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coastline
> Teenager of the Year <

USA
2964 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  12:25:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here's an excellent article about Frank and "Fast Man Raider Man" from the Nashville Scene. Lotsa great quotes from the man. As in Brian and Dean's interview, it doesn't seem like it took the interviewer here much to open him up.

http://www.nashvillescene.com/Stories/Arts/Music/2006/07/20/Mr_Grieves/index.shtml


Mr. Grieves: Frank Black just wants to make records—and move to Nashville

by Noel Murray

In his Pixies days, Frank Black was known for letting his voice shift from a puckish, conversational rumble to a full-on scream. And while he doesn’t exactly scream in interviews, he does shift easily from amiable chatter to general peevishness, especially when he starts talking about people who question his reasons for recording his last two albums in Nashville, with the help of legendary musicians like Spooner Oldham and Steve Cropper.

“A lot of rock ’n’ roll people think, ‘Oh, here’s Frank, going country,’ which is just this gross oversimplification,” Black says. “It’s like the reviewers aren’t really following my career. And I’m not saying they should. But if they just follow the highlights, they’re like, ‘This sure doesn’t sound like the Pixies! I haven’t listened to him since 1989, but here he is, going to Nashville!’ Well, number one, it’s 2006. Give me a little bit of credit. If you don’t want to refer to my obscure solo career, fine, but don’t act like I’ve just been in a vacuum, sealed, waiting for 2005 to roll around so that I could go make a Nashville record.”

In fact, since the Pixies broke up in 1993, Black—born Charles Thompson, and sometimes known as Black Francis—has been slowly progressing toward the sort of rootsy shuffle-rock that fills up the two discs of his latest album, Fastman Raiderman. His early solo albums were stylistically wild, with a lot of the surf-punk and “flying saucer rock ’n’ roll” that marked the last couple of Pixies efforts. Then the music got darker and tighter, and Black became one of those edgy troubadours with a store of musical knowledge and a fascination with how the collapse of the American dream affects people on a personal level. Last year, he recorded Honeycomb in Nashville with producer Jon Tiven and a stellar guest list that included Oldham, Cropper, Dan Penn and Anton Fig. Fastman Raiderman features the same cast, plus Levon Helm, Bobby Bare Jr. and Duane Jarvis, among others.

According to Black, working with legends of American folk felt perfectly natural. “When I think of the records I listened to when I was a kid, I listened to folk music, Flatt & Scruggs, Ry Cooder, Dylan, Johnny Cash. I used to be a member of the Boston Folksong Society. And if you listen close to early Pixies songs, some of those have a certain kind of cow punk thing going on. And I’m from the United States, for crying out loud. So I feel a little offended when some reviewers kind of act like I’m being fakey, you know? That I’m just sort of puttin’ on a cowboy hat, you know? That’s not really fair.”

Already worked up, Black continues: “First of all, there’s no rules. I can play any kind of damn music I want. To good effect or bad effect, whatever. That’s my problem. But I feel like I have plenty of credentials in my lifetime, as a music listener and as a performer and a player, going right back to my youth, that gives me the right, so to speak, to play music that is now being called ‘Americana.’ I feel well within my rights. Unfortunately, if you have any kind of success in anything, you get pigeonholed by that success. So I’ve been pigeonholed by the sound of a couple of Pixies records, and unfortunately, some people are like, ‘Who in the hell does he think he is?’ ”

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The rant goes on: “Who the hell does Steve Cropper think he is, playing with Frank Black? I guess he ought to have just stuck with Wilson Pickett. And God forbid that Spooner Oldham would hang out with me. He ought to just stay with Neil Young and Dan Penn and those other old guys. You know what I mean? That’s almost the attitude I pick up. But it’s just rock music, and they’re just guys, and I’m just a guy, and we’re just doin’ what we do. It just so happens that a certain set of circumstances has brought us together, and we’re doing the best we can. But … they seemed to like the music. I like the music. We like the result. We’re enjoying ourselves.

“Everyone’s very uptight about, ‘You guys are from different genres, different worlds. This is very artificial.’ And I just think that’s craziness. Even if we were from completely different worlds, like if they were indigenous musicians from the Amazon, and I was playing with them like, you know, Paul Simon or something, well, first of all, there’s nothing wrong with that. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. But second of all, the first rock ’n’ roll song I ever sang in front of an audience was ‘In the Midnight Hour.’ By Steve Cropper! So, I don’t really feel it’s like, whoa, what a jump! It’s just rock music. It’s all rock music. Sure, [the Pixies’] ‘Hey’ doesn’t sound like ‘Mustang Sally,’ but it’s still two guitars, bass and a drum. And we’re doin’ it to the same kinds of crowds in the same rooms. Literally the same rooms. If you really look at the big picture, how much has changed?”

All that being said, Black acknowledges that coming to Nashville to record wasn’t just a matter of convenience, because his friend and producer Tiven had moved here. Actually, he was inspired by the romantic idea of following in the steps of Bob Dylan and his Nashville sessions for Blonde on Blonde. “My understanding was that here was this hotshot from the rock ’n’ roll and folk world who went down to Nashville in ’65 and ’66, and the guys who were playing with him didn’t necessarily know who he was, so they played cards while he scribbled couplets.”

As for the all-star lineup of session men, Black says, “It seemed pretty much a done deal that if I went to Nashville and hired the best that I could get, then the music side of things, the playing, would be really great. Like the Dylan record, I wasn’t going necessarily to get country players, because the goal wasn’t to make ‘my country album,’ but to make a rock ’n’ roll record with people who can play country.”

Still, a lot of the mystique of Frank Black is that he’s kind of a loner. Even the Pixies weren’t exactly collegial with their alt-rock contemporaries. But if Black’s recent interest in collaboration goes one step further to killing his myth, it doesn’t seem to bother him. He shrugs: “I don’t think it’s unusual for a musician to collaborate, especially one who goes under the moniker of his own name, as a solo dude.”

Black is also arguably demystifying himself by putting out so much product. The Pixies left behind four good-to-great LPs and an EP out of a seven-year run. Since he went solo, Black’s been much more prolific. The double-disc Fastman Raiderman comes a year after his last album, and just four years after he simultaneously released Black Letter Days and Devil’s Workshop (with two other albums and a couple of online-only rarities collections in between).

“My greatest critics would say that I can’t shut up,” he says, laughing. “I have no problem writing songs. I don’t know how many of them are great, or how many of them could be classified as ‘ditties’ or whatever. Certainly it would be wonderful if every song I wrote was an epic. But whatever. That isn’t how my creativity works. Some people wish I would edit down a bit, but again, that’s not how I work. I write a bunch of songs, and in general, the variety is enough that it feels legitimate to me to put out a lot of records. It’s not like I only do love ballads. It’s quirkier. A hodgepodge. I like to put out a record every year, and sometimes the record is very inward, and to serve myself, so to speak, and then other times I think I’m trying harder to project, and reach an audience. I don’t know necessarily which is which until I look back.”

He adds, “I can tell you my manager doesn’t want to hear another record right now from me.”

Black also likes to work fast in the studio. The Nashville sessions for Fastman Raiderman were conducted in a 24-hour marathon, with musicians filing in and out to lay down their parts. Given the talent amassed in that room and the unusual circumstances, it’s too bad no one brought a video camera in to document the event, though Black says the idea was floated and nixed because it would’ve added too much pressure.

He doesn’t regret the decision, but Black does regret that he didn’t spend more time hanging around Nashville. “When you’re making a record it’s kind of like: coffee, work, food, sleep. I did spend some time listening to the mixes while parked downtown, watching the drunks roll by. But I love Nashville. If I had my way I’d move there. Buy a house next to Jack White.”


=-=-=-=-=-=

Look, a pony!

Broken Face
-= Forum Pistolero =-

USA
5127 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  13:11:43  Show Profile  Visit Broken Face's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Excellent article, thanks!

-Brian - http://bvsrant.blogspot.com
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fbc
-= Modulator =-

United Kingdom
4903 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  13:48:34  Show Profile  Visit fbc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Frank is a song machine!

I love the idea of documenting the sessions, hopefully something for the future, and despite any nay saying by a manager, I say the more the merrier. I've realised I'm guilty of pigeonholing the man a little (sorry Frank!), but more by the songs of pre-catholics Black. Another great read for the collection. Nice find, coastline.

Frank and Jack White. Let the rumours commence.
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mrgrieves1971
= Cult of Ray =

USA
544 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  14:53:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
24 hours !!! Why rush it?
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Carl
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -

Ireland
11546 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  16:20:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks a lot for that, coastline!

Yeah, I can't believe the Nashville tracks were laid down in a day! I mean, it's hard to always be in the right mood for a certain song, to get the feel right...Frank's a song machine!


Join the Cult Of Pob! And don't forget to listen to the Pobcast!
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ScottP
= Cult of Ray =

USA
618 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  18:23:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Perfect answers to somewhat (implied) harrassing questions.

When is everbody gonna let him up from all this? HC and FMRM are great f'n records.

Thanks for that sweet interview coastline.
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mixedbizz
- FB Fan -

USA
176 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  18:55:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Give 'em hell Frank.

Now we must all try and understand
The songs of Frank Black,
So let's declare it a dance
And carry on the legacy!
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Grotesque
= Cult of Ray =

France
777 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  04:25:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Carl

Thanks a lot for that, coastline!

Yeah, I can't believe the Nashville tracks were laid down in a day! I mean, it's hard to always be in the right mood for a certain song, to get the feel right...Frank's a song machine!


Join the Cult Of Pob! And don't forget to listen to the Pobcast!



Now what I really don't get is that most of those songs take a long time to be fully appreciated by the listener, but the musicians themselves had just learnt it when they played it...

AND I have been reading comments by one of these guys saying he thought the songs where just "weird" so I guess himself did'nt fully understood it when he played.

That fascinating cos' it means each songs brings its own identity and soul inside the compositions, Black and Tiven used all those guys as a "song machine". I guess it was the idea with all the "black on blonde" concept.
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Dallas
= Cult of Ray =

USA
725 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  10:25:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Frank + Jack White would be delicious.

Great article thanks for the post.
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Cult_Of_Frank
= Black Noise Maker =

Canada
11551 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  10:44:46  Show Profile  Visit Cult_Of_Frank's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm sure Nadine would be right up Jack's alley...

I can see their collaboration album:

Black & White

Yes!


"No man remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself."
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freimanm
- FB Fan -

USA
10 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  11:11:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was under the impression that Fastman/Raiderman was recorded in bits and pieces over an extended period of time, and that Honeycomb was the record recorded with a marathon 24 hour session? I also thought that Honeycomb was recorded in the 4 days preceding the beginning of the Pixies reunion tour (though it came out a year later) and that within that four days there were a number of marathon sessions. As to FM/RM, Frank certainly alluded to the album being recorded in pieces in the podcast interview.

I love it when these articles have a lot of Frank quotes, because he's just so right about what he's saying!
Great article.
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coastline
> Teenager of the Year <

USA
2964 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  14:48:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My understanding is that Nashville was a series of 24-hour recording sessions, not a single 24-hour session. I'm pretty certain I read that in at least two or three places. The above article seems off the mark -- though just in this one little case.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Look, a pony!
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Jontiven
= Cult of Ray =

USA
347 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  18:26:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
To set the record straight:

Honeycomb was three days of tracking, one day of overdubs, and then a day of mixing with Dan Penn and several subsequent mix sessions at my studio.

Fastman/Raiderman was the product of several sessions. The majority of disc one is from the 24 hour marathon session, with the exception of "Crucify," "Dirty Old Town," "Johnny Barleycorn," and "Raiderman."

"Down To You" and "Holland Town" were also from the marathon session.

bye,
Jon Tiven
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FranknWeezer
= Cult of Ray =

USA
356 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2006 :  08:49:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Awesome article. Thanks for posting.
-FranknWeezer
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vilainde
>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<

Niue
7321 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2006 :  08:54:24  Show Profile  Visit vilainde's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cult_Of_Frank

I'm sure Nadine would be right up Jack's alley...

I can see their collaboration album:

Black & White

Yes!




I already cringe thinking about the terrible puns music critics would come up with when titling their articles.


Denis

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