Wednesday, December 25, 2013

President Bush's Legacy

What George W. Bush Meant For Politics
(By Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, April 25, 2013)

Remember “compassionate conservatism”?  That was the message that then Texas Gov. George W. Bush ran on when he sought the presidency in 2000, a mantra that was aimed at re-inventing the Republican party by casting it as caring and committed to core values, more interested in uniting than dividing. “We will prove that someone who is conservative and compassionate can win without sacrificing principle,” Bush said on the day he announced his presidential campaign in Iowa in the summer of 1999.

It’s ironic then that what Bush’s presidency ushered in was a period of hyper-partisanship, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in modern political history — and through which we continue to slog.  Two charts — courtesy of Gallup — tell the story.  The first shows that of the 10 most polarized years in terms of how the two parties view the president, nine have come in the years since George W. Bush took office.  (The polarization number is determined by the difference between a president’s approval rating with Democrats and his approval rating with Republicans.) Bush accounts for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 10th most polarizing years. President Obama accounts for the 1st, 5th, 6th and 8th most polarizing years. (Bill Clinton’s 1996 is the only pre-2001 year to crack the top 10.)

The second chart details the average party gap in terms of approval ratings for every president since Dwight Eisenhower. The two biggest average gaps? You guessed it: Bush (#2) and Obama (#1).

It’s clear that Bush’s ascendancy to the presidency began a period of previously unmatched partisanship in our politics. (There is a case to be made that the extreme polarization began during the Clinton presidency — particularly during the impeachment proceedings — but Clinton’s ability to win over Republicans by the end of his term contradicts that idea somewhat.)  What’s less clear is the why — and how much responsibility Bush personally bears for this polarization.
From the start, Bush’s presidency divided the country.  He was one of four presidents to lose the popular vote while being elected thanks to winning the electoral vote. It was 32 days between the 2000 election and the Supreme Court decision that ended the legal fight and effectively gave Bush the presidency.  Bush’s resistance to governing from the middle after such a divided result enraged those who had voted against him and who believed (and believe) that he was not the legitimately elected president. “With the advantage of extensive pre-transition planning his administration hit the ground running,” reads a history of the Bush presidency at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. “In his first six months in office, Bush had accomplished most of his 2000 campaign trail agenda.”

Then came Sept. 11, 2001, a day that changed his presidency and the country in ways with which we continue to grapple today.  What Bush did in reaction to those terrorist attacks — most notably his decision to invade Iraq based on an ultimately incorrect conclusion that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction — set the course for all the partisanship that followed.  While Bush’s job approval rating has bumped up to 47 percent in the most recent Washington Post-ABC poll, almost six in ten respondents still disapprove of his decision to invade Iraq. Almost three-quarters of Democrats (73 percent) still disapprove of that decision as do 60 percent of Independents; nearly four in ten Republicans disapprove of Bush’s going into Iraq.

Of course, Bush didn’t operate in a vacuum. The growth of talk radio, 24-hour cable news and the increased silo-ing of the media — conservatives read/listen to conservative talkers, liberals read/listen to liberal talkers — played a major role in pushing people deeper and deeper into their partisan camps. In a world in which people didn’t live near (or even know)  anyone they respected who disagreed with their political views, partisanship ran wild. (Sometime in the 2000s the idea of “reasonable people can disagree” died.)
But, circumstances aside, Bush was quite clearly a catalyst in the increasingly partisan mixture of American politics. And, while policies like Iraq or his 2001 tax cuts or how he handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina all played a role, it’s the way in which he went about the job that may well be most responsible for the divisiveness with which he is viewed and which defined not only his presidency but our current political climate.

Bush was not a second-guesser. He didn’t apologize or back down from the direction he led the country — then or now. Michael Gerson, a longtime Bush speechwriter and now a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote of his former boss: “Bush’s frankly moral approach, on other issues, is precisely what enraged his critics. But more than most, he is a leader of undivided sentiments.”  Undivided sentiment to his allies.  Rank partisanship to his enemies. Regardless of where you come down on that question, it’s clear that George W. Bush’s presidency — whether the man, the times or, most likely, a combination of the two  – brought the country into a period of historic levels of partisan polarization.  It’s where we still are.

The Pixies

The Pixies on 'Indie Cindy' and Recording Without Kim Deal
(By Steve Appleford, Rolling Stone, 25 April 2014)

Showtime is barely two hours away for the Pixies, and Black Francis is frantically reorganizing beer in the mini-fridge. When a can falls to the floor, guitarist Joey Santiago kicks it hard across the trailer, and immediately shouts over his shoulder, "Want a beer, Dave?"  Drummer David Lovering passes on the explosive beverage, smiling backstage during last weekend's final days of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. The Pixies have been an active touring unit since reuniting in 2004, playing songs from the band's four original albums, which were hugely influential on the likes of Nirvana and Radiohead. Last year, bassist-vocalist Kim Deal left to concentrate on the Breeders, but the Pixies lived on, and April 19 released Indie Cindy, their first album in 23 years.

Does having new music make a big difference for the band?
Black Francis:
Personally, yeah. It's just coming out right now, so I don't know what it means in the big picture, but it certainly feels good to be doing something different instead of doing "Monkey Gone to Heaven" again. Nothing against that, but after a while during the Doolittle tour, I would space out onstage doing the record in sequence every night. I would start to get that Groundhog Day feeling of, "Where am I?" I'd start to lose track.

Does having a new album put the Pixies in a different place now?
Joey Santiago:
It's a band now. Bands tour and they make music. And there was a buzz on social media that they wanted a new record. We had to make time for it. Was there something to prove? We just wanted to make music. We're still viable and creative.

Fans usually want new music, don't they, even if they hate it when it arrives?
I don't think we analyzed it that much. We didn't put out new music in the last 10 years because we didn't have an agreement basically to go into the studio, even though there were several attempts to get that to happen. We couldn't really get an agreement until a couple of years ago. Yeah, we want to be successful, we don't want to be skewered, we don't want to get a 1-out-of-10 star review or whatever [laughs]. We don't want any of those things, but we're actually perfectly willing to accept all that. At the end of the day, it's, "Cut the shit – we just want to make music." It's a rock band. We live in reality most of the time, unless we have a few drinks. We're pretty grounded.
Santiago: The first few years, we had an inkling that people just wanted to hear the old catalog. What's the point when people just want to hear "Don't Fear the Reaper" and all that stuff? And we hadn't been around for 10 years, so we had to go around the planet a few times to please people.
Francis: We went down to Brazil and we ran into one of our old roadies, Guitar George – "he knows all the chords" – that guy. We were hanging out in the lobby and he said, "Guys, it's so great to see you out on the road." And he's like, "You've made your records and now you're back – you can go play these songs now five years." That was his advice. At some point, I realized he was right, that it was perfectly OK to feel what you did before and do it for a while. So we did that for about eight or nine years. [laughs]

You always stayed pretty prolific as a solo artist after the band ended.
I kept my foot in the door. I started having kids about nine years ago. If I'd had had kids before, I could have been sidetracked easily, but I didn't have any responsibilities, so I'd just keep doing this. There were tours where Dave was the opening act as a magician. We understand the culture of touring. It's not always necessarily about making it.  It's always nice to make money, but I don't think any of us felt there was anything wrong with doing something on a small scale. That's where we come from. We didn't start off playing on huge stages. We started off playing in shitty little clubs.

When the Pixies were originally together, you had a great following, but it was still an underground thing.
We were definitely an underground band. We played festivals, clubs and theaters. Some people after we broke up were like, "Oh, you guys were so big in Europe, playing for 50,000 people!" No, we were playing at the festival, but Sting was the headliner.

Santiago: We headlined Reading.
Francis: We did, back in the day? OK.

Is writing for the Pixies now any different than before?
It took me a while to figure out how to change hats. It helped that the band was waiting for something they could sink their teeth into. I can't just give them the first song that pops into my head. But we brought in [producer] Gil Norton and he was pretty instrumental by going, "This, but not that." 
We've done a Neil Young song, we've done a Leonard Cohen song, and it still sounded like the Pixies. The filter of the band is always going to be so strong that whatever we play it's going to sound like our band.

Are you writing more?
We haven't done it the way that we used to do it back in the beginning – we did try a couple of years ago and it didn't work out. We used to smoke a lot of dope when we were young, like a lot of young bands. If it was a Saturday afternoon, we would jam. We would cycle material over and over again for hours. Every night after work we used to go to rehearsal space in Boston – they were expensive to rent, for a shithole room. We were there all the time. We were really trying to find whatever the hell it was we were.

David Lovering: Our rehearsal room had a sewer cap in it, and it smelled like sewer all the time, but it was great. It was fun.
Francis: Even when we didn't have a rehearsal space, we'd go to David's parents' house and play in their garage. We always played and played and played. We had gigs as often as we could get them. I look forward to a time when we can be in a rehearsal space, because I like that. It was not loose jamming. We'd get into a mantra or groove and try to find out, "Is this as good as it can be?" And you wait for that little accident to happen, the mess up that sounds amazing. I would like to do that again.

Was finishing the record encouraging?
I enjoyed the experience.

Francis: We had this whole thing where Kim [Deal] left in the middle of the record, so that was an interesting challenge. I don't think we want that kind of challenge the next time we have a session.

You basically had to decide to continue?
Yeah. The general feeling talking about it amongst ourselves, with Gil and our manager, was rather than try to replace Kim at the time, even if the record has this Kim-shaped hole in it, we needed to leave the hole there. Not "Let's get a girl in that sounds like Kim!" We had those thoughts of course. We had to do it ourselves.

Santiago: Leave it alone, and have her absence there almost like a tribute, out of respect for her.

In "Bagboy," there's a Kim-sounding vocal.
That was by accident!

Francis: There was this kid who was helping us at the demo level, and he'd thrown down some vocals when I was out of the studio. Even at the time, I was like, "Oh my gosh, it sounds exactly like Kim. Ha-ha."
Santiago: I was thinking, that sounds exactly like Kim. You know what, I'm going to keep my mouth fucking shut, and I'm going into my room and let these guys decide if it's OK. I didn't know.
Francis: That kid helped us with a couple of other tracks and didn't sound like her. It's just the way it came out on that one track. It's unfortunate because it gave the impression to the conspiracy seekers that we were doing that deliberately to fake everybody out. It was a total fluke.

Hear Pixies Support 'Women Of War' On Surprise Record Store Day Single
(By Marc Hogan, Spin, April 21 2014)

In case the Pixies' first album in 23 years, Indie Cindy, wasn't enough for fans who bought the double-LP ahead of its official April 29 release date, the revived alternative-rock pioneers included something extra. Along with the set, which collects the band's recent EP-1EP-2, and EP-3 releases, Record Store Day shoppers could find a surprise seven-inch containing a new song, "Women of War." The band then shared a stream and free download of the track, a noise-pop ode to female soldiers ("Be my soldier lover / And I'll be your peaceful dove") that fits in neatly with other recent Pixies material. Check it out below, and stream Indie Cindy in full over at The Guardian.

Pixies' Black Francis Plots Book Launch For Graphic Novel
(By Marc Hogan, Spin, 04 April 2014)

No rest for the Pixies. The band will release new album Indie Cindy on April 19, but frontman Black Francis also has his debut graphic novel The Good Inn coming out on April 15. Pixies are playing tour dates all around the world this year, but if you want to see Francis someplace that might be closer to home, he's holding a book launch at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn.  Francis and co-author Josh Frank will talk about the book, backed by a slideshow of Steven Appleby's illustrations for the novel. The event will end with a signing. It all happens on April 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and tickets can be bought here for $10. 

The Good Inn, published by Harper Collins in the United States, will run the gamut from a battleship explosion to the making of the first narrative pornographic movie. The main character is called Soldier Boy, though it remains to be seen to what extent he will crank it. Elsewhere, Pixies recently shared a video for "Snakes," from their new EP-3.


Alt-Rock Gods Follow Up 'Indie Cindy' Album Announcement With Video
(By Chris Martins, Spin, March 24 2014)

News only just broke that Pixies will release a full album on April 19. Now, Indie Cindy — the first LP from the alternative-rock giants in 23 years — has spawned a music video.  Experienced above, "Snakes" features crushing drums, angular guitar shards, breathy ahs, and Black Francis' calm but menacing voice: "Snakes are coming to your town / In tunnels underground..."  But despite the desert locale of the Mark Locke-directed clip above, this is no Tremors remake. In fact, the story told in the visual winds up being far more strange, as a band's worth of papier-mâché-masked people gather duffle bags and head out on the lam. Bonus points for that sweater caught mid-air, which can't not be an homage to Breaking Bad. "Snakes" also appears on EP-3.


Pixies Prep First Album In 20-Plus Years
(By Marc Hogan, Spin, March 24 2014)

Pixies' recent revival is about to blossom into a proper album. The alternative-rock legends announced today they'll release their first studio LP since 1991's Trompe Le Monde on April 29 via the group's own Pixiesmusic label, with an early, limited-edition vinyl release scheduled for Record Store Day on April 19. Titled Indie Cindy, the set will collect 12 tracks from Pixies' shorter EP-1 and EP-2 from recent months, plus the newly unveiled EP-3.  Gil Norton, who oversaw Pixies landmarks Doolittle, Bossanova, and Trompe le Monde, produced the upcoming full-length. While the recent EPs were available digitally or in limited-edition vinyl formats, Indie Cindy is touted as fans' first chance to have all of the new material in a single package. The album is available in CD, vinyl, and digital formats, as well as via an iTunes exclusive that adds a 13-track live set from Pixies' recent North American tour.

EP-3 is also available digitally or on vinyl now and includes the single "Bagboy," which when it surfaced online last year was Pixies' first new track since 2004.  "We started seriously talking about recording new music about four years ago," Pixies drummer David Lovering said in a statement. "New music seemed like something we just had to do, we just couldn't continue to go out and tour without anything new. So the talk evolved into writing and recording, and we're all very happy with the way everything worked out."  With Kim Deal no longer in the group, replaced in the touring unit first by Kim Shattuck and then Paz Lenchantin, Pixies have credited bass duties on their new album to Ding, a.k.a. PJ Harvey and the Fall collaborator Simon Archer. Lenchantin plays on the Live in the USA iTunes bonus set. Pre-orders are available starting today via iTunes, Amazon, and Pixies' website.  (In the meantime, catch up on SPIN's in-depth Pixies oral history.)

Indie Cindy track list:
1. "What Goes Boom"
2. "Greens and Blues"
3. "Indie Cindy"
4. "Bagboy"
5. "Magdalena 318"
6. "Silver Snail"
7. "Blue Eyed Hexe"
8. "Ring the Bell"
9. "Another Toe in the Ocean"
10. "Andro Queen"
11. "Snakes"
12. "Jaime Bravo"

Live in the USA track list:
1. "Bone Machine"
2. "Hey"
3. "Ana"
4. "Magdalena 318"
5. "Snakes"
6. "Indie Cindy"
7. "I've Been Tired"
8. "Head On"
9. "The Sad Punk"
10. "Distance Equals Rate Times Time"
11. "Something Against You"
12. "Isla de Encanta"
13. "Planet of Sound"

Listen to the Pixies' 'World Cafe' Concert Here
(By Kyle McGovern, Spin, February 28 2014)

The Pixies recently dropped by NPR's Tiny Desk for an intimate, three-song concert that sort of connected the dots between their newer material and their classic output from the 1980s and early '90s. Well, if Doolittle devotees still aren't sold on EP-2, then please make allowance for this latest attempt: The Pixies are playing a set for NPR's World Cafe right now, and it's streaming online. The program begins at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST, and can be heard on more than 200 stations nationwide in the U.S. Head over to NPR to find your local station, or simply listen to the embedded performance below.
And while you do, read up on the Pixies' legacy with SPIN's in-depth oral history, and get familiar with the alt-rock outfit's new touring bassist, A Perfect Circle's Paz Lenchantin, who is standing in for the irreplaceable Kim Deal.  Update: The live event is over, but you can hear the entire thing at NPR.

Pixies Finally Acknowledge Kim Deal Is Irreplaceable
(By Marc Hogan, Spin, January 9 2014)

More than six months after regrouping for a world tour, the Pixies have definitively addressed the "Gigantic" elephant in the room. Curiously absent from interviews about the pioneering alternative rockers' ongoing live trek and two new EPs has been much acknowledgement that the Pixies aren't quite the same without founding bassist-singer Kim Deal, who also fronts the Breeders. Now, Pixies drummer David Lovering has said Deal, unlike the dude in the old Beyoncé song, is irreplaceable.  "When we were in the lurch when Kim Deal left it was a tough decision," Lovering told Brooklyn Vegan. "Basically, no one can replace Kim Deal. It would be impossible to do."

It's not the Pixies' first comment on Deal. The band wished her "the best" in a carefully worded June statement announcing she'd left. Frontman Black Francis, whose tension with Deal has long been famous, has described learning rather abruptly of her decision, telling The Guardian that the band had studio time booked and no choice but to continue: "Even with her leaving, which was sort of like the big no-no, you know, no one wants her to leave — 'Oh God, not Kim Deal, anybody, but not Kim Deal' — we still went: 'No, we're going to finish the job.'" Then again, reported that Black Francis avoided the subject, and any reflection on Deal was glaringly missing from a recent Reuters interview.

Though Deal may be one of a kind, the Pixies' new touring bassist, Paz Lenchantin, has an impeccable track record of her own, and Lovering was effusive in praising her. He told Brooklyn Vegan she's "just wonderful." He also confirmed the band looks for female bass players. "I think if we had a guy up there, it wouldn't be the same," he said, before reiterating that no one can replace Deal "but we're doing the best we can with it."

The Pixies named Lenchantin, a former member of A Perfect Circle and Billy Corgan's group Zwan, as their new bassist in early December. She takes over for the Muffs' Kim Shattuck, who'd joined only four months earlier and later said she found out she was fired through a phone call from her manager (par for the course from an outfit that originally, legendarily broke up via fax). Lenchantin's impressive body of work also includes playing with Queens of the Stone Age, Silver Jews, Brightblack Morning Light, and more.

As Slicing Up Eyeballs points out, Lenchantin will make her Pixies debut at a newly announced warm-up show on January 13 at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts. Check out the Pixies' full touring information on their website. The band recently dropped the unannounced short-player EP-2, which follows last year's four-song EP-1. As for the gazillion-pound gorilla in the room, it's gone to heaven.


A Minute With The Pixies, "Psychotic Beatles", On Fame, Comebacks And Break-Ups
(By Andrei Khalip, Reuters, November 13 2013)

Beloved of David Bowie and a generation of influential UK and U.S. guitar bands, American alt-rock combo the Pixies have sold out across Europe as they tour with new music for the first time in over 20 years.  There is talk of a joint tour with Bowie, 66, whose own new album has made waves in the past year for the first time since his 70s and 80s heyday, and the band expect to follow this year's four-song EP-1 with more new releases.

The Ziggy Stardust creator has called the Pixies the "psychotic Beatles" and rates their music as "just about the most compelling of the entire 80s".  If lacking some of the band's youthful, surf-punk folly, the new songs have plenty of drive and the trademark shifts from quiet and melodic to loud and screamy that influenced Nirvana, Sonic Youth and others in the late 1980s. The cosmic sounds of "Andro Queen" connect with Bowie's space-themed compositions.

The band got its start in Boston and had a string of hits in "Hey", "Debaser", "Where is my Mind" and "Monkey Gone to Heaven" before breaking up in 1993. They reunited in 2004 only to have bass player Kim Deal quit in June for a second time without much explanation, leaving the three other Pixies "shell-shocked".  Frontman Black Francis, 48, lead guitar player Joey Santiago, 48, and drummer David Lovering, 51, spoke with Reuters in Lisbon during their global tour about regrets over their first breakup, Deal's possible return, and the future.

Q: Your new song "Indie Cindy" appears to refer to your new audience, you're begging it to "carry me" like you're not sure.
Black Francis: It's about the audience we're trying to woo, it is personified in the song. There's doubt, that's because we haven't made a record in 20 years. And here we are going, "Hey, what do you think, do I still got it or do I still got it?"

Q: And do they like it?
BF: Our shows are sold out, and they cheer a lot.

Q: Your audience now - is it young, or nostalgia-driven?
BF: There's at least a third of the audience that's really young, another third is a bit older and another third, they're, like, they got no business being in a rock concert! (all laugh)
BF: But I think that all such ageism will die with the death of rock music as we know it. With their iPhones and devices, people now have access to all this music, images, its history, facts and factoids and they can see through age groups, fashion, sexiness - all that's being defined in a certain limited way.

Q: You have a much greater fan base in Europe than in the United States. Why is that?
Lovering: I'd say Europeans have better taste.
Santiago: Europeans are more eclectic, I guess.
BF: Rock music is culturally much more on a pedestal in Europe than in the United States. Here rock'n'roll initially was an outsider, like jazz before it. So it was put up in a place of reverence, art. In America it's not art, it's just part of the fabric of everything. Jazz survived so long thanks to Europe.

Q: Do you regret your first breakup, and could you have done anything to avoid it?
BF: I regret it, but maybe something else would have caused it eventually. But I wish that the manager or someone at the record company would have been a little more tuned in to the dynamics of a young band being on the road and making records, someone to advise a different schedule, or maybe say "Hey, you guys are due for vacation like right about now" or "Hey, you all do your solo albums"... We never really got that sort of common sense advice, or at least I was too stoned to hear it.
Lovering: I guess we're lucky enough, because of that (breakup) we got back together and it's all working out nicely.

Q: But now Deal has left. Is it still Pixies without her?
Santiago: Yeah it's Pixies, that's one against three.

Q: Do you miss her presence in the band?
BF: We probably most miss her voice, a lot. I think that was one thing about her that was really consistent.

Q: Do you think she will return, is that door still open?
BF: She could come down these stairs now, you never know.

Q: Bowie said you "changed the format for delivering harder rock", Kurt Cobain paid you the ultimate compliment by ripping you off. In your own words, what's your contribution to rock?
Santiago: Being original, influencing Nirvana so they could rip a song. I'll admit it - if Kurt Cobain fessed up to it, fuck it, I'll agree with it, you ripped us off.

Q: Do you wish you were more famous, richer?
BF: I think that we're quite happy with our status and our position in the music business, we're sold out wherever we go.

Q: What's the Pixies song you enjoy playing the most?
BF: Lately I really like playing "Vamos". We don't really know how long it's gonna go for, there's an element of chance to it and at the same time it's really minimalist.
Santiago: Yeah, that, and I was gonna say "Dead" too.

Q: Do you imagine going back to solo gigs?
BF: The question is do I want to perform in these big venues or do I wanna play the rinky-dink night club? You know what I mean.

Q: You said you want to work with Bowie as a backup band. Is it going to happen, is it some special sign of respect?
BF: It's fucking David Bowie! Come on! We could do that. Bowie, the Pixies, together at last! ... I think that Dylan and the (Grateful) Dead tour kind of served them both very well.

Pixies' Surprise 'EP-2' Brings More Cowbell And A New Video
(By Marc Hogan, Spin, January 3 2014)

The recently revived Pixies aren't slowing down. This past June, the alternative-rock trailblazers released their first new song since almost a decade earlier, when they first reunited. Then the Black Francis-led group announced a career-spanning world tour, released a four-song EP titled EP-1, and shared, well, a whole bunch of videos. There has also been a bit of lineup turnover, with founding bassist-singer Kim Deal quitting and her touring replacement, Kim Shattuck, being replaced by A Perfect Circle's Paz Lenchantin (says Black Francis: "Big woop-dee-doo").

Now, without further buildup, the Pixies have released a second EP, this one titled EP-2 (get it?), and shared a video for "Blue-Eyed Hexe," a howling, cowbell-bolstered rock stomper you might imagine being sampled by Rick Rubin.  Directed by Mount Emult, the clip is a dark, collage-like trip- this "hexe" is being cast by a bad witch. They debuted "Blue-Eyed Hexe" live in Los Angeles last year, and Black Francis teased it in a Vine video.

The EP also includes "Greens and Blues," which Black Francis has provocatively likened to "a better 'Gigantic,'" referring to the Deal-fronted classic from their 1988 debut album Surfer Rosa. "Not that I could ever replace that song: you write songs and they come out the way they come out," he said in a statement. "So perhaps it can be said that this song fills the emotional niche that 'Gigantic' occupied, another show-closer." Guitarist Joey Santiago described the EP's "Magdalena" as "so atmospheric," and he said closer "Snakes" came about from "jamming it out."  The EP is available digitally and on limited-edition 10-inch vinyl via the Pixies' website.

EP-2 track list:

1. "Blue-Eyed Hexe"
2. "Magdalena"
3. "Greens and Blues"
4. "Snakes"


Pixies Fired Kim Shattuck Via A Phone Call From Her Manager
(By , Rolling Stone, December 11 2013)
When the Pixies broke up the first time, more than 20 years ago, Black Francis famously told his bandmates via fax. When the revived group parted ways with touring bassist Kim Shattuck in November, the method wasn't a whole lot more personal: They said goodbye at the airport, and then the next day her manager called to say she'd been replaced. That's what the longtime bassist for sharp-fanged Los Angeles power-poppers the Muffs told NME.

Shattuck said she had an oral agreement to tour with the Pixies into next year. "I was surprised," she told NME. "Everything had gone well, the reviews were all good and the fans were super-nice about everything. They were like, 'We love you, New Kim!'" She added: "We said goodbye at the airport and the following morning the manager called me and said: 'The band has made the decision to go with another bass player.' I was shocked."

Shattuck was named four months earlier to replace founding member Kim Deal, who'd recently quit the Pixies (by fax or by manager phone call? We just don't know!). The Pixies have since found a formidable successor to Shattuck in Paz Lenchantin, former bassist for A Perfect Circle and Zwan.

Asked to guess why she'd been fired, Shattuck suggested she might've been just too demonstrative for the Pixies. "I get the feeling they're more introverted people than I am," she told NME. "Nobody really talked about deep issues, at least out loud. There was a show at the Mayan in Los Angeles where I got overly enthusiastic and jumped into the crowd, and I know they weren't thrilled about that. When I got offstage the manager told me not to do that again. I said, 'Really, for my own safety?' And he said, 'No, because the Pixies don't do that.'"

As for Shattuck's other projects, the Muffs plan to release a new record in February 2014, according to the group's Twitter account. And she's admirably classy about the whole thing, telling NME: "I would have preferred it if they told me face to face as a group, but they're nice people. I'm still a fan of the Pixies!" Life to the Muffs.

Pixies Draw A Perfect Circle's Paz Lenchantin As New Touring Bassist
(By Marc Hogan,, 09 December 2013)

The Pixies have solidified their lineup as the revived alternative-rock pioneers expand their 2014 touring schedule. Paz Lenchantin, who previously played bass as a member of A Perfect Circle and Billy Corgan's early-'00s Zwan project, will step in as the new touring bassist, the band announced today.  Lenchantin takes over for Kim Shattuck, who revealed in late November she'd be leaving the band only four months after replacing founding bassist Kim Deal. Lenchantin has also contributed to records by Queens of the Stone Age, Silver Jews, Brightblack Morning Light, Melissa Auf der Mar, Jenny Lewis, the Entrance Band, and others. (That Brightblack Morning Light album in particular is an underrated stunner.) She recently toured with psych-folk singer-songwriter Josephine Foster.

"We are really looking forward to playing with her on these dates," Pixies drummer David Lovering said of Lenchantin in a statement. "Working with different bass players is very new for the band, but we're having a great time doing it."  Lenchantin joins the Pixies as the band heads into a previously announced North American tour. Today, the group added a new series of spring and summer dates, including South American and European festival appearances.

At the same time, Pixies have revealed another EP-1 video. The clip for "Another Toe in the Ocean" was directed and animated by Liviu Boar of Romania-based ReeAnimation. It follows recent shorts for the new EP's "What Goes Boom," "Andro Queen," "Indie Cindy," and "Bagboy" (twice).

Pixies North American tour dates:

January 15 - Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall *
January 16 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis *
January 18 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre *
January 19 - Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre*
January 21 - Newark, NJ @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center *
January 22 - New Haven, CT @ Shubert Theatre *
January 24 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
January 25 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Carnegie Music Hall *
January 26 - Washington, DC @ Strathmore *
January 29 - Richmond, VA @ National Theatre *
January 31 - Durham, NC @ Durham PAC #
February 1 - Asheville, NC @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium #
February 2 - Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium #
February 4 - Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle #
February 6 - St. Louis, MO @ Peabody Opera House #
February 7 - Columbus, OH @ LC Pavilion #
February 8 - Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore #
February 9 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre #
February 11 - Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theatre #
February 13 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium %
February 14 - Aspen, CO @ Belly Up %
February 15 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Great Salt Air %
February 17 - Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theatre %
February 18 - Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre %
February 19 - Portland, OR @ Schnitzer Auditorium %
February 21 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre %
February 22 - San Jose, CA @ San Jose Civic %
February 23 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino %
February 24 - Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre %
February 25 - Albuquerque, NM @ Kiva Auditorium %
February 27 - Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center %
February 28 - Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom %
March 1 - Austin, TX @ Austin Music Hall %
March 29-30 - Santiago, Chile @ Lollapalooza Chile
April 1 - Montevideo, Uruguay @ Rock'n'Fall
April 1/3 - Buenos Aires, Argentina @ Lollapalooza Argentina
April 3/5 - Bogota, Colombia @ Festival Estereo Picnic
April 5/6 - Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Lollapalooza Brasil
May 29-30 - Barcelona, Spain @ Primavera Sound
June 6-7 - Porto, Portugal @ Primavera Sound
June 8 - London, UK @ Field Day in Victoria Park
June 15 - Arhus, Denmark @ Northside
June 20 - Hilvarenbeek, Holland @ Best Kept Secret
June 20/22 - Schessel, Germany @ Hurricane
June 20/22 - Neuhausen, Germany @ Southside
June 25 - Zagreb, Croatia @ Inmusic
June 29 - Dublin, Ireland @ Marley Park ^
June 30 - Cork, Ireland @ Live at the Marquee
July 5- Werchter, Belgium @ Rock Werchter
July 6 - Herouville-St. Clair, France @ Beauregard


Pixies Debut Two Okay New Songs At Surprise Los Angeles Show
(By Marc Hogan,, 09 December 2013)

The un-re-reunited Pixies just keep churning out vaguely Pixies-ish, generally underwhelming new material. As the alternative-rock trailblazers set off on a world tour, with Kim Shattuck filling in for the Breeders' Kim Deal, they played an unannounced show over the weekend at Los Angeles' Echo.  As Stereogum points out, the band's first show in almost two years included two previously unreleased songs, "Blue Eyed Hexe" and "Greens and Blues," which you can watch above. The former song is the one frontman Frank Black teased in a Vine cliplast month. The Pixies also performed recent single "Bagboy," plus three out of the four songs from last week's EP-1 EP. Slicing Up Eyeballs has the set list; the proper tour kicks off tonight. It's hard to make out too much about the latest pair from the fan footage, but it sounds like it's of a piece with other nu-nu-Pixies.


Pixies Part Ways With Bassist Kim Shattuck
(By Jem Aswad,, 01 December 2013)

Just four months after she replaced founding bassist Kim Deal, Kim Shattuck has parted ways with the Pixies. She made the following announcement on her Twitter and Facebook accounts Friday, which seem to indicate that she was asked to leave the band:  "Super disappointed to learn that my time with the Pixies ended today. Amazing experience. Looking forward to focusing my attention back on the Muffs and our upcoming new album. All the best to everyone."

The Pixies finished a European tour just last week and have extensive dates scheduled for next year beginning in Toronto on January 15. At press time the group's Twitter account and website had no mention of Shattuck's departure; singer/songwriter Black Francis' last post was a Marcel Duchamp quote: "I do not believe in art. I think."


Pixies Fired Kim Shattuck Via A Phone Call From Her Manager
(By , Rolling Stone, December 11 2013)

When the Pixies broke up the first time, more than 20 years ago, Black Francis famously told his bandmates via fax. When the revived group parted ways with touring bassist Kim Shattuck in November, the method wasn't a whole lot more personal: They said goodbye at the airport, and then the next day her manager called to say she'd been replaced. That's what the longtime bassist for sharp-fanged Los Angeles power-poppers the Muffs told NME.

Shattuck said she had an oral agreement to tour with the Pixies into next year. "I was surprised," she told NME. "Everything had gone well, the reviews were all good and the fans were super-nice about everything. They were like, 'We love you, New Kim!'" She added: "We said goodbye at the airport and the following morning the manager called me and said: 'The band has made the decision to go with another bass player.' I was shocked."

Shattuck was named four months earlier to replace founding member Kim Deal, who'd recently quit the Pixies (by fax or by manager phone call? We just don't know!). The Pixies have since found a formidable successor to Shattuck in Paz Lenchantin, former bassist for A Perfect Circle and Zwan.

Asked to guess why she'd been fired, Shattuck suggested she might've been just too demonstrative for the Pixies. "I get the feeling they're more introverted people than I am," she told NME. "Nobody really talked about deep issues, at least out loud. There was a show at the Mayan in Los Angeles where I got overly enthusiastic and jumped into the crowd, and I know they weren't thrilled about that. When I got offstage the manager told me not to do that again. I said, 'Really, for my own safety?' And he said, 'No, because the Pixies don't do that.'"

As for Shattuck's other projects, the Muffs plan to release a new record in February 2014, according to the group's Twitter account. And she's admirably classy about the whole thing, telling NME: "I would have preferred it if they told me face to face as a group, but they're nice people. I'm still a fan of the Pixies!" Life to the Muffs.


Pixies Look For Revival In New Batch Of Songs After Long 'Encore Performance'
(By Jaime Holguin, Associated Press October 7, 2013)
As a young musician, Pixies frontman Charles Thompson was determined to make it past the velvet rope at the mythical club that is rock stardom.  "It inspired us even from the time before we were rock musicians," said Thompson, who performs under the name Black Francis. "It's how we became rock musicians ... the idea of being in that club."  But even for a band as influential and revered as the Pixies, maintaining club membership means staying relevant. And that can be a tricky thing.  How many continual tours of only old hits, after all, can a band embark on before it starts drifting too close to nostalgia act territory? At what point must a band fire up the songwriting engines again to reaffirm itself to new generations of music listeners?

In the case of the Pixies, who disbanded in 1993 and reunited in 2004, the last decade has been marked by what Thompson calls a "never-ending, it seemed, encore performance of our repertoire" with only one new song, "Bam Thwok", released in 2004, to show for it.  "It was easy to be distracted from any other kind of ambitions like recording and writing new material because we were constantly touring or taking a break from touring," Thompson said during a recent stop in New York.  That all changed in late June, when a video for a new song, "Bagboy," showed up online unannounced. A few weeks later, the band again surprised fans with an online collection of four new songs released under the name "EP-1" along with a global tour announcement. The band added a 33-city, North American leg on Monday that's scheduled to kick off in Toronto on January 15.

The band deliberately kept the whole affair low-key. The new songs didn't leak online, there was no pre-release hype and no record label distribution. Pixies drummer David Lovering, who is also a magician, likens the excitement that resulted to his magic act.  "As a magician the best thing is the element of surprise," Lovering said. "You want that wonderment ... kind of like Christmas coming."

The biggest surprise came two weeks before the release of "Bagboy," when the band announced the departure of bass player Kim Deal, who'd been with the Boston quartet since its inception in 1986. Her breathy background vocals and endearing stage presence provided a foil to Thompson's aggressive delivery.  Deal broke the news to Thompson and guitarist Joey Santiago midway through the recording sessions one late morning in a coffee shop.  "I believe Joey and I got up in the next moment and went immediately to a pub and kept drinking ... to kind of soothe the shock that had occurred," Thompson said.  

The band was left with four weeks of booked studio time and a decision to make.  Following a period of mourning, they proceeded with production.  "That just gave us all the initiative and really the get-go to go for it," Lovering said.  The new-look Pixies enlisted the help of Simon Archer to play bass on the unfinished tracks and then recruited Kim Shattuck of the Los Angeles band the Muffs to play bass on the current tour.  The new songs are immediately catchy, with more emphasis on traditional song structure and less of the quirky and frenetic nature of earlier songs. "Andro Queen" and "Another Toe" are more classic rock than punk, while "Indie Cindy" and "Bagboy" have more of the classic Pixies formula, with Thompson's uncanny half-spoken sermons and odd time-signature changes.

Overall, the new material is absent the loud, quiet, loud dynamic — sparse and quiet verses juxtaposed against infectious, feedback-drenched choral eruptions — that came to define the Pixies sound. Thompson said he's never understood why they get credited with pioneering the musical technique.  "I can only guess there wasn't a lot of that going on at the time in other records that were being released," he said. "And so ours stood out."

Though the Pixies never caught the attention of the American mainstream, the band's impact on popular music cannot be denied. A host of artists, from Radiohead to Weezer, David Bowie and U2 all cite the Pixies as an influence.  Kurt Cobain, arguably the band's most famous champion, noted on numerous occasions how he used the Pixies' musical stylings as a blueprint for Nirvana. Following the success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the members of Nirvana recalled in various interviews how they considered shelving their biggest hit because they felt it came too close to sounding like a Pixies song.

What did the Pixies think?  "Yeah, they ripped us off," Santiago joked.  What impact the new-look Pixies will have on a new generation of musicians will unfold as they continue to tour and release more songs, which they say are coming, on their own terms. For now, Thompson is keeping the band's future plans close to the vest.  "If we tell everyone how we're going to conquer the world," he said, "someone else is going to steal our idea, and they're going to conquer the world."


The Pixies Replace Kim Deal for Career-Spanning World Tour, Include New Songs
(By Marc Hogan, Spin magazine,  July 1 2013)

The Pixies are hitting the road without Kim Deal. Last week, the influential indie rockers released "Bagboy," their first new song in nine years — and, perhaps more significantly, their first since the recently announced departure of singer-bassist Deal, who's currently on tour with the Breeders.  In In a post on the Pixies' website today, the band said it will be embarking on a "massive global tour." And though there's no replacing Deal, her duties will be in capable hands. Kim Shattuck, frontwoman for sharp-toothed Los Angeles power poppers the Muffs and, previously, Paisley Underground-affiliated garage rockers the Pandoras, will play bass and sing on the Pixies' tour, according to a separate post

The Pixies said the tour will include new songs, part of what's billed as "the first collection of new material since 1991's Trompe Le Monde." According to the posts, Shattuck has been rehearsing in Los Angeles with singer-guitarist Black Francis, guitarist-singer Joey Santiago, and drummer-singer David Lovering.  They've run through about 80 songs together, so they'll be able to change up set lists on the fly, according to Black Francis. "Along with everyone's favorites, we'll be playing songs that we haven't played in ages or never played live before," he said in a statement.  "Songs like 'Brick is Red,' 'Havalina,' 'Tony's Theme.' and 'Sad Punk.' "

The first leg of the Pixies' planned tour is a 17-date European run that spans from September to November. According to Slicing Up Eyeballs, despite confusion about who was singing backing vocals on new single "Bagboy," the mystery vocalist is Jeremy Dubs of Massachusetts' Bunnies. Dubs' previous group the Bennies has gone on the road with the Pixies and Frank previously.

Pixies tour dates:

September 29 - Paris, France @ Olympia
October 2 - Brussels, Belgium @ Ancienne Belgique
October 5 - Amsterdam, Holland @ Paradiso
October 8 - Berlin, Germany @ Huxleys
October 10 - Prague, Czech Republic @ Lucerna Music Hall
November 1 - Vienna, Austria @ Gasometer
November 2 - Geneva, Switzerland @ Thonex
November 4 - Milan, Italy @ Alcatraz
November 7 - Madrid, Spain @ La Riviera
November 9 - Lisbon, Portugal @ Coliseum
November 13 - Copenhagen, Denmark @ Falkoner
November 14 - Oslo, Norway @ Sentrum Scene,
November 15 - Stockholm, Sweden @ Munchen Brewery
November 18 - Dublin, Ireland @ Olympia
November 21 - Manchester, UK @ Apollo
November 22 - Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands
November 24 - London, UK @ Hammersmith Apollo


Kim Deal Quits the Pixies
(By Kyle McGovern, Spin magazine, June 14 2013)

Kim Deal has quit the Pixies. On Friday (June 14), the iconic band's three remaining members issued the following statement: 

We are sad to say that Kim Deal has decided to leave the Pixies. We are very proud to have worked with her on and off over the last 25 years. Despite her decision to move on, we will always consider her a member of the Pixies, and her place will always be here for her. We wish her all the best.

Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering

The Pixies toured intensively from 2009 to 2011, celebrating the 20th anniversary of their immensely influential second album, 1989's Doolittle. 

An intensive photo history of the Pixies is currently in the works. Sean T. Rayburn, co-founder of the group's official website, is curating the project, which will collect images and anecdotes from the Pixies' early years, from their founding in 1986 to their breakup in 1993. A second book detailing the bandmembers' various solo projects and the Pixies' post-2004 reunion is also planned for the future. Pixies: A Visual History, Volume 1 is expected to ship this fall.  Deal is currently on tour with her other legendary outfit, the Breeders, commemorating the 20th anniversary of their classic sophomore LP, 1993's Last Splash.


Afterlife To The Pixies: Hear Kim Deal-Less Band's 'Bagboy,' First Song In Nine Years
(By Marc Hogan, Spin magazine, 28 June 2013)

The Pixies' surprise release today of a churning, noise-streaked new confection called "Bagboy" is gigantic news on several levels. It's the Boston-born indie-rock flagbearers' first new track since 2004's iTunes exclusive "Bam Thwoak." It's their first song since Pixies bassist and Breeders singer-guitarist Kim Deal left the band officially earlier this month — it's unclear whether the Deal-like voice tartly singing the title phrase here is, in fact, Deal's. And you know what? It shows the band in fine form, with Black Francis declaiming darkly amid wiry guitars and purposeful plodding that would nestle perfectly into a potential live set (hint, hint, Pixies!).  "Bagboy" also marks an improbable and uncertain new phase for the indie-rock nostalgia cycle.

When the Pixies reunited in 2004, a wave of similar reunions followed, from Pavement to, more recently, Neutral Milk Hotel — basically, everybody except the Smiths. Deal even got together a classic lineup of her other band, the Breeders, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 1993's Last Splash. The Pixies haven't exactly stayed away since their initial reunion — they kept up a busy touring schedule from 2009 to 2011, in that case commemorating the 20th anniversary of 1989's Doolittle.  But a new song from un-re-reunited indie-rock legends? That's uncharted territory.

According to Stereogum, the Pixies recorded "Bagboy" last autumn in Wales. Black Francis said he wrote the lyrics at a Starbucks in Harvard Square, roughly a hundred feet from where he wrote "Break My Body" from the Pixies' landmark 1988 album Surfer Rosa 25 years earlier. He added that "A lot of the musical ideas had been kicking around for a while. It's pretty simple, kind of a blue-based, two-note kind of thing, really."  The video, directed by LAMAR+NICK, is not the innocent boyhood fantasy of a bathtub filled with cereal that it might seem.


Life To The Pixies
(By Marc Spitz, Spin magazine, September 2004)

They blasted out of nowhere with a brilliantly surreal sound that influenced a generation future stars, from Kurt Cobain to Thom Yorke. Then they split bitterly, with promises to never reunite. So how did the greatest band of the late '80s become the hottest band right now? Here's the complete story of the Pixies — in their own words.

In Heaven and in the Pixies' dressing room at Paris' Parc des Princes stadium, everything is fine. Last night, at the city's Zenith club, guitarist Joey Santiago totaled his cherished Gibson Gold Top Les Paul reissue during a freak-out solo on "Vamos." But as the sun sets over the 50,000 fans, the 39-year-old is looking ahead — arrangements are already being made to buy an original — and bopping around the plush white space, blasting Donovan's dippy "I Love My Shirt" from the stereo. "Play some Rod Stewart!" barefoot bassist Kim Deal, 43, shouts from the couch, where she's thumbing through a copy of Cat Fancy. Moments later, Deal changes out of her pajama bottoms and does vocal warm-ups: singing the alphabet and blasting her lungs open with an inhaler. After years of heavy drinking, chain-smoking Carltons is now her only vice. 

Tour manager Richard Jones has set aside a plate of fish for Black Francis (who signs his autographs "Frank Black," but really only answers to his given name, Charles Thompson); soon the 39-year-old singer/songwriter is picking at it happily. Santiago even dials up some soothing "dinner music" (Brian Eno) for his bandmate's pleasure. As each bit of anti-drama unfolds, 42-year-old David Lovering, the band's drummer-turned-"scientific phenomenalist," performs some sleights of hand. With the exception of one mystifying card trick (Lovering pulls my randomly chosen six of hearts from his wallet, not the deck), the only thing remarkable about any of this is that we are here at all. 

Eleven years ago, the Pixies went through the most passive-aggressive breakup in modern-rock history. Nobody died. Nobody sued. They just burned out amid professional jealousy, substance abuse, possible romantic tension, and pressure to deliver on their potential to be the biggest band in rock. Today, the Pixies don't seem like adversaries. They interact with the chummy insularity that first brought the four misfits together in 1986. It's not for my benefit when Thompson offers to place Deal's travel bag in her tour-bus bunk and cheerfully observes, "You look like you got some sun, Kim" (a lyric from their song "Bone Machine," almost verbatim). 

Burying the hatchet has its material rewards. Parc des Princes is just one in a series gigs the band has played since their first reunion show in Minneapolis on April 13. Starting in September, they'll embark on a four-month North American tour — many dates sold out minutes after tickets became available. This, too, is unremarkable for a beloved band's reunion tour until you realize who's buying the tickets. A new generation of fans adores the Pixies as much as aging Gen Xers who fetishized all those beautifully grotesque album covers in their dorm rooms. Young, old, older they've filled every seat here in Paris, even though headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers don't go on for another two hours. After the show, there's silence in the dressing room. Deal and Santiago exchange a glance that seems to say, "Something's happening here." And there is. 

Unless pressed, the Pixies barely acknowledge their status as not only alternative-rock heroes but also the key influence on anyone who's ever muted a verse and detonated a chorus with a shriek and an effects pedal. Earlier today, construction work in front of our hotel prevented the tour bus from parking, so a van was hired to take us to the show. Upon delivery, the spiky-haired driver turned to Thompson and, in broken English, nearly wept, "Eet has been an honair to drive you here." "Oh, thanks," Thompson said with a shrug, not impolitely, but not too impressed either.

"They're simple songs," he told me earlier that day while folding his underwear at a local launderette. "'Monkey Gone to Heaven' — why does it say, 'Then God is seven?'" he asks. "Because it rhymes with heaven!" Well, yeah, but it's not really that simple, is it? And neither is the story of the Pixies. 

VAMOS (1961-1985) 

Charles Thompson (singer/guitarist, Pixies, Frank Black and the Catholics; b. April 4, 1965): My parents moved a lot, Southern California and Massachusetts. I did my first performance with the Folksong Society of Greater Boston when I was pretty young. It was a hippie collective. 

Joey Santiago (guitarist, Pixies, the Martinis; b. June 11, 1965): My family moved [to America] from the Phillipines when I was seven. We lived in Yonkers, New York, for two years, then ended up in this little town in Massachusetts called Longmeadow. It was in the Preppy Handbook

Kim Deal (bassist, Pixies; singer/guitarist, the Breeders, the Amps; b. June 10, 1961): I'm a coal miner's daughter [from Ohio]. My brother's the only male Deal that never worked in a coal mine. My father doesn't have his front teeth from a hammer ricocheting off the side of a mountain. My dad took guitar lessons when I was around 13. He would bring home tablature and I would pick up his acoustic guitar and play it before he would. He'd say, "Oh, gosh, Kim, you're making me mad. You're picking it up so easy." So I thought I was really cool playing stuff like "King of the Road" by Roger Miller — things dads would want to play. He never did learn how to play guitar.

Santiago: I started playing guitar in high school, but I was just fooling around. Before I went to UMass [at Amherst] they had orientation — you stay there for the weekend and look around the campus. My roommate was this elderly guy, like 47, who was going on his third PhD. He was odd. He had a bowler hat and a big beard. I showed him a chord thing I was working on and he said, "You know, a neat note to pick would be this." And I said, "How'd you think of that?" and he just showed me on a piece of paper. It was like a theory thing. The muting thing on the verse comes from listening to the Cars. But at the time, it was more about getting good grades [than playing guitar]. I was an economics major. 

Thompson: I had good musical encouragement in grade school, but I didn't follow through on any of the lessons. I bought whatever I could get at the used-record store. They wouldn't necessarily have the hippest punk-rock records; it was more like Ten Years After and Led Zeppelin. I've been writing songs since I was 12. There are a couple of songs like "Here Comes Your Man" which I wrote when I was 14 or 15, so some early Pixies songs had their roots in my teen years. But they didn't crystallize into something until I heard a Violent Femmes or Iggy Pop record, and then I was like, "Oh, okay." 

Deal: Me and [my twin sister] Kelley had songs. A hundred songs. Kelley got a bass guitar, and, being in high school, we wanted to join a band. But you could not play in a band if you were a chick in Huber Heights, Ohio. If you sang a Pat Benatar song and played tambourine, that was acceptable. So we ended up playing the truck stops. The Ground Round. I remember men ordering me and Kelley sloe-gin fizzes when we were 16. We opened for the Allman Brothers once at McGuffy's House of Draft. When we got there I was pretty nervous because there were motorcycles in the parking lot. But when bikers see young girls with an acoustic guitar harmonizing on a Hank Williams song, you know they're going to like it. 

Santiago: Charles and I met at UMass. There was a suite of six rooms and his was the next one over. 

Thompson: We each had our own goofy record collections, and we had this dream of starting a band, because college wasn't that interesting. University is a big farty bubble where no one knows shit about anything. Everything rubbed me the wrong way, whether it was social interaction with other kids or people formulating their intellectual outlook on the universe — everyone was so full of themselves. 

Santiago: Charles would show me his songs. He had "U-Mass" already. "Levitate Me." We just wanted to do something different. I didn't want to be in a band that played covers. 

Thompson: I never write in a notebook. I don't have a diary in my back pocket. I don't scribble music on cocktail napkins. I sit down to write a song and I write it. "Caribou" is about reincarnation. "Ed Is Dead" is about a brain-damaged girl I knew. We tried a couple of rehearsals at Joey's parents' house with a drummer, a keyboard player, and a bass player. We got our feet wet. But we were all too busy going to college.

Santiago: Charles did an exchange program. Our Spanish teacher gave us these pamphlets to go to Puerto Rico. He was excited, and he asked me, but he probably knew I didn't want to go. 

Thompson: "Isla de Encanta" is about Puerto Rico. It's about the beaches. I was going to the beach every day, jogging. Just hanging out, playing pool, drinking beer. I lost a lot of weight, actually; I was really thin. It was so hot and humid, and I was running and walking all over the city at all hours of the night. It was a good experience, but I was there for six months and I had had enough. 

Santiago: He wrote me a couple of letters from Puerto Rico. One said, "Screw this academics, let's just start the damn band!" So he came back and we drove to UMass. It was the last day to withdraw to get your full tuition back, and I got my money back and we drove to Boston. My whole town revolved around people having an education, but I knew Charles had something unique. 

Deal: My ex-husband, John Murphy, was from Boston. He worked as a computer programmer, and he was transferred to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio. My brother was at the same company and he introduced us. [But after we got married,] John wanted to go back to Boston. Boston, that's the coast, and they're not weird about playing with chicks. I got a job working at a doctor's office in Brookline. I was hired to do lab work. I loved the microscope and cellular biology. If you gave a stool sample, I'd be the one swabbing it on a plate of agar and seeing what grows. 


Deal: I [saw an ad] in the Boston Phoenix. It said something about Peter, Paul & Mary and Hüsker Dü. "Wanted: female vocalist for high harmonies, no chops," which I thought was really funny. So I went over to meet Joe and Charles. I thought Joe was a Mexican when I first met him. He didn't talk much. But Charles played this song on acoustic, called "Brick Is Red," and I liked it. He had a big hoop earring on. 

Santiago: Kim was the only one to answer the ad, but it didn't matter, because as soon as she left the apartment, Charles and I looked at each other and said, "She's it." 

Deal: David Lovering used to work with John at Radio Shack [in Boston]. I remembered David from our wedding reception 'cause he was wearing a pinstripe suit. And I knew he was a drummer. 

David Lovering (drummer, Pixies; "scientific phenomenalist; b. December 6, 1961): Kim told John that Joe and Charles were looking for a drummer, and my name came up. I hadn't played in a number of years. My drums were put away, but then I figured, I'll give it a shot. 

Thompson: David was the first guy who seemed like he had time on his hands and was interested. His parents let us rehearse in their garage. 

Deal: Joey found the band name in a dictionary. He didn't come over here until he was seven, so some words he still had trouble with. It's weird because he's fluent in English. But every now and then a word creeps up, so he scans the dictionary. I guess he found the name interesting. He liked the "x" in the middle. 

Santiago: I just liked the way it looked: "Pixies." I also liked the definition: mischievous little elves. 

Deal: He thought they were arty things. I don't think he knew that pixies are more like little fairies. I had people ask me, "Oh, is it an all-girl band?" But Joe thought it looked way more heavy. The original name was Pixies in Panoply.

Santiago: I knew that wouldn't keep. It made it a little Medieval. 

I'M AMAZED (1986-1987) 

Johnny Angel (journalist; musician): Back in the '80s, I was a local celebrity in Boston, and I played in a bunch of bands that had songs on the radio, one of which was called the Blackjacks. One of the members had a side project, and he rehearsed in the same place as the Pixies. He came up to me and said, "There's these weird people that want to open for us."

Julie Farman (former booker, the Rat; ex-wife of David Lovering): The big local bands were Mission of Burma, the Neats, the Lyres, the Del Fuegos. There was this hierarchy of the Boston scene. These were the bands who played locally and came up through the clubs and really worked it and earned it and hung out. The Pixies were not part of that scene. They came out of nowhere.

Angel: Boston bands are mega-derivative of everything. If a band like the Smiths was happening in 1986, there was a Boston version. But the Pixies weren't like anything else. I remember thinking that they didn't connect to me at all, they were just too strange. Like, "Man, if this shit takes off, my career is over." 

Thompson: Our set was pretty much the first two Pixies albums — and a cover. All the Pixies went to the movies together. I dragged them down to see Eraserhead 'cause I loved it so much. I had this brilliant idea: "Hey, let's cover the song ["In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator)"] from the movie!" 

Lovering: Our first gig was a Wednesday night at a bar in Cambridge. And they spelled the band's name wrong! It was "the Puxies." A total of, like, five of our friends came down. My best friend, Scott, came. He's a drummer too, and I really admired him. He thought it sucked.

Thompson: We got a reaction from an audience immediately.

Lovering: We'd play shitholes. Any place with a pool table.

Deal: There were a lot of universities [in Boston]. That means a lot of drinking, a lot of bars, and a lot of opportunities to play out. And if you could bring a couple of your [Boston University]-Emerson-Tufts buddies down, and if you could get 'em to drink beer, you would get asked back. The bar owners want to sell beer. They don't care if the music's good. I don't even know if the people who liked us came back the next time we played. But something must have happened, because people started coming to the shows to see us. 

Evan Dando (singer/guitarist, the Lemonheads): [The Lemonheads] played with them at T.T. the Bear's Place in 1986. It was our second or third gig and their second or third gig too. It was called "Nu Muzik," like n-u-m-u-z-i-k. Totally hilarious. Like new wave was still happening. We were expecting all the bands to totally suck, but when [the Pixies] played we were like, "What's wrong with this picture? This band's amazing!" After that, I went to see them whenever I could. 

Santiago: We also made these posters to announce when we were playing. They said, "Death to the Pixies," with a photo of Charles [naked] on them. That was Charles' idea. People were tearing them down and keeping them. They loved that poster. 

Thompson: It was my attempt at some sort of Iggy Pop pose. They were done on high-grade paper, they weren't just Xeroxed.

Kurt St. Thomas (former DJ and program director, WFNX Boston): They were popping up all over town. I was like, "What the hell is that?" They were pretty aggressive posters. They just grabbed your attention because it was like, "What does that mean? Did they break up already?"

Deal: The Rat was the cool club to play at the time. 

St. Thomas: The name of the club was the Rathskeller, but everybody called it the Rat. It was this tiny club in Kenmore Square. 

Kristin Hersh (singer/guitarist, Throwing Muses): The Rat was just gross, but perfectly gross. It was a study in squalor. 

Farman: At the time, it was really in disrepair. Not great sound or lighting, but it had this air about it. It was so legendary. The Cars used to play there all the time. Every punk-rock band had played there, and all the new-wave bands that came over from England. 

Deal: We were so scared to go in and hand out our tape that we got Charles' [then] girlfriend Jean [Walsh] to go instead, 'cause she was a goth. She had the blond hair and the cool-looking getup. So we got here to give it to the booker, so we'd seem cool. 

Angel: Jean went to UMass too, but I think they met at a club in Boston, and the story goes... Am I supposed to be telling you this? Oh, I don't know, fuck, I don't see why it's a big deal. She passed [Charles] a note. Jean was just crackers about Charles right away. I think him with her too. I think a lot of really hilarious shit [on the Pixies' records] comes from him trying to crack her up. Jean loves word games, and he ran a lot of his ideas by her. In that tune, "Tame," there's a line "Cookie, I think you're tame," and he starts screaming it. I know it was either "honey" or "baby" first, and Jean was like, "Come up with something else." I know that was her idea. It's a Jeanism. She likes hard-boiled, '40s movie dialogue. "Is She Weird?" — that's definitely about her. And so is "Subbacultcha." I think she was an enormous influence on the band. 

Thompson: You can trace certain songs to people in your life, but, um, it's a lot more complex than that. If we're talking about the first three Pixies records, they're not really very relationship oriented, shall we say. But a song like "Where Is My Mind?" — my girlfriend heard me working on that, and she poked her head in and said, "Finish that one. That's a good one." 

Farman: We would get tons of demo tapes [at the Rat]. I had this intern who would listen to all of them. She listened to the Pixies' [tape] and said they were amazing, so she put them on a Sunday afternoon show, but it was probably, like, eight bands with five or six people in the audience. 

Hersh: [The Rat] was the first place [Throwing Muses] played with the Pixies, and honestly, I wasn't going to watch them because their name was so stupid! When they walked onstage I thought they were all lesbians. Charles was really soft and pretty, and he screamed like a girl, but with real guts behind it. When he started singing about his penis, I figured out that none of them were lesbians. From that show on, we made sure the Pixies opened for us everywhere. 

Thompson: We got along famously with the Muses. 

Tanya Donelly (guitarist, the Breeders; singer/guitarist, Throwing Muses, Belly): We were both bands that didn't play well with others, and we got put onto a lot of the same bills and became really close. Gary Smith, whose band Lifeboat we played with a few times, took us all under his wing. 

Hersh: Gary Smith cared so much about what we were doing. He was the one who forced us all into the studio to record demos and started pushing us into thinking in a more worldly way. One of the things he did was called "Sing for Your Supper." He made really good fettuccine Alfredo, and we were starving. So you could go to Gary's house, and he'd make you the fettuccine Alfredo if you sat on his bed and played into his two-track — all the songs that you knew until you were tired. Charles and I both did that. I'm not sure either of our bands would ever have been heard without him. 

Gary Smith (owner/manager, Fort Apache studios; producer, "The Purple Tape" demo; musician): The Muses played with the Pixies at the Rat, and that's where I saw the Pixies for the first time, in sound check. In one song, I was knocked out. I remember thinking, "Holy shit, this is different." Just the way they approached the songs and the wide dynamic range, the control during the verses and mania during the choruses. By then I was working at Fort Apache [studios], so I knew there was a way to record it. I begged them to work with me. And they eventually said yes. The demos I'd done for the Muses had gotten them a record deal with 4AD. And that was what I was using as leverage. I'm kind of a snotty, sanctimonious guy, and I always wanted to work with cool people. 

Joe Harvard (co-founder, Fort Apache studios): When Gary came in, he had a hard-on this big. He had a similar erection over the Muses, so I trusted his judgement. 

Deal: I think Charles' dad paid, like, $1,500 bucks, and we went into Fort Apache. And we did 16 or 18 songs in three days. Jolt Cola had just come out, so we were all doing the Jolt. 

Lovering: Fort Apache was in Roxbury, which is not a really great part of Boston. 

Smith: We stayed up all night for three days. It was very cold. I remember people wearing snorkel jackets while doing parts, people wearing gloves while playing guitar. When we finally had the whole thing mixed and ready, we were at my apartment, and I was doing the artwork for the cassette. And that's the day that Charles committed to being "Black Francis." And Kim decided to be "Mrs. John Murphy." 

Santiago: I don't know why he did it. We still called him Charles, sometimes Chuck, depending on the mood. 

Thompson: I wanted a stage name. It was a punk-rock thing. I've since learned it has a much longer history, mostly in black blues music. But for me, it was, "If it's good enough for Iggy Pop, it's good enough for me." 

Deal: I was sitting at [work] and I answered the phone and the woman who called, her name was, like, Ethel Goldfarb — and I said something like, "Okay, one moment, Ethel, I'll get your chart." And she said, "My name is not Ethel Goldfarb. My name is Mrs. Leonard Goldfarb." Her power was in her husband's name and her identity and her value. To show respect, I had to refer to her by her husband's name. And I thought, "Cool. I want to be Mrs. John Murphy." And then I got divorced and it wasn't funny. 

Smith: I remember doing the lettering and thinking, "Are you sure about this?" They had a plan back then that they each would do a nude shot for each successive record. It stopped almost immediately. For the cassette, I shot ten rolls of Dave Lovering jogging in the nude. This was "The Purple Tape." I had a bunch of extra ones made and I sent them to everyone I had met while on tour with Lifeboat. And I do think that had some impact on building the first buzz in America. They were all cool people, like the dB's, the Hoodoo Gurus, R.E.M., and the Replacements. 

Hersh: I begged my manager [Ken Goes] to sign them. Made him sit down in my car and listen to their demos. 

Smith: He didn't really want to do it; he didn't get it. And I didn't know anything about management at the time. Back then I just wanted somebody who had contacts at record labels. He didn't really hear it until other people started hearing it. 

Deal: Ken Goes finally gave a tape to 4AD. We had already sent it out. I have the rejection letters: Elektra, Slash, SST, Relativity, Homestead, Throbbing Lobster, New Rose. Everybody rejected us. The story I heard was that Ivo Watts-Russell over at 4AD in London got the tape from Ken, got stuck in traffic or something, and he listened to us and liked it. 

Ivo Watts-Russell (co-founder, 4AD records): This is why I hate doing this, because the stuck-in-traffic story was [when I heard] the Throwing Muses. See how it becomes something else? It's all fucking Chinese whispers. Ken gave me the tape. He said, "David [Narcizo, Throwing Muses' drummer] gave this to me. I think they're pretty good." I listened to the tape for the first time on a Walkman, walking through New York. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure because I was keen on veering the label away from anything that could be described as rock'n'roll. My girlfriend at the time, our press person at 4AD, Deborah Edgeley, just said, "This is great — we gotta do it." 

Thompson: We were like, "Record label? London? Party! Cool! What do we do?" It wasn't because we were desperate; it was because it was action. All the stuff they were talking about, whether it was a record producer or a particular song, or whether the name of the band was going to be Pixies or the Pixies — they dropped the the because they thought it was cooler to call [us] Pixies — all this stuff was just not important. The important thing was that we were going to go in a studio, we were going to go on tour, we were going to put a record out. 

Deal: I'd never heard of 4AD, except that they wanted to sign us. Then I started to pay attention when a band was on that label. The Cocteau Twins were kind of big, and the Wolfgang Press and Dead Can Dance. I thought, "Wow, moody goth rock! Cool!" 

Watts-Russell: I called Ken up and said I want to pick these eight songs and I want to call it Come on Pilgrim because it made me think of Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim. And I think Charles just said, "Yeah, all right." I had been frustrated by enjoying a demo and then getting it rerecorded — half the time it didn't turn out as good. 

Smith: "The Purple Tape" was 17 songs. Ken Goes called and said Ivo only wanted to do eight of the songs. I was kind of miffed. I don't think [Ivo] took the best songs, and I think he knew that. I think he was doing it as setup for whatever came after. It's a pity that they made the decision to release the outtakes from "The Purple Tape" on SpinART and leave Come on Pilgrim with 4AD, so now those two things will never be rejoined as they should have been. 

Watts-Russell: Gary Smith has slagged me off to this day for having taken those eight tracks. But I'm still glad that was done as an introduction to the Pixies. 

Vaughan Oliver (graphic designer, 4AD records): I was Ivo's first employee. That showed how much he cared about the sleeves. But [4AD] never set out to give these bands an identity. It just evolved in an organic way from sleeve to sleeve. We take the music first, read the lyrics, have a conversation with the band. The primary contact with the Pixies was always Charles. We'd talk around what he liked in art and film. That's how we arrived at the first sleeve: the hairy man. I think we shared an interest in David Lynch. I could hear it in his music. The horror and the humor. Charles said he liked nudity. He wanted to see some nudity on the sleeve. I said, "Fine by me. Nice start." 

Deal: When I first saw the album, I thought, "Wow, is that really hair on his back?" 

Oliver: All the photographs on the [original] sleeves have been by Simon Larbalestier. The hair is real. This guy was covered, behind his knees, etc. But, ironically, he was going bald, so he would shave his head. Then he'd have to shave his neck and down inside his collar, so he'd literally have this hair shirt. It's exaggerated with the lighting, but [Simon] just plied him with a few drinks one night and got his shirt off. 

Santiago: After Come on Pilgrim came out, we became aware of these publications [like CMJ]. 

Deal: You could open up CMJ and there was this little picture of the country, and you could look at the college stations, 'cause college stations, that's all there was to listen to. Well, there were modern-rock stations that played the Cure, the Fixx, Siouxsie and the Banshees. But if you wanted to hear Hüsker Dü or the Replacements or anything like that, you had to listen to college radio. Once [Come on Pilgrim] came out, we could see our name listed, like, in the Top Ten. We could say, "Wow, lookit, a college in North Carolina is playing us." And we could go there and play a show. I don't think I realized that it was probably a wattage that didn't even penetrate the campus — that probably two people were listening. 

Santiago: First tour was in, like, a Ryder truck. No windows. We were stuck in the back. There was no scenery. We were just excited to be on the road. I had never heard of the Eastern Seaboard. I thought it was romantic. "We're going to be going down the Eastern Seaboard." No one else calls it that but bands that tour. 

Deal: Jean had given Charles a present: a CD player. So it was the first time I had ever seen one. It skipped all the time. But it was pretty cool. 

Lovering: It was really close quarters. We learned a lot about ourselves as well as our temperament towards each other. 

Thompson: Other bands like to hang out and get fucked up and build so-called camaraderie and get into the local battle of the bands, and all that stuff that doesn't really mean anything. [Our] goal was to get the hell out of town, not be local heroes. Fuck that. I want to be Bob Dylan — I don't want to be the most popular kid on campus. 


Santiago: You wanna hear one of Steve Albini's jokes? "Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Frank Sinatra." "Frank Sinatra who?" [Mimics cool Sinatra voice] "C'mon!" 

Steve Albini (recording engineer, Surfer Rosa; musician): Ivo sent me a copy of their cassette. I have to admit I didn't listen too closely until I was on my way to Boston to do [Surfer Rosa]. If somebody wants me to work on their record, I try not to say no. I always try to find a reason to do it rather than a reason to not do it. [With the Pixies] there was an atmospheric quality to their early stuff that was great. 

Watts-Russell: Steve was a delight to deal with. Very swift and no-nonsense. Well, maybe because I never met him. I dealt with him on the telephone. 

Albini: They did have quite distinct personalities. Kim is giddy and playful. Charles is more serious, but he's also got a sardonic sense of humor, and I'm a fan of dark humor. He was a kindred spirit in that sense. David Lovering was very pleasant, very cooperative. I didn't get the feeling that he was the biggest music fan, but he enjoyed playing the drums. The same with Joey. And because they had developed as bedroom players, they had distinctive styles. People who taught themselves how to play had an advantage because they wouldn't be mimicking. Like, you weren't gonna play guitar like Ted Nugent if nobody taught you how to do it. They were making music along unconventional lines partly out of ignorance, but I mean "ignorance" in a flattering sense. They were also very good and very smart. On a personal level, I got along with all of them fine. I later said some unflattering things about the band in a fanzine and to this day I regret having done it. [In a 1991 issue of Forced Exposure, Albini called Surfer Rosa "a patchwork pinch loaf from a band who at their top dollar best are blandly entertaining college rock... Never have I seen four cows more anxious to be led around by their nose rings." — ed.

Santiago: I know he says some weird things in the press. Trust me, he'd prefer it if I told you he was a prick. But he's not — not to me, anyway. [Surfer Rosa] did sound really good. 

Deal: He's specific in the way he doesn't want it to sound. For us it was perfect. He's not a producer; he's an engineer. How you sound in the room — he'll put up the best mikes that the place has to offer. People thought he was this rebellious guy with crazy ideas, but I think what makes him rebellious and crazy is that he's just so traditional. 

Albini: Up until that point, most of the recording sessions that I'd done had either been for my own band or for my friends' bands at studios in Chicago. So this was one of the first times that I'd been hired to go elsewhere to be in charge of a session for strangers. I guess that's the key: It was for strangers. And I probably went a little bit overboard in terms of taking charge. 

Thompson: I had no approach at that time. I had a guitar or two, a shitty amp, some songs, and a band. My approach was, "Whatever you want to do there, Bucko." 

Albini: From a musical standpoint, all the decisions were theirs, but I think I was more inclined to try to throw my ideas in there. I remember thinking that there were times when their music implied a heavier sound than they were generating, so we'd get them bigger amplifiers. And instead of recording evernything in the studio, there was this big hallway and a big bathroom. So we rigged up amplifiers in there. 

There's a song called "Vamos," which had already been on their first record. I think they were interested in distinguishing the version that they were recording from that version, so they played the instrumental portion for a really long time, and then Joey played a number of crazy little guitar-solo fragments. Then those were edited together on quarter-inch tape — some of the fragments were put in backwards, some of them put in forwards. And that was played over the multi-track as a guitar solo. So, rather than him playing a crazy guitar solo, he sort of assembled a crazy guitar solo on tape. That's the sort of thing that they wouldn't have done if I hadn't been there saying, "Why don't we try that?" 

Lovering: Steve does a lot of ambient sounds — kind of that Led Zeppeling thing — by miking the room. It just sounds like you're there in the room with us. I think he recorded those snippets of conversation for ambience, too. 

Thompson [Surfer Rosa excerpt, before "Vamos"]: "You fucking die," I said to her. I said, "You fucking die" to her. Huh? What? No, no. I was talking to Kim. I said, "You fucking die." No, I, uh, we were just goofing around. No, no. It didn't have anything to do with anything. She said, "Don't anybody touch this — this is my stuff." And I said, "You fucking die." I was finishing her part for her. You know what I mean? 

Albini: When you're in the studio, you've got tape machines everywhere. So when little bits of conversation would come up, I would roll a tape machine in the hopes that some of it would be useful. I think that's one of the things on the record that I put my fingerprints on that I'm a little uncomfortable with at the moment. 

Deal [Surfer Rosa excerpt, before "I'm Amazed"]: ...girls and fuck them at school. All I know is that there were rumors he was into field hockey players. There were rumors — 

Thompson: So I applied, basically. 

Deal: He was gone the next day. 

Thompson: I went out for the team. 

Deal: It's like he was gone. They just, like, it was, like, so hush hush. They were so quiet about it, and then the next thing you know...

Deal: I was talking to Charles or Albini, and I was telling 'em this story. I didn't know Albini was rolling tape. The story is, there was this guy in high school who was a biology teacher — oh, I don't want to tell you. Then the mystique's gone! 

Lovering: People memorize those lines. I've seen a tribute album where a band covered that dialogue, the conversation, like it was a song. 

Albini: Yeah, well, people are fucking idiots. 

Oliver: The Surfer Rosa sleeve was fairly provocative, wasn't it? I'd been talking to Charles about his time in Puerto Rico. I quizzed him on it and just went to a typical, traditional Spanish image of a flamenco dancer. Because it's so traditional and proud, I wondered how it could be debased. And that's just by asking her to take her shirt off. She was willing, but I was a bit nervous asking. It was like, "You're a great dancer, but one more thing..." In America, there's a little round sticker that just kind of fits her top. It's so prudish! 

Deal: [The 4AD people] were all bald, very thin, and gaunt, and Deborah would have these big red lips, and they would all have eyeliner on. The guys and the girls looked very similar, and they were all wearing these big, Polish, furry hats. 

Santiago: They came to Boston and thought we'd be all leather jackets and stuff. We showed up at dinner in our oxford shirts. 

Thompson: We knew 4AD had their own little cultish following and indie-rock kids kind of knew who we were, but it didn't turn into something real for us until we came to Europe. 

Deal: 4AD had a tour booked [for us] to open for the Throwing Muses. So in April of '88, after [Surfer Rosa] came out, we went over to England. That first show at the Town and Country Club was so exciting. The people actually knew the songs. 

Santiago: That was a huge gig. It was sold out, and I took the subway to the gig, and right when I got off the train there were people everywhere, scalping tickets. 

Robin Hurley (former CEO, 4AD records): It's a fairly legendary story now that halfway through [the Throwing Muses tour] they switched the billing around because the Pixies were pulling a far higher percentage of the crowd. It was a credit to the way those two bands toured together that they could do that and still keep going with an amazing live show. 

J Mascis (singer/guitarist, Dinosaur Jr.): I'd met Charles at UMass in 1984, but I only heard about the Pixies in England. Dinosaur Jr. were touring there at the time with [Albini's band] Rapeman, and Surfer Rosa had come out and they were playing it in all the clubs. I had heard "Gigantic" so much that later that year, at a Fort Apache Christmas party, I actually played it with the band. Charles wasn't there, so I got recruited to play it with the other Pixies. It went reasonably well.

St. Thomas: They were struggling just to get gigs in Boston or New York. And then NME or Melody Maker would rave about the band and you'd be like, "Holy shit, look at this! They're in the NME, but they're not even in [their own] local paper!" 

Lovering: I just think they have better taste over there. 


Deal: After Europe, we went back home and did Doolittle. The first one cost like $1,500 bucks, Surfer Rosa cost like $9,000, and then Doolittle, I think, cost 30 grand. Maybe that took three weeks to do. And just before that came out in '89, 4AD decided to sign us proper. Five albums, I think. And since they were import-only, they needed a proper U.S. distributor. So that's where Elektra came in. 

Hurley: I think Surfer Rosa had sold just over 100,000 [copies], and the thought was definitely that the band should sell half a million or more in the States. And that has been achieved on Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Elektra was very supportive. The Pixies were not the most overly commercial band. So to achieve half a million, I think, was good. 

Angel: You can tell the difference in their sound on the monkey record — what was that called again? Doolittle. I think Charles started to realize, "Wow, this really is a big deal and there's pressure on me to write more stuff now." 

Thompson: "Gouge Away" is about Samson and Delilah. "Dead" is about David and Bathsheba. There were some Biblical things I had gotten into. You can't go wrong with the Old Testament. 

Santiago: We were going through the process, and we were like, "Preproduction? What is this? We never had this with Albini." 

Michael Azerrad (author, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana and Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991): Gil Norton had produced successful bands in the U.K., so he had the sound of young Britain at his fingertips, and that's where the Pixies were the biggest. It made sense to team up with him. 

Gil Norton (producer, Doolittle, Trompe Le Monde): Charles played the songs for me on acoustic guitar before rehearsing with the band. I was trying to develop some of the songs with him — like [adding] the strings on "Monkey Gone to Heaven." Some of those songs were originally like a minute thirty. So I'd try to do things twice. You had to excite Charles. He was like, "Why do you want me to do it twice? I've already done it once." 

Thompson: There were new, cleaner textures, maybe, but it wasn't like we thought we'd get played on the radio. I mean, maybe "Here Comes Your Man." At the time I was kind of embarrassed by the song, but the producer really liked it, so I threw him a bone. 

Santiago: We were listening to Doolittle in the control room, and were just saying, "Goddamn, this is a great record." And I said, "We're going to be those people that people are going to emulate and use as a stepping stone." I foresaw being the Velvet Underground of something. I didn't trust anyone who didn't listen to the Velvet Underground. 

Thompson: A song like "Debaser" — to this day, it doesn't sound commercial to me. Nothing we do is very commercial. Not that what we were doing was so radical or so intense, but it wasn't what was being played on the radio. We never thought, "Oh, we're selling out." It was just like, "Now you have more money to make a record." 

Santiago: We still all lived around Boston. There was some cash in the bank. We got a little more comfy. 

Lovering: On our first big tour, we opened for the Cure at [New Jersey's] Giants Stadium, and I was there early onstage. They had this pre-fab flooring — these huge sheets of plywood and a huge tarp — all over the field. But it had rained the night before and the moisture had warped the boards. So they open up general admission and hundereds and hundreds of goths are running in to get in front of the stage and they're going down like flies. It was very surreal. 

Azerrad: When they opened for the Cure, they were so confident that they arranged their set in alphabetical order. They knew they were so shit-hot that they could shuffle their deck any which way and still win the game. 

Oliver: I saw them around that time in North London. It was an illustration of their genius that they played the set alphabetically. And the next night they played it backwards. They'd start with the fucking encore, and it worked! 

Ben Marts (former tour manager, Pixies): I remember the slowest-to-fastest sets. They played their slowest songs first and went up to the fastest — just built it into a frenzy. 

Deal: But the dynamic in the band was not good. It wasn't good at all. 

St. Thomas: There's something about Kim's voice that's almost childlike. Charles would be screaming incoherently, and then she'd sing this little childlike melody, and that was really jarring. There was definitely a tension [onstage], and obviously we'd find out later that there was a lot of tension between them. 

Santiago: I think they really complement each other vocally. She's the charmer of the band. A lot of girls look up to Kim. If they want to be a rock chick, they have to be like Kim. 

Deal: When journalists used to say things like, "Why doesn't Kim sing more?" Charles would leave the table. He would act so bad. That obviously became a button. So what does a journalist want to do? Fucking press that, time and time again. "Gigantic" [on which Deal sings lead] was our first single. People liked it. People sang along even then. You'd have to ask Charles if that bothers him. I don't know and I don't care. It's none of my business. 

Thompson: I have an ego. You have to have an ego to do this. At the time, we would be playing and I would say to myself, "I'm doing all the work. She's smoking a cigarette and the crowd is loving her. Why am I knocking myself out writing all these damn songs?" 

Deal: Tanya Donelly started coming over, bringing her guitar, and we were playing together. I had gotten bored. 

Donelly: Initially, the Breeders were just us playing guitar together and hanging out and drinking beer. But both of us loved dancing, so we decided we were going to do a dance project, and it was going to be both David Narcizo, the Muses drummer, and David Lovering drumming. I'd play guitar and she'd play bass. We had some originals, then were gonna do "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus and Chaka Khan, but we sucked at it. We didn't have the funk. We were thinking, we'll have this organic dance band — no machines, no loops, just guitars and drums. It was dumb. So we decided to have a regular old band. 

Deal: Ivo found out and said send him a copy of what we were doing. So we said, "Here's what we're doing," and he said, "Okay, record it. We'll put it out." 

Albini: I instantly preferred it to the Pixies. It had the playful nature of children's music and this girlish fascination with things that were pretty, but it was also kind of horny. And that juxtaposition at the time was unusual. You didn't get a lot of knowing winks from female artists. But I also think that musically it was quite distinct from everything else that was around. 

Deal: People think that since they like my voice, obviously I'm being oppressed [in the Pixies]. Or because they prefer my voice, they think I should sing more. I don't want to sing at all! I'd rather play the drums. 

Albini: There was a discussion at the time that Kim [making] that record [Pod, which Albini recorded] was causing some friction within the Pixies. It was an unrealted enterprise. I don't see why it would matter. 

Thompson: It just became a grouchy thing. More than anything, it was just people being unhappy in their personal lives. 

Marc Geiger (agent; co-creator, Lollapalooza festival): There were some issues, and that probably was part of the problem. I'll let you interpret. 

Farman: The relationship between Charles and Kim was complicated. By the time I was aware of anything, there was none of the camaraderie that you'd expect from a band who had been together for so long. When I did go on the road with them, there wasn't any antagonism or tension, but... This is so hard. I'm so sorry. I wanna tell you, but... Okay, at one point Charles and Jean decided they were gonna drive in their big yellow Cadillac rather than get on the bus. 

Thompson: I had a traveling companion. I suppose it was an attempt at privacy. 

Angel: I've heard that [there were romantic tensions], but I don't know. 

Oliver: I read that there was something [between Charles and Kim], and that it didn't work and it led to an adverse chemistry between them. 

Dando: I definitely heard a bunch of rumors, but I'm not talking about any of that stuff. 

Chas Banks (former European tour manager, Pixies): There's no way Charles and Kim ever had sex together. It's like this: Certain actors and actresses have that sexual chemistry onscreen. Then they go home to their husbands and wives. That's how it was with Charles and Kim onstage. 

[The Pixies refused to comment about the rumored affair. Their spokesperson would only say, "People have said a lot of things about the Pixies over the years, but the band doesn't pay attention to most of it." — ed.

Deal: Everyone had gone out to L.A., but I didn't know that. So I called up Charles to find out when we were gonna get together to rehearse, and he said, "I don't want you to come out." "What do you mean, 'I don't want you to come out'?" I called Deborah Edgeley from 4AD. I said, "I heard we were rehearsing." And she said, "Yeah, Joe's out there." I thought, "Oh my God, Joe's out there?" And I knew David had moved out there. Everybody's out there? So I asked her, "Charles said he doesn't want me to come out. Does that mean they don't want me to come out and play ever?" She goes, "I don't know, Kim. Go out there, ask them." 

I was so sad. I flew out on my own. It was so weird taking a flight by myself, booking my own hotel room. Then I get a phone call from the manager. Me and him had never talked. It was weird. He said, "You are to meet here the next day." I go, "Okay." I still have no fucking idea what's going on. It's a lawyer's office! David, Joe, and Charles are there with our manager and the lawyer. And I walk in — it's like, "Ohhh, I'm fired." I mean, I didn't say that. It was so hurtful, it was odd, it was awkward. Charles started talking about [how] I got $11,000 to record Pod. And I guess Surfer Rosa cost less or something. Anyway, the lawyer stopped him from talking about it, because she said that wasn't relevant to the discussion about why I'm fired. I knew they were wrong, but it really didn't matter because the fact that all three of them were thinking that — it doesn't matter if they're wrong, I'm wrong. I was there to get fired. Then I think Joe and David pussed out and decided they hadn't given me a warning and so this would be my warning. I don't know what about. I think Joe feels like an asshole that it happened. David — he's just gonna say, "Right on," 'cause David always says "Right on" about everything. 

Lovering: I just think of it as a little spat that we had, just from being too tight. I think people's heads, including my own, were somewhere else. It was a lot more extreme than it should have been. 

Santiago: You have to ask Kim and Charles. 

Deal: Charles will get mad at you if you ask about it. 

Thompson: First of all, a lot of the so-called tension and negativity within the band that people have alluded to over the years is much exaggerated. It was almost thrust upon us because people were looking for it. The band actually got along fine. I did kick a guitar at Kim once onstage in Germany because she was late for the gig. She was like an hour late; it was a sold-out gig. 

Banks: She was very lax when it came to being professional and on time. 

Thompson: I have since apologized to her. It was just one of those stupid things you do. Now, if someone was an hour late for a gig, I'd just be like, "Rock'n'roll, man." it wouldn't be a big deal. But when you're young, you're hyper, you're full of yourself. Your crew pick up on it, and they go, "Oh, Charles is upset." The gig happened and all was well. I didn't need to get frustrated. I just picked up the guitar with my foot and hurled it across the stage at her. She was just like, "Fuck you!" That was the only time we had a fight onstage. The audience loved it, of course. It was just embarrassing. It was one of those things that as soon as you're doing it, you're kind of like, "Oops, I shouldn't do this." I'm not an aggressive person, not physically anyway, and I felt really bad about it afterwards. There was much made of us not getting along because there's not much of a story with us. We don't have any kind of image, there is no vision, there is no plan. We're just four people playing songs. That's all there is. We're not trying to do anything except express ourselves. It's kind of abstract. People have a difficult time with abstraction, and they always want to figure it out. So they say, "Oh, there's tension in the band. They don't get along." 

Jeff Craft (international booking agent, Pixies): Charles is a complete 100 percent professional. I know that there are plenty of rock'n'roll bands that have difficult characters in them, and the bands managed to find a way of moving forward. But you can't do that with somebody like Charles, because he is a very straight guy. And he expects a certain amount of commitment and professionalism from the people around him. If he doesn't get it, then they go, you know? 

Angel: They'd have no band if they fired Kim. She was the soul of the group. It's like the Stones firing Keith Richards because he's a fuck-up, I mean, come on! You can't do that. 

Thompson: I moved to California in January of 1990 and I played a couple of gigs while traveling across the country. Why did I do it? Gas money. 

St. Thomas: I remember going to see him solo, while the Pixies were still together. I remember thinking, "Why is he doing this?" I remember thinking, "Well, that was good, but it wasn't the Pixies." 

ALL OVER THE WORLD (1990-1991) 

Thompson: [Eventually] we moved to [L.A.] to record Bossanova. Kim didn't, but Joey and Dave did. It's a natural place to go. It's warm there. I grew up there. I didn't even want to move there — my girlfriend wanted to. It wasn't like, "We'll never leave our beloved Boston." We didn't give a shit! A lot of musicians move to L.A. for no particular reason other than the weather's really good and it's laid-back. 

Santiago: I remember going to L.A. and hating it. It's hot, smoggy. I ended up living in L.A. I've been there for over ten years. People are always saying, "Good luck trying to leave." 

Oliver: Before I even received the music, my partner Chris Bigg and I were talking about a Pixies planet, just this image of a Pixies world, which was strange because [Charles had] come up with all these extraterrestrial references. 

Thompson: I did have some UFO experiences when I was younger, and I decided to tap into that and explore. I thought it might be fun. I don't know if I wrote my best songs while doing it, but whatever. Again, it's like you start to get rid of the jabberwocky "I'm going to sing the first words that come into my head" approach. In a way, that kind of thing is good, but in a way that can become kind of hack. You sit down and you want to write a song about something. It's hard to keep that abstract surrealist thing going. Or I just wasn't talented enough to keep it going. 

St. Thomas: I've spoken to Charles many times about UFOs. He's just fascinated by science fiction and he got into the whole Roswell thing. That's usually what he would talk about, these very odd topics: UFOs or the most random things. But if you got him on a topic, he'd know so much about it. We talked about Bob Hope once for an hour. He was telling me all these things about California and Bob Hope and I was like, "Why would you know all this stuff?" 

Santiago: Bossanova was different from the other albums. It's mellower. It's a pretty record. We got a lot of flak for that. Everybody said we went soft. 

Thompson: I think there's good stuff and less good stuff on every record we made. It's a mixed bag from beginning to end. And I have no favorite, because it's a mixed bag. Maybe Doolittle has a few more A-list songs. And let's be honest: Surfer Rosa is a great record, but "Tony's Theme" is not one of my best songs. 

Azerrad: They headlined the Reading Festival in August of 1990. That show was kind of a make-or-break thing. They were stressed out about it. Gil Norton had actually taken them up to a rehearsal hall in Manchester and they worked out all the kinks as if they were doing preproduction for a recording. And sure enough, they go on and the place exploded. The crowd was just heaving up and down as one, and there was this great cloud of sweat and steam coming off them. The band was just pounding. Every song seemed like this epic statement, even though a lot of them were two minutes long. 

Santiago: Yeah, Reading. I think I threw up before the show. Goddamn, it was a lot of people. 

Lovering: That was our first [big] headlining thing. That was probably the most money we made for a gig at the time. We played a secret gig the night before, at a little pub in Reading. And that was the hottest gig we ever did, as far as temperature. It was absolutely deadly. I played in my underwear. 

Geiger: After Reading, I went on the road with them in Germany. They did shows with David Bowie and Midnight Oil at big, 50,000-people festivals. [Then] I offered them Lollapalooza. I offered it to them the first year and they turned it down. Charles didn't want to do it. 

Kurt Cobain [from unpublished interview transcripts for Azerrad's Come As You Are]: When I heard the Pixies, I said to myself, "This is exactly what I've been doing and what I really want to do. Now that there's a band like this who's actually becoming popular, maybe some people would really enjoy this stuff, so I'll start writing more pop songs." 

Deal: Yeah, Kurt did [talk us up], didn't he? And David Grohl would do that too. Maybe people listened. 

Thompson: I didn't like Nirvana. Not at the time, when they first hit, but I will never like whatever is popular. If everyone's going, "Have you seen this Quentin Tarantino film everyone's talking about?" it's like, "Guess what I'm not gonna go see next week?" That's where my snobbery just takes over. In retrospect I can hear it and go, "Oh yeah, they have talent." But they don't sound like the Pixies — they sound like Nirvana. No one sounds like the Pixies. 

Azerrad: Success in rock'n'roll has a lot to do with timing. Not only do you have to get all the breaks, but you also have to capitalize on them. When everything started breaking the Pixies' way, their train engine was running out of coal. 

Santiago: I don't know. Maybe Charles did that hard-rock thing on purpose. I couldn't wait to get to it because I think I got slammed in some stupid guitar magazine. Trompe Le Monde is hilarious. There's so much shredding on it! 

Norton: I was trying to do something a bit grander since the band was a bit grander — more arena rock. 

Thompson: We were making the records at too fast a pace, which was a good learning thing, but there wasn't enough criticism. Everyone was just, "Give us more." I blame nobody but myself. You're 25 years old, you're smoking pot all day; I don't think you have the best perspective. You can do no wrong, and I was just really getting into being in a studio and learning. You start to get curious and you go, "Oh, that's how that works. Everybody out of the way!" You stop relying on the producer to give you advice. You stop relying on the engineer. You start telling them. A lot of what the Pixies did early on was spontaneous. Then you start writing in a studio and working with chord progressions and writing lyrics really fast. You can get some good results, but then you keep doing that over and over, and it can't sustain 45 minutes of music every year. So you end up with what might be interesting recordings, but maybe they just don't have any "Monkey Gone to Heaven"s or "Where Is My Mind?"s or "Gigantic"s. You just have "Rrraaaahhhhh!" You have more coffee-fueled late-night musings. It just doesn't sustain itself. 

Lovering: Our whole thing was just pumping 'em out. I think I would have been happier if I'd had a little more time to play the songs. 

Norton: [Kim's presence] got less every time, especially when we did Trompe Le Monde. I wasn't happy by the end of that, because there was one song, "Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons," that I thought was perfect for her to sing. Charles didn't want her to sing it. He definitely didn't want her to have a big imprint on the songs. 

HEAD ON (1992-1993)

Craft: I know that U2 are massive fans of the Pixies, but [the 1992 tour] was a complete waste of time. 

Santiago: When I heard about it, I was so stoked. They were the biggest band in the world. And they wanted us to support them! It was nice. But I noticed that [Charles and Kim] weren't enjoying it, and I was just like, "Man, that's a fucking drag." 

Lovering: That was probably the biggest tour we opened. It was also the only tour where no one knew who we were. 

Marts: It didn't seem to be a secret that U2 had asked Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana to open up for them [first], and I guess those bands passed and Pixies said yes. 

Lovering: What's sad for me is that we played our hometown; we played the Boston Garden, where I saw my first show, all my sporting events, everything. So it was the most amazing thing to be playing Boston Garden, not only opening for U2, but on St. Patrick's Day. Oh man, I thought it was gonna be a huge show. 

St. Thomas: I remember sitting there, thinking, "This is so fucked up! How can you people just go get a hot dog and a beer!" The Pixies didn't get booed, they just got that lukewarm applause. 

Lovering: Our dressing room was the regular men's room. I swear to God. We did the show — no one acknowledged [us]. It was amazing. Of all the shows we did with U2, all over North America, that was the worst, where just no one had a clue who we were. 

Farman: The show in L.A. really sucked. The U2 crowd didn't get it. They came for the spectacle and the Pixies are never about a spectacle. 

Azerrad: I saw the U2 tour at Madison Square Garden. There was no life in [the Pixies'] set. I walked out incredibly disappointed. I thought, "This is where they really crack it in the U.S., and the goods were not there anymore." 

Deal: The last show we did was in April '92, our own show in Vancouver. Afterwards, Charles said something about taking a sabbatical. I was like, "Oh, for how long?" And he goes, "I believe a sabbatical is one year." And that's the last conversation we had, the last time we talked, and the last sentence was, "I believe a sabbatical is one year." Asshole. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, but that's a fucking stupid last sentence. 

Thompson: We took a break. I just turned the break into a 12-year break. I didn't announce it to anybody. What was I going to do, have a band meeting? People are always like, "Oh my God, the band broke up! Black Francis sent a fax to the band!" 

Deal: In January of '93 I was in San Francisco recording [the second Breeders' album] Last Splash. I was in the studio and [my sister] Kelley comes up to me and says, "The Pixies broke up." 

Geiger: Why did they break up? Charles and Kim. Personal issues. I think there were all kinds of issues. I'm not going to go into it. 

Craft: It's fair to say that Kim's partying and tardiness led to the breakup. 

Banks: You can do a lot of damage with too much marijuana and too much wine. That's all it was with Kim. Honestly, she didn't stop. 

Deal: You know, I haven't drunk alcohol or done drugs for a year and a half. 

Thompson: What people do is their business. There were a bunch of young people traveling the world, playing nightclubs. There were a lot of drugs and alcohol, but not any more than anyone else. Rock musicians tend to think they have a monopoly on drugs, sex, and rock'n'roll. 

Deal: [Charles] was promoting his solo record. Maybe he just got sick of people asking about the next Pixies record and thought, "You know what? There ain't gonna be one." 

Thompson: I was needing to socialize with other people or not socialize at all. 

Watts-Russell: I think it was the best thing for them to split. They made some great records, and it was time to end. And they were hating each other, so why the fuck not? 

Norton: I felt one more album would've established them as a really big band. I could feel [the end] coming, though, because Trompe Le Monde was a hard one to do. All the stuff between Charles and Kim — you could feel there was animosity. 

Albini: I remember hearing about the fax after the fact. And I remember hearing that the story is pure bullshit, that there is no fax. 

Watts-Russell: It doesn't exist. If you ask all members of the band about "the fax," they wouldn't tell you it existed unless they've all decided to perpetuate the myth. 

Thompson: Yeah, it happened! People make such a big deal about that. I mean, what is the alternative? There was no e-mail. How was the band supposed to break up? It was a little cold-hearted, but so what? What are you supposed to do? Call a press conference? 

Deal: I didn't have a fax machine. Joe didn't have a fax machine. David didn't have a fax machine. Whatever, man. 

Lovering: About a year after the U2 tour I got a phone call from our manager, saying the band was broken up. I had some inkling that maybe we had done what we could do. 

Farman: It was devastating. There was a sense of disbelief because it didn't come directly from Charles. It came from Ken. And for David and Joey — not for Kim so much because she had the Breeders — but their whole life had been the Pixies. They'd never really done anything else. So they were ill-prepared. 

Santiago: Charles called. I think he said, "Joe, I just broke up the band." And I was like, "Really?" I didn't know what to say. After Bossanova, I suspected that every tour was our last one. And when he finally told me that's it, I was like, "Good, I don't have to wonder anymore." A band has its shelf life, as they say. I went into this little depression — maybe not a little, my wife would say huge. I stayed in my room. We definitely ended on an exclamation point and not a comma. 

Thompson: We were kind of played out. We started to get mixed reviews. Our concerts were still full, but we weren't ascending or anything. Maybe we were getting a little boring. We were on this boring tour — nothing against U2, but an opening slot is thankless. We were not getting much of a reaction and feeling a little tense, especially me. I needed to get away from that band and those people. Kim went and did some records; I went and did some records. Dave got into magic. Joey got into his music and started a family. It's not really that big of a deal, and sending a fax to break up a band is not that big of a deal, either. To me, that's kind of beautiful. I actually apologized for the fax, because they didn't see it coming. But what better way to avoid all the emotion than to just say, "Bye!" It's a "Dear John" letter. "Sorry babe, I'm leaving. Love ya." It's perfect. Psychologically, it probably wasn't the healthiest thing to do. There was no closure — I'll give them that. But it's better than having some big fight or someone quitting the band and putting out a couple of shitty records with a different lineup, getting into some kind of legal squibble. It was sort of like, "Fin." 

Harvard: The Pixies would have dragged great Boston bands along with them. So I have always lamented that the Pixies crapped out when they did. Boston could have been Seattle. 

Dando: [Laughs] Thank God they broke up. 

Azerrad: Kim took that residual Pixies goodwill and her own charisma and talent and parlayed it into a big success for one album. 

St. Thomas: Nirvana took the Breeders on tour. I think they were really into it because Nirvana was opening doors for them. 

Deal: We were on MTV. It was really odd — to be on 4AD and to be used to being under the radar all the time. 

Thompson: I wasn't surprised that [Last Splash] was so successful. And people love Kim. 

Santiago: I told her when I saw her, "Man, I'm so envious of that Breeders record." [Laughs] And she said, "Good!" 

St. Thomas: People were so excited about the first Frank Black record and the Breeders record because we were all missing the Pixies in our lives. 

Farman: When Nirvana ended, Dave Grohl used to call Dave and see if he wanted to drum for Foo Fighters. 

Lovering: It was just something that passed by. I think it was just some talk. That would have been really nice to play, you know. 

THE HAPPENING (1994-2004)

Farman: I thought there was way too much bad blood for [a reunion] to ever happen. 

St. Thomas: I became friends with Charles and Kim a lot more after they broke up. They were out there promoting themselves, and they became more accessible. I ended up doing interview CDs with both of them. I did one for the Breeders and one for him, and it was always clear that you couldn't bring up the Pixies. 

Craft: For years, we weren't allowed to even mention the word Pixies. It was taboo. 

Geiger: Charles put it out there pretty strongly that it was a non-issue, so it's not like you could say, "Hey, Charles, let's talk about the Pixies reunion." He was completely, vehemently against it in every way. 

Craft: The breakthrough came when he started playing Pixies songs with Frank Black and the Catholics.

Geiger: His attendance started to get better. You can say it was Dog in the Sand and the other [solo] records, or you can say it was because he was doing Pixies songs. Joey played with him, David would open up with the magic act, so you're kind of half there. 

Lovering: I did a bunch of tours with other bands — Cracker, Nitzer Ebb. But nothing was equal to the Pixies. It just kept trickling and trickling until I just gave up drums. I have a friend, Grant-Lee Phillips, who was in Grant Lee Buffalo. We were both into magic when we were young, so one day we went to an international magicians' conference in Los Angeles, and we saw some magic that blew us away. So I just rediscovered magic and went fully into it. It's been about six, seven years now that I constantly have a deck of cards in my hand if I'm not in the shower or sleeping. 

Santiago: [Eventually] I took some antidepressants and started going, "Hey, look at this! There are trees!" I started learning computer programs and was like, "You can record in a computer? How the fuck do you do that?" I co-scored a film [Crime and Punishment in Suburbia] and a TV show [Undeclared]. 

Angel: I used to ask Charles [about a Pixies reunion] every year, "When are you going to do it?" He'd always hem and haw, and I'd say, "You know you're going to do it eventually." He'd say, "No, no." At one point a few years ago, he said, "Everybody thinks there's all this money to be made. The offers aren't that good." 

Santiago: I don't know what happened. Maybe the mathematicians did something and said, "Hey you guys, it's woth it!" 

Angel: I know [Charles] is expecting his first child [with his girlfriend, Violet]. That's another reason you want dough. Also, the kinds of tours he and the Catholics have been going on for years are exhausting. This is easier. 

Deal: I think [that last scene in] Fight Club got "Where Is My Mind?" popular. I don't know how people know our music now. For some reason, over the decade we got popular. 

Geiger: There are four factors [that led to the new popularity]. One is Kurt Cobain, hands down. When America's youth lost Kurt and were looking for answers and influences, the Pixies got the benefit. The Pixies' music at one point was described as "abrasive," but when you hear the 27-song set now, it sounds like 27 number-one pop hits. The music aged unbelievably well. Also, the way they broke up, and the purity — they kept their artistic credibility, they didn't sell out in their videos. The biggest factor is the world coming to accept the underground again. Four years ago, if the Pixies got back together, I don't think they'd have the same success they have now, because the world is looking for artists of substance and they're sick of being fed product.

Angel: They're good songs. They're timeless. Little Richard songs are timeless 50 years after the fact. Mozart is timeless. Good shit is timeless.

Geiger: Ken Goes called one day and said that Charles was thinking about the reunion, and would I talk to him? Charles and I went to dinner and had a very long discussion about the pros and cons.

Thompson: There were a lot of things that needed to happen. Points A, B, C, D, E, F, and G had to happen. There are some reasons I won't talk about, but I'll tell you one thing, I went into therapy. My relationship of 16 years ended and I started seeing a therapist. My personal therapy extended to other things in my life. I started to realize, "Okay, I have a problem with this because of this." Or "That person is doing this because of this." Also, you just chill out a little bit with age. Add to those things a lot of money and... 

Santiago: It was a shock when he called me for the reunion. I was like, "Wow, fuck, we better be good. We have to start practicing." 

Lovering: My life this past year had gone down the shitter. My relationship was absolutely horrible, involving police and prison, and financially it was bad. I was drinking a lot. I was kicked out of my house. One day I was going to the bank, I had to withdraw some money, and I didn't have enough money to take out. It must have been the most depressing day I'd ever had. And then my cell phone rings. It was Joe. "Guess what?" he says. "The Pixies are getting back together!" It was amazing. I think magic saved my life to a certain point and kept me alive, and then that just blew me away. 

Deal: So last August, Joe calls me up and says, "Pixies are gonna start playing shows, would you be interested?" I said, "Oh, really?" Then I went, "I don't know." And he said, "Here's Charles' number. He wants you to call him." So I left him a message saying, "I hear the gang's getting back together." I hadn't talked to him since April of 1992. And he called back and said, "So what do you think about it?" I said, "Sounds exciting." Me and him actually didn't talk about it much, but me and Joe talked about it quite a bit, and Joe really wanted to do it. So I said, "Yeah, I'll do it, as long as things are cool, Joe." So I went out to L.A. We had about four separate rehearsals, four days each. It was strange at first, but after about 45 seconds it didn't feel funny at all.

Santiago: It felt good. Dave, Kim, and I met up first, because we knew Charles knew the songs, so we met in L.A. to get our shit together before he comes over. I was nervous with Dave because he hadn't been at a set in a while.

Lovering: It was like muscle memory; everything came back. It was amazing. But we were still walking on eggshells around each other.

Geiger: Paul Tollett, the promoter of the Coachella festival, was also a massive Pixies fan, and it was his dream to get the Pixies to play. 

Paul Tollett (president, Goldenvoice concert promotions; organizer, Coachella festival): The Pixies had been on our list always, but we never thought it was even a possibility. We never really officially approached them. Marc Geiger called me and said, "Are you interested in the Pixies?" almost joking, and I said, "Of course. I'd love it." Radiohead we've been trying to get every year as well. Last year Radiohead said they couldn't do it, but they'd be interested in next year. But when you hear that, you never believe it. Then they called and said they were ready to do it. Thom [Yorke] said that Pixies and R.E.M. changed his life in college. 

Farman: Watching them play at Coachella was insane. I cried! 

Santiago: People were cheering. I was just choked up. It was like, "Wow, goddamn it, this is weird!" We were just soaking it in. 

Thompson: It was a show, you know? I enjoyed it. It's an audience and I'm there to perform and that's what I'm focused on. It's a gig. It's not the coming of the aliens or anything. 

Albini: It was amazing to see 50,000 people who'd never seen this band before but for whom this band was really important. But I couldn't tell you what about their music appeals to so many people. I think they're one of those bands that make an impact on their immediate audience, and then those people leave their records to their kid brothers when they go away to college. Then those people get into the band and then when they go off to college, they leave that bigger pile of records to their kid brothers. 

Wayne Coyne (singer/guitarist, the Flaming Lips): The Pixies — they sounded just like them and didn't seem to be a tired or disgruntled version of themselves. 

Thompson: Now I see Kim as our secret weapon. She's like, "Hi." And the crowd goes crazy. Or "Gee, it's hot." And they just lose it. I don't even talk onstage anymore. 

Craft: They're getting on better now because they're olders and wiser. It's because Kim has stopped drinking — I'm sure you're aware that this is a dry tour. As a result, she's playing well and doing everything that she's been asked to do. 

Deal: The good thing is now we don't have to have a dynamic, because all we do is travel to a place and people are happy that we're there. We're not working together. This is not a hard thing to do. 

Watts-Russell: It's uncool and being done for the money — that's one answer. The other answer is God bless them. They deserve it. And I really hope they're having a good time, because it appears that the audience is. 

Deal: People are so happy to see it. Not just excited that they like a band playing. It's more than that. It's like, "Oh my God, you're back! We haven't really missed you because we're too young to remember you, but if we were old enough, we'd miss you!" 

Thompson: I forgot how much I like this band, how much I like being in this band. 

LOVELY DAY (2004-?)

Deal: Is there gonna be a new Pixies record? I don't know. 

Santiago: There are people who want us to make another record. We have one new song ["Bam Thwok," written, and rejected for the Shrek 2 soundtrack] and one cover [of Warren Zevon's "Ain't That Pretty at All"]. I figure it's inevitable that we're going to want to record an album. 

Lovering: We have no end in sight. We're just taking it day by day. 

Thompson: I never thought we'd get back together, and we did. And it's fine; it's great. I don't know how long we'll do it, whether we'll record or not. We're a band, so immediately you start getting stuff like "Shrek 2 wants you to do a song," or "Hey, the Warren Zevon tribute record is coming up. Dylan's doing it." We're a band, we're playing gigs, what else is there to do but play gigs and record? We're going to record songs, but I don't know if we should make a whole record. We're doing this DiscLive thing in the States, and we sell them out every night. The quality is pretty good, but they're just mementos of the shows. 

Deal: You don't really have to think about it other than you're at a club, you're playing, and people are happy to see you. And then you feel real good. But I don't walk around thinking, "Uhhh, legend of the Pixies!" 

Thompson: I'm going to be a dad, yes. It's in a whole other category of human experiences. Let's just say that I have the overwhelming sense of having bigger fish to fry now. Will I play the kid Pixies records? It's not something I've thought about. It's not one of my fantasies yet.