When founding member Kim Deal quit the acclaimed indie band The Pixies last year, the band was in the middle of recording an album’s worth of material for the first time in two decades.
David Lovering, the band’s drummer, says the idea of just breaking up was not off the table at that point.
“When Kim left, it was hard,” he says. “We didn’t know what to do.”
But the studio time was already paid for, and the three remaining members – Lovering, singer/guitarist Charles “Black Francis” Thompson IV, and guitarist Joey Santiago – were itching to finish what they’d started.
As a result, The Pixies have released two EPs, several videos and a single over the past seven months. Deal was replaced on bass and vocals by Kim Shattuck of The Muffs for a European tour last year.
And now the band, with bassist Paz Lenchantin (Zwan, A Perfect Circle) taking over for Shattuck, is going out on the road again until the spring of 2015. The Pixies play at Durham Performing Arts Center on Friday.
Lovering, 52, says he’s excited about his new rhythm section partner.
“She’s a pro,” he says. “And she brings her professionalism to the table. Her playing is just … your jaw drops. She’s so good. I finally can have bass in my stage monitor. It’s nice.”
As for the new songs, Lovering says they will be worked into the set a little at a time.
“You’re getting small doses of medicine that maybe you don’t like,” he says, and then laughs boisterously. “But you get a little used to it.”
Lovering is joking, but he’s well aware that some people are still not over the departure of Deal; and that some fans are so devoted to a certain era of a band’s music that they may be predisposed to resist new output.
This past September, reviewer Jayson Greene, writing for the Internet music publication Pitchfork, gave the Pixies’ four-song “EP1” the lowest score of 1 out of 10. (“Nothing in these four faceless, fatuous alt-rock songs distinguishes them as the music of the Pixies,” he wrote.)
Greene doubled down when he reviewed the follow-up, “EP2” in January, although he did score it up a notch – to 2.
Lovering says the band takes such criticism in stride.
“The Pixies are kind of eclectic and all over the place,” Lovering points out, “and you just can’t please everyone all the time.”
But from the tone in Lovering’s voice, it’s obvious that it annoys him a bit.
“All I can say is, ‘Hello Pilgrim’ didn’t sound like ‘Trompe le Monde.’ ‘Trompe le Monde’ didn’t sound like ‘Bossanova’…” Lovering goes through every album – all the way back to 1988’s “Surfer Rosa” – to drive home his point.
The upside is that “EP2,” in general, has been getting better reviews than its predecessor.
A reviewer in British magazine New Musical Express gave it an 8/10 and raved: “They’re doing a stunning job of imagining what the glossier Pixies record that never got made between the harsh metallic slashes of ‘Trompe Le Monde’ and the esoteric melodicism of Frank Black’s solo debut might have sounded like.”
Plus, the band is having fun, which is the most important thing for Lovering.
“We’re doing something that is hard to pull off – doing new material after such a long time. We’re all very happy with what we did.”