I was listening to "Hey" by Pixies, and I noticed that the style was quite similar to that of Rites of Spring ("For Want Of" came to mind specifically). Both bands were active around the same time, and I was wondering if Pixies may have drawn inspiration from Rites of Spring. Does anyone know?
I do not think so, for several reasons:
1) Rites of Spring songs are usually typical emo/posthardcore songs, I do not see musical similarity to Hey,
2) I doubt Frank Black was familiar with this record. At least I've never came across such an information. Pixies influences are rather well known by now (I recommend reading Doolittle by Ben Sisario).
3) Pixies very rarely used someone else's music as a template. Not because they rejected the idea but simply because they were not very good at it (at least according to Frank Black and Joey Santiago). However, there are examples of such songs, like Is She Weird is "The Cars song".
4) Pixies members did not seem to be very interested in niche bands or spent much time looking for this kind of music. Their favorite bands are mostly well known acts like Velvet Underground, AC/DC, Beatles, Husker Du, Violent Femmes, The Cars, etc.
I think this is a beautiful question and thank you for asking it.
I agree that they are both emotionally dense bands. They bare their soul--or try their best to. I think the easiest explanation for this similarity would be something of "simultaneous invention."
Just like Rites of Spring, Husker Du also started writing emotionally dense and even melodic hardcore music in the early 80s. Except the Huskers were from the Twin Cities instead of D.C. Check out "Diane." We know that Pixies loved the Huskers. Pixies found Kim Deal through a newspaper ad which read: "band seeks bassist into Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary, please – no chops"
Pixies might have been aware of the D.C. scene, but they didn't have to be. They could pull their molten emotion from the Huskers. What's beautiful about music is that there are always many different streams of influence pointing towards the same place, even if they are coming from different sources and not necessarily crossing over between themselves. In the end, it all comes from the blues, anyways.