Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986, Pixies are an alternative rock band that was composed of Joey Santiago on lead guitar, Kim Deal on bass and back-up vocals, Black Francis on vocals and rhythm guitar, and David Lovering on drums. Pixies are known for being one of the bands that rose to fame during the alternative rock boom in the 1990s. Throughout their career, the band achieved modest popularity in the United States but they became more successful in Europe. In this article, were are going to find out Pixies’ contribution in the music scene.
Joey Santiago and Black Francis met each other while they were attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At first, Joey Santiago saw that Black Francis played music well and they go together perfectly. After Black Francis returned from his exchange student trip in Puerto Rico, he dropped out of school. He and Joey Santiago then started working in a warehouse in 1984, where he composed the songs on his acoustic guitar. In 1986, the two decided to form a band and they placed an advertisement looking for a bass player. Kim Deal was the only one that responded to their ad and he arrived at the audition without a bass because she said she never played it before. However, she was accepted to the band because she also liked the group Peter, Paul, and Mary. Kim got a bass and the band started to rehearse in her apartment.
Kim Deal’s husband suggested that they should hire David Lovering as their drummer because they have seen him play during their wedding reception. They decided to call the band Pixies after selecting a random word from the dictionary. They liked the word because it meant “mischievous little elves.” The band started to rehearse at Lovering’s parent’s garage and they started playing gigs at bars in the Boston area.
While the Pixies were playing in a concert with Throwing Muses, their talent was noticed by a manager of Fort Apache Studios and producer Gary Smith. He told Pixies that he couldn’t sleep until they were world-famous. Smith then produced a demo that contains 17 songs and it was called by fans as the Purple Tape because of its purple background. Pixies signed a record deal with 4AD Records and released their debut album called Come on Pilgrim which featured eight songs from their Purple Tape demo.
In 1988, Pixies released their album Surfer Rosa, the album was completed in just two weeks. Surfer Rosa helped Pixies gain popularity in Europe and a British weekly music magazine called Melody Maker gave it their Album of the Year award. The band also received a positive response in the United States but it has a more muted reaction, a response which pretty much persisted throughout the band’s career. After the release of Surfer Rosa, the band flew to England to support Throwing Muses on their European tour which also took them to the Netherlands where they already received enough media attention as the headliners of the tour.
When they returned to the United States, Pixies signed a distribution deal with Elektra Records. During this time, the band had a good relationship with British producer Gil Norton which led him to produce the band’s album called Doolittle. The album obviously had a much cleaner sound compared to their previous album and it was because of Norton and the production budget amounting to 40,000 dollars. The album featured the hit singles Here Comes Your Man and Monkey Gone to Heaven.
After releasing their album Doolittle, the tension between Deal and Black Francis started to take a toll on them. it even came to a point where Francis threw a guitar at Deal during a concert in Stuttgart. Deal refused to play at a concert in Frankfurt and it was a move that almost fired her from the band. During an interview with a magazine named Mojo, Santiago revealed that after the Frankfurt incident, Deal and Francis just stopped talking. The group eventually got tired after their tour of the United States to promote their album which led to more fighting among the members. After their tour was over, Pixies announced that they would be on hiatus.
After the hiatus, the band got together again and recorded their album Bossanova which was released on August 1990. The album featured the singles Dig for Fire and Velouria. The album reached the 70th spot of the charts in the United States and the UK, it peaked at the number three spot. That same year, Pixies released a cover of Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s song called Born in Chicago for Elektra Record’s compilation album.
In 1991, Pixies released their album Trompe Le Monde which featured the single entitled U-Mass and a cover of a Leonard Cohen song called I Can’t Forget. The band embarked on an international tour where they played stadiums in Europe and smaller venues in the United States. At the end of 1991, tensions among band members rose up once again and they decided to leave and focus on separate projects. And in 1993, Black Francis said in an interview on BBC Radio 5 that the band was finished and he said no explanation about it.
Years after the band’s breakup, rumors about a reunion started to circulate but Francis was quick to deny those rumors. In 2003, after a series of phone calls among the band members which resulted in some rehearsals, the decision to have a reunion finally happened and the group announced a full tour in 2004. Surprisingly, the tickets for all the initial tour dates were nearly sold out within minutes. on April 2004, Pixies played their first reunion concert in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band toured throughout Brazil, Japan, Europe, and the United States. They also won the Act of the Year award in the Boston Music Awards in 2004.
That same year, Pixies exclusively released a new song on the iTunes Music Store called Bam Thwok which reached the top spot of the UK Official Download Chart. 4AD released a greatest hits album called Wave of Mutation: The Best of Pixies together with a DVD called Pixies in 2004.
In 2013, Pixies announced that Kim Deal had officially left the band. Two weeks after her departure, the band released their song called Bagboy which was free to download on their website. That same year, the band announced that they added Kim Shattuck to the group to replace Deal for their European tour. in 2014, Pixies released their LP format album called Indie Cindy.