Articles: More Fun Than Picking Scabs

by Jay Blotcher
Reflex Magazine Vol.1 Issue 4, May 1988.
Transcribed by C. Gourraud and corrected by J. Blotcher himself for Alec Eiffel


Think of them as the naughty older siblings of Throwing Muses. The Pixies scratch out a tuneful dissonance in the same airspace as the Muses (mentally as well as geographically; the quartet comes from Boston and shares a manager with the Muses), but their themes and music are more terra firma. Last autumn's EP COME ON PILGRIM offered twisted rockers and ballads, guitar-scarred and coddled, celebrating incest and animals and sex so fine (with an elevator operator). They're charged with a sound as rewarding as scabpicking was when you were a kid. Gleefully reckless. Good nasty fun. The Pixies have the eerie depth of old souls, yet their average age of 22, explains their eagerness to offend, to aurally jar and generally rock people off their mental axis.

Lead singer and songwriter Black Francis resembles Beaver Cleaver's pal Larry Mondello - to a point. This guy hurls primal screams and lays a white-trash twang into his voice that owes much to Violent Femme Gordon Gano. He's also very sensitive; he's still fuming over a Melody Maker article that called him " chubby ". No hard luck story here. Francis and lead guitar Joey Santiago came to Boston to go to school, checked out the local club scene, practiced air guitar for awhile and put out the call-to-arms in a local newspaper. Drummer David Lovering and bassist and vocalist Mrs. John Murphy (her hubby calls her Kim) joined the mix. " We're embarrassed it happened so fast, " Francis says, trying his damndest to look sheepish. " We talk to bands who have been on the scene for ten years and they ask us how long we've been at it. And they tell us it may be over tomorrow. But we'll have had three records out after this year, and none of us have ever been in a band before. "

The band's first manager was a fellow student from U. Mass Boston " who had a nice pair of bazoombas, " Santiago recalls, " but not much experience with handling a fledgling band on the hectic Boston scene. " They parted amicably, before Santiago had a shot at her mammaries, he pouts. Murphy scolds him, then thinks twice and says she saw the best pair she'd ever seen in a recent Hustler. Bosoms may be the band's artistic guidepost; the latest LP, SURFER ROSA, depicts a flamenco dancer with the nicest bingo-bongos since those angels in lingerie graced the cover of Roxy Music's COUNTRY LIFE.

Breasts to one side, SURFER ROSA (produced by Big Black's Steve Albini) comes on harder and meaner than their debut EP. Francis' death cries and Spanish raps duel with squealing bass lines and fractured melodies. Mrs. Murphy vocally goofs as 'Gidget from Hell' on the surf-flavored " Tony's Theme ". but on " Gigantic " she delivers a husky croon that makes you wonder wistfully where Rickie Lee Jones is drying out these days. On " Bone Machine " and " Vamos " she and Francis conjure up visions of the married days of Exene and John Doe (once known as X's fun couple). Despite the rhythmic throb and catchy melodies, Francis proudly insists he's no musician. " I just come up with some chords and the words come at the last minute. Most of it is spontaneous."

Visions of hell notwithstanding, this group fears they may not be taken seriously for their ruddy-cheeked youth. When asked if they were influenced by the Partridge Family (which debuted in 1970) Kim stops the interview and asks with concern, " Why... do we sound like them? " The answer is certainly no; if they sound like anything from the 70s, its more like David Cassidy on acid. Nonetheless the Partridge's hold a warm spot in their hearts. " Yeah I still watch 'em when I can, " says Lovering, " they were pretty cool. " Indeed.



Last Updated 05-24-2004