For decades, the eclectic surf-rock tendencies of the Pixies have steadily provided skateboarders with a befitting soundtrack. Mainstream enough to be recognizable yet rebellious enough to stay in touch with skateboarding’s counterculture roots, the band’s unique sound suits anyone from gnarly vert dogs to stair counters to more technical ledge and manual skaters, all with equal ease. We’ve compiled five of our favorite Pixies appearances in videos for you to digest and debate. Honorable mention goes to Jeremy Klein, who skated to both Francis Black and The Breeders, but never pulled the trigger on a true Pixies soundtrack.
5. Bobby Puleo, Five Flavors
Song: “La La Love You”, off Doolittle (1989)
Much to Bobby Puleo’s chagrin, but to our delight, the underground hero skated to “La La Love You” for his Mad Circle part in 1998. The song seems to be largely surf-rock inspired, and it’s unorthodox structure and lack of discerning build leads to an interesting part. In contrast with stereotypical Puleo footage, this part is peppered with classic San Francisco spots, such as Fort Miley and the pier blocks. Although the editor only uses a minute and change of “La La Love You”, there are still some gems to be had. For example, a line at the bay blocks is synchronized with the opening drum beat and at 2:15, Puleo pops high off a curb cut as Joey Santiago hits a high note. The part is far from the optimal Puleo part or an optimal use of the Pixies, but it’s earned a place in the annals of unique song choices.
4. James Hardy, Reason to Believe
Song: “Head On”, off Trompe le Monde (1991)
James Hardy had the honor of skating to “Head On”, one of the few cover tracks that outshines the original (though that shouldn’t be taken as a dig at Jesus and Mary Chain), for the opening curtains in Faith’s Reason to Believe. We address “build” a lot in these pieces, but this part embodies the opposite: from the opening riff, Hardy can barely keep up with the pace of lead guitarist Joey Santiago’s playing, and editor Joel Dembowski resorts to quick cuts to keep the part consolidated to this two minute song. There are numerous instances where the sounds of rail skating sync perfectly with David Lovering’s drums or Black’s guitar riff, like the backside lipslide at :48 or the front blunt at the minute mark, and the slow-mo on the frontside crooked grind at :43 is executed perfectly. No disrespect to Hardy’s southern roots, but we don’t think any of his soundtrack choices can top this one.
3. Silas Baxter-Neal, Away Days
Song: “Monkey Gone To Heaven”, off Doolittle (1989)
Silas Baxter-Neal skated to “Monkey Gone To Heaven”, a seminal Pixies track, in what may be his best part to date. The part starts heavy and somehow gets heavier throughout the track as Silas annihilates rails, ledges, walls, and even a slappy or two. Take note of the way the bluntslide to back tail combo melds with the chorus at the 54:50 mark and the wallride interlude coinciding with the song’s break at 55:13, only to jump back into rail skating with the long feeble grind around the corner the moment that riff comes back into play. Capping the song’s momentum with the two bank-to-rail tricks was a bold choice, as well.
2. Dustin Dollin, Baker 2G
Song: “Where is My Mind???”, off Surfer Rosa (1988)
The quintessential Pixies song lends itself to the quintessential Dustin Dollin part. For the curtains in the first official Baker video, J Strickland skimmed the surface of the Pixies’ catalog and chose “Where Is My Mind?” for Dollin’s curtains. The part still stands out to this day thanks to his one-of-a-kind editing style. It’s no secret that Dollin had some of the best flip tricks in the business, and the pop, catch, and flick, rhythmic on its own, syncs well with the Joey Santiago’s guitar throughout the part. Oddly enough, the song’s varying tempos work equally well with slow-mo footage and regular footage, as evidenced by the kickflip boardslide and the kickflip noseslide at the :50 and :54 marks, respectively. No doubt, a song worthy of last part.
1. Bam Margera, Mike Maldonado, and Kerry Getz, Feedback
Song: “Dig For Fire”, off Bossanova (1990)
Jon Holland and Ty Evans were really pushing an East Coast vibe with the Toy Machine section in Feedback, and although the Pixies are from Boston, not Philadelphia, we’ll let it slide. What could be a forgettable shared part is saved, thanks to “Dig for Fire”, a lesser-known Pixies track off of Bossanova. Mike Maldonado may be the first person we see on screen as the song trickles in, but Bam’s drop in-drop-drop-backside 180 as the second guitar kicks in and the song picks up at 56 seconds is a great way to get the part going. Kim Deal’s steady bassline pushes both the song and the skating along, providing a blueprint to synchronize both the sounds of skateboarding and the music, which Holland and Evans utilize accordingly.
Seemingly every single clip perfectly occupies a riff or a chord, like Kerry Getz’s first kickflip at the minute mark or his nosegrind shove-it at 1:10. The pop, flip, catch, and roll on Bam’s drop-in kickflip at 2:15 coincides with Joey Santiago’s guitar and David Lovering’s drums, while the landing on Mike Maldonado’s table-clearing late shove at 2:37 is coordinated perfectly with Francis Black’s yelp. The mini ramp interlude at 2:56 serves to keep things lighthearted before the part ends with both a bang and a whimper, as Bam hits a signature drop in while Black whispers “for fire”. Very few parts are simultaneously feel-good and epic, but the soundtrack definitely helps distinguish the Toy Machine section from Feedback with the two honors.