It’s been five years since the Pixies got back together, and despite various rumors and false starts, there’s still not a whole lot of hope they’ll put out their long-awaited fifth album anytime soon.
But fans still have a reason to be happy: they’ll soon be treated to a swagged-out box set (appropriately given the larger-than-life moniker Minotaur) that will contain the Pixies’ entire catalog (four albums and one EP), a book, a concert DVD that includes every music video, and more. But Pixies bassist (and frontwoman for the Breeders, whose Fate to Fatal EP dropped this week) Kim Deal tells the Music Mix that she doesn’t see Minotaur as a celebration of their music, necessarily. In fact, she says it’s not about the band at all. Minotaur is about one man, and one man only: Vaughan Oliver, the graphic designer behind the iconic album artwork for the Pixies and nearly every ’80’s release from the famed British indie label 4AD. Find out why — among many other things — in a somewhat wacky Q&A after the jump.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How involved were you with Minotaur?
Kim Deal: Not at all. I know the music in the box set really well. But the visuals –- that was Vaughan Oliver. He was this weird guy that was always in the 4AD offices over in England on this street called Alma Road. Everything was so interesting when I first started working with 4AD. They were so weird. They were going through this phase in the ’80’s when I first met them where the Wolfgang Press had just gotten back from a tour in Poland. Just so you know, the Wolfgang Press is a band that was on 4AD. And they had just played in a country called Poland. And they had just gotten back and they had these hats…there’s a name for them. I don’t know the name. They’re all furry and s—. Let me look it up. You’re not doing anything, are you?
Nah, go ahead. I’ll look too. [Pause for Google search.] Are they called ushankas?
How do you spell it? [Checks Wikipedia] Yeah! Ushankas! Anyway, all of the 4AD people were all in black, and they had all shaved their heads completely and had these ushankas on. They were a very weird group. They looked like a cult. I mean, they were super nice. But it was so exotic to me being from Ohio. That there were these really thin English people dressed in black, with very fair skin and shaved heads wearing ushankas — it was very, very interesting to me. And Vaughan was always one of them. When the Pixies played France for the very first time, all thesepeople with their ushankas came down and went to the Paris show, andVaughan Oliver, who looks so completely normal, took a TV and threw itout of the window.
Total rock star move!
Totally. Don’t think we didn’t givehim so much s— the next day. We don’t do s— like that. We’re reallynormal. They are crazy. The 4AD people were insane. And he is thebiggest of the insane bunch.
Vaughan was the mastermind behind the entire label’s art.
Yes, absolutely. If you go into graphic design in school, there will be a class on Vaughan Oliver. In the ’80’s when all this was happening at 4AD — I’d never been at a record company. Nobody would f—ing sign us in the States. But 4AD did. You could only find our albums as imports only for the first couple of records. You couldn’t get them in the States. So, when I visited 4AD over in England and met this guy Vaughan Oliver, I just thought all record companies do this. But then I slowly realized that 4AD, for whatever reason, because they’re f—ing weird and they walk around with ushankas on their heads, they made a real point that the artwork was just as resonant…
As iconic as the music?
Yes, absolutely! I remember Vaughan giving us so much s— back in those days. He would make fun of us. We never wanted our picture on the record cover and of course we never asked. That’s just goofy. It was way cooler to have a naked lady on it. He used to always make jokes about bands that like to have their pictures on their record covers.
So these reissues, there’s no new music right? It’s just about the packaging?
There’s no new music at all, no. It’s the packaging. The guy from Artist in Residence [Jeff Anderson], who put out the Nine Inch Nails and the Sigur Ros and stuff like that, he didn’t approach us to do new music. We weren’t even asked. The crux of this isn’t about the music. It’s about the artwork.
So none of you had any involvement, it was just something they decided to do?
Well Jeff Anderson, the A+R guy, I think is just a huge 4AD fan. If you’re a real 4AD fan, or Pixies fan, you know Vaughan Oliver too. I think that’s what inspired the A+R guy to even want to do the package. Not for new Pixies music at all, no. If you look and see what’s involved, it’s a huge amount of new visual material. A huge amount of new stuff has been done.
Right. A book, a DVD, photos…?
Right. They got the photographer that has worked with Vaughan and the Pixies too. Our CDs have been out there. I guess the typical thing that is different is, ‘Here’s a compilation that’s got two new songs.’ And the new songs are going to be kind of crappy and it’s all going to be done in plastic. People try to sell something old as fresh based on two new audio tracks. I think that’s what people get used to. We’re not doing that.
So this will be a nice gift for your true fans, then?
There will be people that will be freaking out. It’s just another step of how the music is going to be presented to people. It’s not just a new cellophane wrap of the old records again. It’s pretty freaky. Some of this stuff looks crazy. It does. Some of it looks downright scary. The images are very weird, and I don’t get disturbed easily. It’s not because they’re gruesome, there’s just something disturbing about a couple of them.
Is there anything going on with the Pixies now? What’s the status of the band?
We’re going to do some shows. We’re going to play at Isle of Wight, off the coast of England. That’s in June.
And you’re heading to England in May with the Breeders?
Yeah, we’re doing All Tomorrow’s Parties.
So what’s after these shows? Will you be recording with either band?
Well, I’m going to have to rehearse with the Breeders to get ready for All Tomorrow’s Parties. Then, I have to get the right blister on my left hand, the ring finger on my left hand, for me to play some of the bass on the Pixies. It’s fun, but it requires a very specific callus to play for an hour and a half. And then I go overseas again to do Isle of Wight. And that’s all I got so far.
And the Pixies have no plans?
Not solid. There’s a couple of other Pixie shows. I don’t know those dates exactly. But Breeders will probably do more shows this summer. I just play. That’s all I do, really.
Watch the digital press release for Minotaur below:
More from EW’s Music Mix:
New York Dolls’ ‘Exorcism of Despair’: Stream it exclusively at the Music Mix
The wild story behind classic single ‘There She Goes’ could be getting even crazier
What was the 1980s’ best year for music?
‘Neil Young Archives’: They’re really coming this summer
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