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Pixies

Combining jagged, roaring guitars and stop-start dynamics with melodic pop hooks, intertwining male-female harmonies,andevocative, cryptic lyrics, the Pixies were one of the most influential American alternative rock bands of the late '80s.thePixies weren't accomplished musicians -- Black Francis wailed and bashed out chords while Joey Santiago's leadguitarsquealed out spirals of noise. But the bandmembers were inventive, rabid rock fans who turned conventions insideout,melding punk and indie guitar rock, classic pop, surf rock, and stadium-sized riffs with singer/guitarist Black Francis'bizar ...read more

Combining jagged, roaring guitars and stop-start dynamics with melodic pop hooks, intertwining male-female harmonies,andevocative, cryptic lyrics, the Pixies were one of the most influential American alternative rock bands of the late '80s.thePixies weren't accomplished musicians -- Black Francis wailed and bashed out chords while Joey Santiago's leadguitarsquealed out spirals of noise. But the bandmembers were inventive, rabid rock fans who turned conventions insideout,melding punk and indie guitar rock, classic pop, surf rock, and stadium-sized riffs with singer/guitarist Black Francis'bizarre,fragmented lyrics about space, religion, sex, mutilation, and pop culture; while the meaning of his lyrics may havebeenimpenetrable, the music was direct and forceful.the Pixies' busy, brief songs, extreme dynamics, and subversion of pop song structures proved one of the touchstones of'90salternative rock. From grunge to Brit-pop, the Pixies' shadow loomed large -- it's hard to imagine Nirvana without thePixies'signature stop-start dynamics and lurching, noisy guitar solos. While the Pixies were touted as the band to bring indierockinto the mainstream, they simply laid the groundwork for the alternative explosion of the early '90s. MTV was reluctanttoplay their videos, while even modern rock radio didn't put their singles into regular rotation. Furthermore, tensionsbetweenleader Black Francis and bassist/vocalist Kim Deal, who wanted to incorporate her songs into the band's repertoire,crippledthe band's progress. By the time Nirvana broke the doors down for alternative rock in 1992, the Pixies were effectivelybrokenup.the Pixies were formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986 by Charles Thompson and his roommate Joey Santiago. BorninMassachusetts and constantly shuttling between there and California, Thompson began playing music as a teenager,beforehe moved to the East Coast for good during high school. Following graduation, he became an anthropology major attheUniversity of Massachusetts. Halfway through his studies at the college, he went to Puerto Rico to study Spanish, andaftersix months he decided to move back to the U.S. to form a band. Thompson dropped out of school and moved toBoston,managing to persuade Santiago to join him. Advertising in a music paper for a bassist who liked "Hüsker Dü and Peter,Paul &Mary," the duo recruited Kim Deal (who was billed as Mrs. John Murphey on the group's first two records), who hadpreviouslyplayed with her twin sister Kelly in the folk-rock garage band the Breeders in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio. On theadvice ofDeal, the group recruited drummer David Lovering. Inspired by Iggy Pop, Thompson picked the stage name BlackFrancis andthe group named itself the Pixies after Santiago randomly flipped through the dictionary.By the fall, the Pixies had played enough gigs to land a supporting slot for fellow Boston band Throwing Muses. At theMusesconcert, Gary Smith, an artist manager and producer at Boston's Fort Apache studios, heard the group and offered torecordthem. In March 1987, the Pixies recorded 18 songs over the course of three days. The demo, dubbed The Purple Tape,wasgiven to key players within the Boston musical community and the international alternative scene, including Ivo Watts,thehead of England's 4AD Records. Impressed with the cassette, Watts signed the band and released eight of the demo'ssongsas the EP Come On Pilgrim in 1987.The Pixies convened to record their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa, with producer Steve Albini, who had pioneeredthethin, abrasive indie-guitar grind with Big Black. Albini gave the band a harder-edged, abrasive guitar sound, yet thegroupretained its melodic hooks. Released in the spring of 1988, Surfer Rosa earned enthusiastic reviews from the Britishweeklymusic press and became a college radio hit in America; in the U.K., the album made inroads on the pop charts. By theend ofthe year, the buzz on the Pixies had become substantial, and the group signed to Elektra Records. At the end of 1988,thegroup re-entered the studio, this time with British producer Gil Norton. Released in the spring of 1989, Doolittle boastedacleaner sound and received excellent reviews, which led to greater exposure in America. "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and"HereComes Your Man" became Top Ten modern rock hits, clearing the way for Doolittle to peak at number 98 on the U.S.charts;in the U.K., it entered the charts at number eight. Throughout their career, the Pixies were more popular in Britain andEuropethan America, as evidenced by the success of the Sex and Death tour. The band became notorious for BlackFrancis'motionless performances, which were offset by Deal's charmingly earthy sense of humor. The tour itself becameinfamous forthe band's in-jokes, such as playing their entire set list in alphabetical order. By the completion of their secondAmerican tourfor Doolittle at the end of 1989, the group had begun to tire of each other and decided to take a hiatus duringthe beginningof 1990.During the hiatus, Black Francis went on a brief solo tour and Kim Deal formed a group with Tanya Donnelly from theThrowingMuses and bassist Josephine Wiggs of Perfect Disaster, naming it after her teenage band, the Breeders. theBreedersrecorded the Albini-produced Pod, which appeared on 4AD in early summer 1990, shortly after the Pixies reconvenedto recordtheir third album with Gil Norton. More atmospheric than its predecessors, and relying heavily on Francis' surf rockobsession,Bossanova was released in the fall of 1990; unlike Surfer Rosa or Doolittle, it contained no songs by Deal.Bossanova wasgreeted with decidedly mixed reviews, but the record became a college hit, generating the modern rock hits"Velouria" and"Dig for Fire" in the U.S. In Europe, the record expanded the group's popularity, hitting number three on the U.K.album chartsand paving the way for their headlining appearance at the Reading Festival. Though the supporting tours forBossanova weresuccessful, tension continued to grow between Kim Deal and Black Francis -- at the conclusion of theirEnglish tour, Dealannounced from the stage of the Brixton Academy that the concert was "our last show."While the Pixies did cancel their planned American tour, due to "exhaustion," the band reconvened in the spring of 1991torecord its fourth album, again with Gil Norton. Hiring former Captain Beefheart and Pere Ubu keyboardist Eric Drew Feldmanasan auxiliary member, the band moved back toward loud rock, claiming to be inspired by the presence of Ozzy Osbourne inaneighboring studio. Upon its fall release, Trompe le Monde was hailed by some as a welcome return to the sound ofSurferRosa and Doolittle, but closer inspection revealed that it relied heavily on sonic detail and featured very few vocals byDealand none of her songs. The band embarked on another international tour, playing stadiums in Europe but theaters inAmerica.During the spring of 1992, the Pixies opened for U2 on the opening leg of the Zoo TV tour; it would be their last trekthroughthe United States. Upon the conclusion of the Zoo TV tour the Pixies went on hiatus, with Deal returning to theBreeders,who released the EP Safari later that spring. Francis began working on a solo album.As he was preparing to release his solo debut, Francis gave an interview on BBC's Radio 5, announcing that the Pixiesweredisbanding. He hadn't yet informed the other members; later that day, he faxed them his statement. Inverting his stagenameto Frank Black, Francis released his eponymous debut that spring to mixed reviews; over the next few years, FrankBlack'saudience gradually shrank to a small cult following. the Breeders released their second album, Last Splash, in the fall of1993.The album became a surprise hit, going gold in the U.S. and spawning the hit single "Cannonball." Soon after, Deal alsoformedthe Amps, who released their one (and only) album, Pacer, in 1995. Santiago and Lovering formed the Martinis in 1995andappeared on the soundtrack to Empire Records. Although 4AD began issuing archival Pixies releases, including Death tothePixies 1987-1991, Pixies at the BBC, and Complete B-Sides in the late '90s and early 2000s, those were relatively quietyearsfor the band's members.After releasing the disappointing The Cult of Ray for American in 1996, Black shuffled between different labels before endingupat spinART for 1999's Pistolero, where he also released his subsequent solo albums, most of which were met with a fair-to-middling response. Deal and the rest of the Breeders, meanwhile, suffered from problems ranging from substance abusetowriter's block, and only surfaced intermittently, spending time in the studio but only having a cover of the ThreeDegrees'"Collage" on the soundtrack to 1999's The Mod Squad to show for their efforts until they released Title TK in 2002.DavidLovering left the Martinis and became the touring drummer for Cracker, and also appeared on Donelly's Sliding andDiving, butfound himself unemployed in the late '90s. Combining his studies in electronic engineering at Wentworth InstituteofTechnology and his years of performing experience, Lovering dubbed himself a "scientific phenomenalist," a cross betweenascientist, performance artist, and magician, and warmed up the crowds at Frank Black, Breeders, Camper Van Beethoven,andGrant Lee Buffalo concerts. Santiago and his wife Linda Mallari continued the Martinis through the '90s, recordingseveraldemos and self-released albums. Santiago also began a career composing soundtracks and incidental music, beginningwiththe score for 2000's Crime & Punishment in Suburbia, to which Black also contributed a track.At the time, rumors circulated that Santiago would join Black on-stage during one of his London dates on the Dog in theSandtour; though this didn't happen, it at least sparked hopes that the Pixies would eventually reunite. These hopesseemedunfounded until 2003, when Black revealed in an interview that he had considered reuniting the band and that he,Deal,Santiago, and Lovering occasionally got together to jam. Soon after, it was confirmed that the Pixies would reunite in2004for U.S. tours in the spring and fall; an appearance at that year's Coachella festival; and gigs in Europe and the U.K.thatsummer, including performances at the T in the Park, Roskilde, Pinkpop, and V festivals. All 15 of the band's NorthAmericanwarm-up tour dates were recorded and released in limited editions of 1,000 copies, which were sold online and atthe shows.The week after the Pixies' Coachella appearance, the long-awaited DVD retrospective Pixies and revamped best-ofWave ofMutilation: The Best of Pixies were released by 4AD. The band also released two songs, "Bam Thwok" and a cover ofWarrenZevon's "Ain't That Pretty at All," in 2004. Despite the Pixies touring regularly throughout the 2000s and 2010s, nomore newmusic appeared until 2013, when the group went into the studio with longtime producer Gil Norton. During thosesessions,Deal officially left the group. Bassist Simon Archer, aka Ding, replaced Deal in the studio, and the band hired theMuffs' KimShattuck for touring duties. "Bagboy," the Pixies' first new song in nine years, arrived in July 2013. That September,theyself-released EP1, the first in a scheduled series of EPs, via their website. That November, Shattuck was let go fromtheband; a few weeks later, Paz Lenchantin -- who also played with Zwan and A Perfect Circle -- was drafted as thePixies'bassist. EP 2 arrived in January 2014. « hide

Similar Bands: Nirvana, The Breeders, The Dream Syndicate , Pavement, Violent Femmes

LPs
Beneath the Eyrie
2019

2.7
68 Votes
Head Carrier
2016

2.2
181 Votes
Indie Cindy
2014

2.3
299 Votes
Trompe Le Monde
1991

3.7
856 Votes
Bossanova
1990

3.8
1,072 Votes
Doolittle
1989

4.4
2,996 Votes
Surfer Rosa
1988

4.3
2,323 Votes
EPs
Beneath the Eyrie Demos, Pt. 2
2020

3
1 Votes
Beneath the Eyrie Demos, Pt. 1
2020

3
1 Votes
EP3
2014

2.2
44 Votes
EP2
2014

2.5
85 Votes
EP1
09/03/2013

2.7
112 Votes
Pixies (EP)
2002

3.8
30 Votes
Come On Pilgrim
1987

4
700 Votes
Live Albums
Live EP
2014

3.5
1 Votes
Doolittle 20th Anniversary Live Sampler
2009

3.7
23 Votes
Pixies Sell Out (DVD)
2005

3.8
23 Votes
Compilations
Best of Pixies: Wave of Mutilation
2004

4
175 Votes
Pixies (DVD)
2004

4.1
22 Votes
Complete B-Sides
2001

3.7
97 Votes
At the BBC
1998

3.9
66 Votes
Death to the Pixies
1997

4.2
37 Votes

Contributors: GhandhiLion, discovolante, arcane, rockandmetaljunkie, Mort., Cygnatti, grish, Chortles, idkpokeit, porch, bach, NevermindAlex, DinoX, greg84, RavenRock, Gyromania, Matski, Willie, Satellite, JesusV4, ErikVerth, Mr_Coffee, Ephex, HumanCannonball, Zmev, morrissey, Iai, pixiesfanyo, SandwichBubble, ElSomni, Asdfp277, adr, Green Baron, Pheromone, MisterTornado, InFiction, spartanawasp, Trebor., tempest--, Hep Kat, Gwyn., Mort., Satellite, Willie, Skimaskcheck, Skyler,

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