They are musicians’ favorite influence, because their quiet-loud aesthetic and hemmed bombast brim with technique and chops. Frank Black, Kim Deal, David Lovering and Joey Santiago have resurrected the Pixies – perhaps the greatest reason to believe the Nineties ever mattered – and set tongues to wagging about this and that concerning their legacy. Assessing their importance to the progression of popular music is akin to questions in a letter. Judging the Pixies is besides the point, as the band and its body of work belies the curious by overwhelming the mind with excellence. – Adrian Dowe
After being broken up for so long, did you ever think that a Pixies reunion was within the realm of possibility?
Frank Black: Oh, it’s always been within the realm of possibility I suppose.
U: How did you convince the rest of the band to get back together?
FB: I don’t know, I just sort of told them I was up for it so I don’t know if there was any convincing that had to go on amongst the three of them, but I don’t think so. I think everyone was into it.
U: As far as getting together and rehearsing in the studio, did you fall back pretty easily into playing the old songs?
FB: Yeah, you know. It’s an extremely uneventful and boring story, if you can call it that. You know, you get together — you know, everyone’s got their Starbucks there, you know, you plug in, you tune up, someone says ‘what should we play first?’ You play it. Maybe you play it again. Then you move on to the next song. So as much as people want to say ‘I know, BUT WHAT WAS IT LIKE!?!’ it’s like, well, you know …
U: No different than any other band getting together and playing.
FB: Yeah, you know? It’s just …
U: Everybody has a very romanticized view of the Pixies, so you have to expect that we’re gonna ask very mundane questions and expect extremely cool answers.
FB: Yeah, but I don’t know what people expect. They think that, you know, there’s like 10 live monkeys running around the room or something or they think that we’re all wearing spacesuits or something. I don’t know. What do people expect? [laughs] Do they expect that, you know … I don’t know what. You know what I mean? I can’t really fathom what people’s expectations are. I’ve never really heard any inkling as to what those expectations are. So I don’t think there are any expectations, I think that people just want some sort of satisfaction of like, some kind of like ‘WOW!!! REALLY!?! WAS IT LIKE THAT!?!’ You know, they want some kind of detail or story. They always have wanted one of those kinds of details about the band, and I’ve never been able to offer them up and I’m not a very good liar.
U: Considering the bands you’ve influenced in the 12-year absence that the Pixies had, like Nirvana, Radiohead and whatnot, why do you think the Pixies never reached the same level of fame in the U.S. as Radiohead or Nirvana?
FB: Because we weren’t as poppy. Period. You know?
U: Just aren’t as radio-friendly of a band?
FB: Yeah, I suppose you can put it like that. Sure. It’s just not the same kind of thing. The Pixies are way quirkier, way more angular, way more offbeat, you know?
U: How is your approach to writing a song different than a Nirvana song?
FB: [Extremely long silence] I don’t know. They sound like more of a hard rock band to me, you know? The Pixies are, you know, [makes yodel-like screeching noise], you know, they’re schizophrenic. The Pixies are schizophrenic.
U: The response to all the recent shows has been phenomenal as far as press goes. Have the Pixies ever gotten a bad review for anything?
FB: They haven’t turned on us yet. I think they’re gonna let us have our year back in the limelight, and then, if we continue, I suppose the backlash will come. It’s just like the first time around, you know? They gave us a couple years before they started whispering behind our backs that maybe we weren’t so cool. I mean, I’m not complaining, it’s just the way that it is.
U: Have you been enjoying the shows?
FB: Yeah, very much. A lot. It’s fun. They’re a fun group of people to play with. They’re very humorous, they’re good players and they don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re a nice bunch of people — I enjoy being with them.
U: Kim Deal wrote the band’s first new single, ‘Bam Thwok.’ Do you see songwriting duties being split up more now than they were in the past?
FB: Probably. I’ve taken a few chill pills since my twenties.
U: Is it going to be more of a group effort now?
FB: A group effort? In terms of songwriting? Well, I don’t know that Joey or Dave even consider themselves as songwriters, but we’ll have to see, I suppose. Maybe they’ll show up at the next rehearsal with some songs, I don’t know. But Kim definitely writes some songs, so I’ll probably … we will pursue that a little bit I suppose.
U: As far as the audience coming out to see the band, what do you think the ratio is of actual Pixies fans to actual posers?
FB: I don’t know, really. Hey, you know, I don’t care if they’re posers or not. As long as they pay the admission fee they have my sincere thanks [laughs].