Listen to a brand new Meg Myers track titled "Desire" over at Stereogum now. The track is taken...
Where were you when you first heard "Debaser?" One of the Pixies' most classic anthems, the song gave definition to a new genre of emotion and expression. Largely responsible for the alternative music movement of the 1990s, the Pixies used a number of musical styles and sounds to create their own unique invention. Melding punk, indie guitar rock, classic pop, surf rock and riffs, the band created a sound that no one had heard before. This new sound laid the foundation for artists like Nirvana to rise to superstardom and opened the doors to a whole new genre of musical exploration.
The Pixies were formed in Boston in 1986 when Charles Thompson dropped out of college and convinced his friend and roommate, Joey Santiago, to do the same. The two recruited bassist Kim Deal, who had been playing in a group called the Breeders with her twin sister Kelly. Deal suggested drummer David Lovering join the group and the lineup was made official. Thompson adopted the stage name Black Francis and the group named themselves the Pixies after flipping through a dictionary.
The Pixies earned themselves a following and by the fall were asked to open for the Boston band, Throwing Muses. The tour got them noticed by producer Gary Smith, who agreed to record the band. The Pixies created an 18-song demo, titled The Purple Tape, which was released to key players within the Boston and international music scene. Shortly after, the band was signed to England's 4AD Records and released the EP Come On Pilgrim in 1987.
In the spring of 1988, the Pixies released their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa. Producer Steve Albini gave the band a harder, edgier sound, but the Pixies retained their melodic undertones. The album became a hit with American college radio and broke into the pop charts in the UK. By the end of the year, the Pixies had been signed to Elektra Records.
The Pixies followed up Surfer Rosa with Doolittle, which displayed a cleaner sound and earned excellent reviews. The singles "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Here Comes Your Man" became Top 10 modern rock hits in the US, helping Doolittle to break into the Top 100 albums. The Pixies toured to support Doolittle and quickly became known for their quirky performances. However, the band decided to take a hiatus in early1990.
During the hiatus, Black Francis embarked on a solo tour, while Kim Deal formed a group with Tanya Donnely from Throwing Muses and bassist Josephine Wiggs of Perfect Disaster, naming it the Breeders after her teenage band.
During the summer of 1990, the Pixies reconvened to record their third album, Bossanova. With a less edgy and more atmospheric sound, the album did not contain any songs written by Deal. Still, the album became a hit with college radio, generating the modern rock hits "Velouria" and "Dig for Fire." The album also made its way to the number three spot on the UK album charts and secured them a spot performing at the renowned Reading Festival.
The Pixies released their fourth album, Trompe Le Monde, in 1991, which heralded a return to their harder rock sound. A tour followed and the group later opened up for U2 on their 1992 Zoo TV Tour. The U2 tour became the band's last big hoorah, as Black Francis announced the group's breakup shortly after.
Black Francis worked as a solo artist after the band's breakup, going by the name Frank Black, while Kim Deal's band, the Breeders, produced a surprise hit single, "Cannonball," in 1993. While the Pixies have not reunited their efforts until just recently, their influence paved the way for alternative music as we know it today. Without their pioneering efforts, there may have not been a Nirvana, a Pearl Jam, or a Seattle explosion. Alternative music offered a new outlet for expression to young people living in the 90s -an outlet that the Pixies helped create.