Since the dawning of the Pixies in 1986, the alternative music genre has molded, shifted, collapsed and exploded. But one thing is for sure -- those early years had something that other generations didn't. When The Pixies first approached the music scene, mainstream success wasn't something that was immediately culminated, or even necessarily sought after. Having guided a guerilla missile straight through the heart of '90s alternative genre, the Pixies are one of the most underrated bands of their time -- but as it turns out they may have paid their dues for a greater purpose. They've now been heralded as one of the most appreciated and influential bands of their time.
Gimme Noise was fortunate to speak with Pixies' lead guitarist Joey Santiago prior to their performance this Sunday night at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
Gimme Noise: When you played your first show to the reunion tour here in Minneapolis at the Fine Line back in 2004, what was the deciding factor in starting the tour here in Minneapolis of all places?
Santiago: We were going to start off in Winnipeg, but I don't know, and you can kind of quote me on this... We couldn't find a club that we could book out (like lock out), and practice. I think we practiced for about three days. So the Fine Line allowed us to do that, I don't think First Avenue would have allowed us to do that. The Fine Line let us; we set up shop over there and just practiced. Everybody, the soundman, everyone was just trying to get their groove on.
What's one of your fondest memories of Minneapolis?
I know we played one of our hottest shows there, at First Avenue... No the little one... 7th Street! It was the middle of summer. We made the mistake of going outside; it was just getting so hot. We kind of stopped and I think we went outside, and then came back in, and we were like whoa--we shouldn't have done that. We should have just acclimated to the heat. It was so damn HOT!
Is the story about how you found Kim true? How she answered an ad because it referenced Peter, Paul and Mary and Husker Du?
Yes, oh from Minneapolis!
How influential was the '80s Minneapolis scene to your music?
Well we certainly like Husker Du, and The Replacements. As far as it having an effect on us, well yeah, probably a little bit. We looked up to them; it was like, 'they were playing cool music and they're touring around, we could do that!' We don't have to play any poppy shit, ya know. We kind of looked up to them.
Are you fans of Soul Asylum?
Oh yeah! Those were the guys that made us get Marshalls, and dumped our cheap little PVs. We kept running into them, nice guys. I forget where we were, but outside across the street there was this store, called Liquor, Guns, and Ammo--not kidding you. Anyway, we went in and we watched Soul Asylum and we were just like, wow, we gotta get Marshalls.
Would you have rather been that band that had a ton of album sales, and made a ton of money, or the band that influenced Nirvana, was cited was David Bowie, Thom Yorke, and just about influenced the majority of alternative rock bands since your beginning?
I never went that woulda, coulda, shoulda route ya know? I'm pretty happy with where we are, we're still relevant. I mean, God, I don't know... I don't know... You're asking me if I would rather have a ton of cash--of course! There's the Velvet Underground. I mean, it's cool; we're cool with what we got.
How do you feel about the massive chafes in the music business during the time you weren't together, and what drove you to come back?
Every year since we broke up, people kept asking us, well not every year but like the first five years. People kept asking us "when are you guys going to get back together/do a reunion tour?" So finally we just gave into it, and we're like, screw-it, let's just reunite, see how it is. And so we practiced, and there was a little pact we made that if we sounded like shit, we'd just shake hands and say 'eh, at least we tried.' But it sounded really good, so we kept on.
How did the idea come about for the "Doolittle Tour"?
Well, it being the 20th anniversary, and there were bands out there that were doing albums front-to-back, obviously, but we kind of riffed on that.
Are we likely to hear any other songs, or just "Doolittle" and B-Sides?
Oh...Oh, Yeah! We do our gratuitous encore, and we never know what to play. We each pick a song, so there are four encores; at least four other songs that are going to be on the set. Always an element of something else.
Who have been the most inspiring artists you've ever toured with?
Queens of the Stone Age come to mind... and I don't know who else, you put me on the spot right now.
Any plans to record anything new after this?
Yeah, I know we'll cross that bridge when we get there. That requires teeny, weensy, little steps. I don't know, we'll probably figure it out one of these days that it doesn't require teeny, weenie steps. That it just requires one giant step.
What do you do other than music, who are you outside of the Pixies?
This takes precedence, for me anyways, over anything else. I dabble in composing; I've kind of had to curb it a little because of the Pixies tour. I have too much fun; it's easy, easier...
When the documentary came out, how do you feel that affected the Pixies publicly?
Not at all, I don't pay attention to sales at all, it is what it is. Just making that was nerve racking, and when it came out it was even more nerve racking. The cameras were following us everywhere.
So when you come to Minneapolis, do you have any plans other than the Roy Wilkins, or just passing through?
I have no idea; I think we're just passing through. I believe we're probably going to go up to Winnipeg after that, or Regina. Yeah...
Hahaha, Yeah! I almost just want to call it pussy when I talk of it. Oh, Canada.
THE PIXIES perform on SUNDAY, APRIL 24, at the ROY WILKINS AUDITORIUM. All ages. $40. 7:30 p.m.