A Minute With-The Pixies, the "psychotic Beatles", on fame, comebacks and break-ups
Black Francis of the American band the Pixies stands under stage lights during a performance at Lisbon Coliseum
(Please note offensive language in Q&A)
By Andrei Khalip
LISBON (Reuters) - Beloved of David Bowie and a generation of influential UK and U.S. guitar bands, American alt-rock combo the Pixies have sold out across Europe as they tour with new music for the first time in over 20 years.
There is talk of a joint tour with Bowie, 66, whose own new album has made waves in the past year for the first time since his 70s and 80s heyday, and the band expect to follow this year's four-song EP-1 with more new releases.
The Ziggy Stardust creator has called the Pixies the "psychotic Beatles" and rates their music as "just about the most compelling of the entire 80s".
If lacking some of the band's youthful, surf-punk folly, the new songs have plenty of drive and the trademark shifts from quiet and melodic to loud and screamy that influenced Nirvana, Sonic Youth and others in the late 1980s. The cosmic sounds of "Andro Queen" connect with Bowie's space-themed compositions.
The band got its start in Boston and had a string of hits in "Hey", "Debaser", "Where is my Mind" and "Monkey Gone to Heaven" before breaking up in 1993. They reunited in 2004 only to have bass player Kim Deal quit in June for a second time without much explanation, leaving the three other Pixies "shell-shocked".
Frontman Black Francis, 48, lead guitar player Joey Santiago, 48, and drummer David Lovering, 51, spoke with Reuters in Lisbon during their global tour about regrets over their first breakup, Deal's possible return, and the future.
Q: Your new song "Indie Cindy" appears to refer to your new audience, you're begging it to "carry me" like you're not sure.
Black Francis: It's about the audience we're trying to woo, it is personified in the song. There's doubt, that's because we haven't made a record in 20 years. And here we are going, "Hey, what do you think, do I still got it or do I still got it?"
Q: And do they like it?
BF: Our shows are sold out, and they cheer a lot.
Q: Your audience now - is it young, or nostalgia-driven?
BF: There's at least a third of the audience that's really young, another third is a bit older and another third, they're, like, they got no business being in a rock concert! (all laugh)
BF: But I think that all such ageism will die with the death of rock music as we know it. With their iPhones and devices, people now have access to all this music, images, its history, facts and factoids and they can see through age groups, fashion, sexiness - all that's being defined in a certain limited way.
Q: You have a much greater fan base in Europe than in the United States. Why is that?
Lovering: I'd say Europeans have better taste.
Santiago: Europeans are more eclectic, I guess.
BF: Rock music is culturally much more on a pedestal in Europe than in the United States. Here rock'n'roll initially was an outsider, like jazz before it. So it was put up in a place of reverence, art. In America it's not art, it's just part of the fabric of everything. Jazz survived so long thanks to Europe.