30 years after the release of their pivotal sophomore album, Doolittle, which brought the world ‘Here Comes Your Man’, ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ and ‘Debaser’, and 15 years after their reincarnation, Pixies, re-emerge to further cement their legacy and regain their throne as the rulers of alternative rock/noise-pop. This time they fully embrace their melancholic, thought-provoking cries on the gothic-centred concept album, ‘Beneath The Eyrie’.
Exploring the ghouls, ghosts, witches, misfits and ominous creatures that lurk around in the depth of the gloomy night, ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ narrates the tales of ‘Catfish Kate’, ‘Daniel Boone’ and ‘Mrs. Mark Of Cain’ in the most sinister setting such as ‘Graveyard Hill’ and ‘Death Horizon’. The imagining of Pixies frontman, Charles Thompson better known as Black Francis, encapsulates the gothic underworld of scary stories, intertwining it with haunting sonics and the Pixies signature style.
“Well the initial idea was that it was going to be more spacious where Charles [Black Francis] was going to play the acoustic and I would be on the electric and we would have this more varied sonic palette ala ‘Here Comes Your Man’ and ‘Where Is My Mind’ and other bands that do that. That was the sonic idea for it, whether it was achieved on every song, nope, not at all,” explains the legendary guitarist, Joey Santiago. “But it was there that we wanted to keep the sound open and the gothic thing came from Charles guitar that he had made with his tooth on it, and the story goes that Charles told the producer [Tom Delgaty] about it so from then on when a gothic theme came through they would just run with it. The gothic theme is the lyrically content of it, so that’s what transpired there.”
Bringing Tom Delgaty on as the producer for ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ was a no brainer. Having produced their previous album, the 2016 ‘Head Carrier’, Delgaty was well acquainted with Pixies in their revived formation but it is his portfolio of production pieces that stands out in heightening their vision. Delgaty received a Grammy nomination for his work on Prequelle by arguably the most gothic and theatrical act in the world, Ghost, and brought his genre insights into the studio.
“If anyone is going to get goth, he is going to get it,” laughs Santiago. “Tom loves metal music, he loves all kinds of music but his forte out there is the hard stuff- I don’t want to pigeonhole. He can do anything – at the moment his interest is in this genre.”
A clearly defined theme – tick, a renowned producer in the genre – tick, a critically acclaimed group of artists to create the piece – tick, the last thing left was the perfect setting. That ideal recording environment came in the form of a remote, converted church in upstate New York, Dreamland Recording Studios.
“I would attribute that to where we worked too, definitely, it has an effect on people. Environments have this subliminal thing that happens to people. It doesn’t have to be bad subliminal, if you’re by the beach you go outside and enjoy it. If you’re inside some spooky place, you’re going to want to be in your head. You’re going to want to withdraw inward, so that was the atmosphere that we were in,” says Santiago.
With all of the elements in place to hit the mark on gothic rock with the Pixies classic twist, ‘Beneath The Eerie’ certainly delivers, achieving everything the band wanted to going into their 9th album.
“The only thing I was concerned about, and any of us were concerned about, was making a good record from the very beginning from ‘Come On Pilgrim’ to now.”
The entire process was also documented via the twelve episode series, ‘It’s a Pixies Podcast’, and you’ll also be able to hear some of the tracks live when Pixies return to Australia, playing at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre, 9 and 10 March 2020.
Pixies ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ is out now!
Written by Tammy Walters