Articles: Pixies' Music Is Anything But Easy Listening

By Dan Kane
Canton Repository, August 4th 1989.
Transcribed by MungaFunga for Alec Eiffel


Sometimes, but not too often, it seems that Stark County is the center of the world.
Like when R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry revealed that he spent his junior- high years living in Massillon.
And when Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes noted that he'd twice toured the Pro Football Hall of Fame during his formative years.
And when Hope Nichols, singer for the North Carolina band Fetchin' Bones, mentioned that she used to visit Canton regularly, to see her boyfriend's grandmother.

The other day I called up Kim Deal, bassist for the hipper-than-thou Boston band the Pixies. And she says, right off the bat: "My sister Kelly lives in North Canton with her fiance. I've been to Canton a bunch. I shop, usually. You can get good clothes and stuff there. It's a good suburban-mall kind of town."

The Pixies will perform Tuesday at Peabody's Down Under in Cleveland's Flats.

The story of the Pixies and Kim's involvement therein is best told chronologically. A Dayton native, Kim got married and moved with her (now ex-) husband to Boston. She answered a classified ad in a local newspaper seeking "a female bassist for a Husker Du and Peter, Paul & Mary band." The ad had been placed by Charles Michael Kitridge Thompson IV (aka Pixies singer-songwriter Black Francis) and Joey Santiago, roommates from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who'd quit college to form a band.
Kim, 28, recalls, "I got the job because I was the only one who had answered the ad." She had neither a bass nor band experience. Her drummer friend David Lovering completed the lineup and the band played its first gig in September 1986. "We've pretty much sounded this way ever since we started," Kim recalls.

In March of 1987, the band recorded demos of 16 songs in 72 hours, and sent the tape off to the British alternative label 4AD. Sufficiently impressed, 4AD released eight of the demo songs as an album titled "Come On Pilgrim," followed six months later by a second LP, "Surfer Rosa." A third album, "Doolittle," recently was released by Elektra Records.
In England, the Pixies top alternative sales charts and are critic's darlings; stateside, their music is a staple on college radio.

What do the Pixies sound like? Frenzied, fractured, raw, dynamic, punkish, exhilerating. The singing ( mostly by Charles, sometimes by Kim ) veers from a whisper ro a scream. The lyrics are deliberately obscure, borderline surreal and sometimes darkly funny. A twisted example ( from "Cactus" ) : "Sitting here wishing on a cement floor, just wishing that I had something you wore; bloody your hand on a cactus tree, wipe it on your dress and send it to me." Song titles include "Bone Machine," "I Bleed," "Wave of Mutilation," "Gouge Away," and "Dead."

Asked how the songs are created, Kim explains, "Usually Charles will come in with a really cool chord progression and we'll just bang it out and try to arrange something. If it sounds cool and there's no parts that we feel need to be fixed, then it's ready to record."

And why are the Pixies' songs so brief? She laughs and says, "Maybe they're just really bad riffs and you can't stand them for more than two minutes."

The Spanish lyrics that crop up in the songs "Isla de Encanta" and "Vamos" stem from the time Charles/Black Francis spent living in Puerto Rico. "It's not like we're trying to communicate to Latin people or anything," Kim says. "It just sounds really percussive and sometimes the word choices in Spanish define what you're trying to say better than English."

Kim describes Charles thusly: "He talks a lot, loudly. He's generous with his money. He likes music a lot, movies, food. He likes to eat rice and beans."

David Bowie came backstage and met the band after a recent Pixies show."He seemed like a real nice guy and he had this gorgeous fiancee," Kim says. Another prominent Pixies fan is "One of the Darryl's from the Bob Newhart show, the blond Darryl."

A big date on the Pixies' horizon is Aug. 20, when the band will perform at Giants Stadium with the Cure and Love & Rockets.

Previewing the band's Cleveland show, Kim says it will feature a lot from the "Doolittle" album, plus songs from both earlier releases. Pixies' shows often include their sledge-hammer rendition of "Heaven" from the film "Eraserhead."

"We're not this jamming band with big guitar solos,"she says about playing live."We start the song and finish it." "People go wild, some audiences more than others. Usually there's some thrashing, unless they've decided that's not the cool thing to do." Opening for the Pixies at Peabody's at 9 p.m. will be Happy Mondays. Tickets are on sale at Ticketrons.



Last Updated 11-30-98