Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Mar 27th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Hey, Hey, We’re the Pixies

music_Pixies1Pixies’ Joey Santiago on the making of an alt-rock classic

Doolittle, arguably the definitive album by the Boston-based alternative rock band the Pixies, hasn’t just stayed fresh over time—it’s actually gotten better. Or so it would seem from two different Rolling Stone reviews of the album: Somewhere between 1989 and 2002, Doolittle apparently went from merely being an above-average effort (three-and-a-half-stars) to being a proto-grunge Sergeant Pepper’s (five stars). The record has only improved since then. In 2003, NME magazine named it the second-greatest album in history, and in 2005, it landed smack-dab in the middle of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

 

Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago says that during the Doolittle sessions, he had an inkling that he and his bandmates were creating something important. “I don’t want to sound corny, but I’ll admit it: When we were listening to it, I’d just go, ‘Oh, man. I think this is going to be a stepping stone for people,’” he states. “’Cause at the time, it was a little askew—really kind of alternative alternative. That’s not to take away … there was Hüsker Dü and Sonic Youth, for crying out loud. So we weren’t the only weirdos out there.”

Yeah, but these weirdos had “Here Comes Your Man” up their collective sleeve. That uncharacteristically bouncy tune would reach No. 3 on the modern rock charts, calling a large and sometimes unlikely assortment of listeners to feast on Doolittle’s 40 minutes of focused psychosis. In keeping with the album’s recurring theme of surrealism, Arsenio Hall even invited the Pixies to play on his show at one point.

Much of Doolittle’s crossover appeal comes down to the album’s producer, Gil Norton. The band’s vocalist/rhythm guitarist, Black Francis, once told Rolling Stone that the record was the result of Norton “trying to make us, shall I say, commercial, and us trying to remain somewhat grungy”: a push-and-pull that created the ideal balance of rawness and accessibility. Santiago claims that these conflicting visions didn’t make for any bad blood between producer and band. “It was mutual respect,” he offers. “Some of [Norton’s] points were really, really good.” For instance, Black Francis added a bridge to “Here Comes Your Man” at the producer’s bidding. “It made the song propel in another way, and we upped the tempo a bit, ’cause [prior to Norton’s intervention] we played it really, really slow—kind of country-ish,” the guitarist says.

Back by popular demand as of 2004, the Pixies—Santiago, Francis, bassist Kim Deal, and drummer David Lovering—will play all of Doolittle and its related B-sides at The Civic, Monday, Nov. 21. This being the final date of the Doolittle Tour’s fall leg, Santiago has had some time to walk around in the audience before a show or two. He’s a little blown away by what he’s seen. “The people up front, and predominantly the whole crowd, are still young!” he exclaims. “They’re little babies, for cryin’ out loud.”

For this, the band owes much to the lip service of Nirvana, whose members have famously been forthright about the fact that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a blatant (though not entirely shameless) Pixies imitation. In light of the latter band’s status as progenitors of grunge, it’s somewhat poetic that the final Pixies album, 1991’s Trompe le Monde, was released one day before Nirvana’s Nevermind: The torch had been passed.

With grunge now an entry in the history books, the Pixies have reemerged as a far more stable unit than in years past. Gone is the internal bickering that plagued the group during its first go-round. “Back then we didn’t have time to gel to be like The Monkees,” Santiago notes. “It happened very quickly—within a year, we were in Europe.” More than two and a half decades later, they’re veritable Monkees gone to heaven. “We’re kind of half business partners and half comrades,” the guitarist offers. “We’re comfortable with that.”

But don’t worry—the band hasn’t lost any angst when it comes to live performances of songs like “Debaser,” “Gouge Away,” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” Like Doolittle itself, Pixies shows just keep getting better.

 


The Pixies’ sold-out show begins at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21 at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

The Magic Touch

Stage magician vs. charlatans in engaging ‘An Honest Liar’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals