Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 99

Santiago/Francis photo courtesy of J. Santiago. Santiago '90s: Rick Gould. Pixies: Simon Foster.

Santiago and Charles Thompson rehearsing in
1985, the former (below, left) with his Ovation
Viper. By the early '90s, he was using a Les
Paul Classic (middle right). The Pixies (bottom)
recording Head Carrier; from left are Thompson,
David Lovering, Paz Lenchantin, and Santiago.

paired with music that strayed from traditional pop structures via exaggerated
dynamics - low-key verses mixed with
screaming, go-for-the-throat choruses.
Early albums like Surfer Rosa and Doolittle
saw them develop into a college-radio stalwart in the U.S., while in the U.K. they were
chart regulars and a huge concert draw.
Though their apex proved short, the
Pixies created music with impact. Thom
York of Radiohead and every member of
Nirvana have referred to their own bands
as Pixies rip-offs. David Bowie was a fan
of Thompson's odd art, and U2's Bono has
cited him as a great songwriter.
After a brief hiatus, the Pixies recorded
Trompe le Monde in 1991 then toured
the following spring before Thompson
famously broke up the band via fax (except
to Santiago, who got a phone call). They
reunited to tour in 2004 and sporadically
in the years after. In 2013, they released a
compilation called Indie Cindy, followed
by Head Carrier in '16 with new bassist/
vocalist Paz Lenchantin.
In a 2006 interview, Thompson cited
Santiago as "the unsung hero of the Pixies," for his ability to make simple guitar
parts stand out, using a subtle touch in
a rough setting. Quiet and soft-spoken,
Santiago's role behind the scenes has
always been immense and his playing has
tempered - or fostered - Thompson's angsty lyrics. We recently spoke with Santiago
to learn more about his background and
the latest on the band.
How did music first become part of
your life?

The Beatles were big where I grew up in
the Philippines, and I loved their sound
instantly when I heard "Savoy Truffle."
Later, we listened a lot to the "King Biscuit
Flower Hour" and watched "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert." I remember seeing so
many bands on that show and thinking,
"This is cool." It looked like a good time,
and on "King Biscuit," especially, they
played live. I thought, "I want to do that."
It was such a huge dream.
Did you ask your parents for a guitar?

Well, my brother's guitar was right there
hanging on the wall, so I got The Mel Bay
Easy Way to Guitar and learned basic stuff
October 2017

99

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