She’s My Fave: a chat with Pixies bass player, Paz Lenchantin

Pixies' Paz Lenchantin. The band headlines BeachLife Festival May 5. Photo courtesy Pixies

by Carrie Dietz Brown

This past week I had the honor of sitting down with Paz Lenchantin, Pixies bass player and surfer. We chatted about Pixies lyrics, exercising joy, surfing, and the upcoming Pixies tour, which includes BeachLife Festival May 5. 

Paz was born into a family of classical musicians and moved from Argentina to Los Angeles at the age of four. She studied piano and violin as a young child but as she got older she became obsessed with the Beatles. Her affinity with Paul McCartney led her to secretly teach herself bass, practicing unplugged in her bedroom closet. In high school, she ditched school to see Pixies open for The Cure on their 1989 tour, twenty-five years before joining the band herself.

In the intervening years, Paz had the musical career that indie rock dreams are made of. She was a founding member of A Perfect Circle, played with Billy Corgan in Zwan, and worked on Silver Jews’ masterpiece album Tanglewood Numbers. She joined Pixies in 2013 and has since enshrined the band’s new music with her unrelenting deft musicianship.

When she’s not a pixie on stage, you can find Paz looking for the perfect swell. She lived in San Clemente for years, surfing twice a day and frequenting San Onofre state beach. Her surfing lyrically influenced Pixies music on albums Beneath the Eyrie and Doggerel. Making references to County Line, paying tribute to a surfer friend in Long Rider, and lyrically working in The Killer Dana Wave to Los Surfers Muertos. More recently Paz surfs in Mexico when she’s not on tour with Pixies.

CDB: Ok, there are a lot of excited Pixies fans here in the South Bay waiting to see you all perform on the beach! Do you have much of a connection to the South Bay? 

PL: Well I’m also a big Pixies fan! And that whole area I love very much. So for me to play there and have those two things come together is an honor. It’s like having my cake and eating it too. There is something about Pixies music that really connects to bodies of water.

CDB: You seem to make joyfulness a priority in your playing and general day-to-day being. I was interested in your moves for staying in an abundance mindset.

PL: (laughing) Well, I mean, I play music all the time. And that is an exercise of joy to me. Joy can influence another person to be joyful, and I try to influence everyone to exercise their joy, because then everyone gets to have it. We all are going through the same human steps but the thing that can sustain all of us is joy.

Pixies Paz Lenchantin on tour in Germany last year. Photo courtesy Pixies

CDB: Do you ever draw parallels between exercising joy while surfing and playing music? Are there similarities between the two?

PL: Everything is similar. I mean, surfing and music are something that you don’t work at, necessarily, it’s something like we play, right? You don’t say ‘Oh, I’m gonna go work surf.’ It’s this joy that you have. People say, ‘I’m going to practice this, or I’m gonna take care of my health.’  But then it’s also really up to the person to exercise their joy in life too.”

CDB: I listened to It’s a Pixies Podcast and was moved by how much the other band members trust your judgment and expertise. They constantly encouraged the producer to defer to you. And they were right, you had the best ideas!

PL: Well, we gotta trust each other, you know. They’re just like my brothers. I think it’s very sweet. Obviously, I’m not always right. But you know, my brothers think I am!

CDB: You are headed out on a tour for the next couple months. What are you looking forward to on the upcoming tour?

PL My focus on this tour will be the new songs because those are the ones that have not been initiated like the other ones. Songs are like jailbirds. There’s these old dudes in jail, right? Like the guys in there for murder, they are Where Is My Mind? Then here comes the little cute shoplifter, they are one of the newer Pixies songs. The old guys are like ‘Oh yeah, let me see what you got! You know who I am? I’m Where Is My Mind!” 

Pixies Paz Lenchantin photographed by Tom Oxley at Rockfield Studios, Wales

CDB: Are you all going to practice much before you go out on this tour? Do you get together much beforehand?

PL: Great question! We normally do not. We are in a rock band, no one wants to be too good. I mean, there’s something fun in the unknown. There’s something fun in the mistake. The joy is ‘Oh my god, I just made a mistake!’ It keeps you on your toes emotionally. You never want to lose that feeling. Because that feeling is the feeling of youth. It’s that feeling of the first time you were on stage.”

As our chat wrapped up, Paz played her keyboard that her phone was balanced on. She flipped through a stack of bleached-out polaroids while insisting any Pixies fan would love Phillip K. Dick’s sci-fi paperbacks. She had me losing my shit laughing over the power of anagrams. Her conversational stylings were as contagious as her joy. Paz started singing the lyrics to Pixies’ Ana and excitedly revealed the hidden acrostic poem repeated in the song.

She’s my fave, 

Undressing in the sun

Return to sea, bye,

Forgetting everyone

Eleven high,

Ride a wave

As she plucked out some chords drenched in reverb, she talked about Friday’s show.  “Yeah,” she said, “I might bring my board!” 

Pixies play BeachLife Festival Friday. See  and for more information. 



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