Enough has been said about The Pixies to fill volumes of high-minded overly-expressive rock journalism tomes for decades. Their history is well known, their legacy is undeniable and the influence that they've continued to hold over guitar-based rock bands (once called "college rock" or "alt rock") is as palpable now as it was in the early '90s.
The Pixies are your favorite band's favorite band and throughout their mercurial existence they managed to inspire the Nirvana-induced glut of alternative music that exploded in early '90s pop culture. The quartet of bassist Kim Deal, guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer Dave Lovering and the enigmatic frontman known as Black Francis practically invented the often-used "soft-loud-soft" dynamic through four brilliant albums and a host of singles and B-sides.
As a band, they specialized in tension: both aurally and personally. The group's inner turmoil
and eventual breakups were the stuff of legend. By the end of the '90s The Pixies were all but dead,
with its members embarking on various career paths. Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black and
constructed a stellar solo career. Kim hooked up with her twin sister Kelly to form the
wildly-popular Breeders. Santiago played with his wife in the Martinis while also composing film and
television scores and Lovering abandoned music altogether and became, of all things, a magician.
Twelve years after the official demise of The Pixies, a germ of an idea was born. The dreaded
reunion. But, somehow, for a band that holds such a special place in the hearts of its fans, this
2003 re-gathering was not the trite and flaccid stuff that comes with most reunions. As witnessed on
2004's DVD documentary "The Pixies Sell Out," the band's return was triumphant and welcomed by new
and old fans alike. It led to a number of possibilities: more tours and, most recently, the idea to
celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the most acclaimed rock albums of the '80s: "Doolittle."
"Basically, we had thought about doing this 'Doolittle' tour when we first got back together in
2004," says Lovering, the appointed spokesman for this latest incarnation. "We were toying with the
idea of just doing one whole album in its entirety. In the back of our minds we thought about
'Doolittle' hitting the 20-year mark and we thought we'd just do it. It just worked out easily, and
we've always thought it was a good, solid album."
Indeed, "Doolittle" is a time-tested album that showcases The Pixies at their best. Widely
regarded (depending on whom you ask) as their best work, "Doolittle" not only served as The Pixies'
first foray into major-label recording, it also produced many of the band's most cherished songs.
"It's definitely up there as one of my favorite Pixies' albums," contemplates the affable
Lovering. "I think 'Surfer Rosa' might be slightly above it for me, more so because of the memories
and the time. 'Doolittle' is dynamic. I think there are plenty of songs on it that are catchy and
make it a really complete album."
Translating them live really wasn't an issue for the band. Since their reformation and subsequent
touring in '04, they had been steadily cohering as a unit. They quickly regained the tightness and
form they were known for in the '90s. Early opinions on the acumen of the Pixies' live show are
confident and assured.
"The songs sound really good," Dave enthuses. "We're getting good comments that we're reproducing
the album very well, and we're trying to stick to the way the album sounded. I think it's coming
For those who watched the original, sometimes-cringe-worthy demise of The Pixies, there has to be
some trepidation as to how the band's interpersonal workings might overshadow the Doolittle tour.
The easygoing drummer shrugs off any concern.
"It's like there was no time lost in between. Everything is basically the same. We're older and
wiser and I think that we know better. We're the same band, but we're in a much better situation.
We're all friends now," he says, laughing.
|The Pixies Live Show Features Extensive Lighting and Video
As for the shows themselves, fans can expect some big productions. Long-time Pixies lighting
designer Myles Mangino and designer Paul Normandale have constructed an epic visual backdrop to
complement the songs. The set features four giant, eyeball-like spheres floating down from the
lighting rig and are part of the concert's light show.
Filmmakers Judy Jacobs, Tom Winkler, Brent Felix and Melinda Tupling were brought on board to
create 11 films especially for the production. The films are projected onto a massive backdrop video
screen to accompany 12 of the 21 songs that comprise the show. Visuals accompanying the song
"Debaser" are from a compilation titled Forbidden Images. The concert opens with the showing of the
1929 silent surrealist short film, "Un Chien Andalou," Black Francis's inspiration for the song.
"It's a rockin' show. We've got lots of video; it's a real nice production."
And, of course, all this leads to the inevitable question: will there be a new Pixies album in
"We have had conversations about it, but nothing has come to any actual plans. We're just so busy
touring this year. 2011 might be a different story, though."
Even without the promise of new material, the anticipation and reception of the Doolittle tour
has served to further solidify The Pixies' standing in the annals of alt-rock. Still adored by the
original fans who sweated through those intense, early gigs, and just as equally revered by fans who
missed the band's beginning, Lovering and The Pixies find themselves overwhelmed at times by the
esteem they've garnered and held for over 20 years.
"It makes you feel really, really good. It's very heartfelt. We're very humble about it. It's
still a nice thing to know that we're acclaimed that way by some people. It's nice to know that
people like the music so much and that we weren't just a little flash-in-the-pan thing. That means a
lot to us. It really does hit home."