The story of the Pixies isn’t new: An enormously influential band instrumental in ushering in a dynamic style of alt-rock that helped shape the very music of the ’80s and ’90s. The group influenced bands from Nirvana to Radiohead, and even gained respect from the likes of U2 and David Bowie.
So it was no surprise that after the band’s brief career and breakup in the early ’90s, the reunion and return to touring in 2004 saw shows that sold out almost immediately, multiple festival appearances and touring across the globe.
Unfortunately, the tumultuous relationships that plagued the band’s past eventually became problematic once again, and bassist and vocalist Kim Deal left the band in 2013. After a brief attempt to bring in Kim Shattuck from The Muffs for touring, the Pixies reached out to Paz Lenchantin, known for her role as bassist in groups like The Entrance Band, Zwan and A Perfect Circle.
But this wasn’t Lenchantin’s first run-in with the Pixies, or at least with one of them. There was a connection that had begun some 20 years earlier.
“Almost two decades ago was my very first little, tiny tour in southern California outside of L.A., before I did anything else with A Perfect Circle or Zwan,” Lenchantin said. “Joey (Santiago) called me. It was about 1996 or 1997, and he was looking for a bass player/backup singer for his side project The Martinis. … It was just like a week of touring up the coast, up to maybe Portland or something and then back. It was really, really exciting, but then I didn’t hear back from him for another couple of decades, and this time it was because he needed a bass player for the Pixies.”
Lenchantin likens the experience to that of time-travel, one where people can flow in and out of each other’s lives regardless of duration spent apart, yet the relationships remain largely unchanged.
“I like to consider the band time travelers,” Lenchantin said. “What that means is that (whether it’s) one day or maybe two decades later, there’s not really much of a difference. You just continue where you left off. That’s how I felt. He just gave me a call, and I showed up and played some of the songs that they wanted me to learn. It didn’t happen right away, but I’m glad it happened the way it happened.”
This connectedness was apparent in her debut with the Pixies, as practice quickly transformed into recording almost on the spot. After going through several dozen songs, the band decided it was time to lay down a track.
“My very first day with the Pixies, with the whole band at the Calvin in Northampton in January of 2013, I think we went over 65 songs in the back catalog including Indie Cindy,” Lenchantin said. “Black Francis was like, ‘Enough with the practicing. Let’s record,’ and we just started recording a B-side for Indie Cindy called Women of War. We spent the majority of our rehearsal time making this cool B-side, and when that happened, I was so excited, because I felt right away, from the beginning, before my first show, (I was) in the history of the Pixies.”
To be part of that continued Pixies legacy, and to help drive it in years to come, is something that Lenchantin is extremely proud of and humbled by. Her role in the band’s latest album, Head Carrier, as well as her direct contributions to the song All I Think About Now, have the bassist in awe about her place in the group’s history.
“I thought it was a really cool moment that I’ll never forget, this exact moment: Black Francis of the Pixies is asking me, Paz Lenchantin, what I want to sing for a song that may be on the next record,” she said. “I got goosebumps. In my mind I was like, ‘How did I even get here?’”
As for the future? More touring, more writing and more recording.
“I’ve got a few more records to make with them, that’s for sure,” Lenchantin said.