IT'S funny how some Pixies songs come about. Take Daniel Boone, a bewitching acoustic ballad on the band's new album. It was inspired when Frank Black, also known as Black Francis, was driving to record The Pixies seventh studio album in a converted church 100 miles from New York, when suddenly he “had to brake hard for a very large deer”.

He missed it but as he sat behind the wheel Frank Black wondered about another version of events. What if he had died that night, the deer having crashed through the windscreen leaving him to float “towards the moon”.

He suggests the track, recorded in December last year, is one of those songs that “feels like it’s already written”. The folky, gothic environment of the former church, St John’s, and a nearby abandoned rail-track, added to the spooky atmosphere of the Friday 13th release.

When Pixies drummer David Lovering spotted an eagle’s nest above the studio it gifted the band an album title; Beneath The Eyrie and set the tone for their best work since reforming in 2003 after a ten-year split. The album’s lead single On Graveyard Hill released earlier this year is classic Pixies featuring Black screaming and howling an American gothic tale of witches, the moon and taking his last breath.

The Black howl alongside Joey Santiago’s classic two-note guitar hook summons the likes of Gouge Away from their era-defining Doolittle album, released 30 years ago. “On Graveyard Hill is a very psychological song and very personal," says Black down the line, while walking around a shopping mall somewhere in America. “Although it had a few good lines I handed the lyrics over to Paz [Lenchantin] and it became more of a retelling of the folk tale about the belladonna, it became a witch song. It still has that personal element but the framework became more of a folktale.”

Black (real name Charles Thompson) suggests there is a Scottish folk element in his penchant for the supernatural. St Nazaire was motivated by Scottish mythology and the Selkie folk tales of the Northern Isles. The story of Catfish Kate and Black Jack Hooligan wanders similar territory in the telling of a love affair between a man and a part woman/part sea-creature hybrid.

Reflecting on his Scottish/Bostonian roots and his father’s ability to spin a folk yarn from the old country, he says: “I’m Scottish. I come from a long line of stone-cutters from Aberdeen. I think they were criminals when they were in Scotland but by the time they got to the United States they had become granite barons.

"They lost everything to gambling and booze so I guess I’m trying to reclaim the granite baron status of my ancestors through music.”

The therianthropic female elements are also featured on Beneath The Eyrie’s album cover continuing a significant aquatic reference. Once again the album sleeve features the surrealist artwork and design of Vaughan Oliver. He is described by the band’s sometime artwork photographer Simon Larbalestier as the “fifth Pixie”. Vaughan’s arresting aesthetic has been an essential part of the band’s visual expression. A dead fish beside a topless flamenco dancer and crucifix featured on Surfer Rosa (1988), displaced fish eyes on Trompe le Monde (1991) and another fish creature on Head Carrier (2016) are a continuing visual thread.

“The artwork is done by Vaughan who has done all our sleeves, he worked with a painter (Ian Pollock) on our last record. For the first time on this album, we stopped the process because we wanted something different and more photographic. The idea was to represent the figure of Catfish Kate in terms of the visual, it looks like a like mushroom but it is photograph-based and it does have a more feminine form.”

Perhaps the album’s most eerie cut is Silver Bullet, a song which led to a psychological evaluation from Black’s 13-year-old daughter. “It started out as a kind of broken-hearted love song. My daughter referenced the silver bullet as being a song about a werewolf, it mentions these famous references like Aleister Crowley (Golden Dawn) but does their inclusion in a set of words really mean it is about that? You can’t deny certain words have a status in the language. Certain things permeate the entire writing process. Maybe subconsciously I wrote about a werewolf song, when my daughter said that I thought it was interesting. When you paint or draw it’s an artistic thing; you let your subconscious drive the bus and guide you and the end result leaves you with a lot of possibilities that are much more interesting”.

A variety of Catholic and Protestant expressions knit their way through a range of Biblical themes in Black’s songwriting, inspired by growing up as part of the Christian evangelical and pentecostal movement in America. He suggests it was “the flavour at the time” adding: “I don’t know if it was a positive or negative thing. Religion or the lack of it is part of your life and the fabric of culture. I’m not original in that sense in tapping into those concepts and the symbolism. I get a lot of credit for that but there’s probably more in one Nick Cave song that my entire career.”

That’s debatable, to give one example has anyone made an alternative pop single as divine as Monkey Gone to Heaven? Inspired by, as Black previously suggests, Hebrew numerology and the destruction of the environment, does the future of the planet remain a concern?

“I’m observing certain things from a slightly different perspective now. The Dark Mountain Project is a group of writers and artists and they have a background in ecology and environmental activism. Their perspective is that we have already gone past the line and passed the point of no return.

"Now, poetically and artistically, it is time to muse on that, to muse on the finality of it all. Their predictions are more bleak, it’s not a case of what should we do to save the race, the perspective is enjoy being erased because the last word has already been written and we wrote it.”

Beneath The Eyrie further showcases the talents of bass player/vocalist Paz Lenchantin who cements her place as a permanent member of the band. “You don't want a hired gun”, says Black, “it goes against the grain of our punk, indie, DIY aesthetic. If someone is doing the gigs and making the records then they’re in the band, man. Are we a band or what, you know? You have to give them the status.”

The door had previously been left open for Kim Deal to return, a founding member and indie icon in her own right. Many believe Pixies are not the same band without her presence. “She had a lot of good instincts and a good aesthetic for rock ’n’ roll music. She cared about the finished results and wanted the records to be good as well as adopting the alternative, indie spirit that we were all involved in.”

Black is similarly pragmatic about the Pixies famous fanbase that has included the likes of David Bowie, U2 and Nirvana. “They are all just music geeks like me, they like rock ’n’ roll records and wanted to make music. The only unique thing is that some of those guys are very famous. I guess part of me now is like ‘so what’. I’ve been asked about Kurt Cobain so many times that I’m like, ‘he’s some guy who has been dead for 25 years’. I don't want to be a pompous ass but I’ve got an ego too.”

As a band who championed the alternative spirit, are some songs just too popular for the set-list that will feature over two nights in Glasgow and Edinburgh? “We’re much more practical about these matters now. When we were young we might have abandoned certain songs because of the perceived baggage of being too pop. Now, if people want to hear them; we’ll play them, unless we hate it and I don't think we’ve ever made anything we hate.”

Black admits some songs continue to baffle even him, such as their 1990 single Dig For Fire. “Sometimes that sounds great and other times it sounds like a piece of shit, so certain songs you become wary of. Another time you play it and you’re like ‘what were you thinking not playing it, this song is awesome’ and then it’s shit again. It has some magical power.”

Why Frank Black?

“Back in 1986 a name like Charles Thompson sounded like a big mumble. Don't get me wrong, I like my name but for the purposes of the theatre, I needed something with a little bit more pizzazz than Charles Thompson. There’s no right way or wrong way of saying a name but there are a lot of linguistic possibilities and it’s a terrible showbiz name. I wanted something like Iggy Pop, there’s not a lot of linguistic possibilities or room for interpretation, it’s pretty clear!”

The Pixies play Glasgow’s 02 Academy on September 22 and Edinburgh’s Usher Hall the following night. Beneath The Eyrie is out now