The Associated Press
NEW YORK — As a young musician, Pixies frontman Charles Thompson was determined to make it past the velvet rope at the mythical club that is rock stardom.
“It inspired us even from the time before we were rock musicians,” said Thompson, who performs under the name Black Francis. “It’s how we became rock musicians ... the idea of being in that club.”
But even for a band as influential and revered as the Pixies, maintaining club membership means staying relevant. And that can be a tricky thing.
How many continual tours of only old hits, after all, can a band embark on before it starts drifting too close to nostalgia act territory? At what point must a band fire up the songwriting engines again to reaffirm itself to new generations of music listeners?
In the case of the Pixies, who disbanded in 1993 and reunited in 2004, the last decade has been marked by what Thompson calls a “never-ending, it seemed, encore performance of our repertoire” with only one new song, “Bam Thwok”, released in 2004, to show for it.
“It was easy to be distracted from any other kind of ambitions like recording and writing new material because we were constantly touring or taking a break from touring,” Thompson said during a recent stop in New York.
That all changed in late June, when a video for a new song, “Bagboy,” showed up online unannounced. A few weeks later, the band again surprised fans with an online collection of four new songs released under the name “EP-1” along with a global tour announcement. The band added a 33-city, North American leg on Monday that’s scheduled to kick off in Toronto on January 15.
The band deliberately kept the whole affair low-key. The new songs didn’t leak online, there was no pre-release hype and no record label distribution. Pixies drummer David Lovering, who is also a magician, likens the excitement that resulted to his magic act.