November 03, 2020

Black Francis & Steve Albini on recording "Where Is My Mind?"

The Guardian spoke with Pixies frontman Black Francis and engineer/producer Steve Albini about the recording of Where Is My Mind?, a song that those day provides Francis with a nice yearly income. After the song was used for the ending scene of Fight Club it has been used countless times in commercials and what-not.


We had a laissez-faire attitude, like, “Oh here’s this idea that is completely unrealised and it goes like this …” It wasn’t that we didn’t care – maybe we were just on fire at the time. Steve’s approach was more cavalier than thoughtful, it was just: “Let’s fucking try that.” But I think his attitude worked because it blended well with the naivety of the band. We didn’t know what we were doing but we did it well. There’s something about the major to minor chord shift in the song that resonates along with the universal sentiment of the title. Sonically, if you had to pick a song to sum up our band this would be it. It’s emblematic of what we do with that loud/quiet dynamic.


We recorded in a modest studio in Boston but it sounded great. The band played well and my job was pretty easy. There were parts of the song that needed a dynamic blow-up where things would get heavier but the band were playing through really small amps. I suggested some Marshall amps for the big loud parts – they took to that like a fish to water. I don’t know if that was the first time they ever played with really powerful amps but they certainly made the most of them.

The studio was limited – one performing room – so we used the big communal washroom. That became a reverb chamber where Kim Deal did her ghostly hoo-hoo backing vocals. Her voice has a really lovely sustain to it and I exaggerated that using a long electronic reverb to make it a structural element of the song as opposed to just decoration.

Watch the Pixies perform Where Is My Mind? on Dutch TV in 1988.

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