- Title: Pixies frontman is alt-rock troubadour
- Date: 7th December 2016
- Summary: PIXIES PERFORMING MONKEY GONE TO HEAVEN
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2016 14:38
- Keywords: Pixies Gig Brixton Band Music
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK AND UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK AND UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS
- Country: United Kingdom
- Reuters ID: LVA0075BVXIRX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pixies frontman Black Francis has been called many things in his time - surrealist poet, alt-rock progenitor and singer in "one of America's greatest bands ever," that last one according to Bono of U2.
Late on Tuesday (December 6), sitting backstage at London's O2 Academy, Brixton, as crowds queue outside for another sold-out gig, the singer also known as Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV is trying on a new label for size.
"What motivates (us)? ... It's not about being inspired by something or being motivated by something. If you decide to become, pardon the expression, a 'troubadour' then you become a troubadour, that's who you are."
He was responding to a question about what still drives him 30 years into a career that changed the face of music with four albums and an EP in the late 80s and early 90s, then, after a few serious bumps in the road, came back and kept going.
"It's not even like ' Do you feel like doing it today?' It's just like - that's what I do," said Thompson, 51. "It's pretty much what you do in most circumstances even if you don't feel like doing it sometimes."
The Pixies first seven-year burst created its own momentum, cutting through the gloop of 80s pop with raw screaming vocals, loud-quiet-loud dynamics and songs about lust, the bible and UFOs, among them "Debaser" and "Monkey Gone To Heaven".
The band split in 1993 as tensions boiled over between Thompson and bass player Kim Deal, then reformed to huge acclaim in 2004.
Deal left again in 2013, leading to the Pixies' third reincarnation, possibly their most challenging yet, as a band ploughing on after the revolution it triggered has been absorbed into the mainstream.
It is a shift underlined half way through the Brixton concert, when the Pixies' new bass player Paz Lenchantin steps up to the mic and sings "All I Think About Now", a song she wrote with Thompson, a plain-spoken tribute to Deal.
"The only reason I am here is Kim, so I thought it would be good to sing about Kim, like a thank you letter," says Lenchantin backstage. "We're kind of waiting for her (Deal's) sung response," adds Thompson, chuckling.
The song shows a band that once created its own musical year zero now haunted by its own history.
Other pressures have been there to see. The band announced in September that lead guitarist Joey Santiago had gone into rehab - the current tour is dry with mini-fridges in dressing rooms stocked with water and fizzy drinks.
Their last album "Indie Cindy" secured the bands some mixed reviews.
But many critics have held up their current release "Head Carrier" as a return to form. And there is a new solidity about the band since Lenchantin joined full-time.
"She completes the band because without her we're just like three dudes who just used to be in a band, says Thomson, "We're a band again. We're Pixies again."
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