This article is from 2006.
They didn’t get the recognition they deserved first time around but the response when the Pixies reformed in 2004 was incredible. Mark Robertson reports on loudQUIETloud which documents the magic and mundanity of their reunion tour.
It’s not uncommon for an artist to be undervalued in their lifetime only to be recognised as a genius years down the line. Just ask Van Gogh, Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Kafka - they all got gypped until they were six feet under. In 2004, the Pixies, reincarnated and now fully appreciated, were given a second chance.
Between 1986 and 1992 the band released five albums of tremendous quality at a time when indie rock was as far away from the mainstream as Egyptian black metal is today. The musical landscape has changed dramatically since their acrimonious split and, thanks in part to patrons such as Kurt Cobain citing them as a huge influence - he said he was just trying to sound like the Pixies when he wrote ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ - they have since been recognised as one of the most influential rock bands of the last 20 years.
The band reunited in early 2004 with plans for an American tour. Filmmaker Steven Cantor, like so many music lovers of his age, was suitably excited.
‘My first reaction was to get on the internet and try getting tickets for the first show in Minnesota. While my partner and I were waiting on the ticket order to come through we had a look at each other and we were saying like, “Wait a minute, we’re filmmakers, we should make this film. Screw the tickets! We should be getting press passes! So we hunted down their managment; there was a long hard wooing process and eventually they agreed to let us film from the very first rehearsal to the last date of the tour.’
The result is an unflinching, uncompromising, often plaintive look at a bunch of people getting back together to revisit their lives as they were a dozen years ago. For most bands, the expectation would be for the old tensions to start appearing, but it is the lack of tension, the incredible indifference that strikes you as the most overwhelming feature of this film.
‘A lot of the bad blood had disappeared; they were nicer to each other and because of it I think we made a more intimate and raw kind of film, where emotions are not overtly stated, but viewers has to read between the lines to extract meaning from the scenes.’
Part way through filming Cantor heard that the band had decided not to continue after the shows they had played.
‘They’d just got back from Eastern Europe, but then they said they weren’t recording any new music, they were done. So there was a time when we started to feel a bit of pressure, like this was going to be the definitive Pixies film.’
One of the things that sets loudQUIETloud apart from many of the music documentaries of late is that it spends time on capturing the ferocity and energy of the live performances.
‘The electricity and chemistry and the sound coming off that stage was remarkable considering how little they actually talked to each other and how little they liked each other offstage. That is the amazing thing about rock bands in general; when it does work, it is the most amazing coincidence ever. I mean, who puts an the ad in the paper for a bass player who likes Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary to end up with this . . .’
Cameo, 623 8030, Tue 22 Aug, 10pm & Fri 25 Aug, 9pm, £7.95 (£5.20).