Pixies Guitarist Says Reunion Not Embarrassing So Far; Martinis Ready To Roll

Weirdness of getting back together with old bandmates went away after a few moments.

When Joey Santiago walked into the first practice session for the upcoming Pixies reunion tour, it had been 11 years since the band’s four members had all been in the same room together. So his reaction was understandable.

“It was pretty weird,” the guitarist told MTV News. “But it was literally only weird for a little while. Once we started playing, that was it … it was fun. It was on to business.”

In February, the Pixies announced that they had put an acrimonious 1993 breakup behind them and were regrouping for a spring and summer tour (see “Pixies Announce Dates For Reunion Tour” ). Plans for the reunion were first reported by MTV News last fall (see “Legendary Pixies To Reunite For Tour, Album” ).

So was Santiago able to remember the songs that he made famous with his twisting, surf-inspired guitar licks? “Not all of them. Some of them I had to go and listen to again,” he said, laughing. “There were a few muscle memory moments. Charles [Black Francis] came in and started playing songs we haven’t touched in a while and it was like, ‘Whoa! How does that one go again?’ ”

Santiago could be forgiven for not immediately remembering all of the nuances of his old band’s tunes. For the last four years, he’s been playing music in a different band, the Martinis, a group that also includes his wife, singer Linda Mallari.

The band offers up a dozen breezy, melodious pop ditties on its new album, Smitten, which is being released June 1. It’s a follow-up to the group’s self-titled album, released in 2000.

“It’s tough sometimes, you know, because you never get a break from the person you’re working with,” Santiago said about working with his wife. “We almost have to draw lines in the house — if we’re in the kitchen or bedroom, we can’t talk about the music.”

Santiago and Mallari met in Boston in the late 1980s before the Pixies had even played a live show. Touring in support of this Martinis album could prove difficult for Santiago, and not just because he’s committed through the fall with the Pixies reunion tour — his wife is expecting their second child in August.

“Makes it tough to tour, doesn’t it? But we had to put the album out sometime,” Santiago explained.

Santiago also spent time in recent years scoring television and movies. He contributed to the score for the indie flick “Crime and Punishment in Suburbia” and, until it got canceled, the television show “Undeclared,” which was written by the creators of “Freaks and Geeks.” For that show, Santiago was creating up to 20 musical cues per episode. “I was ready for the straightjacket,” he joked.

In two weeks, Santiago will hit the road with the Pixies for the kickoff of the band’s “warm-up” tour. They’ll play 14 shows before headlining the Coachella Festival on May 1 in Indio, California (see “Radiohead, Pixies, Kraftwerk Playing First Night Of Coachella” ).

“When we started getting back together, in my perspective anyway, I wanted to see if it would be embarrassing to do,” he said. “If it was, maybe we should [have just kept it] on a high note, you know? But it turns out it’s really fun, really good.”

For Pixies fans lucky enough to attend the reunion shows, special limited-edition live CDs of each tour stop will be made available immediately after the performances. A DiscLive CD duplication truck following the band will make 1,000 live recordings of every show for purchase that night, at $25 per disc. Those recordings not sold will be made available at the DiscLive Web site (www.disclive.com) after each show.