LoudQUIETloud: can the Pixies break into the podcasting world?

In 2014, Dave Grohl made a glossy eight-part HBO series to accompany Foo Fighters’ eighth album. In Sonic Highways, Grohl became a kind of rock’n’roll Judith Chalmers, travelling across the US, chatting to local musicians and recording a song that wasn’t as good as Everlong for each show’s finale. And anything Dave Grohl can do, Frank Black can do, too – albeit in a somewhat milder, less showy fashion. For the latest Pixies album, there won’t be a TV show, but there will be an accompanying podcast going behind the scenes of the band’s seventh record.

The 12 weekly episodes of Past Is Prologue – which starts in June, three months before the album’s release – will be hosted by Tony Fletcher, a music journalist whose specialist subject seems to be bands of a certain age, having written books on REM, Echo & the Bunnymen and the Smiths. As a way of selling a heritage band, it is certainly more generous than putting out an extravagant deluxe edition of an old record. Just say no to hokey reissues with three “new” tracks that weren’t included on the original for a reason, or weighty box sets that cost £100 and offer you little more than a reprinted ticket from a gig you never went to and a limited-edition cassette you can’t play because you haven’t had a tape player for over two decades.

Pixies have obviously dipped their toes into the reissue industry (they put out new versions of 1987 mini-LP, Come on Pilgrim, and their 1988 debut album, Surfer Rosa, last year) and are clearly looking for a new way to connect with fans. Especially now that the press have pored over their post-Kim Deal dynamic and have little else to interrogate. Just like Spotify’s Dissect series, we’re in an era in which the minutiae of making music is hot property for podcasters.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that podcasts are – much like Monty Don in his blue cotton workwear jacket – stealthily sexy. Almost half of the US population has listened to a podcast now, with one in five young adults listening to a podcast every week. And they are capable of gaining word of mouth at the same speed as a Netflix show about a deeply problematic serial killer.

Will Past Is Prologue take the place of the likes of My Dad Wrote a Porno in the hearts of guffawing university students across the globe? What, pray tell, will be Frank’s big reveal come episode seven? Will he finally tell us where his mind actually is? Or explain how the hell he ended up producing an album by Art Brut? Maybe even give us the inside goss on why Kim really left the band. Better that than some middle-aged white men talking about fuzz pedals and that time Nirvana ripped off one of their songs for 12 hours, eh?


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