Black Francis – vocals, guitar Joey Santiago – guitar David Lovering – drums Paz Lenchantin – bass, vocals Joey Santiago is in love. “I am!” he laughs. “The longest I separated from this girlfriend is probably a week. Then I listened to her again. Haha! I love it!” The object of Joey’s desire is his band’s new album, Head Carrier. The Pixies’ guitarist may have finished recording it months ago, but he remains utterly smitten. He takes it to bed and discovers little details he hadn’t noticed before. “I was shocked at some songs, they shine at lot better than I thought they would. You could listen to this forever and enjoy it.” Not surprisingly, he wants to show his new baby to the world. “I played it to some friends and both of them had goose-bumps – they just loved it! It’s tough and lush. Warm and dark and murky…” Santiago’s giddiness might come as a surprise. This isn’t his first time, after all. Head Carrier is the seventh Pixies album, in a lifespan stretching back 30 years to their formation in Boston, Massachusetts. But there is, the guitarist notes, a new element to the Pixies’ DNA this time. “It’s Paz. She’s awesome. Now, everything is just so light, we’ve got lightness. I think I lost 12 pounds it’s so light now.” Paz is Paz Lenchantin, the bass player who joined the Pixies at the start of 2014, before the release of Head Carrier’s predecessor, Indie Cindy, but after its completion. If there was any lingering uncertainty regarding her official status, even during the two years of touring that followed, that’s changed now. Her position was sealed, emotionally, when she sang one of the new album’s stellar moments, “All I Think About Now,” a song she co-wrote with Pixies’ lead singer-songwriter Charles Thompson aka Black Francis and which is a tribute to Kim Deal, the original Pixie whose role Paz now occupies. “It just came at the last minute, a week before the recording process ended,” says Lenchantin. “I came up with some chords which I showed Charles, and he really liked it and he put some lyrics to it.” “Paz said she wanted me to write a letter – a thank-you letter,” says Black Francis. “So I did. It was kinda poignant for us. It was important that song was a collaboration. Something from the Pixies’ DNA but also something from her as the new member, together.” The genesis of Head Carrier began even as Indie Cindy was being made – a direct consequence of Kim Deal’s decision to quit the band in June 2013 during a recording session at Rockfield Studios in Wales. “So we knew we had to make another one, even before we finished Indie Cindy,” says Black Francis. “That one by definition had turned into this transitional moment. We tried to make that transitional moment as good as we could, but no matter how great we potentially could make it, we knew it would still beg the question: what’s your new paradigm? It still remained transitional. Instead of becoming defining, it became transitional.” Although almost 23 years separated Indie Cindy from its predecessor, 1991’s Trompe Le Monde, the Pixies’ 2014 comeback album that felt like a solid and contiguous addition to the canon. Both records were produced by genial Liverpudlian taskmaster Gil Norton, who had also guided the band on Doolittle (1989) and then Bossanova (1990). But when Black Francis and Joey Santiago sat down to discuss what might come next, they instinctively knew a change was required.