Interview: David Lovering of the Pixies

A&E caught up with the drummer of indie’s quintessential quartet to talk magic, the music industry and the possibility of a new Pixies album.

Raghav Mehta

Who: Pixies

When: 7:30 p.m.,Sunday

Where: Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 175 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul

Cost: $40

ThereâÄôs not much that hasnâÄôt been said about the Pixies. Despite only produced music in a brief window of time, the ever-important Boston quartet is indie rock royalty as far as anybodyâÄôs concerned, and their influence on modern music remains immeasurable.

Following their breakup, the various members stayed active, pursuing their own projects, all to varying degrees of success. Lead singer Black Francis released a slew of solo albums, Kim Deal continues to play in the Breeders and guitarist Joey Santiago went on to write and produce musical scores for major films.

But drummer David Lovering took a path less traveled. By the late âÄô90s he had given up drumming and he saw his professional career at a standstill. After attending a convention with friend and fellow songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips, Lovering decided to pursue a career in magic.

Drawing from his experiences as a stage performer and his background in electrical engineering, Lovering reinvented himself with the moniker âÄúThe Scientific Phenomenalist,âÄù a lab coat on stage.

A&E caught up with Lovering to talk about his magic, the Pixies and the possibility of a new album.

YouâÄôve been doing the Doolittle tour for a couple years now. WhyâÄôd you choose that album over the others?

What had happened in 2004 is we got the reunion going and maybe two years into it, all of a sudden our management was telling us about how Doolittle was coming up on its 20-year anniversary. So âÄî to be unbiased âÄî supposedly itâÄôs a classic album [laughs].

And what a better thing to do than take that and do a full production of it and just tour around on one album. WeâÄôve been doing this over two years now, so yeah itâÄôs still going strong with Doolittle.

So do you still do magic?

Oh yes. I love doing it on the road, backstage in bars or restaurants. When IâÄôm back here I do theater shows so itâÄôs fun, lot of good times. You think being a musician is hard, being a magician is twice as hard or three times as hard to make a living at.

So when I began magic 15 years ago, I was just doing social stuff, close-up magic and what not. But if you want to make any money out of it you have to develop a stage show. So I came up with basically all the things that I love, science and physics and electronics. So thatâÄôs been a nice gig; itâÄôs fun, it keeps me busy.

I know youâÄôve done your magic to open for bands, including the Pixies, before. How does the audience usually react to that?

Pretty good. Especially if IâÄôm doing it for the Pixies or the Breeders âÄôcause I can do no wrong [laughs]. So itâÄôs OK âÄôcause they associate me with the Pixies so I could be terrible up there and theyâÄôll still like it. ItâÄôs an easy thing to fall on.

I was barely a year old when Doolittle came out. HowâÄôs it feel to see people my age coming out to see your shows?

ItâÄôs funny because ever since we started touring again our audience is probably about 80 percent of people who probably werenâÄôt even around when the album was born. And itâÄôs just amazing and they know the words more than anybody and can sing along.

So you have that contingent of 80 percent and then you have the other 20 percent is people my age who wishes there were seats in the arena [laughs]. ItâÄôs very cool, weâÄôre very fortunate to have a new audience for us.

What are the biggest changes youâÄôve noticed about the music industry compared to when you first started?

The only thing that I know is different is just the absence of record companies, really. ThereâÄôs just the same amount of bands IâÄôm sure, maybe even more, and everyoneâÄôs trying to do their thing whether itâÄôs playing gigs and getting their stuff on the Internet.

ThatâÄôs just it, the whole thing that you have to get signed to a record company, but now you can do it yourself. I mean, if you got the goods and you can market it and you got the luck, then I think it will happen.

After the Pixies disbanded, did you ever think youâÄôd be playing the same songs again a decade later?

Never. I never ever wouldâÄôve ever realized it. In comparison to our popularity now as opposed to then, I just never wouldâÄôve ever figured that out. Same thing if you told me IâÄôd be a magician before I was a magician I wouldâÄôve just laughed. So yeah, itâÄôs completely amazing. WeâÄôre loving it.

I know the band has tossed around the idea of a new album, what all is holding you back?

ItâÄôs just that weâÄôve been so busy. WeâÄôve been talking about it for about three years. All of last year weâÄôve been very busy on the road and we might. This year we have this tour coming up, I know we have some time off in the summer. Again, if it comes to fruition, I donâÄôt know, my fingers are crossed, but anyway as a magician I cannot reveal any secrets. WeâÄôll see what happens, but IâÄôm hoping for it.