Return to the Stage

A Conversation with Joey Santiago

August 13, 2021 by Traci Turner

Pixies are back! I repeat, PIXIES ARE BACK! The legendary band with one of THE most dedicated fanbases ever is hitting the road, celebrating a special occasion, and making new music.
Through albums “Surfer Rosa,” “Doolittle,” and “Bossanova,” Pixies’ “loud quiet loud” alternative-rock style helped pave the way for grunge. Kurt Cobain once stated he attempted to “rip off the Pixies” for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” They solidified their place in music history through those first three albums, along with follow ups “Trompe le Monde,” “Indie Cindy,” and “Head Carrier.”

After the pandemic halted their tour in support of their seventh studio album, 2019’s “Beneath the Eyrie,” Black Francis, Joey Santiago, David Lovering, and Paz Lenchantin are finally headed to stages. Their itinerary begins next month, and in addition to festivals and headline shows, some dates will include another band you may be familiar with… Nine Inch Nails.
In typical Pixies fashion, these shows will be sell outs and the set list will be different every night.
With a career spanning 30+ years, there are many to choose from: “Where Is My Mind?,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Gigantic,” “Hey!,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Debaser,” “Gouge Away,” “Wave of Mutilation,” “Velouria,” “Is She Weird,” and “Dig for Fire” for instance.  
There is a rumor that Joey Santiago had no idea that “Where Is My Mind,” was featured in the film “Fight Club.” The rumor is true, Santiago also confirmed that he was blown away at the end of the film, “the use of the song was epic and perfect!”
The foursome is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of their album, “Trompe le Monde,” with a special reissue on limited marble green vinyl. The album, which includes songs “Letter to Memphis,” “U-Mass,” “Planet of Sound,” and the fabulous cover of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On,” will be released on September 24th.
Joey Santiago was kind enough to chat with OC Music News and give us his take on everything from cats to COVID to biking, and of course, what is happening in the Pixies’ world.


When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band – or at least in a Pixies cover band.”


Pixies, from Left: Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Paz Lenchantin, David Lovering
Photo by Travis Shinn
Traci: Hi Joey! How are you today?
Joey: Good! OC Music News. Orange County!
Traci: I know, you are not playing here this tour.
Joey: Well, we’re just doing this small bit right now. We’ll do the full on US next year.
Traci: We’d love to see you now, but next year everything should be smoothed out for longer tours.
Joey: I don’t think bands had time, when things opened up. It takes a while for the gears of bands to get going. The crew has to be organized, the equipment, the shipment. It’s not like we can go anywhere at our whim.
Traci: How many people are on your crew when you tour?
Joey: Seven. We keep it mean and lean! We’ve been working with most of them since 2004. We have to get a couple new ones because some of them just decided to do something else.
Traci: How dare they?
Joey: I know!
Traci: Well, I need to get the most important question answered first: How is Mookie? (Santiago’s cat who has quite the presence on Instagram.)

Joey: Mookie! You know, I get it. I had dogs before, but I just love pets. I wasn’t a cat person, but I turned into one. I love Mookie. I love grooming him. I thought, “Oh man, this is going to be a pain,” but he loves it. He knows when I’m bummed out and he’ll just go to me like a dog. He’s my best friend, man’s best friend. And he eats all the time! I love him. I’m a convert.
Traci: Ok, now that I’ve had my Mookie update, what did you do last year while stuck home?
Joey: I biked, I strummed on my guitar. I got rid of the old guitars, the guitars I haven’t used. I told myself, “That’s it! I’ve leaned down!” And then I end up buying five more! I love it. I mean, 2020, basically just that… biking and playing the guitar and taking care of my kids, journaling a lot, and that’s about it, really.
JOEY SANTIAGO – PIXIES at The House of Blues, Anaheim | Photo by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
Traci: Since you were biking, you probably did not gain the “COVID 19.”
Joey: All right, I gotta lie. (laughing) I injured my foot because I got this nerve thing from biking too much. So I kind of had to lay off. I could lean down at any time, so you know, I’ll start now!
Traci: You got a month to lean down!
Joey: Yes, exactly.
Traci: You guys release “Beneath the Eyrie” in 2019, and then the pandemic interrupted your tour. Did you get to do many dates with it?
Joey: We did not at all. We started kicking off the tour, really during the beginnings of COVID. We were going to China and Japan, obviously we had to cancel those. We played New Zealand and Australia. We left because the pandemic was starting to get into full bloom and some borders were shutting down. As much as we love Australia, we’ll miss our family more.
Traci: “Beneath the Eyrie” songs are still new to live shows?
Joey: Yeah, we have played most of those, and one show we actually played the whole album. Sprinkled throughout, but we managed to play all 12 of them at a couple of shows of ours.
Traci: I know you guys do a different set list every night. How do you do that?
Joey: It’s pretty easy. A lot of songs start with Charles’ guitars, so we would know right away. He has a microphone that only we can hear and he would call them out. We have hand signs as well. “Planet of Sound” would be him like a referee, but with a globe around his head. “Wave of Mutilation” he’ll wave to everyone, little signs like that.
JOEY SANTIAGO – PIXIES at The House of Blues, Anaheim | Photo by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
Traci: But you have so many songs! How do you remember how to play that many?
Joey: We’ve been doing this for a while. We’re professional Pixies!
Traci: You get to do some dates with Nine Inch Nails. Have you toured with them before or do you know them?
Joey: No, no. But I’ve seen them play, when they were about to blow up, I guess. I mean they did blow up. I saw a little show here in Hollywood, in the not-so-good section of it. Someone told me, “You have got to see this.” And I go check out this band, and they were in this cage, and I went up and as soon as I got up, the guitar player spit beer all over me. So I don’t know who that was, but I’ll  have a word with them in Cleveland!
Traci:  When you’re touring, do you have something that you like to do in each city?
Joey: Walk. I will walk around, I will check out a museum, botanical gardens, or parks. Go to a local café. I don’t buy records on the road because they’re fragile and I actually have enough records here, but usually I would hang out at the local record shop because that’s where I find that the neighborhood tends to get more interesting. Get more local, and also better coffee.
Traci: Speaking of records, what are you listening to these days? 
Joey: I’m listening to a playlist called Wet Leg Radio. Wet Leg is a band that has that song “Chaise Lounge.” I heard it. I loved it. And then I looked them up. I just put it on the (Spotify) radio and it turns out that it’s a great playlist. It’s got The Fall on there, and it’s got other bands I really haven’t heard of. It makes me feel like I’m in touch with the youth. What are these whippersnappers listening to? And you know what? It’s fucking good shit. That is a solid, solid radio station for me.
Traci: When you’re on tour, you go for walks. Do you take your bike?
Joey: I used to, but I want to live! I don’t want to risk the tour that way, you know? The incidences where some cars get mighty close. It’s better to walk anyways. In a park, I will look for a hill that has the right amount of pitch. I would put my head down and roll up whatever. If I have a shirt, roll it up, use it as a pillow and just zone out.
Traci: Well, that could be a scavenger hunt. In each city, find where Joey is asleep in a park.
Joey: Yeah, you could just Google what hills have three percent grade with nice green grass. That’s where I’ll be.
Traci: I know you bike along PCH and that terrifies me. I can’t believe you do that!
Joey: Yeah, I left early in the morning and I was in Cambria, and my girlfriend was going to meet me at this restaurant up at the peak of Big Sur. When she drove to me, she couldn’t believe the road I was on because there isn’t a bike lane. It’s a road where you have to pay attention. Drivers have got to pay attention, unless they want to do the Alfred Hitchcock dive.
Traci: Did you drive your girlfriend crazy by being home last year?
Joey: We don’t live together, so no, but we really get along. She got the hang of my sick sense of humor.
Traci: Your Twitter and Instagram do have some good material! (Santiago has several meme-style posts that involve a man who was not re-elected).
Joey: You mean my artwork? (laughing) He was a piece of work, that guy.
Traci: I feel more hopeful this year though. Don’t you feel more hopeful?
Joey: Yeah, but there’s a hangover. He left a bad hangover of beliefs and he was the leader of fake news. He was fake news.
Traci: I had to unfriend a large chunk of people on Facebook.
Joey: Yeah, I had to do that. I bantered with him for a bit, and then I’d kick him out. But obviously, it’s easy to win with those people. All you got to do is tell the truth. (laughing)
Traci: It’s crazy how that is!
Joey: They just don’t like the truth.
Traci: In addition to the tour, you have the 30th anniversary of “Trompe le Monde” reissue coming out on green marble vinyl. Why green? Any meaning for it or it just looks cool?
Joey: I don’t know what the meaning of that is. It’s probably because we have that green in the album. And green tends to match people’s décor a lot better. It’s got that mid-century, or it could be cottage-y if you want to hang it up. Green goes with everything!
Traci: Is there anything else that you need to tell me about? Anything exciting that I’m missing?
Joey: That’s exciting? Well, with the tour coming up, there’s some hesitation to it, and I think it’s a good little microcosm of responsibility. We’ll see what happens. We’ll be safe. But I think most people going to these events are going to be safe because they will be masked and I believe our fans are smarter than the average peanut.
Traci: Yes, and your fans are so dedicated, they will do what they can to be safe and see you.
Joey: You know, some have goaded me on Twitter or Instagram. We would talk about the virus and they would politicize it. And then at the end, they always go, “I used to be a Pixies fan” and my comment is always, “Oh, no, please don’t go.”  The way I think about it is like, “Yeah, exactly. Please don’t go to our show!”
Traci: I want to go to the places that have vaccinated people, so works for me.
Joey: Yeah! So anyway, anything exciting? We’re working on a new record. We’re working on a new record as we speak. We’re just doing that stuff. You can print all that COVID shit by the way! You know, I have nothing against anti-vaxxers. They have the freedom not to get vaccinated. But venues and us, we have the freedom not to hang out with people that aren’t vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, sorry. Your freedom, it’s cool, you didn’t do that. No one is preventing you from going somewhere else, but you can’t go in here. You don’t have to wear seatbelts, but you’re going to get a fine. I don’t have a problem with people not wearing seatbelts, at all, but you’re just going to have to pay the consequences.
Traci: There will be plenty of vaccinated people excited to see you.
Joey: Yeah. It’s just sad, isn’t it, that it got politicized. It just goes to show you how nationalism can be toxic because they think the pandemic is really just in the US. It’s not the right versus the left. No, it’s not. It’s in England. It’s in fucking Canada. It’s in Brazil. It’s in Italy. It’s everywhere. A pandemic means global, really. People politicized it and it’s the US left and right fucking argument. It’s not. It’s a worldwide problem. I wish they would just say that sometimes. You have got to look at these countries. You think there’s politics involved in fucking South Africa? There is of course, everyone has politics. But the fact of the matter is the vaccine, masking fucking works. You got all these American flags. I get it, I get it. I’m going to make a flag of Earth. Is there one? There we go! I’m going to make a flag of the Earth. There it is. Maybe it’ll be the vinyl color of “Trompe le Monde.” We gotta sell that shit. (laughing)
Sign me up for one Santiago Earth flag!
JOEY SANTIAGO – PIXIES at the House of Blues, Anaheim | Photo by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
While Santiago was biking around and educating people on Twitter, what were the other members of the band doing?
Drummer David Lovering was able to get a much-needed surgery. “I’ve had carpal tunnel in both of my hands for years,” he explains, “and I’ve been relegated to that way of life for years, just having to deal with it.” When things shut down, Lovering’s hands began getting worse, but fortunately, he had the time to take care of them. “This unexpected break allowed me to have surgery on both hands, and now I really am a new man,” he says. “I can do card magic better than I can remember, play drums like I haven’t been able to in some time, hold an iPhone, use my metal detector, and ride my bike.”
Magic?! Yes, magic! Lovering is a longtime member of the prestigious and private Hollywood club, The Magic Castle. He also launched his “Magic Monday” series on Pixies’ social media. He has other cool hobbies too: metal detecting and fluorescent mineral hunting with a device of his own creation which can illuminate scorpions!
BLACK FRANCIS & DAVE LOVERING – PIXIES at The House of Blues, Anaheim | Photo by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
The remaining two members also explored interests they usually do not have time to enjoy. Black Francis spent time painting and raising chickens while Paz Lenchantin focused on art projects, music, film, and surfing.
So there you go; all the Pixies info you could need! The 30th anniversary of “Trompe Le Monde” is due out September 24th and the upcoming tour starts on September 10th. Now we just need to be patient and wait for more tour dates and maybe, just maybe, new music.
“Trompe Le Monde” 30th anniversary reissue track list:
Side A
Trompe Le Monde
Planet of Sound
Alec Eiffel
The Sad Punk
Head On
Palace of the Brine
Letter to Memphis
 Side B
Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons
Space (I Believe In)
Distance Equals Rate Times Time
Lovely Day
Motorway to Roswell
The Navajo Know






ocmn 2021


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