A Bit Awkward: Interview with Matthew Galkin loudQUIETloud, A Film About the Pixies
[by Scott Thill]
If you need a primer on the Pixies, shame on you. But if you do, I nevertheless envy you. You're embarking on one of the most rewarding and influential journeys in rock history.
Which is more or less what the Pixies made after dropping five stellar efforts in five short years, before fragmenting over....well, what this film loudQUIETloud is precisely about. Addictions, frictions, fictions, everything normal rock bands made up of four disparate, concrete personalities go through on their way to making classics like Surfer Rosa and Doolittle.
That productive and painful tension made a comeback in 2004, as the Pixies finally buried their hatchets and grabbed hammers instead, finally nailing the huge payday they've always deserved. The fact that Black Francis (sorry, Frank Black, old habits just die too hard) and Kim Deal reunited at all is amazing in itself. It's even more amazing that the two, along with guitarist Joey Santiago and the troubled drummer David Lovering, allowed filmmakers Matthew Galkin and Steven Cantor to stick around and film their first convergence since they cracked in 1993.
Morphizm: Aside from the UK doc Gouge, not too many filmmakers tried to capture the Pixies. Why do you think that is?
Matthew Galkin: I'm not entirely sure why nobody filmed them back in the late 80s. There exists some Hi-8 footage shot by Myles Mangino, their lighting designer, but nothing comprehensive. I'm assuming the issue just never came up.
Morphizm: How did you crack that shell and gain their confidence?
MG: It was touch and go for awhile there. I think just being around all the time helped. As the tour progressed, we were treated like part of the crew as opposed to some sort of strangle satellite unite that was orbiting the band.
Morphizm: Where would you place the Pixies in the continuing evolution of rock? Were they game-changers, or did they just ably channel their influences?
MG: I'm no rock critic so I can't answer parts of this question. But I think their influence is quite apparent in bands like Nirvana, certainly earlier Radiohead, and then other more Top-40ish bands like Bush and the like.
Morphizm: Do you feel the Pixies comprehended the scope of their reunion? Did they seem to feel that its successs was just rewards?
MG: After Coachella, where they played to 60,000 people in the U.S., it became clear to them that they were missed. I'm sure they were all happy to capitalize financially on this hero's welcome, if that's what you mean by just rewards.
Morphizm: How long did you get to tag along with them, and what is the thing that stands out the most from that experience?
We were on the road with them on and off for eight months. The thing that stands out the most for me was how little interaction they had with anyone, not just each other.
Morphizm: This film is more personal than I expected. Were you surprised by the things you captured (David and Kim's struggles, Charles' and Joey's impatience, etc.)? How did they receive the material once they saw it?
MG: They were all bit shocked the first time they saw the film. These are not people who express themselves to each other, so all of a sudden you'll have Charles say something about Kim, or Joe say something about David, and it's probably the first time they have ever heard these things from one another. They don't really talk, so it was a bit awkward in the room. But they all signed off on it.
Morphizm: Finally, what do you think the future holds for them, given how close you were to watching its possibility unfold for the band?
MG: It doesn't seem like they'll be recording any new material, but you never know.
Morphizm: What projects do you have coming up?
I am directing, and Steven is producing, a documentary about PETA and it's founder Ingrid Newkirk for HBO. Steven is also turning his attention to scripted material and plans on making his first feature film next year.
September 26, 2006
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