Paz Lenchantin is a Pixie. Not the wild-eyed, supernatural kind (though she exudes some of that), but a Pixie as in the alternative rock band, for which she plays bass.
“The Pixies are the best band I’ve ever been in,” says Paz, a vibrant and stoked presence. “They’re great as people, and they’re so talented. I’m inspired. Every song is so different than the other songs—there’s never a moment where I’m like, ‘Ah, this one again?’ That never happens.”
“This is me at the Hollywood Bowl with Pixies.” | “Looks kinda blown out but still out there.”
Born into a musical family in Mar de Plata, Argentina in 1973, Paz picked up violin as a child to accompany her cello-playing sister and viola-playing brother. “We were kind of the classical music family band,” she says. At age four, the Lenchantins moved to Southern California, where, in the 1980s, the music of Jane’s Addiction called out to her, specifically the bass.
“I’m like, ‘What is this?’ It just had some other thing. And I was already interested in bass, because of Paul McCartney and the Beatles and this kind of melodic bass play. But I thought Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction had a similar melodic feel that I resonate with bass. So then I became obsessed.”
“When I lived in my school bus.” | "My first Gato Heroi."
Paz explains how she taught herself bass, then strategically left a guitar in her brother’s bedroom with the hopes that he’d pick it up. He did. Soon after they rallied a drummer friend, formed a rock band, and started playing parties and bars and clubs around LA.
Says Paz, “Eventually Maynard [James Keenan, Tool founding member] from A Perfect Circle saw me play and was like, ‘I want you in the band, and I don’t want to be in the band unless you’re in the band.’ I think that he wanted to do something really different than Tool. And my female energy, I guess, was something that he was drawn to as not just another dude band. So I joined A Perfect Circle, and it went from playing little clubs to all of a sudden opening up for Nine Inch Nails in arenas everywhere by the time I was 22.”
More bands and collaborations followed: Zwan, The Chelsea, The Entrance. Then came the Pixies, which, as Paz explained, seemed written in the stars.
“This is the Ranch near Saladita, Mexico. One of my favorite places. Even though it’s mainly lefts, it’s fun riding backside. We took the boat there.” | “Daisy is my car on the right. At SanO.”
“So I’m living in a school bus in San Clemente. I’m surfing every day and loving life. I have zero money in my bank account, but I don’t care. And I get a call to join the Pixies, and I’m supposed to audition. And I go to the audition, and apparently it was me and another girl. And I really thought I had it, mainly because I have premonitions and things like that. Anyways, I’m out surfing at SanO, and there was this good surfer out surfing, and I was like, ‘I’m going to take a break and have my lunch and just watch him surf.’ I really enjoy watching as much as I enjoy doing. And he was surfing, and he lost his board and it was going towards the rocks. So I put my food down and ran to try to save his board. It was like a 9’2” or something like that, a longboard. And this wave comes, and I grabbed the board, and it didn’t get dinged, I felt like I saved it. And I turned his board over and on the tail it said P-I-X-I-E-S.”
That was 2013. She’s been playing and touring with them ever since. In the last decade, she’s also played with Queens of the Stone Age, Papa M, Silver Jews, Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux, Trust Company, Kaura, and more. I asked what she considers to be her greatest musical achievement.
“This is what hanging ten feels like when I’m playing. Hehe.”
“Playing the Hollywood Bowl with the Pixies,” she says, “because it’s LA, and I’ve gone to see so much there since I was a little kid. And my really good friend, Cat Power, opened up that show, and she was pregnant, and I just was on cloud whatever, 9 or 10 or 11. It felt like my whole family was there!”
Paz is a dedicated surfer. “I’ll be honest, it’s been in my life all my life. But then when I lost my brother, who was one of the most important people in my life, I needed to obsess on something bigger than me. And it was a way of healing that…it was learning how to walk again. And it inspired me every day to wake up and go surf. Never read about it. You wake up and you go. It doesn’t matter. And it was something that I hold so dear to my heart. It’s very personal. It was there for me, and he was there for me in this way.”
“Right after my brother died. I was riding a Dano/Knost model.”
The pandemic cancelled tours, and thus gave Paz plenty of time to surf. But finally, after a two-year hiatus, the Pixies are getting back on the road. And they’re about to drop a new record. “When you asked, ‘What are you most proud of?’ I was like, ‘I’m so proud of this record that’s coming out.’ It has everything I love about the Pixies in it. And I’m so honored to be part of it. And I can’t wait to share it.”
Check out Paz at @pazlenchantin