Pixies

Infobox Musician
Name = Pixies


Img_capt = Pixies, pictured early in their career — Black Francis, Kim Deal, David Lovering, and Joey Santiago.
Img_size = 250
Landscape = yes
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Genre = Alternative rock
Years_active = 1986–1993
2004–2007
Label = 4AD, Elektra, Spin Art, Artemis
Associated_acts = The Breeders, Frank Black and the Catholics, The Amps, The Martinis
URL = [http://www.4ad.com/pixies/ 4ad.com/pixies/]
Current_members = Black Francis
Kim Deal
David Lovering
Joey Santiago
Past_members =

Pixies are an American alternative rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986. [cite web|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bbx68mpm39f5o|title=Pixies|author=Erlewine, Stephen Thomas|accessdate=2007-06-21|publisher="Allmusic"] The band disbanded in 1993 under acrimonious circumstances but reunited in 2004. Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal, and David Lovering have been the band's continual members. The Pixies found only modest success in their home country, but were significantly more successful in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, although never achieving mainstream success with their studio albums.cite web|url= http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=19:T578|title=American Alternative Rock/Post-Punk|author=Erlewine, Stephen Thomas |accessdate=2006-05-20|publisher="Allmusic"]

The Pixies' music was heavily influenced by punk and surf rock, and while highly melodic, was capable of being tremendously abrasive at the same time. Francis was the band's primary songwriter and singer and had a distinctly desperate, yowling delivery. He typically wrote cryptic songs about offbeat subjects, such as UFOs and surrealism. References to mental instability, violent Biblical imagery, physical injury, and incest feature in many of the band's songs.

The group is frequently posited as the immediate forebear of the alternative rock boom of the 1990s, though they disbanded before reaping any of the benefits this might have brought them.cite web | url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:bx68mpm39f5o~T1 | title=Pixies > Biography | accessdate=2006-09-10 | author=Erlewine, Stephen Thomas | publisher="Allmusic"] [cite web | url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/rockandalt/reviews/pixies_mutilation.shtml | title=Rock & Alt Review - The Pixies - Wave of Mutilation | accessdate=2006-10-18 | author=Hodges, Jacqueline | publisher=BBC| date=2004-05-03 | quote=Then along came the Surfer Rosa album where, without realising it at the time, a pre-Nevermind Steve Albini produced the blueprint for grunge and a legend was born.] Avowed fan Kurt Cobain's acknowledgement of the debt Nirvana owed to the Pixies, [cite web | url=http://www.4ad.com/pixies/ephemera/kurt-cobain-on-p/ | title=Kurt Cobain on Pixies and The Breeders | accessdate=2006-09-02 | publisher=Melody Maker | date=1992-08-29] along with similar tributes by other alternative bands, ensured that the Pixies' legacy and influence grew substantially in the years following their demise.cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/misc_said.html | title=They Said About the Pixies... | accessdate=2006-09-11 | author=Biel, Jean-Michel; Gourraud, Christophe | publisher=Alec Eiffel] [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/misc_homages.html | title=Homages to the Pixies | accessdate=2006-08-28 | author=Biel, Jean-Michel; Gourraud, Christophe | publisher=Alec Eiffel]

History

Formation

The Pixies' history began when undergraduates Joey Santiago and Black Francis (born Charles Thompson IV) shared a room at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. [The university was the theme of the song, "U-Mass", on "Trompe le Monde"] Santiago soon introduced Francis to the music of David Bowie and 1970s punk rock, and the pair began to jam together.cite web | url=http://www.4ad.com/pixies/profile/ | title=Pixies Profile | accessdate=2006-08-13 | publisher=4AD] Francis then embarked on a student exchange trip to city-state|San Juan|Puerto Rico, but upon arriving struggled to grasp the Spanish language. [His Spanish later improved, and several Pixies songs contained Spanish lyrics, most notably in "Come On Pilgrim"] After spending six months in an apartment with a "weirdo, psycho, gay roommate", [The unnamed roommate in question was the subject of a later song, "Crackity Jones", from "Doolittle".] he returned to Boston and dropped out of the university. [Sisario, Ben. "Doolittle 33⅓". Continuum, 2005. ISBN 0-8264-1774-4. pp. 12–13] The two spent 1984 working in a warehouse, with Francis composing songs on his acoustic guitar and writing lyrics on the subway train. [Frank, Josh; Ganz, Caryn. "." (2006). ISBN 0-312-34007-9. p. 11]

The pair formed a band in January 1986. Bassist Kim Deal joined Santiago and Francis two weeks later [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 13] after responding to a classified advertisement Francis had placed, seeking a female bassist who liked both folk music icons Peter, Paul and Mary and the hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü. [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 14] Deal was the only person to respond, but arrived at the audition without a bass guitar as she had never played the instrument before. [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 15] [Sisario, 2006. p. 14] She claimed her twin sister Kelley Deal had a bass back in Dayton and that she had no money to get it. Francis lent her $50 for the airfare and Deal returned with the bass guitar. [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/history.html | title = A Pixies History | accessdate=2006-08-29 | author=Biel, Jean-Michel; Gourraud, Christophe | publisher=Alec Eiffel] The trio started rehearsing in Deal's apartment, "because the old lady upstairs couldn't hear." [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 20]

After recruiting Kim Deal, the band tried to get Kelley to join the band on drums unsuccessfully. [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 17] Kim's husband suggested they hire drummer David Lovering, whom Kim had met at her wedding reception. [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 18] [Sisario, 2006. pp. 8–9] They arrived at a name after Santiago selected the word randomly from a dictionary and took a liking to the definition, "mischievous little elves". The group was originally named "Pixies In Panoply" ("Things on Fire" was considered), [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 21] but soon shortened it to "Pixies". [cite web | url=http://dag.wieers.com/debaser/trivia.php | title=Pixies/Debaser — Trivia | author=Dag Wieërs | accessdate=2006-09-10] cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/titles.html | title=Pixies Titles/Names | accessdate=2006-09-18 | author=Biel, Jean-Michel; Gourraud, Christophe | publisher=Alec Eiffel] Once the band had settled on a name and stable line-up, they moved rehearsals to Lovering's parents' garage in the summer of 1986. [Sisario, 2006. p. 9] [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 20] Their first show—named as "possibly the worst gig in the history of rock" by the band—took place at the The Rathskeller, Boston, where they performed early versions of "Here Comes Your Man", "Dig for Fire", and "Build High".

Record contract and "Come On Pilgrim"

While the Pixies were playing a concert with Throwing Muses, they were noticed by producer Gary Smith (Fort Apache Studios). He told the band he "could not sleep until you guys are world famous." The band produced an 18 track demo at Fort Apache soon afterwards, known to fans as "The Purple Tape" because of the tape cover's purple background. The recording was funded by Francis' father at the cost of $1000 and took three days to record. [Sisario, 2006. p. 16] The tape was released exclusively as a demo to interested parties, including Ivo Watts-Russell at 4AD and local promoter Ken Goes, who became the band's manager. Watts-Russell nearly passed on the band, finding them too normal, "too rock 'n' roll", but signed them at the persuasion of his girlfriend. [Sisario, 2006. p. 17] [An album was later released, entitled "Pixies", containing the songs from the Purple Tape that were not later released on "Come On Pilgrim". "Pixies" also contained a new track, "Rock A My Soul", which was never released on any album.]

Upon signing with 4AD (the band later claimed they were "the coolest record company to pay on time"), eight tracks from the Purple Tape were selected for the "Come On Pilgrim" EP, the band's first release. The title was a lyric in the song "Levitate Me", which came from a catchphrase used by '70s Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman during his live concerts: "Come on Pilgrim, you know He loves you"—Francis once saw Norman at a Christian summer camp. Black Francis would later record one of Norman's songs during his solo career as Frank Black, plus share one concert stage with Norman.

In the EP, Francis drew upon his experiences in Puerto Rico, mostly in the songs "Vamos" and "Isla de Encanta"; the album included lyrics describing the poverty in Puerto Rico. The religious lyrics in "Come On Pilgrim" and later albums came from his born-again Christian days in the Pentecostal Church.

"Come On Pilgrim" showcased much of the Pixies' variety and set up the beginnings of many trends in their music. It includes two songs partly sung in Spanish ("Vamos" and "Isla de Encanta") and two songs that explicitly mention incest—"Nimrod's Son" and "The Holiday Song" (audio|HolidaySong.ogg|sample). "I've Been Tired" refers metaphorically to sex and rock and roll culture and features a weird sense of humour, and there are three songs with religious references ("Caribou", "Nimrod's Son", and "The Holiday Song"). Beyond lyrical trends, "Come On Pilgrim" displayed Santiago's erratic leads (as best displayed in "Vamos"), Kim Deal's sweet harmonies (the then-married Deal used the pseudonym "Mrs. John Murphy" on the first few Pixies records, as an ironic feminist joke), and Black Francis's amazing vocal range, from screaming to simple, traditional sung melodies. [Sisario, 2006. p. 18]

"Surfer Rosa" and "Doolittle"

"Come On Pilgrim" was followed by the band's first full-length album, "Surfer Rosa". The album was recorded by Steve Albini (who was hired by Watts-Russell on the advice of a 4AD colleague), [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 75] completed in a fortnight, and released in early 1988. Albini later became notable for recording Nirvana's "In Utero" at the request of Kurt Cobain, who had cited "Surfer Rosa" as one of his main musical influences, and particularly admired the album's natural and powerful drum sounds—a result of Albini's influence on the record. [Azerrad, Michael. "Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana". Doubleday, 1993. ISBN 0-385-47199-8, p. 313] "Surfer Rosa" gained the Pixies acclaim throughout the musical world; both "Melody Maker" and "Sounds" gave "Surfer Rosa" their "Album of the Year" award. The success of "Surfer Rosa" would lead to the band signing an American distribution deal with major record label Elektra before the release of their next album.

As with "Come On Pilgrim", the band delivered a wide range of song styles. However, sonically and thematically, "Surfer Rosa" was similar to "Come On Pilgrim"—from the drum-driven "Bone Machine", that showed a trademark propensity for surreal lyrics, [Francis, Black. Lyrics. " [http://www.songmeanings.net/lyric.php?lid=43086 Bone Machine] ." "Surfer Rosa". LP. 4AD 1988.] to pop guitar songs such as "Broken Face", ["Broken Face" is another Spanish-themed song, with erratic lead guitar from Santiago and pseudo-falsetto vocals from Francis present in the song] "Break My Body", and "Brick is Red". The band included heavier material, such as "Something Against You", with Black Francis' distorted screaming a prominent feature in the song, and Q Magazine later named "Surfer Rosa" as one of the "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time".cite web | url=http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/qlistspage2.html | title=A Selection of Lists From Q Magazine | accessdate=2006-08-11 | author=Julian White and Q Magazine] A re-recorded version of "Vamos"—a song that appeared on "Come On Pilgrim"—appears on the album. The track, "You Fuckin' Die! (I Said)" (referred to as "Bonus Track" or "Untitled" on most versions of the CD) that appears toward the end of the album is actually an accidental studio recording of Francis and Deal talking amicably and joking, and despite the title of the song, there is none of the tension present between the two that would later drive the band apart.

"Surfer Rosa" featured popular songs such as "Gigantic"—their first single and one of the few songs on which bassist Kim Deal sang lead vocals [However, "Gigantic" failed to chart in the USA, and only reached #93 in the UK] —"River Euphrates", and "Where Is My Mind?" (audio|WhereIsMyMind.ogg|sample), whose most famous performance was at the end of the film "Fight Club", and, as a result is one of their best-known songs to date.

After their critically acclaimed album, the band arrived in England to support Throwing Muses on the European "Sex and Death" tour—beginning at the Mean Fiddler in London. [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 94] The tour also took them to the Netherlands, where the Pixies had already received enough media attention to be headlining the tour. Francis later recalled: "The first place I made it with the Pixies was in Holland." [cite web | url=http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2007410712,00.html | title=Something For The Weekend: 'I can't give people Pixies' | accessdate=2007-09-21 | author=Cosyns, Simon | publisher=TheSun.co.uk] The setlist included new songs such as "In Heaven", "Hey", and "Wild Honey Pie", and the tour became notable for the band's in-jokes, such as playing their entire set list in alphabetical order. The aforementioned songs were recorded in a Peel session in July at the BBC and they soon made a second trip to the studios; choosing "Dead", "Tame", "There Goes My Gun", and "Manta Ray" to be recorded. In total, the band recorded six Peel sessions and released an album, "Pixies at the BBC", with selected recorded tracks from those sessions. [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/sessions.html | title=Pixies Radio 1 Sessions | accessdate=2006-09-02 | author=Biel, Jean-Michel; Gourraud, Christophe Note the webpage was written before the release of "Pixies at the BBC".]

Around this time, the Pixies struck up a relationship with the British producer, Gil Norton. Norton was to produce their second full album, "Doolittle" (provisionally titled "Whore"), which was recorded in the last six weeks of 1988 and seen as a departure from the raw sound of "Come On Pilgrim" and "Surfer Rosa". "Doolittle" had a much cleaner sound, largely due to Norton and the production budget of US$40,000, which was quadruple that of "Surfer Rosa". [Sisario, 2006. p. 47] Much of the album's subject matter remained similar to the previous two albums; several song titles seemed to evoke images of bloodshed and mutilation, such as "I Bleed", "Wave of Mutilation", and "Gouge Away".

"Doolittle" began with "Debaser" (audio-nohelp|Debaser.ogg|sample), an ode to the 1929 surrealist Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí film "Un chien andalou". "Debaser" is perhaps their most highly regarded song; in March 2005, "Q" magazine placed the song at number 21 in its list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks". "Doolittle" featured the prominent single "Here Comes Your Man"; an unusually jaunty and poppy song for the band. [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 118–9] It nearly landed the band a mimed appearance on the TV chat show "Wogan", which was mocked in the video to the song. [In the video to "Here Comes Your Man", the band open their mouths while the vocals on the song are being sung] [cite web | url=http://www.4ad.com/pixies/profile/?page=2 | title=4AD — Pixies Profile Page 2 | accessdate=2006-08-31 | publisher=4AD] "Monkey Gone to Heaven", the only Pixies song with a string section, was a Top 10 modern rock radio hit in the US, reached the Top 100 in the UK and still receives regular radio play. Deal's only songwriting contribution to the album was the song "Silver" (co-written with Francis), on which Deal played slide guitar and Lovering played the bass guitar. [Deal was credited for the first time as "Kim Deal" on "Doolittle"] Lovering sang lead vocals on "La La Love You", an atypical love song from the band.

Like "Surfer Rosa", "Doolittle" was acclaimed by fans and music critics alike, and it is perhaps their best-selling record; it was certified gold by the RIAA on November 10, 1995. RS500|226 [cite web | url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5939357/the_rs_500_greatest_albums_of_all_time | title=The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time | accessdate=2006-08-23 | publisher="Rolling Stone" | date=2003-11-18] It also placed on Q Magazine's 100 Greatest Albums Ever.

Hiatus

It was after "Doolittle" that tensions between Deal and Francis came to a head (for example, Francis threw a guitar at Deal during a concert in Stuttgart), [Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 132] and Deal was almost fired from the band. Santiago, in an interview to "Mojo", explained: [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/hello_g.html | title=HELLO GOODBYE 9: JOEY SANTIAGO & THE PIXIES | accessdate=2006-09-12]

During the post-"Doolittle" "Fuck or Fight" tour of the United States, intended to promote the release of the album, the band's hectic schedule took its toll on the band members; the Pixies had released three albums in two years, as well as constant touring. Near the end of the 1989 tour, during their homecoming Boston concert, Deal was in a drunken state, and Santiago smashed up his instruments and stormed off-stage. After the tour's final date in New York, the band was too exhausted to attend the end-of-tour party the following night and soon announced a hiatus.

During this time, Santiago travelled to the Grand Canyon to "find himself", and Lovering jetted off to Jamaica. Francis bought a yellow Cadillac and crossed America with his girlfriend (due to an aversion to flying), and while doing so performed solo gigs in order to raise money for furniture in his new Los Angeles apartment. Deal formed a new band, The Breeders, named after a band she had formed with her sister as a teenager, with Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and bassist Josephine Wiggs of Perfect Disaster. Their debut album, "Pod", was released later that year. [cite web | url=http://www.4ad.com/pixies/profile/?page=3 | title=4AD — Pixies Profile (page 3) | accessdate=2006-08-31 | publisher=4AD]

"Bossanova" and "Trompe le Monde"

After "Doolittle", Francis began to limit Deal's contributions to the band and assert more control over the Pixies' output; the first three records had been partly written by Deal, but when "Bossanova" was released in 1990, all the original songs were by him. Deal was not pleased, and unilaterally announced an apparent break-up of the band on-stage during the following tour. The Pixies were at the height of their popularity, however, and while headlining at the Reading Festival in 1990, they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among fans.

The subject matter changed from earlier albums, to a more sci-fi, surreal focus on UFOs and alien abduction.Fact|date=May 2008 The musical style of the album was inspired by surf-rock, as "Bossanova" started with a cover of "Cecilia Ann" by The Surftones. In general, the style of music in "Bossanova" was a departure from previous albums. For example, songs such as "Havalina" and "Ana" showed a dreamy side to the band, and Francis' vocals were notably more tuneful (although on "Rock Music", he displayed his trademark screaming). "Dig For Fire" was, according to Francis, [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/quotes.html | title=The Pixies: Quotes | accessdate=2006-08-27 | author=Biel, Jean-Michel; Gourraud, Christophe] a Talking Heads tribute. The lead guitar of Santiago was less prominent, with none of the wilder solos that were present in "Come On Pilgrim" or "Surfer Rosa". The track "Allison" was a tribute to one of Francis' musical heroes Mose Allison (an American jazz and blues artist). The track references space and the universe – ideas commonly explored in Mose's work.

The band continued to tour, and, break-up announcements notwithstanding, one more album was to follow. "Trompe le Monde", released in 1991, still featured little creative input from Deal and was not as immediately well regarded as their first few albums. Before its release, it was rumoured the album drew inspiration from heavy metal, [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/rev_tlm.html | title="Trompe Le Monde" reviews | accessdate = 2006-08-20] and the band's pre-album release of "Planet of Sound", a heavier song than their usual output, did not quell the rumors.

In the end, "Trompe Le Monde" expanded on the UFO and sci-fi themes (including a song on space travel, "Planet of Sound" and "Motorway to Roswell" about an alien vacation gone bad). [Francis, Black. Lyrics. " [http://www.songmeanings.net/lyric.php?lid=43099 Planet of Sound] ." "Trompe Le Monde"). LP. 4AD 1991.] Songs such as "Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons" and "Lovely Day" were written in a similar style to songs on "Bossanova" (such as "Havalina"). The album saw the band move in a more popular direction with songs as "Palace of the Brine" and "Trompe Le Monde". The songs "U-Mass" (audio-nohelp|PixiesUMass.ogg|sample) and "Alec Eiffel" included the keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman—a move unthinkable in the band's "Come On Pilgrim" and "Surfer Rosa" days. The album also featured a cover of "Head On" by The Jesus and Mary Chain. "Trompe Le Monde" was to be the Pixies' last studio album before their breakup.

Following the release of "Trompe Le Monde", the band contributed a cover of "I Can't Forget" to the Leonard Cohen tribute album "I'm Your Fan" and went on a sellout winter tour of the USA, culminating on a TV appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". They then embarked on an uncomfortable tour supporting fans U2 (on their Zoo TV tour) in 1992. However, tensions rose between band members, and, at the end of the year, the Pixies went on sabbatical and focused on separate projects. [During this time, Deal returned to the Breeders, who released their EP "Safari".]

In early 1993, Francis announced in an interview to BBC Radio 5 that the band was finished and offered no explanation at the time, unbeknownst to the other members of the band. [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/split.html | title=PIXIES' BOSSA SAYS IT'S NOVA! | accessdate=2006-10-05 | author=NME | date=1993-01-23] He later telephoned Santiago and subsequently notified Deal and Lovering via fax, in January 1993. [Sisario, 2006. p. 7] Francis later regretted breaking up the band in that fashion, as he did not allow the rest of the band an opportunity to discuss the move. [cite web | url=http://www.nuvo.net/archive/2005/06/01/once_more_the_pixies.html | accessdate=2006-08-22 | title=Once more, the Pixies |author=Scully, Alan | date=2005-06-01]

After the breakup

Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black, and released three solo albums. He then went on to form a band with Scott Boutier, Eric Drew Feldman, Rich Gilbert, David McCaffrey, and Dave Phillips called Frank Black and the Catholics, who released six albums with a more stripped down, country tinge than Black's solo work. In 2005, Black released his fourth solo album, "Honeycomb", featuring a mellow, rhythm and blues-styled approach and backing from seasoned Nashville musicians. He released a further double album from the same sessions, "Fastman Raiderman", on July 19, 2006. In May 2008, Black Francis and his band (including Eric Drew Feldman) performed an original score for the silent horror movie The Golem at the San Francisco Film Festival (at the Castro Theatre); an exclusive poster was sold at the event.

Deal returned to The Breeders and scored a hit with "Cannonball" from that group's platinum-selling "Last Splash" in 1993. However, for several years they struggled to produce another album, mainly due to her sister and fellow band member, Kelley Deal, and her struggles with heroin. While on hiatus from the Breeders, Deal formed and recorded with The Amps, who released their only album "Pacer" in 1995. [cite web | url=http://www.nudeasthenews.com/reviews/460 | title=The Amps: Pacer | accessdate=2006-09-19] [cite web | url=http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0222,grose,35156,22.html | title=music > The Breeders Title TK | accessdate=2007-02-28 | author=Grose, Jessica | publisher="The Village Voice"] A new Breeders album, "Title TK", finally appeared in 2002, with only Kim and Kelley remaining from the previous Breeders lineup.

Lovering went on to become a magician and make occasional appearances as "The Scientific Phenomenalist", performing experiments on stage and occasionally opening for Frank Black and The Breeders. [cite web | url=http://www.nipp.com/artists/detail/david-loveringscientific-phenomenalist | title=David Lovering—Scientific Phenomenalist | accessdate=2006-09-13] Lovering continued to drum, playing on one of Tanya Donelly's solo albums. Santiago played lead guitar on one of Frank Black's solo albums, and on other albums such as "Statecraft", by indie-rock musician Charles Douglas. [cite web | url=http://www.indieonline.com/artist9.html | title=Charles Douglas - STATECRAFT | accessdate=2006-09-13] Santiago also wrote theme music for Fox television, and formed a band called The Martinis with his wife, Linda Mallari. They released their debut album, "Smitten", in 2004. [cite web | url=http://www.themartinis.com/ | title=The Martinis | accessdate=2006-09-13]

After the band broke up, 4AD and Elektra Records released compilation albums such as "Death to the Pixies" and "Complete B-Sides", along with "Pixies (The Purple Tape)" and "Pixies at the BBC".

Reunion

In the 11 years following the break-up, rumors frequently circulated regarding a reunion. Though Frank Black steadfastly dismissed them, he did begin to incorporate an increasing number of Pixies songs in his sets with the Catholics, and occasionally included Santiago and Lovering in his solo work. In late 2003 a press release from Black's publicist officially confirmed a reunion would occur in the spring of 2004. The Pixies played their first reunion concert on April 13, 2004 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota, [cite web | url=http://www.nme.com/reviews/pixies/7399 | title=Pixies : Minneapolis Fine Line Music Cafe | accessdate=2006-09-10] and a warmup tour through the U.S. and Canada was followed by an appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The band then spent much of 2004 touring throughout Brazil, Europe, Japan, and the U.S.

The 2004 reunion of the Pixies was the subject of the 2006 documentary, "LoudQUIETloud."

In June 2004, the band released a new single, "Bam Thwok" (audio|BamThwok.ogg|sample) exclusively on the iTunes Music Store. The song reached number one in the British download chart. [cite web | url=http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/28/download_chart_lives/ | title=Pixies top UK download chart | accessdate=2006-09-10] 4AD released ', along with a companion DVD. The band also contributed a rendition of "Ain't That Pretty At All" to the Warren Zevon tribute album '.

2005 saw the band make appearances at the Lollapalooza and Sasquatch! music festivals. [cite web | url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/pixies/articles/story/7276003/weezer_rock_lollapalooza | title=Weezer Rock Lollapalooza:Pixies | accessdate=2006-09-10] The band also played at European events such as the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and in Edinburgh as part of the T on the Fringe music festival. In August, the band performed an entirely acoustic set (after a warm-up acoustic set in Albany, New York) at the Newport Folk Festival. [cite web | url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000963003 | title=Pixies Unplug for Newport Folk Festival | accessdate=2006-09-10] [cite web | url=http://www.gigwise.com/news.asp?contentid=6211 | title= Pixies Supported by Idlewild at 'T on the Fringe' | accessdate=2006-09-10 Also has a complete list of the band's summer 2004 tour dates]

The band continued to make appearances through 2006 and 2007, culminating in their first-ever appearances in Australia. By early 2008, however, following abortive attempts to record a new album, [cite web | url=http://www.nme.com/news/pixies/24809 | title=Pixies to begin work on new album | accessdate=2006-10-25 | publisher=NME | date=2006-10-24] [cite web | url=http://www.frankblack.net/news/#364 | title=Pixies to Play with New Material | accessdate=2006-09-17 | publisher=FrankBlack.net] [cite web | url=http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/musicnews/s1955933.htm | title=Frank Black on Pixies Album | accessdate=2007-06-22 | publisher=Triple J | date=2007-06-19] Black began stating in interviews that the reunion was over. [ [http://www.theskinny.co.uk/article/41597-life-to-black-francis The Skinny - Life to Black Francis ] ]

In late August 2008, Pixies frontman Black Francis told NME.com he's up for a return to the studio with former bandmates Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering for what would be the first Pixies record since 1991's Trompe Le Monde.He stated that "It's just a waiting game right now. Whatever we do in the future is gonna have to be fresh."I have to see if the band as a whole wants to go into the recording studio for a new record. That makes sense on some level. For us, there's gotta be an angle. It can't be just playing our old songs over and over." [ [http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/pixies%20consider%20new%20album_1078647] ]

Musical style

Although the Pixies' musical style has changed over time, the band is considered to be an alternative rock band alongside similar bands such as the Throwing Muses. [cite web | url=http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/pixies/bio.jhtml#/music/artist/pixies/bio.jhtml | title=The Pixies - Profile and Biography | accessdate=2006-09-30] The Pixies explored a range of song styles in their songs — although many songs were characterized by Francis' distinctive yowling and lead vocals, with Deal's feathery backing vocals (on songs such as "I Bleed" and "Debaser") and Santiago's erratic lead guitar. The band's sound has progressed from an indie rock sound in "Come On Pilgrim" and "Surfer Rosa", to a more sci-fi rock sound in "Bossanova" and "Trompe le Monde". However, they have experimented with other genres of music, such as surf rock ("Cecilla Ann" in "Bossanova"), rock ("U-Mass") and pseudo-metal ("Planet of Sound" and "The Sad Punk", in "Trompe le Monde").

Influences

The Pixies draw influence from a range of artists and genres; each member came from a different musical background. When he first started writing songs for the Pixies, Francis says he was listening to nothing but Husker Du, Captain Beefheart, and Iggy Pop (including New Values and the bootleg I'm Sick of You); [Sisario, p. 13.] he cited Pop as his main influence in an interview with "Mojo Magazine". During the making of Doolittle he was listening heavily to The Beatles' White Album. [Sisario, pp. 48-49.] He cited Buddy Holly as a model for his compressed songwriting. [Sisario, p. 46.]

Santiago, as mentioned above, listened to 1970s and 1980s punk (including Black Flag) and David Bowie. Guitarists who influenced him include Jimi Hendrix, Les Paul, Wes Montgomery, and George Harrison. [Sisario, pp. 12, 49.]

Deal's musical background was country; she had formed a country band with her sister in her teenage years. Folk music has influenced the Pixies; Francis often listened to Christian rocker Larry Norman, and the band famously requested a bassist who was a fan of Husker Du and the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. [Sisario, p. 8.] Francis also mentions Lou Reed in "Come On Pilgrim"'s "I've Been Tired".

Other media such as film has had an impact on the Pixies; Francis cites surrealist films "Eraserhead" and "Un chien andalou" (as mentioned in "Debaser") as influences. [cite web | url=http://dag.wieers.com/debaser/lyrics/Debaser.php | title=Pixies - Debaser | accessdate=2006-10-01] He commented on these influences (which he paid tribute to most in "Doolittle"), saying he "didn't have the patience to sit around reading Surrealist novels", but found it easier to watch twenty-minute films. [Sisario, 2006. p. 29] He claimed the band members were "surrealists" in an interview to "Melody Maker": [Sisario, 2006. p. 27] "Maybe the avant-garde appeals to people from our economic background, because we're typically rejecting the older meaningful Christian values, but we're still confused as hell."

ongwriting and vocals

Most of the Pixies songs were composed and sung by Francis, whose songwriting style was characterized by a focus on Biblical violence ("Dead", "Gouge Away"), and incest ("The Holiday Song", "Nimrod's Son"). He later commented on this in an interview to "Melody Maker": [Sisario, 2006. p. 18] "It's all those characters in the Old Testament. I'm obsessed with them. Why it comes out so much I don't know."

He also wrote about other offbeat subjects—such as the sea ("Where Is My Mind?" and "Wave of Mutilation") and earthquakes ("Here Comes Your Man"), and in the band's early works (the "Come On Pilgrim" era), he included references to Christian themes ("Levitate Me"). Later, as the band's career progressed, he began to focus on sci-fi concepts and themes such as aliens ("Motorway to Roswell") and unidentified flying objects ("The Happening").

Deal sang lead vocals on "Gigantic" and the band's latest composition, "Bam Thwok," both of which she wrote, as well as on "Silver," co-written with Francis; she also sang lead vocals on the Francis-written "Into the White" and the Neil Young cover "I've Been Waiting For You." Lovering sang lead vocals on "La La Love You" and "Make Believe"; both songs were written by Francis.

Covers

The band has recorded several covers: "Wild Honey Pie" (The Beatles), "Ain't That Pretty At All" (Warren Zevon), "Winterlong" and "I've Been Waiting for You" (Neil Young), "I Can't Forget" (Leonard Cohen), a Spanish version of "Evil Hearted You" (The Yardbirds), "Head On" (The Jesus and Mary Chain), "Cecilia Ann" (The Surftones), "Born in Chicago" (The Paul Butterfield Blues Band), "In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song)" (from the film "Eraserhead"), and "Theme from NARC" (from the video game NARC).

Instrumentation

In terms of instrumentation, the Pixies are a four-piece rock band. Francis, the group's frontman, is the rhythm guitarist and uses either a Fender Telecaster, Fender Mustang, or Fender Jaguar, with either the Marshall JCM 800 or the Vox AC30 as amplification. [cite web | url=http://guitargeek.com/rigview/328/ | title=guitargeek: Frank Black of the Pixies | accessdate=2006-09-10 | author=guitargeek] Santiago, the lead guitarist, is a "strict Les Paul man" (he owns 3 Les Pauls), but also has a Gibson ES-335 and uses a Pearce GR-8 amplifier. Deal, the bassist in the band, plays either a Fender Precision or Music Man Stingray [cite web | url=http://www.bassplayer.com/story.asp?storyCode=4025 | title=Bass Player — The Pixies' Kim Deal | accessdate=2006-09-01 | author=Bill Leigh, Bass Player | year=2004 | month=11] bass. Lovering, the drummer, plays a five-piece white Pro Prestige custom drumkit. [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/gear.html | title=Instruments Played by the Pixies | accessdate=2006-08-29 | author=Jean-Michel Biel, Christophe Gourraud]

As their career has progressed, starting with "Monkey Gone to Heaven" (from "Doolittle"), the band have incorporated other, often unusual instruments and experimented more with their sound. For example, "Monkey Gone to Heaven" used a string section. "Velouria" (from "Bossanova") had a theremin, [cite web | url=http://discorder.citr.ca/features/04maytheremin.html | title=Theremin-mania! | accessdate=2006-09-12 | author=susykat | year=2004 | month=05] "Alec Eiffel" and "U-Mass" featured a keyboard part (played by Eric Drew Feldman) and "Bam Thwok", their latest release, has an organ solo halfway through the song.

Legacy

Although the Pixies produced relatively few albums, they had a great influence on the alternative rock boom of the 1990s that started with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Gary Smith, who produced the Pixies' first recording, "Come On Pilgrim", commented on the band's influence on alternative rock and their legacy in 1997:

Sonically, the Pixies are credited with popularizing the extreme dynamics and stop-start timing that would come to define alternative rock; Pixies songs typically feature hushed, restrained verses, and explosive, wailing choruses. Cover songs and commentary from artists and groups such as David Bowie, [Bowie later covered the song "Cactus" from "Surfer Rosa" in his album, "Heathen"] Radiohead, U2, Weezer, Nirvana and critics such as Graham Linehan attest to the appreciation of the band by musicians and critics alike. [cite web | url=http://www.rhino.com/rzine/pressrelease.lasso?PRID=330 | title=PIXIES SELL OUT Live-In-Concert DVD | accessdate=2006-09-09] Bob Mould (from Hüsker Dü, who the Pixies cited as an influence) said he "was a huge Pixies fan" and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, after being informed of the Pixies plans to play before them at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, exclaimed:

Yorke said in the same Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that, while at school, "the Pixies had changed my life". Other members of Radiohead have cited the band as an influence, and Yorke commented, "If we were all into the Pixies and nothing else, then it would be pretty obvious what the band would sound like."

While touring with U2 in 1992, the Pixies were sent a note from the band saying "Keep digging for fire. We love you." David Bowie, whose music had inspired Francis and Santiago while they were at university, mourned the band's breakup: "I felt very depressed the day I heard about the Pixies split. What a waste...I could see them becoming huge." This statement echoed many artists at that time who felt the band should have had more commercial success.

The most notable citation as an influence was by Kurt Cobain, on influencing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which he admitted was a conscious attempt to co-opt the Pixies' style. In a January 1994 interview with "Rolling Stone", he revealed: [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/3729933.stm | title=BBC Entertainment — The Pixies: Rock's comeback kings | accessdate=2006-08-11]

Weezer (who later covered "Velouria" in the Pixies tribute album, "Where Is My Mind?") have cited the Pixies as an influence on their music and lead singer Rivers Cuomo, in an "Addicted To Noise" interview, said the band "really blew my mind when I first moved to L.A. and started to discover cool music." [cite web | url=http://wma.weezernation.com/199612atnint.html | title=Weezer Revealed: The Rivers Cuomo Interview | accessdate=2007-03-02 | author=Clare Kleinedler, Michael Goldberg] Damon Albarn (of the band Blur) said: "When we started we wanted to sound like the Pixies." The number of Pixies tribute albums recorded gives backing to their position as a major influence in modern alternative rock music.

Television appearances and videos

The Pixies appeared on several television shows during their original incarnation, including "The Tonight Show" and "120 Minutes" in the US, and "The Word" in the UK. [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/videos.html#tv | title=Pixies TV appearances | accessdate=2006-10-01 | author=Jean-Michel Biel, Christophe Gourraud] [cite web | url=http://www.broszkowski.com/tv/pixies/pixiesvideodownload.html | title=pixies video downloads | accessdate=2006-10-01 | author=Matthew Broszkowski]

Since the band were signed to the small alternative record label, 4AD, at the time of "Come On Pilgrim" and "Surfer Rosa", no videos were released from their first two records. Starting with "Doolittle", their first release with Elektra Records, the band released music videos with their singles, but the videos were often simple affairs. For example, in songs such as "Monkey Gone To Heaven", "Head On" and "Debaser", the videos often consisted of the band playing their instruments.

By "Bossanova", the band had developed a severe aversion to recording music videos, as Francis refused to lip-sync to them.Frank, Ganz, 2005. p. 140] For example, in the "Here Comes Your Man" video, both Black and Deal open their mouths wide instead of mouthing their lyrics. According to the record label this became one of the reasons that the Pixies never achieved major coverage on MTV.

As "Velouria" (their first single from "Bossanova") was climbing up the UK Top 40, the band was offered a spot on "Top of the Pops". However, a BBC rule stated only singles with videos could be performed on the show. To counter this a cheap video was made, with the band being filmed running down a quarry. In the video, ten seconds of footage (the time needed for the band members to reach the camera) is slowed in order to last for the duration of the song. [cite web | url=http://aleceiffel.free.fr/videos.html | title=The Pixies In Video | accessdate=2006-10-01 | author=Jean-Michel Biel, Christophe Gourraud] However, the effort in filming the video was in vain; the Pixies did not play "Velouria" on "Top of The Pops" while the single was in the charts. [cite web | url=http://www.playlouder.com/feature/+pixies4/ | title=The Pixies And Me | accessdate=2006-10-17 | author=Andy Barding | date=2004-06-07]

Awards and achievements

Although the Pixies never gained mainstream recognition in its original incarnation, the band won several awards from music publications and local music awards. For example, they won the Act of the Year award in the 2004 "Boston Music Awards". [cite web | url=http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2004/09/30/music_awards_celebrate_songs_not_celebrities/ | title=Music Awards celebrate songs, not celebrities | accessdate=2006-10-01 | author=Capobianco, Ken | publisher="The Boston Globe" | date=2004-09-30] The Pixies also won acclaim from music publications for their records:

*"Sounds" – Album of the Year: "Surfer Rosa" – 1988
*"Melody Maker" – Album of the Year – "Surfer Rosa" – 1988
*"Sounds" – Runner up Album of the Year – "Doolittle" – 1989
*"Melody Maker" – Single of the Year – "Monkey Gone to Heaven" – 1989
*"Melody Maker" – Runner Up Album of the Year – "Doolittle" – 1989cite web | url=http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/mmpage.html | title=Melody Maker Lists The '70's & '80's | accessdate=2006-10-01 | author="Melody Maker" | publisher=RockList.net]
*"Sounds" – Album of the Year – "Bossanova" – 1990cite web | url=http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/sounds.html | title=Sounds List | accessdate=2006-10-01 | author="Sounds" | publisher=RockList.net]

In addition, the albums Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, and Bossanova all appeared on the "Rolling Stone" 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

Discography

*"Come On Pilgrim" (1987)
*"Surfer Rosa" (1988)
*"Doolittle" (1989)
*"Bossanova" (1990)
*"Trompe le Monde" (1991)

ee also

*List of alternative rock artists
*Music of Massachusetts
*Music of the United States (1980s to the present)
*Timeline of alternative rock

References

*Frank, Josh; Ganz, Caryn. "". (2005). ISBN 0-312-34007-9
*Frank, Josh; Ganz, Caryn. "". (2008). ISBN 978-0753513835
*Matula, Theodore. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3669/is_200010/ai_n8909496 "Contextualizing musical rhetoric: A critical reading of the Pixies' 'Rock Music'"] " [http://www.csca-net.org/ Communication Studies] ". 51 (3, Fall), 218–237.
*Sisario, Ben. "Doolittle". Continuum, 2006 (33⅓ series). ISBN 0-8264-1774-4.

External links

* [http://www.4ad.com/pixies/ Official 4AD site]
* [http://www.loudquietloud.com Pixies Documentary Website]
*myspace|pixies
*MusicBrainz artist|id=b6b2bb8d-54a9-491f-9607-7b546023b433|name=Pixies
*last.fm
* [http://www.fooltheworldbook.com/ Homepage for the Fool the World book]


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