Besides being one of the most important musicians of all time, David Bowie was also a music lover who was always searching for new bands and new sounds. In an 90s interview available on Youtube (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the musician gives his opinion on American alternative rock band The Pixies, known for hits like “Here Comes Your Man” and “Monkey Has Gone to Heaven”.
What was David Bowie’s opinion on the American band The Pixies:
“The first time I heard The Pixies it would have been around 1988. I found it just about the most compelling music outside of Sonic Youth, in the entire 80s. In America, they just didn’t ignite people the way they ignited them in Europe. There was such a lot of sludge in America at the time I think Pixies’ had a real hard time pushing their way through to the surface.”
Bowie said that there were three elements that made The Pixies important
Their sound and dynamics
“One I think is the sound band. One was there, pure dynamics, very obvious now but not very obvious at the time. Dynamic of keeping the verse extremely quiet then getting it erupting into a blaze of noise for the choruses. That was one element,” David Bowie said.
The juxtapositions and songwriting
“The second element was the interesting juxtapositions that Charles brought together of quite sordid material at the times, I suppose. Charles’ lyrics actually dealt with common kinds of subjects but the way… the permutations that he created within the different subjects that he dealt with was so unusual that it caught my ear immediately.”
“It was the sense of imagination and I use imagination not lightly, not in terms of being fantasy, which most people define imagination as. But being able to understand the affinities of something and have those affinities illuminate the subject. It’s done so effortlessly and it’s done with such a sense of fun and enthusiasm. There’s a great sense of humor underlying everything that Charles does,” David Bowie said.
The guitar parts
“Were the colors that Santiago provided as a guitarist. I think as a guitar player he is terribly underrated. It’s much more about texture0. He supplies extraordinary texture. One of the strongest songs that I heard at the time was ‘Debaser’. (The track talks about) two very basic American subjects. The two subjects closest to the American heart, I think,” David Bowie said.
The Pixies were formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986, when Bowie already was one of the most influential artists of all time. The group remained active until 1993 when they broke-up. They returned 11 years later and since then they continue to be active. Nowadays the band is formed by Black Francis (Guitar, vocals – Since 1986), David Lovering (Drums, vocals – Since 1986), Joey Santiago (Guitar – Since 1986) and Paz Lenchantin (Bass – Since 2016).
David Bowie believed The Pixies created a new music format
During the same conversation, Bowie again praised the band’s vocalist and guitarist Black Francis (Charles) and also said the band created a new music format. “The pure strength of him on stage, is this kind of mass of screaming flesh (laughs). This kind of very imposing figure. I always thought there’s a psychotic Beatles in there, you know. There’s a great reverence for earlier Rock music with Charles. (I also like) U-mass, what they done was (to) change the format for delivering harder Rock. I don’t think that format really existed before they came along”
“Somebody it’s a cliche, but somebody once said the Velvet Underground didn’t sell many albums but everybody who bought a Velvet Underground album formed a band. I would have to suggest that the same thing really applied to The Pixies. Once you heard them you wanted to have a band just like (them),”. David Bowie said.
After they reunited in 2004 the band released so far four new studio albums. They are: “Indie Cindy” (2014), “Head Carrier” (2016), “Beneath the Eyrie” (2019) and “Doggerel” (2022). The group has sold an estimated amount of almost 3 million records worldwide. Their best-selling album is “Doolittle” released in 1989.
David Bowie covered The Pixies
Back in 2002 David Bowie released the album “Heathen” on which almost all tracks were original but there were some covers. One of them was the track “Cactus”, which was originally written by Black Francis and recorded by The Pixies in 1988. Bowie also performed the track live to promote the album at the time.
But that wasn’t the first time that he covered the band, he had already performed live in the early 90s the track “Debaser“, which was one of his favorites.