11 Questions With Pixies Guitarist Joey Santiago


The legendary alternative rock band Pixies are coming to The Space at Westbury Theatre Sept. 22 while touring to promote their 2016 album, Head Carrier. The career of the band spans almost 30 years and have inspired the likes of Nirvana, the Strokes and Arcade Fire. Ahead of their show in Westbury, the Press caught up with guitarist Joey Santiago to talk about touring, the addition of bassist Paz Lenchantin and his personal career endeavors in his off time.

Long Island Press: Have you played any memorable Long Island shows before?

Joey Santiago: Oh yeah we’ve played Long Island before! We’ve played this venue before. I remember when we had it when the bus driver kept getting lost on the way out of the gig on Long Island. I felt a U-turn coming at it’s like “Aw shit, we’re making another U-turn.”

LIP: How’s the tour been going so far?

JS: Great! Really, really good. People are out there, a new generation of fans, it feels good and we’re having a lot of fans. We do what a lot of fans do: we’re tired, and then we’re not, and when we are we play better. It’s a win-win situation every time.

LIP: Is the new generation of fans different in any way?

JS: No, it’s like a time capsule. They’re avid, they still sing along to the songs.

LIP: It’s been almost a year since the release of Head Carrier. How has the album grown on you? What’s it like bringing it to the live setting?

JS: It’s great! I’ll put it on occasionally. In fact, I just texted Tom Dalegty, the producer, and I just noticed something on “Baal’s Back.” It sounds like there’s a jet engine going for 10 seconds. You hear all these little nuances and it’s just magical. The album – I’m really, really, really proud of it. It’s so well put together. And we noticed the younger fans singing to it like it’s the regular shit. It seamlessly goes to the live setting. It’s part of the vernacular. It’s like playing the old stuff.

LIP: What’s it like to perform early songs that have so much energy like “Debaser” almost 30 years after their release? Do you still bring that same energy?

JS: Yeah! It’s what they want to hear. Very few times in my head, I’m saying to myself “Oh my god, this is so fucking easy, why are people even liking this shit?” But you gotta get out of yourself. You gotta do it because people are there.

LIP: Did you ever think so many bands would cite the Pixies as an influence after the temporary breakup in ’93?

JS: I’m just glad they do. I’m glad that we’re one of the bands that inspires people to make music, just like any other thing that inspired me to do music, from Foghat and Mose Allison.

LIP: What was it like to find out how well-liked you were as a band when you reunited in 2004?

JS: Initially, it wasn’t going to be a surprise when we were going to reunite because one of the shows that we were going to do was Coachella. I didn’t know what Coachella was actually. When we got on there and there was a sea of people, I knew it was kind of going to be big. It was on CNN on the ticker tape. It was like ‘at this time of year, 9/11….and the Pixies are reuniting!’ It was like ‘what the fuck? This is going to be pretty big.’

LIP: I know that you’ve also added Paz Lenchantin as a permanent band member. How has that been going so far as a band and for you personally?

JS: As a band, obviously we love her. We wouldn’t have asked to join the band if not. She’s perfect in the studio, perfect in the live setting, perfect when we’re not doing any of those things –hanging out backstage, hanging out waiting, etc. She’s perfect. Everything about it is perfect. For me, I couldn’t be any happier. This is my wheelhouse. This is what I do. This is the best thing for me.

LIP: So I’ve heard you’ve started a separate career in scoring. What inspired you to do that and what’s the experience been like?

JS: It came very organically. I was in this state of depression, and then I met this guy Joe Reineke from the Meices and Alien Crime Syndicate. He showed me his home recording studio that you could do in your computer. I had no fucking idea that you could do that. You could actually work at home. I had cassette records, but I just wanted to know what the fuck this thing does. I got a computer, got a program, and all of a sudden my meds kicked and I started writing shit and then I had all this stuff and I said ‘Oh what the hell am I going to do with this?’ and then said ‘Oh wait a second! I could actually compose?’ Because people have been telling me ‘your stuff has been atmospheric and it tells a story,’ so I went along with it. I got lucky and got a film right away, a TV show right away and that’s how it came about.

LIP: Are you doing anything special for the tour?

JS: The playlist changes day to day. We do not have a setlist, but as far as playlist of the songs, we have been adding like some stuff we haven’t played in a while. We have 70 songs in the back of our pocket, so it changes night to night and we could always do 35 of them.

LIP: Any future recording plans for the Pixies?

JS: Yep! Nothing’s been written as far as I know of, but the juices have been flowing. The think tank is starting to simmer.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.