Apr 27, 2015
Interview with a Magical Pixie: Drummer David Lovering
Credited for the alternative rock boom of the 90s, Massachusetts four-piece band Pixies is joining the SunFest lineup. After 11 years apart, the group — whose singles include “Here Comes Your Man,” “Hey,” and “Where is My Mind” — reformed in 2004 and last year, they put out their first album in more than 20 years, “Indie Cindy.”
“For what it was, I was very happy with it,” Pixies drummer David Lovering said. “There was a lot of intimidation with doing the album because of what it was, and how many years after. But we all agreed we want to be happy with the songs and we were.”
Now, the band has about 30 stops left on their album-supporting tour — a mix of festivals and headlining gigs.
Before their performance on Sunday, May 3, I had a chance to chat with Lovering about tour, magic, a possible future album and drums.
You’re on a tour that’s a mixture of festivals and stand-alone performances. How do those differ and do you have a preference?
We’re finishing up the “Indie Cindy” tour. There’s a bunch of festivals and a bunch of regular shows and the funny thing about it is that we like both. We love doing festivals, we love doing our own shows, but when you start doing a bunch of festivals you go ‘oh I want to do our own shows,’ [laughs]. With stand-alone shows you’re a lot more in control. It’s a lot easier to do. With festivals, it’s a little hairy, sometimes with in-ear monitors or regular monitors you can’t hear anything. I think its a good mix. It’s like driving in the snow or something, the more you do it, the more you get used to it.
“Indie Cindy” released a year ago almost to the date (April 19, 2014). Looking back on it, what are your thoughts? Was the reception everything you’d hoped it be? Would you change anything?
I’m thankful we’re still touring on it. For what it was I was very happy with it. I think we all were. For “Indie Cindy,” there was a lot of intimidation with doing the album because of what it was, and how many years after, but we all agreed we want to be happy with the songs and we were, that’s what it is. I think after even a year of playing, I look back and we’re playing it so much better. The first couple of shows going out even “Indie Cindy” itself was a little hairy. Now, they’re much more fine tuned after doing it for a year. I enjoy that a lot — I like when we’re playing well.
What’s your favorite song off “Indie Cindy” to play live?
I think all of us might be different but I think we all like playing “Magdalena,” that’s a fun kind of groovy one and “Indie Cindy.” That’s challenging, it’s kind of technical.
How would you describe your sound now compared to 20 years ago?
I think we’re still sort of the same, I think all of us have the individual sounds. Joey’s [Joey Santiago] guitar is very distinctive. Black’s [Black Francis] guitar and just his singing and songwriting, and me? I’m just a regular drummer. I think we’re still the same — that’s who the Pixies are.
Tell me about your side project The Everybody.
Joe Santiago and I, it was almost after the two year break. Joe and I discussed doing something. We wrote songs over the summer, just recorded songs and put them out. We put out stuff and then I think the Pixies picked up again [laughs].
I know you do magic. How did you start with that? What’s your best trick?
When the Pixies broke up, I had a lot of free time. I had a friend, who’s a fellow musician. He practiced magic and he said ‘hey do you want to go to a magic convention?’ This was in Los Angeles probably 1994 maybe ‘95, I went not thinking anything about magic at all, but I did see a magic trick that just completely changed me and blew me away. And from that point on, all I did was buy every magic book, every video, I took classes, I joined the magic council, I slept with a deck of cards, honestly. That’s how much I practiced with everything in magic. Even up to this point I’m still learning. I started doing shows, you’ve heard of the starving musician, well it would be the dying magician because it’s a really hard career.
I came up with a stage show, I have a science and engineering degree and all that. I started building devices — I’d open up for the Pixies and the Breeders with it, toured with it. It’s been a little bit by the wayside, I have two kids now a six year old and a three year old — two boys. Of course as I stated before, magic doesn’t pay the bills. I still do magic backstage and at bars, close up magic which I actually feel is much more powerful and fun. One on one rather than on a stage for people.
What’s your best trick?
I do some really killer tricks but the one that gets the biggest response is, I call it ‘card from ass.’ You’ve seen those tricks where someone pull down their fly and pulls out the card from a slot. It’s a very old comedic kind of trick. but I’ve taken it where I have a person sign the card, also I leave my hand on the deck after it’s gone back in, the card has vanished in a ‘travelsome’ way and they have to guess. It looks like I’m going to be reaching into my fly but instead I squat down and pull it out of my ass [laughs]. It’s a rolled up card and there’s a funny thing about it, they also get back a picture of it and it’s very dirty as well. I’ve had people spawn around laughing. But it is there card, I unroll it and it’s completely covered in — you know — and I give it to them as a souvenir inside of a little plastic bag.
What can SunFest fans expect from your set?
What we’re planning on doing on this tour is, we’re still doing a couple songs from “Indie Cindy” and a lot of the songs we’re known for, but we’re also going to play some brand new songs. Maybe one, possibly two, something like that. We were in Los Angeles about three weeks ago just running over rehearsing trying to write new stuff. We thought it’d be a great idea just to see how it would hone playing it live. this is something we haven’t done since 1988 with our first couple of albums where we’d play for our bosses, see how it sounds. so we thought it’d be a good idea to see how this process works. About 50 songs, we’ll figure out which ones we play, hopefully people will enjoy it.
So if things go well, there might be a new album in store?
Yeah, that’s a possibility. We’re seeing if we can work with that. Since “Indie Cindy,” we feel like we’re a viable band and this is what we like to do. We’ll see where it takes us.
Do you get mad when magazines call you THE Pixies? Where does the “the” stand?
It’s funny because, we don’t get mad at it — well, we correct people when it’s at a signing or something. It was originally just Pixies, and it’s funny because even all these years now, we’re the Pixies, see, I just said it! And that’s what I do. I can’t say Pixies I have to say THE Pixies. I think I might’ve said Pixies plural by itself maybe ten times in the last 20-something years [laughs]. I only correct people when it’s a topic or a joke or something, but I don’t care at all.
Drummer to drummer — what kit are you gigging on for this tour?
It’s the same kit I’ve been using since 2004, I’ll give you a little background on it. When the Pixies were around back in the day, back in the 80s and 90s, it was probably about 1992 that a couple people were buying amps around me and you know, I’ve had the same kit since 1986, and I decided to buy a new drum set, so I got a red Gretsch kit and I got that — and then the Pixies broke up. That kit sat in storage for whatever it was, I don’t know how many years, until 2004. And when we got back together it was so apprepeaux that that was the kit that I’m going to use. So that’s the kit I’ve been using since 2004. it’s still standing up. It’s great, I love Gretsch. [Their brand] was one of the first kits I had when I was a kid.
Anything extra to add?
Since 2004, the only thing we expect now at festivals is JumboTrons and I’m sure at SunFest there’s going to be JumboTrons. So we’re very [pauses], we’ve learned to work our smiling and all since 2004 to be JumboTron ready.
If there aren’t any JumboTrons will you feel let down?
Nope, we actually prefer when there aren’t any JumboTrons. But if there are, we’ll be fine. We’ve learned to live with it.
You can catch Pixies in all their JumboTron-ready glory on Sunday, May 3 at 2:15 p.m. at the Ford Stage.