What would your record collection look like if Pixies never existed? It wouldn’t look right, that’s for certain. Without question, Pixies changed the course of music history.

A band at the vanguard of a sound, a movement which scrubbed clean the cheese that had infected pop music in the second half of the 80s. Without Pixies, Nirvana would have never happened. Kurt Cobain was once quoted as saying, with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ he “was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies.”

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery

Without Pixies, Radiohead probably wouldn’t exist, or the Smashing Pumpkins. Or Foo Fighters.

Pixies are Generation X’s Velvet Underground. A band that didn’t enjoy the commercial success they rightly deserved, but anyone who bought their records started a band, or at least dreamt of it.

Led by Charles Thompson,  aka Black Francis (or, sometimes Frank Black), part-guitarist, part howling banshee, David Lovering (drums), and Joey Santiago (guitar, keys) and former bass player Kim Deal, who was so groovy the Dandy Warhols paid homage to her with the 1997 single, ‘Cool as Kim Deal’, Pixies are the definitive alternative rock band.

Formed in Boston back in 1986 when Larry Bird wore a mullet and couldn’t be beat, Pixies, like the-then NBA MVP, weren’t the prettiest or fastest. No matter. They weren’t much of a video band either, despite emerging in a post-MTV landscape. And unlike so many of their contemporaries, their music hasn’t been diminished in commercials flogging liquid soap or grade-A butter.

Watch ‘Where Is My Mind’ in Fight Club

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But Pixies’ first two albums paved a path for others to follow, with a sound somewhere between punk and surf rock, rounded out with hooks, melodies and actual pop songs that wedged in your skull.

With the band ready for another tour of Australia, their fourth and first since a handful of dates in 2017, there’s no better time to return to the start, and their two seminal releases, 1987’s EP Come On Pilgrim and 1988’s debut full-length album, Surfer Rosa, both of which will be performed in full.

Watch Pixies perform ‘Where Is My Mind?’ live

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Like so many great bands from the pre-digital age, the classic line-up of the Pixies was assembled after placing a newspaper advertisement, the bandmates putting out the call for a bassist “into Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul & Mary.” As legend has it, Deal was the only one who answered the call.

A support slot with fellow Bostonians Throwing Muses changed everything. Gary Smith, manager and producer at Boston’s Fort Apache studios, came on board and, over three consecutive days during March 1987, they cut a limited-edition demo, the Purple Tape, which would be handed to anyone who’d dig it and, just maybe, help them on their way.

The recordings came to Ivo Watts-Russell, co-founder of the iconic British indie 4AD. Watts-Russell was swept away. He signed the band, and, in September 1987, 4AD released eight of the original demos as Come On Pilgrim.

It’s raw and distorted, angsty. Its lyrics dealt with death and sex. From the opener ‘Caribou,’ which has its soul face-down somewhere in SoCal. ‘Isla De Encanta’ is sung entirely Spanish and doesn’t give a stuff, while ‘Ed Is Dead’ and ‘I’ve Been Tired’ present a template of Pixies to come.  It was the perfect antidote to Swing Out Sister and the Stock-Aitken-Waterman productions that were dominating the sales charts.

Next up, Watts-Russell tapped master sound engineer Steve Albini to capture Pixies in their right sonic environment. The result was Surfer Rosa, a chunk of musical dynamite considered by many fans as their magnum opus.

Recorded in just two weeks, and clocking in at a touch over 30 minutes in length, Surfer Rosa is a good, firm look at prime Pixies. Surfer Rosa gave us the instant classic ‘Gigantic,’ and the wraithlike ‘Where is My Mind,’ and a handful of reworked tunes from the Purple Tape. There’s some big, big love for this record. It freaked out Billy Corgan, it blew PJ Harvey’s mind and it regularly appears high on critics’ lists of all-time great rock records.

‘Where Is My Mind’ would make a pivotal appearance in David Fincher’s dark classic from 1999 Fight Club, accompanying the dramatic final scene. It was a moment that would re-introduce the band to pop-culture.

Some special records would drop in years to come, including Doolittle, Bossanova and Trompe le Monde. The band members would embark on their own journeys (Frank Black toured Australia several times as a solo artist, including a date on the Livid stage back in 1994).

They would split, reunite, tour, record, disband and reform. Those first releases were repackaged for the 2018 release Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa, which includes a bonus third disc consisting of an early radio broadcast recording.

Those works will get a live workout across Australia and New Zealand next March when Frank Black hits the road with his founding Pixies bandmates David Lovering and Joey Santiago plus Paz Lenchantin, the Argentinian bass player who’s played with the band since 2013. Live Nation is producing the trek.

How Pixies haven’t been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame is a mystery that today rates among the greatest snubs in the record business.  Of course, Nirvana, a band inspired by Pixies, are now in the Rock Hall. Pixies are also Grammy-less, and not likely to change that anytime soon. Sad fact, the Baha Men have a Grammy.

Pixies never fit the mould, they made their own.

Pixies Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa 2020 Tour

 Tuesday, March 9th, 2020 (New Show)
Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 (Sold Out)

Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 (New Show)
Fortitude Hall, Brisbane, QLD

Friday, March 13th, 2020 (Sold Out)
Fortitude Hall, Brisbane, QLD

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 (Sold Out)
Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Sydney, NSW

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Sydney, NSW

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 (Sold Out)
Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth, WA



Tickets available through Live Nation

Check out ‘On Graveyard Hill’ by the Pixies

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