The Pixies Keep Rolling, Minus One

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The late 1990s and early 2000s were a tough time for the other members of the Pixies, too – especially Lovering, who worked as a magician. "You think being a musician is hard? Being a magician is 50 times harder," he says. "I was doing 13-year-old teenage girls' birthday parties. I was also involved with a really bad woman. The Pixies' money was dwindling, the magic was not working, and this woman was robbing me blind. My life was the worst I could have ever imagined, then a phone call comes and it lifted me out of the depths."

The phone call was from Francis, who was finally willing to reunite the Pixies. Between 2004 and 2011, they toured incessantly, playing to humongous audiences and making more money than they ever imagined. Gradually, the euphoria over their return died down and they became another band slogging it out on the oldies circuit. Between 2009 and 2011, they played their 1989 classic Doolittle every night. "During those shows, I wouldn't even know where I was," says Francis. "It was so Groundhog Day, just the same things over and over and over." 

Recording new songs was the obvious next move, but Deal was resistant. "Hell no," she told Rolling Stone in 2007. "I heard the last Rolling Stones record was good. The thing is, I don't care if it's the best thing they've ever done. I just wouldn't listen to it. . . I was kind of waiting for Charles and Joey to get together and do demos and they never did."

That's exactly what happened when the Doolittle tour died down, and by early 2013, they had a batch of new songs that even managed to excite Deal, who flew to Wales to record them with Doolittle producer Gil Norton. That proved short-lived enthusiasm, however. "She just had enough," says Jones. "She didn't want to do all the things that go with releasing new music, as in all the traveling and touring. She just decided that she wanted to move on."

Now, months later, the Pixies find themselves sitting in the crammed dressing room backstage at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. They played Chicago's Riot Fest the previous evening and had to leave the city at 6:30 a.m. to make soundcheck at Fallon. The guys are drained, but new bassist Kim Shattuck is wide awake and psyched about appearing on the show. "One of my old bands was supposed to play Arsenio Hall once," she says. "But it got canceled at the last minute. This is my first time on a show like this."

After Deal left, the group realized they needed another female bassist. They met Shattuck, a veteran of the Los Angeles rock bands the Muffs and the Pandoras, at a charity show last year. "A lot of our songs have that romantic loss, romantic gain, sexuality thing," says Francis. "We need the female and male represented."

They play their single "Bagboy" and "Indie Cindy" on the broadcast. The latter song is from EP1, the first of several planned EPs the band plans on dropping online during their 18-month world tour. Reviews were mixed, which doesn't much surprise anyone in the band. "I don't think people are giving them a fair listen," says Santiago. "They were begging for new songs for years, and I think they'll be embarrassed in three years when they read their initial thoughts." 

Francis is also unsurprised to see the new songs getting a mixed reaction. "The fans are emotionally involved in the whole thing," he says. "Even more than us. But we just got into this to make music and see whatever level of success we could reach. We didn't want the day job. We don't want to be managers of warehouses or whatever. We don't want to run a restaurant. This is what to we do, and my solo career is over. I have no interest in making solo records. For me, this is it."

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