You guys are doing the Doolittle tour in honor of the album’s 20th — now 21st — anniversary, but besides the fact that it was the album’s birthday, why did you guys decide to go on tour again after the initial reunion? And specifically for this album?
Well, this is something we’ve been talking about. I think when we got back together in 2004, we were toying with the idea for about two years, of touring on an album, just Doolittle coming up on its 20th year was just apropos, and also because it was such a, kind of, critically acclaimed album, we thought that would be the perfect thing to do. It took two years of talking and finally we put it together and the band and moved on and that was it.
What was the appeal of touring for an album specifically? It seems like more often these days people are doing that.
I think the actual idea of it came from something called “One Step” ... I can’t remember what it was called. The idea was, what was going at the time, was, there would be a popular band, they would do one of their albums for one night only — so it was just a one-off kind of thing. Hearing of this, we just kind of, thought for the reasons I already said about Doolittle, why don’t we just take it and make a production out of it, and actually make a tour out of it.
And you guys have really made a production out of it, too. There’s videos that go with each song, and overall it's a more produced performance this time around.
It is. It’s the biggest production we’ve ever had. We have a screen behind us; we also have these, it looks like DNA molecules hanging; we have lighting, and as the songs play from Doolittle, from “Debaser,” in sequence all the way to “Silver,” a video artist has done their interpretation — a separate video artist — has done their interpretation for each song. So that’s going on behind us, and I have no clue, because I’m just drumming; my back is to the video screen. So once in a while I look over, but I need some kind of mirror or something I can mount on my cymbals so I can watch it.
A lot of songs are being played for the first time since you started this tour.
How tricky was it to nail down at first?
We’re trying to replicate it exactly as the album is, as far as not veering, like me doing some kind of drum solo that wasn’t there. When we reunited in 2004, it was like riding a bike. The songs came back, kind of like muscle memory, for everyone. There was a little sloppiness, but it came back just with practice. When we did Doolittle, definitely there’s about two, three songs on it that we haven’t played in a while, or never played. “Here Comes Your Man,” we’ve never, ever played that — at least back in the day when it came out — so we had to kind of get with that. There was another song called “Silver,” which is the second to last song, and we had to completely learn that.
Have you discovered a new favorite song from that album?
Yes. I’ve always enjoyed playing “Tame,” which is the second song. Even back in the day, I still enjoyed playing it. I like fast songs, and things that are punk-y, and stuff like that. Those are fun to play. So, “Tame” is still there for me. As far as another song, a new one, maybe “There Goes My Gun,” which was one that we didn’t play a lot of, and I’m kind of just having fun with that when I’m playing it, because it’s a little bit of an adventure.
I read that you guys have been cherry-picking songs from other albums for the encores.
Do you guys brainstorm about that at all, or is it set or do you decide by city?
It’s usually, what we’ve done, we’ve had a lot of fans, our Pixies fans, they cast their vote in, as far as what they want to hear. So, we have that pool to pick from. Basically, when that’s determined, it can sometimes be the city, if the song has some sort of relation to the city, we’ll definitely play that, but it’s usually right when we’re finished with the B sides, which ends the actual, real Doolittle show, once we’ve walked backstage, and we know we’re going to do an encore, that’s when we each pick one — I get to pick one, Joe gets to pick one, Charles, Kim — we just pick our own songs and do it. Then we just see if it gels. We just do it right there on the fly. We send it to the guys upfront who know how to do the lights and boom, we go and do it.
Awesome. I also read that you like Rush and Steely Dan.
So if you were going to cover a Steely Dan song, do you have one that in particular you'd love to cover?
Oh, geez. That’s a tough one. Ooh. Because, it’s so our polar opposite. Oh, gosh. I can only think of — ay, ya, yay — that’s a tough one. I couldn’t even answer that. Maybe a Rush song, maybe.
OK, then what Rush song?
I think, probably the easiest one of all, maybe “Closer to the Heart.” Whatever would be easy that we could pull off.
Then there is also the magician side of you. After the band broke up, you started performing as the Scientific Phenomenalist. Your performances are kind of like stand-up comedy science experiments. Do you have a signature trick or a favorite one to perform. I kind of liked the glowing pickle trick when I saw it on YouTube.
Yeah. I’ve found people love fire and smoke. So anything I do with fire and smoke, it’ll be a hit, so the Pickle works really well. I do another thing where I take my kick drum, and I fill it up with smoke and I shoot smoke rings out of it, and make them travel a hundred yards. It’s those for the science tricks, and then for a real magic trick, I think my favorite is where I pull a card out of my ass. [Laughs] That gets a groan and usually people run out of the place or scream.
After spending all this time together again touring, has it lead to any kind of creative moments where you’ve been messing around with new songs or material or anything?
We messed around earlier, or late last year. We just fooled around for a bit, just playing. Nothing came to fruition. We’ve been talking, probably the last two years, about doing new material, an new album. And, as far as that happening, I know that 2011 we have nothing booked, and I mean, that would be the obvious thing to do. But it’s all talk right now, and, as a magician, I cannot reveal any secrets.
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