Sitting here wishing on a cement floor

Janna Hutz

Just wishing that I had just something you wore

“Cactus” – The Pixies

Bands break up. It can happen at any time,
unexpectedly or forever forecasted. Death, age, ego; something
always finds a way to tear apart the groups you love. Well, except
for the Rolling Stones. Even at 100, Mick won’t be able to say no
to groupies a fifth his age, and Keith Richards somehow found the
perfect combination of heroin, pot, liquor, heroin, beer, sex and
more heroin that makes up Ponce’s enchanted fountain of youth. But
the Glimmer Twins are pretty much the exception.

Breaking up should be okay (sometimes it isn’t even hard to do).
Artists are allowed to go their separate ways; would there be an
“Imagine,” a “Walk on the Wild Side” or even a “She Bangs” if
Lennon, Reed and Martin had never left their previous
supergroups?

Yet, like a movie star dying young, the early divorce only adds
to a band’s legacy. Acceptance is hardly ever accepted by hardcore
fans, and never okay with those unlucky enough to discover the band
post-separation. This column is for those late bloomers and their
ever-present talk of reunions, for they should beware the ides of
April and with it the possible second coming of indie rock messiahs
the Pixies.

In the case of the Pixies, I have long been a member of the
reunion-pleading whores. First introduced to the Pixie world in
middle school by my guitar-playing bastion of good music/friend
Paul, I immediately fell in love with the spaced-out Beach Boys
poppiness of ex-Pixie frontman Frank Black’s (known as Black
Francis in his Pixies days) solo material. I was only a few years
tardy of the Pixies last world tour, but as I quickly gobbled up
and swallowed all five records I also learned of the “Who’s Afraid
of Virginia Woolf?”-like battles between Black and
bassist-turned-Breeders frontwoman Kim Deal. Magically foreshadowed
on the Surfer Rosa outtake included at the beginning of
Spanish-language track “Vamos,” Black once said “You fucking die”
as a joke, but by 1993 they both meant it.

In 1986, Mr. Francis (real name Charles Michael Kitteridge
Thompson IV), Ms. Deal (then using the pseudonym Mrs. John Murphy),
guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering found each other
in the growing music scene of Boston. Today, the Pixies stand as
the most influential band of the late ’80s and early ’90s. They are
the Beatles of our generation, save for the whole worldwide fame
thing.

Nearly every modern rock (and all its subsidiary genres) outfit
owes a debt to Black and co. whether they know it or not. Who
influenced you? Kurt Cobain maybe. Weezer probably. There would be
no Nirvana, and specifically no “Smells like Teen Spirit,” without
Cobain’s constant Pixies listening sessions and “Teen Spirit”
blueprint “Gouge Away” on the Pixies consensus masterpiece
Doolittle. Weezer singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo also
co-leads the long list of post-Reagan Era bands that wear their
Pixies influences proudly. The Pixies impeccably crafted the punk
enthused, genre mixing, soft-to-loud explosion of a blueprint for
alternative rock that bands like Modest Mouse, Guided by Voices,
Superdrag and Spoon have fit to meet their own strengths to the
delights of millions unaware of the Pixie-control on the music
scene of today and tomorrow.

Talk of a reunion has slowly built. It started with Santiago’s
guest appearances on several albums by Black’s newest group, Frank
Black and the Catholics. Next came David Lovering,
drummer-turned-scientific magician, as a strange but welcome
opening act for Black on two recent tours. Then the rumors gained a
speck of credibility when Black, appearing on London’s XFM radio,
talked of the band occasionally getting together and his fantasies
of a more formal Pixies reunion. Black said, “It’s like those
schoolboy dreams when you don’t do your homework and you don’t
study for the test, but I’m at the gig and we’re hanging out, but
it’s an utter failure and I don’t know the songs, and hardly anyone
turns up for the gig and people walk out.”

Now, that speck has become a bomb. In a report on MTV, an
anonymous spokesperson for the band claimed plans for a worldwide
tour starting in April and the possibility of a new EP to follow.
How a band that has been broken up for 10 years has an official
spokesperson is anyone’s guess, but the news is being reported as
nothing less than the genuine article by myriad news outlets.
Black’s manager admitted to Billboard that the band has received
offers every year since the break-up, always turning them down, but
did not formally deny the MTV report.

And looking beyond the truth issue is whether any such reunion
could measure up to the expectations of the die-hard indie rock
fans the world over. A regrouping could go the way of N.W.A.
(unfulfillingly comprised of new tracks trying to be old), the
Stooges (an older but equally energetic version of the classic
band) or the dreaded way of the Beatles (forever non-existent).

For what it’s worth, I’ve got a whole bag of pixie dust in hope
that it’s just the magic needed to get Frank, Kim, Joey and David
in Detroit sometime soon.

– Todd apologizes to Scott for ever doubting a Pixies
reunion. He can be reached at
“mailto:tweiser@umich.edu”>tweiser@umich.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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