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In 1986 Charles Thompson dropped out of college and decided to form a band with his friend Joey Santiago. “I broke it to my dad [a medical doctor] by lying to him,” says Santiago via telephone from Charlotte, North Carolina. “I told him I was going to Boston for an internship.” After responding to an advert in a Massachusetts newspaper, bassist Kim Deal joined next. She knew a drummer named David Lovering, and he became the fourth member. Charles Thompson decided to be Black Francis onstage, and now all they needed was an original band name. Santiago scanned a dictionary until he found a word they could all agree on. Thereafter they were the Pixies, and in short order they would become one of America’s most interesting live bands. Eventually, even Santiago’s father was placated. “When we made that video, ‘Here Comes Your Man,’ and he saw it on MTV,” he laughs, “that really legitimized things.”

Known for Black Francis’s unhinged demeanor and Deal’s stage humor, the Pixies wrote pop-hook-savvy songs that rode on a fat cushion of acid-rain electric guitar, a sound that was unique back then. Santiago’s wall of guitar became a prominent feature of the band. “At the time we were making our records, there was a lot of heavy metal on the radio,” says Santiago. “Speed metal, you know, a lot of guitar players playing thousands of notes. I just slowed it down.” Their first album, Surfer Rosa, attracted major-label attention and charted both here and in the U.K. The Pixies toured and recorded to exhaustion; the eventual split was inevitable. Meanwhile, in their absence their influence was evident among new bands such as the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. The Pixies reunited in 2004. “That’s the ironic part, that people were influenced by us,” says Santiago. “But the influence we took from was not to sound like anyone else.”

Past Event

The Pixies

  • Sunday, September 26, 2010, time TBA
  • Rimac Arena, 9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego
  • $55
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