In September of 1987, the Pixies came to take the kids….They had no parallel. They had no peer. They had no idea what the hell they were doing or that it could change the face of everything. Here was this fresh-faced handsome blond kid [Black Francis], alternately singing in Spanish and then, without warning, yelling hysterically like a flying saucer had just flown off with his kid sister, if he had a kid sister. The lead guitarist [Joey Santiago] was making pretty much every conceivable noise with his guitar except the ones you’d expect and I’m pretty sure that, during the last song, he ripped all the strings off the instrument which would have been far less strange if he hadn’t somehow continued to play it afterwards. Meanwhile, the rhythm section seemed perfectly normal which was the most confusing part of this picture. The drummer [David Lovering], with more than his share of stick-twirling, put down a foundation with a pile driver and connected like siamese twins with the bass player [Kim Deal]. She appeared decidedly un-rock and had a smile that could knock a man down.
All of this was an odd contrast to the mania exuding from the other two. The Pixies were up there like they owned the place exhibiting more authority in their single-minded mayhem than comes with being in a new band. These were not your garden variety college dropouts. Something different was going on. (Gary Smith, liner notes to Death To The Pixies, 1997)
I wanted to command some faith to the audience. I wanted them to be intrigued, absolutely curious about what I am. That’s what makes music attractive to me – it’s the hole you get sucked into when you really get into a song. (Black Francis)
The following year, the Pixies took the music scene by storm, a rout that it has never quite recovered from. One mighty album (Surfer Rosa) and one indispensable EP (Gigantic/River Euphrates) later, and a whole generation of bands were looking to their rhythmic and dynamic example to save the stultified mire the late 80s was in danger of engendering. It was the Messiah to Stock Aitken and Waterman’s Antichrist, and catnip to Peel and his audience.
Where Is My Mind? (FF 1988 #30), with its gently strummed acoustic guitar and ethereal backing vocals, is a portrait of Francis’ experiences scuba diving in the Caribbean, and yet does not conceal its latent power; like a nuclear reactor teetering on the edge of meltdown, but never quite getting there. It was memorable in the Festive Fifty show for accidentally being played instead of Bone Machine, an awe-inspiring JP gaffe. Nowadays it’s more well-known as the backdrop to the climax of The Fight Club.
The impact of these three songs is undeniable, yet, out of context, it’s hard to remember what a stir they caused in a world on the verge of changing forever.