Pixies make celebrated return to music scene -- Twelve years after a messy breakup, the seminal alt-rock group is as thrilled as their fans that they have reunited for a concert tour and possibly a new record

By Tom Sinclair
Updated September 17, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

It would probably take Kurt Cobain being resurrected and fronting Nirvana again to generate the excitement among the alt-rock cognoscenti that the current Pixies reunion tour — running through December in the U.S. and elsewhere — has. In the 12 years since Pixies mainman Frank ”Charles Thompson” Black (a.k.a. Black Francis), 39, pulled the plug on the band, the cosmic hunger for Pixies music — with its Dada-dipped lyrics and creeping verses/crashing choruses trick (famously adopted by the aforementioned Nirvana, among others) — has grown to a fever pitch. ”We made a deal with the DiscLive people out of New York to record and sell what’s basically a bootleg of the show after the show, and everyone’s snapping them up,” says Black. ”They’re going, ‘F— the T-shirts — give us the disc!”’

It’s a marked contrast to the past decade, during which Black plodded through a fairly marginal, if revered, career as Frank Black and the Catholics, while bassist Kim Deal, 43, watched the Breeders, the bandshe helmed with sister Kelly, go from white hot to ice cold. Guitarist Joey Santiago, 39 (who has played in Black’s Catholics), co-led his own under-the-radar duo, the Martinis, with his wife, Linda Mallari, while drummer David Lovering, 42, had until recently been paying the rent as a professional magician. Now, with the band selling out shows virtually everywhere, the Pixies are finally in agreement with their fans regarding that old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Listen2This recently caught up with them on the morning after a triumphant gig at the Forum in London.

L2T How does it feel to be the world’s foremost alt-rock nostalgia act?

KIM DEAL Even if people did look at it as nostalgia, it wouldn’t bother me because it’s like, I don’t have to get back into my leather trousers, and I don’t have to practice my kicks. We were ugly and we didn’t move on stage then, and we’re still ugly and we don’t move now. How many people can we actually disappoint? It’s not like we have to get back into Kiss makeup again. Maybe if Charles had been a sex god and all the girls had pictures of him in their bedrooms, and then we came back, and now he’s heavy and he doesn’t have hair — we’d think we’re gonna disappoint a lot of people. But since we never had that anyway, the reunion never felt too stupid to do.

L2T You guys have had offers to get back together before this, haven’t you?

KD In 2000, I got a letter from our manager saying ”I’ve sent all the Pixies this letter to let you know that every summer we get enormous offers of money to get together to do summer festivals in Europe. I’m just letting you know that it’s there and available.” I thought, Oh, that’s interesting; people still wanna see us play. Gee, they would be offering us a lot of money. So I thought that was nice. But I didn’t entertain the idea of us getting back together.

JOEY SANTIAGO Frank was adamant about not doing it for the longest time.