know any better. You get into the new comfort level, and it is just really nice, I can’t complain.
ATH: If you had to pick your favorite Pixies songs, your personal tastes, or just ones you like to play on the kit, what are they?
DL: “Tame,” definitely. “Bone Machine,” I like playing that. And, “Vamos.” I could actually keep on going, I think those, I enjoy listening to as well as playing. And I can really nail them; I have them under my belt.
ATH: When you guys come to Austin, is there a chance we’ll see The Scientific Phenomenalist before the show?
DL: Not this time. I’ve opened up twice with the Pixies with my magic. I may be doing magic socially, just walking around. But, the magic is on hold until the end of the tour.
ATH: But, you are still working on that?
DL: Oh yea, I mean, we’ve just been so busy on tour, tour after tour until October. I really have nothing planned. But, when I get back to LA, I’ll do shows up at the Magic Castle, or with my friends. Not a lot this year, and next year we have nothing planned, per se, but we’ll see what happens.
ATH: If you could clear the slate of the Pixies history, what would you want the legacy of the band to be, from your perspective?
DL: I can just say that we were a band that really revolves around the chemistry among the four of us. We’re not pretentious in any way. We didn’t wear make-up or any of that. We just went out there and did our music, and I think the music we did was definitely different. We had a different take on it as far as the loud quiet loud thing, and I think the music was good, and it still holds up. We’re a boring band as well, so there’s not much to our band.
ATH: If you could go out on tour with any band living or dead, what band would you want to go out with?
DL: I’d have to say Rush because they’re one of my favorite bands. We’re not a mixture, and I know that, but it’s funny because when I graduated high school we had to write down our ambitions: rock drummer, engineer, and open for Rush. First two happened, and when I was covering for Cracker, we had the opportunity to open for Rush, and I was on my knees begging for that happen. Unfortunately, that never happened, but if we could open for Rush, that would make my whole triad complete.
ATH: Do you have a favorite Austin memory?
DL: Definitely the bats on Congress bridge. Barton Springs, and the food. You can’t beat the food. Those are my three biggest memories of Austin. There was one time on 6th Street, and I went a place where there was a bartender, and I ordered a gimlet, and she didn’t know what it was, so she poured me tequila in a pint glass, and charged me $10 for it. So we kept going back there every night.
ATH: Does more touring mean the possibility of new music?
DL: What we have planned so far this year, is touring. We have two more Doolittle tours after this one, and that ends in October. As for 2011 we have nothing planned at all. No touring or anything like that, but the last two years we’ve been talking about doing a new record. The talking has been getting better, but nothing has really come to fruition as of yet, but possibly in 2011 there might be some recording. I can’t say for sure just yet.
ATH: Are there any bands that you would like to promote that you don’t think everyone knows, or any new bands you like at the moment.
DL: I was over in Barcelona on tour, and there was Surfer Blood, some young kids. They’ve got a couple of songs that are just really really good. They’re well structured, and I was impressed by them. I saw their whole show, and I liked it. That’s the only new band I can really comment on.
Thanks again to Dave for letting us throw some questions his way. We really appreciate his time, and we look forward to seeing the band come September. Don’t forget, there are still tickets available for the second night (Sep. 21st) of their tour stop here in Austin.