(A.k.a. Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, a.k.a Frank Black) This guy is something else. One moment singing about U.F.O.s and the next screaming lyrics in Spanish. He is one of a kind. His head strong approach and eccentric antics are what endeared him to many Pixies fans.
(A.k.a. Mrs John Murphy) Kim was the one that showed us that women can play kick arse rock too! Her breathy lyrical style complimented Black Francis' high pitched shrills, coming together to give the Pixies a distinctive lyrical style that is their signature.
Kim and Black Francis can't be given all the credit for formulating the signature sound of the Pixies, Joey Santiago's wailing guitar is in there too. The quirky solos and screaming riffs that Joey played also set the band apart and inspired so many to "take up arms".
Up the back of the stage, there in every song that they released, David Lovering was laying down a beat that connected with Kim's bass and really made this band rock! The song "Cactus" from the album Surfer Rosa was just one example of this union.
My Pixies Story
I have been listening to the Pixies since 1989, when friends of mine came over from Texas in the US and brought with them a copy of Surfer Rosa & Doolittle which were back to back on the one cassette. I remember thinking to myself, "Hmmm....The Pixies... strange name for a band!". I listened to that tape.. and the first Pixies song I ever heard was Debaser.
I was blown away.
From that moment on, I was a Pixies fan. It changed the way I regarded music and played a major part in shaping the musical tastes that I have today. It inspired me.
No matter where I go, or what I do... there are always the Pixies. They are the kind of band that you can listen to anytime, whatever the mood you're in. And I frequently do. It's very rare if I go a few days without popping a Pixies CD on the stereo.
I recently had a friend make a comment to me when I picked her up in my car one Friday night. She said, "Adam, I love getting into your car...makes me feel real good cuz you always have a Pixies tape playing!". "Always" may be an exaggeration, but you see, she was in the group of friend that "discovered" the Pixies all those years ago. They were good times.
Very rarely am I passionate about any particular issue or thing, but it dawned on me how passionate I am about the Pixies. I feel like I want to "spread the word" and get people to listen to them, to experience the same things that I get out of them. I know it's a little evangelistic, but any die hard Pixies fan will understand EXACTLY what I am talking about here.
"So, take a little Pixies trip with me.... It'll change your life..."
Adam Echter (A.k.a. Thrashin), 1997
The Full Pixies Story
(A combination of bios I have come across on the net.)
Faced with the choices of going to New Zealand to view Halley's Comet or quitting college, going home to Boston and starting a band, Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV (Black Francis) took the easy path. He left Puerto Rico where he was studying as an exchange student, and persuaded his good friend Joey Santiago to join him in his dream. Never mind the fact that they were both amateurs and barely knew how to play guitar.
They put an ad in the paper for a third member, requiring that those who answered enjoyed the music of Husker Du and Peter, Paul and Mary. Only one person responded, a former cheerleader from Dayton Ohio named Kim Deal. She brought along drummer David Lovering, who had been a guest at her wedding reception.
Joey Santiago chose the band's name by flipping through a dictionary, originally known as Pixies in Panoply, they later shortened it to just "Pixies". Charles Thompson got his stage name when his father joked that if he ever had another son, he would name him Black Francis. And so the Pixies were born.
Despite the fact that none of them had any experience, the record label they sent their demos to, 4AD, was so impressed that they turned the demo tapes into the band's first EP, Come On Pilgrim. The album introduced the bands abrasive, powerful sound and Francis' oblique lyrics.
Surfer Rosa, produced by Big Blacks, Steve Albini, exaggerated the savage fury of its predecessor and the set was acclaimed Album Of The Year in much of the UK Rock Press.
The superlative Doolittle emphasised the quartet's grasp of melody, yet retained their drive, and this thrilling collection scaled the national Top 10, aided and abetted by the bands most enduring single Monkey Gone To Heaven.
The Pixies were now a highly popular attraction and their exciting live performances enhanced a growing reputation, establishing clear stage favourites in Debaser, Cactus, Wave of Mutilation and Bone Machine.
1990's Bossanova showed and undiminished fire with a blend of pure pop with Allison and sheer ferocity in Rock Music. The band found themselves the darlings of the Rock Press and were once again widely regarded for recording one of the top albums of the year.
Trompe Le Monde was, if anything an even harsher collections than those which had preceded it, prompting some critics to describe it as 'the Pixies Heavy Metal album'.
When the band broke up, due partially to artistic differences between Black Francis and Kim Deal, it was Black Francis who made the decision, and announced the breakup in an interview before the the rest of the band had been informed. Afterwards he inverted his stage name to Frank Black and became a solo artist, taking with him Joey Santiago.
Kim Deal focused her attention on the Breeders, a band which had formerly been a side project and David Lovering took a break.
After touring with Frank Black, Joey Santiago and David lovering joined forces and started The Martinis.
Eventhough Frank, Kim, Joey and Dave have all gone on to form other bands and projects, what they created as the Pixies is regarded by many as their best work to date.
The Gary Smith Story
(The guy that discovered the Pixies - From the Inside sleave of "Death To The Pixies")
Death to the Pixies
Three kids in rock tee shirts are drinking colas at the outdoor café table beside mine as I try to pull these notes together. They dont look a bit out of place in their alterna-rock duds even though theyre a hundred miles from any radio station worth listening to. Theres no rock club here. Theres no hip record store. Theres just the modern fabric of life in America in which MTV has set the tone and alternative rock has provided the content for the homogenisation of the world. Its a monochrome Gap wonderland from sea to shining sea and any attempt at dressing "alternatively" is immediately co-opted by some New York designer who plasters the same tortured individuality across a two-page advertising spread in Vanity Fair, or Details or Q. In fact, these kids could just as easily be on a photo shoot for unisex cologne as be rock n roll fans. Meanwhile theres a huge Fuji dirigible flying overhead and a wonderstruck old woman is pleading with passers-by to look up. "Come on!". She implores, "Thats not something you see everyday!". But undoubtedly it is because no one even notices her, let alone the flashing and blinking flying machine hovering like the future above them.
Things have changed a lot in ten years. In September of 1987 Ronald Regan was the President of the United States. The Soviet Union was still a communist world power. Rick Astly was at the top of the UK pop charts and Michael Jacksons "Bad" was Number One in Billboard. In September of 1987 the underground scene which had thrown up such luminaries as Husker Du , The Replacements and R.E.M, still wasnt important enough to the mainstream economy to have its own genre, namely "Alternative Music". To most people, it didnt even exist. In September of 1987, the Pixies came to take the kids. The world was a very different place.
Ten months previous, I saw the Pixies land onstage at The Rat in Boston and with or without the aid of hindsight it was an otherworldly experience. They had no parallel. They had no peer. They had no idea what the hell they were doing or that it could change everything. Here was this fresh faced, handsome blond kid, alternatively singing in Spanish and then, without warning, yelling hysterically like a flying saucer had just flown off with his kid sister. The lead guitarist was making pretty much every conceivable noise with his guitar except the ones youd expect and Im pretty sure that, during the last song, he ripped all the strings off the instrument which would have been far less strange if he hadnt somehow continued to play it afterwards.
Meanwhile, the rhythm section seemed perfectly normal which was the most confusing part of this picture. The drummer, with more than his fair share of stick-twirling, put down a foundation with a pile driver and connected like a Siamese twins with the bass player. She appeared decidedly un-rock and had a smile that could knock a man down. All of this was an odd contrast to the mania exuding from the other two. The Pixies were up there like they owned the place exhibiting more authority in their single-minded mayhem that comes with being in a new band. These were not your garden variety college dropouts. Something different was going on.
When the show was over, I sleazed back to the dressing room and sheepishly bagged the Pixies to go into the studio with me. After a few phone calls and a meeting over beer, Charles Thompson (still not Black Francis) came to my apartment to parade me through the songs with a fanfare like Mardi Gras in preparation for recording at Fort Apache. He had this secret weapon, apparent even on an acoustic guitar, which made the verses quiet and the choruses explosive. That essential logic held the songs together, no matter how bizarre, depraved or nonsensical. Wherever the songs went, they kept me along like a co-conspirator or an unwitting stooge at the scene of a sordid crime. I put all this on tape as part of my sing-for-your-supper series while the pasta was cooking in the kitchen. The next week I played it for an NME journalist who was touring America with Throwing Muses and I think it made a big impression.
A month or so later, the Pixies were in the studio, a ramshackle warehouse in the bad part of town. We stayed in there for three days and nights, living on sandwiches and beer, until the world outside didnt matter anymore. Charles had just finished the music to Levitate Me before going in and was still wrestling with the words, accepting input from all quarters. But when the tape machine was running, and he was alone in that cavernous, wooden-floored space it was as if hed known the song for his whole life: in fact, it was like a hymn that everyone knew. The rest of us were standing in front of the control room speakers with the red record light on and the room lights dim and a flock of goose bumps ran over me. Thats when I knew for sure that this wasnt some local band with an angle. We recorded seventeen songs in three days and nights and mixed them the next week. Soon after, the tapes were sent to 4ADs Ivo Watts-Russell, who chose half a dozen songs for release and, from the lyrics of "Levitate Me" chose the records title "Come On Pilgrim".
In the years that followed, with the records that followed, the Pixies took over the world. Not how Michael Jackson took over the world but in a more insidious way. Ive heard it said about the Velvet Underground that while not alot of people bought their albums, everyone who did started a band. I think this is largely true about the Pixies as well. Charles weapon turned out to be not so secret and, sooner or later, all sorts of bands were exploiting the same strategy of wide dynamics. It became a kind of new pop formula and, within a short while, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was charging up the charts and even the members of Nirvana said later that it sounded for all the world like a Pixies song. That was the beginning of the end of counterculture.
History has a horrible need to erase the details so that its landmarks stand out against the din. The three kids beside me were probably two years old when the red light was on for Levitate Me. How am I supposed to explain to them that the world into which Black Francis started screaming still heard it like a scream and not fashion? How am I supposed to relate to them that context makes all the difference in how we view a work of art or a work of rock?
The wonder struck woman has given up on the passers-by and is standing blithely against a gift shop window, still staring at the dirigible as it makes its was to another city. Shes got a big smile on her face knowing that she saw it before it was gone and that she recognised it as distinct from the whirl of this tourist-ridden seaside town. Im considering buying her a soda and sitting her down with the alterna-boys cause she has the right idea. Unfortunately, Im sure shes never heard of Charles or Kim or Joey or Dave or any of the records which changed lives and moved the whole tourist culture we live in to the left a few feet. I think I might give her a real scare if I told her and the alterna-boys that in September 1987, the Pixies came to take the kids. And they took them.
Gary Smith, Fort Apache 1997
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