Upon its release in April 1989, the Pixies' Doolittle was almost immediately hailed as an indie-rock classic, even if sales weren't quite through the roof. The album helped forge the wave of alternative rock just over the horizon, as soon-to-be platinum bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and even Weezer all bore the sonic stamp of Doolittle and its 1988 predecessor Surfer Rosa.
The Pixies broke up in 1992 but have been (somewhat) happily reunited since 2004. For the past year, lead singer Frank Black, bassist Kim Deal, guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering have been marking Doolittle's 20th anniversary by playing the album in its entirety before a second set of hits and singles each night. Reviews have been glowing from fans of all ages, from graying scenesters who were there the first time around to kids not even born when it hit the shelves.
Last week the Houston Press talked to Lovering about playing those now two-decade-old songs, the band's legacy, the chemistry they share today and the future in front of them — which could include a new album.
Houston Press: What's it like touring behind Doolittle now, 21 years after its release?
David Lovering: There's really no difference in the playing. If anything, we may be playing it better this time around since we are older and wiser. We for sure know our instruments better now. The production is definitely bigger, the biggest we have probably ever taken out. It helps make it a big extravaganza.
The other thing is the audience. The audience has been amazing, just a sea of kids who probably weren't even born when Doolittle came out. They have heard about us from other bands like Nirvana and Radiohead, and they are singing along to every song. We feel very fortunate.
HP: Tell us about the background effects on the stage. We heard it was killer.
DL: We hired 11 video artists to do their own interpretation of one song off Doolittle. As we play the songs, you see their videos in sync with the music. It's really wild stuff. For me, since my back is obviously to it, I can't see it. Every now and then I will turn around and see what the video is doing. It really makes the show, I think.
HP: Do you discover anything new about the music on Doolittle now?
DL: What's funny with me, I don't know lyrics whatsoever, even my own band. My mind is absent to that fact. I listen more for the flow, melody and the lilt of the music. When we were rehearsing for the Doolittle tour, I would have to go back to YouTube and watch recorded performances to see how I played and figure things out.
But then again, I can still see in some instances where I should have played something different. I'm not changing anything drastically. It's the little nuances in playing where I would figure out where the song should go now at this point. When we recorded albums, it was almost six months into touring behind them when I would figure out, "Aha! This is the way it should go."
HP: We have heard that from a lot of bands, actually. That it takes sometimes years to discover new ways of playing a song. The flick of a wrist or a fill...
DL: It's always the case. We were whipping out albums really fast, and I am a really slow learner.
HP: Now that Doolittle is a part of the indie-rock DNA, if not pop-music DNA really, who do you see today doing a good spin on the Pixies?
DL: I heard Surfer Blood sounds a lot like us. I heard there is a new Arcade Fire song that is an exact rip-off of [Surfer Rosa's] "Cactus." I don't know if that was true or not. It comes over in hearsay, but it's tougher for me to be the judge of that.
HP: Any idea on any new recordings? The rumors keep coming around.
DL: We have been touring this entire year, for the last two years really, and all we talk about is doing something new. Actually coming down and doing it, we just haven't had the time or opportunity to do it. Once this year ends, we have 2011 free and hopefully that's when we do something new.
HP: You still get to do your "La La Love You" on this tour, correct?
DL: With a lot of effort! My problem is that I am huffing and puffing when I am playing drums, and to sing at the same time is a little labored. I'm fine if I can just stay seated and get through it.