Friday, August 14, 2015


Pixies went looking for the mother lode in the velveteen shastasheen sci fi surftones of this weird hang wire happening.   After three acclaimed underground albums (Come On Pilgrim in 1987,  Surfer Rosa  in 1988,  and  Doolittle in 1989) recorded with three different producers, the band went on hiatus as Black Francis (Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV) travelled across the country in his yellow Cadillac, Joey Santiago visited the Grand Canyon, David Lovering headed for Jamaica, and Kim Deal stayed in the UK to record Pod with The Breeders featuring Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Josephine Wiggs of Perfect Disaster.

Francis, Santiago, and Lovering relocated to Los Angeles and began working on their next album while living together at the Oakwood apartment complex along with producer Gil Norton.  Eventually, Deal joined them in California and the sessions for 'Bossanova' took place at Cherokee, Aire, and Silverlake in Los Angeles; and Hansa Ton in Berlin, and Master Control in Burbank with engineers Andrew Ballard, Gregg Barrett, Jack Benson, Scott Blockland, Alistair Clay, Steve Haigler, and Moses Schneider; and featured  Black Francis on vocals and guitar,  Joey Santiago on lead guitar,  David Lovering on drums and vocals,  and Kim Deal on bass and vocals.  Robert F. Brunner played theremin on two tracks.     'Bossanova' reached number seventy in the US, forty-five in Sweden, thirty in the Netherlands, seventeen in New Zealand, and number three in the UK.  

Francis:    "So many people comment on the drastic changes between this record and the last one. And they really aren't listening, because to me it's the same 'old shit, ' sort of. There are certain things that have changed, but those are obvious - like having more money to spend on your record, so your 'production values' get a little more sophisticated. But it's the same type of material...It's as though we were this 'crazy, hardcore, wacky band' before, and now we're a 'pop band,'and that's so untrue.  There are songs on this record that are way harder than anything we've done before, and some stuff that's way poppier. Like them mellow surf songs. That ain't Top 40! They're different - I'm not saying they're original, but they're different...We got rid of some of the quirkier, faster numbers.  I don't scream as much, but that was okay with me - I wanted to do that; I get tired of hearing it...I can scream pretty good now, better than I could two years ago; but I remember hearing tapes of live shows, where I scream even more, and it sounds so annoying, hearing this yap, yap, yapping all night. So I'm trying to sing a little more. After all, we are a band and I am a singer...I want rules; I want standards.  Even in heavy metal music and rap music, things are standard, and that's what keeps them all together. Guitar, bass, drums, vocals - that's standard. Thirty-five or 40 minutes on a record - that's standard, although that's changing because of CDs.  But, even as stylistic as we are our territory is wide open."

Deal would express:   "It's fun. I'd like to sing more. That'd be cool. But I started The breeders to prove I can do that. Do I write the same kind of songs as Charles? No! Get outta here! I don't care about the Bible! I don't care about UFOs! Who wants to know about that stuff? No, I'm joking. Charles' songs are good ...  ['Bossanova' is] more Steven Spielberg than David Lynch".

Francis:  We've tried to elevate the sci-fi thing, make it more opera-ish, more of a serious rock thing. Some of the songs on 'Bossanova' are spacey, but they're not silly. Things like space are pretty much related to the elements. We want UFOs to be an acceptable topic. They're romantic...Can you imagine what a guitar must have sounded like at the beginning of time?  Even with Chuck Berry in the '50s, people thought the human body wasn't designed to cope with such volume. Imagine what someone in pre-history would have thought on hearing that noise. They'd think it was God speaking to them, or that it was lightning.  What else could it be? What else could be that loud?" 

Santiago says: “Pick a word and go with it. We like accidents...Providing an atmosphere...At times, Charles will have the lyrics completely done, so that’s why I would pick up a word here and there. The chord structure almost dictates what’s on top of it. Charles was like, ‘Make it sound like a snail. Can you make a snaily thing? Sometimes he’ll say, ‘Joey, you’re gonna have to be the snail ... The lyrics are always changing in Charles’ mind. Sometimes he’ll just have the melody. Or the chord structure, the sound. I guess in a way we kind of approach it like a surf band. And that’s what surf bands did, concentrate on the music first. And that’s what Charles and I were into when we were taking summer classes at the university, we’d listen to a lot of surf music. And we thought it was funny, where the title describes the music. So there’s a mystery there, was it the music that came first, or the title?

Francis:   "It's not very deliberate, it's just the way it came out.  The lyrics are just kind of thrown together. I don't know if it means anything. Those kind of things just sound nicer usually. It's hard to sing about pronouns, about he, she or I, without sounding really boring and vague: but if you sing about hard things, they sound better, I think. The words are easier to grab out of the air as you're listening to this loud rock music...I don't know if it's a cop-out on my part, but I resort to those things quickly if I can get away with it, because they come off cooler than singing about a girl - not that I don't do that, but if you can get away with singing about space or the weather or the ocean, and do it well, then . . . I like that category of things. It comes off grander more mystical."

Lovering looks back:    “It’s all different. That’s what we’re doing now. All the Pixies albums were different. Comparing Surfer Rosa to Trompe Le Monde or  Bossanova to the EP2—it’s just all very different. That’s how things are with the Pixies. It’s just another kind of Pixies song...We were a dysfunctional band early on, but I think everything environmental would reflect out in your writing...You get older and wiser. You’re so old that you’re going to do whatever it is to make it comfortable for you,” he laughs, and finishes, “Just let it slide—let it roll.” 

"Digging For Fire" / "Allison"


"Cecilia Ann" was a cover of the song by the Surftones.


"Is She Weird?"

"The Happening"

full album:

All songs written by Black Francis; except "Cecilia Ann", which was written by Frosty Horton and Steve Hoffman.

"Cecilia Ann" – 2:05
"Rock Music" – 1:52
"Velouria" – 3:40
"Allison" – 1:17
"Is She Weird" – 3:01
"Ana" – 2:09
"All Over the World" – 5:27
"Dig for Fire" – 3:02
"Down to the Well" – 2:29
"The Happening" – 4:19
"Blown Away" – 2:20
"Hang Wire" – 2:01
"Stormy Weather" – 3:26
"Havalina" – 2:33

live 1990

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