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The Pixies Reunion, Seven Years Later

Apr. 18, 2011
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After years of inner-band tension, singer Black Francis dissolved The Pixies in early 1993, notifying his band mates via fax. Given that famously acrimonious breakup, few fans had long-term hopes for the band's improbable 2004 reunion, and a documentary about their reunion tour, loudQUIETloud, appeared to confirm suspicions that old wounds hadn't completely healed with time. The film showed the band traveling in separate tour buses and pointedly not speaking to each other backstage.

Nobody would have guessed, then, that seven years later the band would still be playing together—certainly not the band themselves.

"We've been back together for almost seven years now, which is longer than the initial time that we were a band," marvels drummer David Lovering. "We were doing an interview where that was pointed out to us, and we were just stupefied. It was big news to us. We're just happy that we still have an audience that wants to see us. We're behaving well together, and we're enjoying every minute of it."

As long as there's demand for Pixies concerts, it seems, the band will keep playing them, and currently there's still plenty of demand. Case in point: The band's concert at the Rave on Saturday, April 23, is part of the 20th anniversary tour of the band's commercial breakthrough album, Doolittle—an album that came out in 1989, 22 years ago. There's a reason that math doesn't add up: The band began the tour two years ago for the album's actual 20th anniversary, but promoters are still tacking on new dates amid continued interest. "In actuality," Lovering jokes, "we should be playing [1991's] Trompe le Monde now."

On the tour, the band plays Doolittle in its entirety, along with related B-sides from that album, accompanied by a backdrop of film footage. The album lends itself to such a large-scale production, Lovering says. "I think it was our best album in terms of the dynamics of all the songs, and the quality of them," he says. "It's probably the best representation of The Pixies, and also the most widely known of our albums. It's been fun revisiting it, since these shows include songs we never played live back in the day. We never played 'Here Comes Your Man,' 'La La Love You' or 'Silver' live before the reunion."

cleaned up The Pixies just enough for radio play, without taming the eccentric extremes that made them the most distinguished underground rock band of the late '80s. Its pop songs were sharper than those of its 1988 predecessor Surfer Rosa, and its production friendlier, but Doolittle is nonetheless the weirder album, a cryptic cycle of violence and sensuality lightened by a sometimes sweet, sometimes testy sense of humor.

Lovering says he could imagine the band doing a tour dedicated to Surfer Rosa, which he says is probably the band's favorite album—"We're biased toward it because it's the album that we honed our chops on, so it's something we'll always hold fond memories of"—but his ultimate hope is that The Pixies record a new album to tour behind.

History suggests fans shouldn't hold their breath for that, however. The group has been teasing the possibility of new material on and off since 2005, and though Lovering says the band has discussed recording again as recently as late last year, at this point it's still all just talk.

Lovering is particularly vested in the band making new material. As the band member most publicly enthusiastic about the reunion, he wants it to last as long as possible.

"We knew when we decided we wanted to get back together that there was going to be an audience that wanted to see us, but the size of that audience has been beyond our expectations," Lovering says. "It's been going great since: great fans, great crowds, great places to play, and the band is in a better place than it's been since the reunion began. We're lucky that people still want to see us, but my fear is that we're going to wear out our welcome if we don't record any new material. So my fingers are crossed that we do something new."

The Pixies headline the Rave on Saturday, April 23, at 8 p.m. with openers Imaginary Cities.


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