Picking up The Pixies | VailDaily.com

Picking up The Pixies

Shauna Farnell
LEFT TO RIGHT: Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering, Frank Black

I’ve never been sure what it meant to “dig for fire,” but the words have been ringing some sort of nebulous importance in my head ever since I first heard The Pixies’ song from the band’s 1988 “Doolittle” release. I could say the same for most of The Pixies’ obscure and wayward tunes, none of which, as far as I’ve ever read, were intentionally written with any lyrical depth. Most of the songs, from what I’ve gleaned from interviews with singer/songwriter Black Francis, are written about sex, jokes, fetishes, drugs and meaningless anecdotes (which, in a nutshell, form the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll, right?). I once read an interview where Francis said his songwriting process involved singing out various syllables with different chords on his guitar until they became words. He would smear this together until it became a verse. Then he would do the same for the next verse, which explains, I suppose, why some of the songs make no sense whatsoever. Yet … they really rock.I guess the significance of The Pixies is that they are the cornerstone to what experimental rock has become today. Of all the bands out there trying to establish their “own” sound, The Pixies never went out of their way to be unique. They were just naturally odd. Today, their trademark style of muffled guitar followed by screeching choruses, bass-led intros and discordant yet oddly harmonious solos have been imitated by everyone from Nirvana to The Strokes.

In their six-year lifetime, The Pixies produced four full-length albums that are etched into the mental scripture of any musician who has walked in or out of the “alternative rock” genre. A sad day when the band – Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and Dave Lovering – split up in 1993, it became obvious in retrospect that they just … didn’t get along. Lovering and Santiago formed a new band that didn’t really go anywhere, Francis reverted to “Frank Black” and produced a series of solo albums that contained The Pixies’ quirkiness but lacked their power and Kim Deal formed The Breeders, which produced a couple of singles that sold better than anything The Pixies ever knocked out. Now, The Pixies have, after divulging to MTV that they’ve been secretly jamming together for years decided to do a reunion tour.

There’s one idea that usually, in some form, slithers into mind of any avid fan upon hearing that their worshipped band has decided to reunite for a tour – sellouts. Bands that reunite for tours are well aware of this, and some are perfectly open about the single-minded, monetary goal of such an endeavor.

As a big fan of The Sex Pistols, I couldn’t help but see the band at Red Rocks during its 1996 reunion, which was aptly and unabashedly entitled “The Filthy Lucre Tour.” Although I was barely alive when the Pistols toured The United States in the 1970s, I can imagine that the 1996 tour lacked some of the band’s original gusto. One could have easily disregarded the fact that they were all in their 40s if they had played longer than an hour and if an oxygen tank hadn’t been dragged out onto the stage for singer John Lydon, who just wasn’t able to hit the same mirror-shattering shriek as he could as twenty-something Johnny Rotten. All the same, even with my filthy lucre now in the pockets of the aging Sex Pistols, I was still glad I saw their show. Having listened to their bootlegs and singles for years and years and having read every biography every written about the band, I just had to go see them live. In my mind, once a band reaches legendary status, they could probably show up on a reunion tour and play their songs backwards and I would still find it rewarding somehow. This is why I’ve decided to drop almost $50 and go see The Pixies Thursday at Magness Arena in Denver. Of course, I didn’t reach this decision without first begging their publicist for a ticket or and/or an interview. (She said there are no media tickets left and that the band’s not doing interviews). Last summer in Europe, I knew people who bought plane tickets from Prague to go see The Pixies play in Paris. They said it was worth it. So, digging for fire might not mean anything to The Pixies, but it means something to me. And I’ll dig for change too, while I’m at it.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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