Tattoo Boulevard

STALKING THE PIXIES

Rock n’ roll isn’t dead, but it certainly seems to be in a rut. The bigger than life eighties and the creative swagger of the nineties have taken a backseat to more mainstream radio stars, and although acts such as The Dead Weather and Arcade Fire continue to release quality music, alternative rock fans feel sense of longing that the Jonas Brothers just won’t heal.

    It’s when they casually flip through their CD collection and come across a copy of Surfer Rosa or Doolittle that the wave of mutilation sweeps through them, and everything becomes clear – the Pixies still don’t have a new album out.

    The Pixies, those supremely talented legends of alternative rock that left the world a string of classics such as “Debaser” and “Where is my Mind”, shook the music world with their surprising reunion in 2004.

    Their 2004 reunion tour was one of the year’s big success stories, with the band (Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joe Santiago, and David Lovering) actually seeming to gain popularity over the decade since their initial break up back in 1993. Vocalist/Guitarist, Frank Black, was said to be surprised by the amount of kids lining up to catch their shows during the course of the tour and observers noted that the fan base had transformed into a mixture of new, younger fans (many of which may have been introduced to the band through the memorable climax in the film, Fight Club, in which ‘Where is my Mind’ played over a crumbling city), and older listeners from back in the band’s heyday in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

    Many of the newer fans weren’t even born when a young Frank Black and Joey Santiago placed an ad in a Boston newspaper back in 1985. They were looking for a bassist that liked both Peter, Paul and Mary and hardcore pioneers, Husker Du. Kim Deal was the only one to respond, and later recommended a drummer named David Lovering that she had met at her wedding reception.

    Their hip combination of punk and surf rock caught the attention of producer Gary Smith, which allowed the band to produce an 18 track demo (known as the Purple Tape due to the purple background of its cover). The band was then signed by 4AD and eight tracks from the Purple tape went on to form the band’s debut, Come on Pilgrim.

      Come On Pilgrim debuted many of The Pixies trademark sounds, such as the use of Spanish lyrics, Frank Black’s screaming vocals, and the erratic guitar work of Joey Santiago. Throw in Kim Deal’s bass and personality, along with Lovering’s potent drumming, and the world was introduced to the bands infamous wide dynamics that would become their trademark and influence a generation of rockers such as Nirvana.

    The highly acclaimed follow up, Surfer Rosa, holds a special place in the hearts of alternative fans everywhere. It’s raw, stripped down sound is an eternal reminder that a large budget and slick production is no match for uninhibited creativity.  Both Melody Maker and Sounds named it Album of the Year, which opened the door for the band to sign with Elektra Records.

     Doolittle was their first major label release and a timeless classic that no deserted island should be without, with songs such as “Debaser” and “Here Comes Your Man” sounding as vital today as when they were first recorded. The album has become a fixture on many “Best of lists” and is undoubtedly The Pixies’ signature achievement.

   Unfortunately, it was after the Doolittle tour that the band began to self destruct. The increasing conflict between Kim Deal and Frank Black came to a head, and after two more albums(Bossonova and Trompe le Monde), the band officially split in 1993. The four members hadn’t played together again, until that fateful reunion in 2004.

    The comeback spawned one new original song (Bam Thwok), one song for a Warren Zevon tribute album (Ain’t That Pretty At All), and several DVD’s. One of the DVD’s is a documentary called ‘Loud QUIET Loud – A Film about the Pixies’, which chronicles the band dealing with such personal issues as parenthood and finances.

      Since then, there have been appearances at a few festivals, along with rumours of a new album to maintain a sense of hope for the band’s faithful. Apparently, one of the glitches in the plan for a new album is Kim Deal’s fear that the quality of the music won’t be up to their old standards, and thus, their legacy would be damaged. Frank Black has stated that there will not be a new album unless Kim Deal is on board.

    The legacy does, without a doubt, cast a very large shadow, especially since the first three albums are bona fide classics and the group’s long time supporters would also cringe at a less than stellar effort. The talent should still be there, though, since most of the band’s members (with the exception of David Lovering, who became a professional magician) have continued to release albums for their own various projects over the years.

    Frank Black’s solo career has produced ten albums, many of which are critically acclaimed such as Teenager of the Year and Black Letter Days. Joey Santiago also gained critical applause as a member of The Martini’s, with his wife, Linda Mallari. The greatest commercial triumph was saved for Kim Deal as a member of The Breeders. The platinum success of Last Splash allowed the group (which also included her twin sister, Kelley) to open for Nirvana and headline Lallopolooza.

     The group has individually managed to remain creatively active over the years, and the success of their concert appearances prove that the vitality and mystique of The Pixies is stronger than ever. They should be able to shake the rust off the old magic and put out the quality album fans crave.

   Several events in 2009 breathed new hope into a full fledged return to glory. After all, the band released Minotaur, an essential box set of their previous albums and bonus artwork, and embarked on a small European tour in honour of the 20th anniversary of the release of Doolittle. Most importantly, Frank Black announced the band would once again return to the studio to record a new full length album sometime in 2010. Hope finally turned to optimism, but after a recent cancellation of a gig in Tel Aviv, all bets are off.

    The mystery continues and the reunion no one ever thought would happen has continued to taunt fans and left them hoping that they haven’t heard the last of The Pixies. No one can blame them, though. Sometimes you just don’t realize how much you miss something until it comes back to tease you.

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Posted in Uncategorized by tattoo on June 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 am.

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12 Replies

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