The Pixies are coming to Ventura, but Tinker Bell won't be able to make it. These Pixies are different than those pixies. No mischievous little elfin critters, no daffodils, no daisies, no fairies. These Pixies aren't even cute.
This quartet has little in common with its name. It would be like finding out that the New Kids On The Block were really the Dead Kennedys with spiffy new haircuts and wardrobes.
The Pixies are this gnarly rock band from Boston. They are about as subtle as a car crash in your living room. The band generates enough energy to power the Red Sox to the American League East title by 30 games. The most unpixielike front man is none other than that hulking brute in the black T-shirt, the one and only Black Francis. He sounds like the bad guy in a Prince Valiant movie. His real name is Charles Michael Kitridge Thompson IV and he's actually a very nice guy. Mom was right, looks can be deceiving.
The Pixies have been around since 1987, when Black Francis swayed his college buddy, Joey Santiago, with the tried-and-true "let's start a band" routine. The two guitarists put an ad in a paper, seeking a bass player who liked Husker Du and Peter, Paul and Mary. Kim Deal, the only one who answered the ad, got the job. Next, she recruited her friend David Lovering to beat on the drums and presto, there were Pixies.
Gigging around like other bands was too easy, so the Pixies recorded a demo tape and British label 4AD released the eight-song effort as a mini LP. And it was a hit. Two albums followed. In 1989, Rolling Stone voted the Pixies as Best New Band. "Bossanova," the band's current and third LP, is cruising right along on the college/alternative charts.
The band will end its current tour with a Friday night performance at the Ventura Theatre. Opening will be Carnival Art and an interesting Santa Barbara band with a funny name, This Ascension.
In a recent phone interview from Minneapolis, Black Francis discussed the life and times of his band:
How are the tour and the album doing?
The tour's doing all right. We just drove for 15 hours. The roads were closed due to snow. It's the usual. We've got this huge semi-truck to carry all our stuff, but I don't drive anymore. My driving days are over, but they might come back. Who knows? The album's doing all right, not as good yet as our last one, "Doolittle." I haven't seen my first big royalty check yet.
Where did you get that name?
My name? I thought Black Francis was a cool-sounding name for a rock star. And the Pixies? We found that in the dictionary. It was under P.
How did you get started in the music biz?
Well, I dropped out of college four years ago and started a band. I was an anthropology major at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Well, I was in Puerto Rico for a year, and the thing that got me into the Pixies was this Iggy Pop tape--that's the only tape I had down there. I also like Talking Heads, the Ramones, the Violent Femmes and a lot of the big rock bands of the '60s.
What current bands do you think are pretty cool?
The Jesus and Mary Chain--that's about it. Oh yeah, and Dick Dale.
What's the best and worst thing about being a rock star?
Well, I guess the best thing is the limelight and the performing. Plus, the money is real good. If I wasn't doing this, I'd probably be back in school. The worst thing is laundry. The next time we stop, I have to do my own laundry.
What's the most misunderstood thing about the Pixies?
That we're some sort of intellectual and artsy band, and we're not. All sorts of people come to our shows, all ages, plus kids that've just heard the records.
What would be your dream gig and your nightmare gig?
Playing with Link Wray would be my dream gig. I don't have a nightmare gig.
Describe Pixies music.
It's crazy rock 'n' roll with a crazy backbeat. I suppose it would be easy to sound like somebody else, but we don't. Maybe we're not good enough musicians to copy somebody else.
What are the goals of the band?
To get whatever we can get.
Can rock 'n' roll change the world?
Absolutely not. No way.