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Pixies Insider Working on Band’s Definitive Photo History Book

pixies, pixies: a visual history

Before the Pixies were credited with changing rock history, cited as the true forebears to Nirvana’s place in the alt-rock canon, and recognized as one of the greatest bands of all time, they were just a group of four people who started playing catchy, visceral music together in Massachusetts in the mid-’80s. That aspect of the Pixies’ legend is at the heart of Pixies: A Visual History, an in-the-works coffee-table book that covers the first phase of the iconic band’s career, from just before their 1986 formation to their contentious breakup in 1993. 

Sean T. Rayburn, co-founder of the Pixies’ official website, is curating the project and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $150,000 to fund publishing and production costs. According to the Kickstarter page, Pixies: A Visual History will collect rare and never-before-seen photographs of the Surfer Rosa foursome and also feature quotes from the band, their family members, photographers who worked with the Pixies, and many others. “Pretty much anyone who has a story and some photos or memorabilia, I am coming to see you,” Rayburn wrote. 

Speaking to SPIN, Rayburn explained why he opted for an image-driven retrospective rather than a straightforward biography. “I didn’t want to write a real history of the band because I feel like everybody knows that story,” he said. “I just wanted to have a nice, visually pleasing, presentable, big book of images and stuff from the band’s history.” 

Aside from repurposed rare photos, the upcoming title will include a letter that frontman Black Francis (a.k.a. Charles Thompson) wrote to his father in the ’80s to justify his leaving school to form Pixies. The frontman reportedly bargained with his dad, promising that if his musical career didn’t pan out after a year-long hiatus from college, he would hang up his guitar and hit the books again. “It was something like 11 months and two weeks later that they got their record deal,” Rayburn notes. 

The upcoming release is the first installment in a planned two-part series; if Rayburn’s Kickstarter campaign reaches its fundraising goal, a second title focused on the bandmembers’ solo ventures, the Pixies’ 2004 reunion, and their present-day activities would follow. Currently, the Kickstarter campaign for Pixies: A Visual History has raised more than $7,500 and has 30 days left till its deadline. Fans who donate $75 or more will guarantee themselves a copy of the book, which is slated to ship in November. As of now, contributing to the project is the only way to receive a copy of the limited-edition hardcover. A trade edition may hit shelves at some point in the future, but as Rayburn writes on the Kickstarter page, “Any future editions will not compare in quality.” Depending on how much is pledged, fans can also expect posters, a personally mailed postcard from Rayburn, and a contributors’ credit in the book. 

Additionally, Rayburn is working on a website that will accept submissions from fans with Pixies-related anecdotes. An announcement regarding that initiative will be made in the coming weeks. 

“This captures a piece of [the] Pixies that we don’t really have right now,” Rayburn said. “The Pixies pre-date the Internet, so there’s history of this band that has never made it to the Internet.” He added, “If you’re a real fan, then this is something that you want.”