Pixies

This article is about the band named Pixies. For pixies of folklore, see pixie.

The Pixies are a band which toured and recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then reunited in 2004 and began touring again. The band's lineup consists of Black Francis a.k.a. Frank Black (vocals, guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), and David Lovering (drums). Their style of music influenced many aspects of alternative rock throughout the 1990s. Most notable was their use of soft verses and hard choruses, which was later popularized by Nirvana.

History

The band was formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts by Joey Santiago and Black Francis (born Charles Thompson IV). Bassist Kim Deal joined the band after she responded to a classified ad Black Francis had placed which requested an unusual combination of musical influences. Reportedly, the ad asked for a bass player who liked The Mamas and the Papas and Husker Du.

They arrived at a name ("Pixies") by selecting an entry from the dictionary at random, and began playing shows in the Boston area.

During a concert with Throwing Muses, the band was noticed by Gary Smith, a producer at Fort Apache Studios. Smith became the band's manager and produced a 17 track demo (known as the "Purple Tape", publicly released in 2002). The demo fell into the hands of Ivo Watts-Russell, owner of 4AD, who signed the band. Eight tracks from the demo were selected for the Come on Pilgrim EP, the band's first release. It was followed by their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa in early 1988.

4AD was a British music label, and the notoriously rabid British music press immediately clutched the Pixies to their collective bosoms and refused to let go. The band remained unsigned in the US for a while, but after a foray up the UK pop charts and some inroads into American college rock stations, they were picked up by Elektra Records. For the remainder of their career, the Pixies remained large-scale stars in Britain and cult figures in the US.

Their sophomore album, Doolittle, featured three prominent singles: "Debaser," "Here Comes Your Man," and "Monkey Gone to Heaven." It was a top 10 hit in the UK and reached the top 100 in North America.

After Doolittle, Black Francis temporarily went solo, while Kim Deal formed The Breeders with Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Deal's sister, Kelley. During this time, Black Francis limited Deal's contributions to the band; the first two albums had been partly written by Deal, but when Bossanova was released in 1990, all songs were by him. Deal was not pleased, and unilaterally announced an apparent break-up of the band on-stage during the following tour. The Pixies were at the height of their popularity, however, and while headlining at the Reading Festival in 1991, they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among fans.

Break-up announcements notwithstanding, one more album was to follow. Trompe le Monde still featured little input from Deal and wasn't as critically regarded as their first few albums. Without telling anyone, Black Francis ended the band, and it wasn't until a year later that he faxed an official notice to the other members.

After the break-up

Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black, and released several solo albums. He then went on to form a band with Scott Boutier, Eric Drew, Rich Gilbert, David McGaffrey, and Dave Phillips called Frank Black and the Catholics. Deal returned to the Breeders, and scored a hit with "Cannonball" from that group's Last Splash in 1993. However, for several years they struggled to produce another album, mainly due to Kelley Deal's struggles with heroin. The album, Title TK, finally appeared in 2002, with only Kim and Kelley remaining from the previous Breeders lineup. Kim Deal has also recorded with The Amps. Lovering dropped back into obscurity, making occasional appearances as a "scientific phenomenalist", performing experiments on stage; he also drummed on one of Tanya Donelly's solo albums. Santiago has appeared on Frank Black's solo albums, writes music for FOX television, and has a band called The Martinis with his wife, Linda Mallari.

Musically, the Pixies were just slightly ahead of their time. Right at the moment they were imploding, Nirvana was recording Nevermind, the album that would break alternative rock into the mainstream. There are substantial parallels between the two groups' sounds and Kurt Cobain was known to have been a fan—in fact, in a Rolling Stone interview he claimed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was his attempt to write a Pixies song. This revitalized some interest in the band after they were gone.

Reunion

In the 11 years since the band broke up, there were a number of rumors that would circulate regarding reunion tours. Roughly once a year on April Fool's Day someone would be led to believe that the band had re-united. It wasn't until 2004 when the Pixies would play their first "post-breakup" concert on April 13 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota and a 15 concert warmup tour of the western United States and Canada, culminating in the performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Tickets for shows on this tour often sold out minutes after going on sale despite some rather moderately sized Canadian cities such as Winnipeg and Regina being stops. It is rumoured that these dates hold the world record for fastest selling shows ever.

This was followed by a three-month world tour and four-month return to the US, ending on December 18 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City (see tour dates (http://www.pixiesmusic.com/live_04.php) for detailed information).

In spring 2004, 4AD released Wave of Mutilation: The Best of the Pixies and a companion DVD which features a full concert, the music videos, and a documentary on the Pixies. A "new retrospective compilation CD" is set for release in the near future. Many of the reunion shows, including that April 13 show in Minneapolis, were sold by DiscLive (http://pixies.disclive.com/) in sets of 1,000. The entire edition size has now sold out.

Discography

Studio Albums

Compilations

Samples

  • Download sample of "Holiday Song" from Come on Pilgrim

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The entire edition size has now sold out. He is often seen in the company of fellow artist Laurie Anderson. Many of the reunion shows, including that April 13 show in Minneapolis, were sold by DiscLive (http://pixies.disclive.com/) in sets of 1,000. It reached #10 in the UK singles chart. A "new retrospective compilation CD" is set for release in the near future. In 2004, a remix of his song, "Satellite of Love" (called "Satellite of Love '04") was released. In spring 2004, 4AD released Wave of Mutilation: The Best of the Pixies and a companion DVD which features a full concert, the music videos, and a documentary on the Pixies. In 2003, he released a 2-CD set, The Raven, based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

This was followed by a three-month world tour and four-month return to the US, ending on December 18 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City (see tour dates (http://www.pixiesmusic.com/live_04.php) for detailed information). In 2001 he was the victim of a hoax claiming he had died of a heroin overdose. It is rumoured that these dates hold the world record for fastest selling shows ever. In 1997 over thirty artists covered "Perfect Day" for the BBC's "Children in Need" appeal. Tickets for shows on this tour often sold out minutes after going on sale despite some rather moderately sized Canadian cities such as Winnipeg and Regina being stops. Reed continued on those dark notes with Magic and Loss, an album about mortality. It wasn't until 2004 when the Pixies would play their first "post-breakup" concert on April 13 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota and a 15 concert warmup tour of the western United States and Canada, culminating in the performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Touchingly affectionate and painfully confessional, often witty, Reed's vocals blister when singing of alleged medical errors and Valerie Solanas' 1968 assassination attempt on Warhol.

Roughly once a year on April Fool's Day someone would be led to believe that the band had re-united. When one-time Velvet Underground patron and producer Andy Warhol died after a routine surgery, Reed closed a 25-year hiatus to collaborate with fellow ex-VU John Cale on Songs for Drella, a Warhol biography in minimalist pop music. In the 11 years since the band broke up, there were a number of rumors that would circulate regarding reunion tours. Reed fired an angry salvo at his hometown's political problems on the hit album New York, denouncing crime, high rents, Jesse Jackson, even Pope John Paul II and Kurt Waldheim. This revitalized some interest in the band after they were gone. He married Sylvia Morales (later divorced). There are substantial parallels between the two groups' sounds and Kurt Cobain was known to have been a fan—in fact, in a Rolling Stone interview he claimed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was his attempt to write a Pixies song. In the early 1980s, Reed gave up the drugs and depravity, both in his work and in his private life, to address more serious concerns, notably on his acclaimed comeback album The Blue Mask.

Right at the moment they were imploding, Nirvana was recording Nevermind, the album that would break alternative rock into the mainstream. His albums of the late 1970s are often regarded as a mixed affair by rock critics, owing at least partly to the addictions that were then overtaking Reed. Musically, the Pixies were just slightly ahead of their time. Though admitting that the liner notes' list of instruments used is fictitious and parodistic, Reed maintains that MMM was and is a serious album. Santiago has appeared on Frank Black's solo albums, writes music for FOX television, and has a band called The Martinis with his wife, Linda Mallari. The rock journalist Lester Bangs declared it genius. Lovering dropped back into obscurity, making occasional appearances as a "scientific phenomenalist", performing experiments on stage; he also drummed on one of Tanya Donelly's solo albums. Some regarded it as an attempt to break his record company contract.

Kim Deal has also recorded with The Amps. In 1975, he produced the double studio album of pure feedback Metal Machine Music. The album, Title TK, finally appeared in 2002, with only Kim and Kelley remaining from the previous Breeders lineup. Reed's persona was also far advanced, preferring black leather and S&M-like gear even in the hippie-infested 1960s. However, for several years they struggled to produce another album, mainly due to Kelley Deal's struggles with heroin. In his chosen material Reed followed, and updated, such authors as Allen Ginsberg and Jean Genet. Deal returned to the Breeders, and scored a hit with "Cannonball" from that group's Last Splash in 1993. "Perfect Day" is an elegiac paean to Reed's addiction to heroin, later included on the soundtrack to Trainspotting.

He then went on to form a band with Scott Boutier, Eric Drew, Rich Gilbert, David McGaffrey, and Dave Phillips called Frank Black and the Catholics. "Walk on the Wild Side" is a wry and graphic salute to the misfits, male hustlers and transvestites at Andy Warhol's Factory. Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black, and released several solo albums. Popular music would not catch up to him until the punks in the mid- to late-1970s, but even then his songs were unique: whether drenched in feedback or gently melodic, Reed usually sang about the disturbing, if not sordid, things other lyricists left out. Without telling anyone, Black Francis ended the band, and it wasn't until a year later that he faxed an official notice to the other members. Reed's chosen subject matter was far ahead of its time. Trompe le Monde still featured little input from Deal and wasn't as critically regarded as their first few albums. This, one of the more depressing albums ever made, includes "Caroline Says II" (violence), "The Kids" (prostitution and drug addiction), "The Bed" (suicide) and, unsurprisingly, "Sad Song.".

Break-up announcements notwithstanding, one more album was to follow. He followed this with Berlin, which tells something like a love story of two junkies in the city of the same name. The Pixies were at the height of their popularity, however, and while headlining at the Reading Festival in 1991, they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among fans. In 1972 Reed, now a solo artist, released the glam rock album Transformer, produced by David Bowie. Deal was not pleased, and unilaterally announced an apparent break-up of the band on-stage during the following tour. Though internally unstable (breaking up in 1970) and never commercially viable, the VU's reputation as the ultimate, most influential underground band has remained intact. During this time, Black Francis limited Deal's contributions to the band; the first two albums had been partly written by Deal, but when Bossanova was released in 1990, all songs were by him. Reed moved to New York City, working as a songwriter for Pickwick Records, and co-formed The Velvet Underground as lead guitarist/vocalist/lyricist.

After Doolittle, Black Francis temporarily went solo, while Kim Deal formed The Breeders with Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Deal's sister, Kelley. Reed said later his goals were "to bring the sensitivities of the novel to rock music," or to write the Great American Novel in a record album. Their sophomore album, Doolittle, featured three prominent singles: "Debaser," "Here Comes Your Man," and "Monkey Gone to Heaven." It was a top 10 hit in the UK and reached the top 100 in North America. Reed also developed a taste for free jazz and experimental music. For the remainder of their career, the Pixies remained large-scale stars in Britain and cult figures in the US. Reed attended Syracuse University where he met poet Delmore Schwartz, who Reed credits for his simple poetic vernacular and the encouragement to become a writer. The band remained unsigned in the US for a while, but after a foray up the UK pop charts and some inroads into American college rock stations, they were picked up by Elektra Records. Reed was a fan of rock and rhythm and blues, playing in several high school rock bands, and had recorded a doo wop-style single as a member of The Shades.

4AD was a British music label, and the notoriously rabid British music press immediately clutched the Pixies to their collective bosoms and refused to let go. Reed was born in Freeport, Long Island, New York. It was followed by their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa in early 1988. He lives in New York City. Eight tracks from the demo were selected for the Come on Pilgrim EP, the band's first release. Lewis Allen Reed, known as Lou Reed (born March 2, 1942), is a rock'n'roll singer-songwriter with a lasting musical influence on punk and alternative rock. Reed has toured and recorded almost continuously since 1965. The demo fell into the hands of Ivo Watts-Russell, owner of 4AD, who signed the band. Rockin' on Broadway (The Time/Brent/Shad Story) (2000, includes first recordings with The Jades [1958] and solo [1962]).

Smith became the band's manager and produced a 17 track demo (known as the "Purple Tape", publicly released in 2002). September Songs (The Music Of Kurt Weill) (1997). During a concert with Throwing Muses, the band was noticed by Gary Smith, a producer at Fort Apache Studios. Till The Night Is Gone: A Tribute To Doc Pomus (1995). They arrived at a name ("Pixies") by selecting an entry from the dictionary at random, and began playing shows in the Boston area. Bright Red, Laurie Anderson (1994). Reportedly, the ad asked for a bass player who liked The Mamas and the Papas and Husker Du. Sweet Relief: A Benefit For Victoria Williams (1993).

Bassist Kim Deal joined the band after she responded to a classified ad Black Francis had placed which requested an unusual combination of musical influences. Le Bataclan '72 with John Cale & Nico (2004). The band was formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts by Joey Santiago and Black Francis (born Charles Thompson IV). Songs for Drella with John Cale (1990). Most notable was their use of soft verses and hard choruses, which was later popularized by Nirvana. Animal Serenade (2004). Their style of music influenced many aspects of alternative rock throughout the 1990s. Extended Versions (2003).

Frank Black (vocals, guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), and David Lovering (drums). American Poet (2001). The band's lineup consists of Black Francis a.k.a. Perfect Night: Live in London (1998). The Pixies are a band which toured and recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then reunited in 2004 and began touring again. Live in Concert (1997). Download sample of "Holiday Song" from Come on Pilgrim. Live in Italy (1984).

Live: Take No Prisoners (1978). Lou Reed Live (1975). Rock 'n' Roll Animal (1974). The Raven (2003).

Ecstacy (2000). Set the Twilight Reeling (1996). Magic and Loss (1992). New York (1989).

Mistrial (1986). New Sensations (1984). Legendary Hearts (1983). The Blue Mask (1982).

Growing Up in Public (1980). The Bells (1979). Street Hassle (1978). Rock 'n' Roll Heart (1976).

Coney Island Baby (1976). Metal Machine Music (1975). Sally Can't Dance (1974). Berlin (1973).

Transformer (1972). Lou Reed (1972). The Quine Tapes (live 1969, 2001). Peel Slowly and See (box set, 1995).

Live MCMXCIII (1993). Another View (1967-1969 outtakes, 1986). VU (1968-1969 outtakes, 1985). 1969 (The Velvet Underground Live) (1974).

Live at Max's Kansas City (1972). Loaded (1970). The Velvet Underground (1969). White Light/White Heat (1968).

The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967).

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