30 Years Later, Boston-Spawned Pixies Still Won’t Take Credit For Changing Guitar Rock

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You need go no further than the famous quote from Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, talking to Rolling Stone’s David Fricke in 1994 about recording their breakthrough album “Nevermind”: “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”

Years later, Pixies lead singer-songwriter-guitarist Black Francis told Reuters: “I’ll admit it — if Kurt Cobain ‘fessed up to it, f— it, I’ll agree with it, you ripped us off.” Knowing Black Francis, whose real name is Charles Thompson IV, a bit, I’m guessing he said that with a smile.

Like Ramones and punk rock before them, Pixies became an iconic, driving force of a movement or genre they didn’t intentionally create.

“We were solidifying a style and we knew we had a niche,” Santiago said of that time period. “We had our own shtick going. The next record after that [‘Doolittle’], that’s when I thought we’re going to be a stepping stone to other bands, that we are going to influence other bands. With ‘Doolittle’ we refined it, polished it up a little bit with pre-production. We didn’t do that as much with ‘Surfer Rosa ‘and ‘Come on Pilgrim’.”

In 1988, Pixies’ “Surfer Rosa” was named album of the year in two British music weeklies, Sounds and Melody Maker. Sounds opined Pixies “are a rock ‘n’ roll band without parallel at the moment, reaching some kind of dark heart while teetering deliciously on the edge of a precarious cliff of self-deprecating comedy.”

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