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From The Village Voice:

When the Pixies broke onto the Boston music scene in the mid ’80s, they looked more like a group of shithead townies than like a band that would change the course of rock ‘n’ roll history. Dressed in suburban drab, they were a band of few words and fewer stage antics. But their music was furious and unclassifiable, Black Francis’s guttural outbursts were startling, and his straight-faced delivery of quirky, abstract, sardonic lyrics caught people off guard. Most didn’t know what to make of them. But the curious fascination of a few gradually grew into a sizable following among loyalists. Today, even after the Pixies have been credited with spawning alternative rock—and on the tail end of an international reunion tour that brings them to New York this Saturday for the first time in ages, with eight sold-out shows running through December 18—any one Pixie could walk into Wal-Mart unnoticed and maybe even get asked, “Excuse me, do you work here?”

When asked how the band’s return after 12 years feels, Black Francis (or Frank Black, the guy who led the Catholics following the Pixies’ breakup; or Charles Michael Kittredge Thompson IV, as he was named at birth) says, “It feels triumphant in the sense of like, ‘Wow, people really did like us.’ But it felt triumphant the first time around. We were a successful band, we had lots of roadies working for us, we made money, we recorded records, we went on tour, we played plenty of sold-out shows, and we didn’t have day jobs.”

But despite all that, and despite having videos aired on MTV in the late ’80s and early ’90s and selling an impressive number of albums for a band that never quite went mainstream, the Pixies didn’t nearly match the commercial success of certain bands that they influenced. “I think that was just a miscalculation on everyone’s part, even our own,” Black explains. “We’re kind of in that arty-farty category. And I’m sorry, but you’re just not going to see us on People in the News on CNN. There’s this ridiculous show on international CNN that I see when I’m on tour in Europe—they spotlight all these up-and-coming bands, all these success stories—and this big-lipped model woman hosts it . . . ” He starts laughing. “I’m sorry, nothing against her—I feel like I’m being really cruel. But it’s just kind of easy to poke fun at, it’s very middle-of-the-road, and very safe and awkward in its presentation—you’re not going to see the Pixies on a show like that, you’re just not.”

The fact that Black Francis broke up the Pixies via fax is well documented, and speculations still abound about whether bassist Kim Deal and Black’s falling-out had to do with her substance abuse, a creative-power struggle, or perhaps even a romantic affair turned sour... (continue reading)