Pixies’ Black Francis on Bassist Kim Shattuck’s Departure: “It Ain’t That Big of a Deal”

Black Francis of the American band the Pixies performs at Lisbon Coliseum November 9, 2013. REUTERS/Hugo Correia (Reuters)

Several Pixies fans were taken by surprise when it was announced that new bassist Kim Shattuck was ousted from the band, but Pixies frontman Black Francis said that keeping her on as a permanent member of the group was never the plan.

"The big question mark is, if it was going so well, why are you changing it up again?" Francis said in regards to their announcement that Shattuck was leaving the band. "I guess it's a fair question, but what I would say is, just because some shows went well or a recording session went well with somebody, that doesn’t mean that now you guys are married and this is forever. It's not really how it works when you're a band. And it's hard to explain to people, especially if they get emotionally attached to one person."

Shattuck took over bass duties for the alt-rock legends after founding member Kim Deal announced that she was leaving the band earlier this year. The band, which now comprises original members Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, and drummer David Lovering, played a handful of U.S. club dates and toured Europe together, and they appeared to have tremendous on-stage chemistry. Loyal fans were very accepting of the new bass player, with audience members shouting, "We love you new Kim!" at several shows.

Still, it wasn't enough to land Shattuck a full-time gig with the band. Francis said he thought they had a good run, and fans seemed to really take a shine to Shattuck, but when people demand explanations about personal band matters, he doesn't feel he owes them anything. "Frankly you don't want to explain it to anybody – it's a lot of its personal, private s--t," he said. "It's like politics and sports and people's personal lives have all been smeared together in this modern world. It's a very presumptuous attitude about a lot of things. [People say] 'Oh you're shifting something in your world – we demand a statement as to why.' I'm not the mayor, this isn't the bus service for a town. This is a rock band. There's been a shift in the lineup, big woop-dee-doo...as far as we're concerned it ain't that big of a deal."

Shattuck admitted that she was caught completely off guard when she was given her walking papers. "I was surprised," she told NME. "Everything had gone well, the reviews were all good and the fans were super-nice about everything. We said goodbye at the airport and the following morning the manager called me and said: 'The band has made the decision to go with another bass player.' I was shocked."

Paz Lenchantin, who has played with A Perfect Circle, the Entrance Band, and Billy Corgan's project Zwan, will come on board as bassist for the Pixies' 2014 global tour. "Paz is really good," Francis said. "She's really nice and we played with her a couple of times before. We're very curious about working with her and so we are gonna work with her."

Earlier this year, the Pixies released EP1, their first significant new body of music since 1991's Trompe le Monde. So why did the Pixies finally decide to release several new tunes after more than two decades headlining festivals and touring playing the same old material? "It was getting a little boring playing the same damn songs every night," Francis admits. "It took us the better part of 10 years to get that to happen because not everybody in the band was open to that idea."

Francis speculated that the band's decision to write new music may have been partially responsible for Deal's departure. "Maybe Kim [Deal] would have left the band even if we hadn't recorded new music, I don’t know, but I can't help but theorize that maybe that's what brought it to a head – we were becoming a vital creative entity again," he said. "Creativity is a new paradigm – it's more intimate. Playing the old songs is less intimate. It's like for old time's sake, let's play it again. Playing new music is definitely another level in a band. I think that it ended up causing the band to break up again, so to speak. Or in this case, not break up but [undergo] a lineup change. Now the onus is on Joey and David and I to make it valid or not."