I’ll never forget watching the final scene of Fight Club for the first time and loving every bit of it. As buildings collapsed and the screen faded to black, music was playing that seemed to fit the movie so perfectly. The song, of course, was one of Pixies’ most popular tracks, “Where Is My Mind?” That was the first time that I had ever heard the tune. A few thousand plays later leads me to the last time I heard the song during the “Lightning In A Bottle” commercial from Acura. Now this version is a bit different than any other one you would typically hear on the radio. It was actually reworked to be played on a few orchestral instruments by Pixies’ lead guitarist, Joey Santiago.
Santiago is no stranger to composition and scoring. He began working on various different film and television projects since the mid-1990s. His newest work has led him to team up with Paz Lenchantin, the current bassist for Pixies, and veteran of A Perfect Circle and The Entrance Band. She contributed strings to the arrangement and performance of “Where Is My Mind?” Lenchantin has also been elevating the band’s live performances as she contributes her abilities as a violin player as well.
The group is set to conclude their 2013-2015 global tour with one final leg. Their headlining tour in May will bring them to the NY/NJ area for four shows. They will also be introducing some brand new material that they have been working on over the past few months. These songs will be “test driven” live so that they could give the fans an idea and allow them a chance to tweak them before they enter the studio. In June, Pixies will also be opening up for Led Zeppelin singer, Robert Plant.
I had the opportunity to chat with the band’s lead guitarist about their last record, Indie Cindy, touring with Paz Lenchantin, and the upcoming dates with Robert Plant. We also discussed his recent rework of “Where Is My Mind?” for the new car commercial and the album that is on the horizon. We also touched upon the benefits of listening to vinyl and what’s in store for the rest of the year. Check out what Joey had to say below:
You guys have been touring in support of Indie Cindy since its release last year. What was it like to play some of those tracks live for the first time?
The main thing that we were focused on at first was how they would translate live. The great thing is as time goes on, they do have the ability to adapt and work out very well.
And how has the reception been for that material?
You know, we couldn’t wait to introduce those songs to the crowd. And so far, the reaction has been pretty good. I think the fans are really feeding off our energy as well. We are excited for tracks off of Indie Cindy to be added to our catalogue. And as time goes on, fans are appreciating those tunes a bit more.
The band released a few EPs before finally releasing Indie Cindy. Do you think that is an idea that you guys would like to continue to work with, maybe for the next release? The vinyl was such a great idea for collectors as well.
That is up in the air right now. Because we have done it already, there is a good chance we might not do that again. We just go with what we think is best at the time, so we will just have to see. And I personally love vinyl records. It’s interesting that you can change just one component, like the cartridge or speaker or whatever. It is such a great hobby. I love that it is an active listening process. I mean, you can’t forget, you gotta flip the record over (laughs).
I wanted to touch upon your work outside of the band as well. You currently have a unique composition of “Where Is My Mind” featured in the “Lightning In A Bottle” Acura commercial. Is that version available for purchase at all?
I don’t think we had any intention of selling that one actually. But, realistically we could. That’s the beauty of the internet. If we wanted to put it up online, any fan that would want to download the piece, would have the access to it.
So you had no intention of maybe doing the full track or composing some of the other songs in your catalogue?
That’s a good idea. You know, I worked on the instruments for that with Paz [Lenchantin]. She played the piano and violin, while her sister actually contributed the cello.
I noticed that in a few of your radio performances, she played the violin there as well.
Right, that is one of the things that she brings to the table. The unique ability to play some of those string instruments. We look forward to those performances now because we don’t quite know how we are going to play them. Sometimes we will go into them the same way we approach jams.
Now, all of your upcoming shows will cover songs from throughout Pixies’ catalogue. You will also throw in some of the new material you have been working on. Is that correct?
Yup, that’s correct.
When did you begin writing new material?
Charles [Black Francis, vocals/guitars] will know more of the details than myself. He probably started working on them around Christmas. He would get inspired whenever we practiced and play some of the new songs for us.
So you will be working on the stuff a bit more while on the road?
Absolutely. We will be working on the material while we are on the road. The ones that we feel are ready are the ones that we will most likely perform live on this leg of the tour. This will allow the fans to witness these works early on in the creative process.
I would gather Paz has had her hand in the new music as well?
Absolutely. She is all around a really great musician. We are happy to have her.
After your upcoming leg, you will be opening for Robert Plant. How did that come about?
I don’t fully know the exact details. One way or another he agreed to having us on the bill (laughs). I’m not sure if he’s as excited as we are for the June dates. I mean, it’s Robert Plant (laughs). But that’s the great thing about the tour in June.
Out of curiosity, what is your favorite record with Plant on it?
You know what? I really want to listen to some of his newer stuff. I haven’t had too much of a chance to do so yet. His vocal performance on “I’m Gonna Crawl,” which is on In Through The Out Door, is just so awesome and one of my favorites.
And what is planned for you guys after June?
Well, festival season is coming, so I am sure we will hit the road again after June. And we will get back to writing as well. That is the most exciting thing for us right now. The cat is out of the bag with the new record, so we are just looking to keep this energy going.
Pixies will make a stop in Asbury Park, NJ to play The Stone Pony on May 23. They will then spend two nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on May 26 and 27. On May 28, they will take a trip to Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Indie Cindy is now available. For future tour dates and information, head over to pixiesmusic.com.