Pixies still moving into the future, criticisms or no
The Pixies were a lot of people's favorite band in the late '80s and early '90s. There was nothing else like them — their weird, singular energy and warped grasp of melody and noise appealed to misfits of every stripe. They were Kurt Cobain's favorite band, and he invented entire genres of music trying to capture their sound.
But there's a certain pressure that comes with this peculiar status. It also can be a burden, a steep mountain to climb just to meet all those lofty expectations.
The Pixies disbanded somewhat acrimoniously in 1993. They got back together in 2004, selling out many gigs in minutes. Then, they spent two years (117 shows around the world) playing their classic album “Doolittle” (1989) front-to-back.
After all this, the band — which is coming to the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland on Jan. 25 — wanted to switch it up a little. Or rather, some of them did. New songs were recorded for the first time since 1991, released recently as “EP-1” and “EP-2.”
However, bassist/singer Kim Deal quit, for reasons that still aren't 100 percent clear. A substitute, Kim Shattuck, was shown the door after a few months. Now, they have Paz Lechantin (of A Perfect Circle).
Cue the backlash. The new songs weren't received well, giving the Pixies their first bad reviews ever, really.
“The critics are going to keep comparing it to ‘Doolittle' or ‘Surfer Rosa,' but we've progressed from there,” explains guitarist Joey Santiago. “If we have to choose between delving into the past or moving into the future, we'd rather err on the side of the future.”
Deal's departure is still sort of mysterious. Her deadpan vocals, left-field harmonies and classic-country leanings always provided a perfect foil for main singer-songwriter Black Francis' (aka Frank Black) surreal, destructive outbursts. It was no secret that they didn't get along.
“Yeah, she's a hard shoe to fill,” Santiago admits.
“We did have that one dinner, like, a goodbye dinner. A last supper. Being gentlemen, we always pay for the meal. This time, she wanted to get it,” he says. “In hindsight, she kept hinting that she had just grown out of it — or grown out of us. Or, she knew we were touring the hell out of these new songs. If she was going to put that much energy into touring, she'd probably rather do it with her other successful vehicle, The Breeders. That's the only way I can make sense of it.”
Santiago isn't worried about the acceptance of the new songs. They definitely sound like Pixies songs, with Santiago's signature spiky, angular guitar lines suddenly crashing like waves on the beach.
“I like it,” he says. “It's that simple. And people are coming around to it. I think one of our albums got a different rating (at first) — it might have been ‘Doolittle.' Someone who gave it three stars at first, then, (years) later, gave it five. People will come around on this one.”
If the present and future are a bit hazy, so is the past.
Occasionally, they'll even claim that the Pixies never broke up at all — they just went on tour in outer space.
“It was weightless and heavy at the same time,” says Santiago, with a laugh. “I'd be floating in space, and then land on a planet where the gravity is just overwhelming.”
The Pixies are here for good now, though.
“We obviously want this go keep going,” Santiago says. “Next recording, we're thinking of is (going to be) a lot harder.”
Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rusted Root will headline the Allegheny County Music Festival
- Kings of Leon cancels Pittsburgh concert
- Country-rock duo Corbin/Hanner ending performance career
- Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble closes season with dramatic revival