We chat to Pixies drummer David Lovering ahead of their first ever visit to SA

2017-02-16 07:01

Cape Town – It’s been just a little over 30 years since alternative rock band Pixies formed in Boston Massachusetts.

Boy, how time flies! Where Is My Mind?, Here Comes Your Man, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Gigantic… it’s all coming back to me.

And now, for the first time ever, they’re heading to South Africa to play two shows in March.

It’s midnight in South Africa, and Pixies drummer David Lovering’s phone is ringing in Los Angeles, it’s 10:00, and as I nervously say hi and introduce myself, David immediately puts me at ease: "I’m good Jean-Marie how are you?"

This is awesome! "I’m good thanks, very good," I say. "Thank you for staying up so late," David says laughingly.

I jump right in.

"Will this be your first visit to SA?" I ask.

"This will be the first visit for all of us and we’re all very excited!" says David. "We’re arriving in Cape Town I think two days previous to the first gig, that’ll be our first entry into South Africa. And I know we’ll have like two days to just take in the town, whether it be food, the sights, the geography and things like that. So I think everyone including me, I’m starting to go through maps and everything trying to figure out what I’m going to do on those two days when I get there."

The Pixies have broken up more than once during their career, the most notable being a 10 year hiatus, and they’ve also changed band members more than once. So I have to ask: "What would you say is the recipe for a successful band - what has made you guys stick together after so many years?"

"Well, they say that the older you get the wiser you get, I don’t believe that at all!" laughs David. "With the Pixies we’re much older and I think what it means is, you don’t get wiser, but you’re wiser to the fact that you still have to put up with people’s bullshit, and just because you’re older you put up with it a bit easier … but as you do get older you do realise things that don’t piss other people off, I think that’s what it is, we are having a grand old time. And I think one recipe, currently for the Pixies, is that we’ve had a new bass player Paz Lenchantin for the last four years. But to the gentleman, to myself, to Joe, to Charles, she’s still the new woman, even though she’s been around for four years, she’s still the new woman, and because of that all the men are still behaving extra well. And it’s just making everyone get along, it’s wonderful!" says David.

After so many years of being a band, David says the one big thing that has changed is the band’s dynamic. "I think within us, socially, I think that’s much better now, it’s a big thing. We enjoy each other now, we’re having a blast doing what we do … I think the other thing is, we’ve been doing this supposedly for 30 years and I think that because of that, we’ve had 30 years of playing and I know that I’m personally playing better, Charles is singing better, I know Joe is playing better, Paz is fantastic on bass anyway, so I think that we’re just a better band as it is."

"And has anything stayed exactly the same, since those early days?" I ask.

"Gosh, uhm, I think the thing that has stayed the same is our ethic, what the Pixies are and what we do. I mean when we do a show we really don’t talk to the audience, we just do 90 minutes of just non-stop music, and it’s not to be anti-social or anything like that, it’s just we’re delivering music, and what we’re all about it just playing music and nothing else really, and I think that’s never changed, that’s what we still do." 

The Pixies are known to have influenced the likes of Kurt Cobain, Thom Yorke, Bono, some of music’s biggest names, so I have to know: "What does it feel like?"

"It’s funny Jean-Marie, we get asked that a lot, and I can honestly say to me, I’m just Dave and I play in a band. It’s what I know, it’s what I’ve always known, and to these other bands that we supposedly influenced, I really don’t think about it, and I don’t mean to say it in a negative way or anything, or jealous way. It’s just, uhm, all I know is my band, and I don’t think anything special about my band, so I don’t think there’s anything special about that or the way I think about it. I don’t even think about it at all … I don’t even think what we’re doing is that great, I’m just fortunate to have a job!" David says laughingly. 

As we chat away and David tells me about his Swiss Army Knife he always takes on tour with him, I manage to casually sneak in this question: "Obviously we know what happens on tour stays on tour, but, I wanted to ask you if there’s maybe a crazy story that you're allowed to share with us?"

Apart from many tour bus stories such as a tour bus infested with cockroaches, David tells me about their last tour in Europe not that long ago, where things almost went very wrong. "We were playing in France, and we were playing an old Roman amphitheatre, and this Roman amphitheatre was all built of stone, built thousands of years ago, stone seating going up, it was gorgeous. And the entire amphitheatre had a giant roman wall around the whole thing like a fortress, the street was outside of that. Our bus was parked outside the wall.

"We were ready to leave, and we were all kind of drinking in the bus at like 01:00 in the morning and all of a sudden all of the lights went off and all we felt was movement, we felt the bus moving. And what had happened was, all the power just got released and the breaks as well, the emergency breaks went out, and the bus started rolling on its own going down the hill. And everyone, you just knew what was going on, you knew we’re just heading down and there’s the air of oh my god, but the thing is it only travelled I would say 40 yards. And what had happened was, the road bended to the right, it struck a curb and struck the roman wall and stopped there. It threw everyone to the floor, and the crazy thing about this whole story is that the wall was untouched, it never had a mark on it. It just shows you that 3000 year old work is quality workmanship!" David explains laughingly.

Before I have to let David go, I ask one last question: "What can SA fans expect from your show?"

"Well, I think for our first time, I feel that we do this very well now, because we’ve had 30 years to do it, it’s 90 minutes kind of non-stop, no talking. So I should warn all the South Africans in Joburg and Cape Town that we’re not being insulting, we’re just delivering the music. We’re not gonna chat with you, we’re just going to give you what we do best. And I think we’ll do it very well, so it will be a smattering of old songs, classic songs as well as new stuff from Head Carrier and Indie Cindy as well," says David.

I thank David for his time and say, "I can’t wait for your show!"

David politely replies: "Oh it was a pleasure Jean-Marie and thank you so much and I do appreciate it. Sleep well!"

And just like that, it’s all over.

*The Pixies are performing in Cape Town at Kirstenbosch Gardens on 16 March 2017 (sold out) and in Johannesburg at the Festival Lawns, Carnival City on 18 March 2017. Tickets for the Joburg show are still available via Computicket.

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