- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/09/2006 : 09:24:14
Black can't escape the Pixies
Former member last visited Utah 2 years ago for a reunion
By Scott Iwasaki
Deseret Morning News
Frank Black, also known as Black Francis of the Pixies, says he remembers the last time he was in Salt Lake
City. He was part of the Pixies reunion in Kingsbury Hall two years ago.
"I was having some problems," Black said by phone from his home in
Eugene, Ore. "It's so dry in Utah that my sinuses were acting up."
Black — whose real name is Charles Thompson — says he's looking
forward to coming back for his solo show. "But I know it's going to be hot
The tour is in support of his new album, "Fastman Raiderman," his
new double-CD for Back Porch Records. "I had a feeling that sometime I'd
make a double CD. I mean we've been beyond the vinyl format for some
time, and the CD can hold up to 74 minutes of music. And I had a lot of
songs I wanted to do."
Within his original works that include "In the Time of My Ruin," "Kiss
My Ring" and the title tracks, "Fast Man" and "Raider Man," Black also
remade the Pogues' "Dirty Old Town." "That song was recorded at the last
minute. I enjoyed making this album. It was a long process with different
sessions at different times, but the last day in the studio is always
depressing. Things are getting cleared up and it's basically empty, with
just a single microphone on the floor.
"I hadn't written any more songs, but I didn't want to stop recording.
While I had messed around with 'Dirty Old Town' live, I'd never recorded
it. So a thought came to me, and I announced that I wanted to do it. So we
worked up a nice little arrangement and did it, I think, in one take.
"I used to do it the Pogues' way verbatim, but we changed it around and made it feel like that last day in the
studio — bittersweet. We changed it around and did it in 6/8 time. It was great."
Reflecting on his career, Black said the most frustrating part was trying to live up to the Pixies. "It will always
be a shadow I'll have to live under. When I make my own music, it will always be compared to what the band did.
Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of the Pixies, but there will always be this feeling of Pixie rock vs. Frank Black
"While people flip out about my change of style, to me it's always been a natural progression. There are times
when I get tempted to whoop it up in my solo shows. And maybe I will in the future, I don't know. But I do know
it is impossible to escape the shadow of the Pixies. And it's something I have to cope with."
Another thing that Black says has been dogging him lately is his physical appearance. "I'm overweight. When I
started in the music business, I was thin. But I'm not now. And I don't look like those pop-star, teen idols. And for
some reason, in most of the reviews I read about me and my music, there is always a pot shot taken at my
pudginess. I always find it funny that being overweight is not sexy, but being a heroin addict might be —
especially in England. But I'm trying to lose it. Being a fat bald dude does affect me.
"And I don't think I've ever answered a question with that kind of answer before, but you caught me on a good
If you go
What: Frank Black
Where: Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East
When: Wednesday, 9 p.m.
How much: $15
Phone: 467-8499 or 800-888-8499
Musician Frank Black is touring in support of
his new double CD album, "Fastman
www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/15195234.htm" target="_blank">www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/15195234.htm" target="_blank">http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/15195234.htm
Posted on Sun, Aug. 06, 2006
IF YOU GO
Frank Black explores the alternatives
Former Pixie is doing his own thing now
By Walter Tunis
CONTRIBUTING MUSIC WRITER
Those pesky deadlines. All his professional life, Frank Black has faced them.
From his '80s days with alternative-rock favorites The Pixies (when he was known as
Black Francis) through his prolific years as a solo artist with albums that shifted from
Pixies-ish rock to bright pop to absorbing Americana, Black always has had a deadline
in his sights.
Make an album. Do a tour. Make an album so you can do a tour. Over and over the cycle
would repeat. Not that Black has complained about keeping himself so active. But the
time had clearly come for something different.
So Black started recording songs. That's not a big leap, perhaps, except for the fact that
he was without a record contract and had no specific album in mind to make.
"We had recorded my last album (Honeycomb) without a record contract, so it took
some time for my manager to figure out a way to get it out," Black said. "I also had a
Pixies reunion tour going on. But there was still a lot of down time for recording. So after
cutting a few songs, the thinking wasn't, 'Is what we cut good enough?' It was like, 'That
was fun. Let's do some more.'"
Then producer Jon Tiven (who also worked with Black on Honeycomb) began calling
friends to sit in on the sessions. High-profile friends. Diverse names. Among those
who accepted the invite: Americana giant Buddy Miller, veteran R&B guitarist Steve
Cropper, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, veteran country music session player-
producer Jack Clement, Tom Petty drummer Steve Ferrone, Bad Company drummer
Simon Kirke and The Band's legendary Levon Helm. And that's just a partial list.
"I certainly don't have those kinds of contacts," Black said. "But Jon does. He's got this
little black book chock-full of names. And he has no fear about asking them to join in on
a session. He even tracked down Paul McCartney to see if he wanted to play bass.
Sometimes, as in Paul's case, they politely said no. But a lot of them said yes. Levon
drove all the way to our session in Nashville from New York."
Perhaps the most unexpected guest on the session was Kentucky country singer Marty
Brown, a fireball talent who cut a string of popular albums for MCA beginning in the late
"Man, oh, man, I didn't know who he was," Black said of his first session with Brown.
"But we were perfectly thrilled working with each other. He's my age, but he's like a kid.
In the studio, he was like, 'Aw, man, Frank, we gotta put a choir on this one like Pink
Floyd did on The Wall.' His enthusiasm was just so full on."
Eventually, 27 songs were completed for a new album. But instead of playing pick-and-
choose, Black packaged everything as a double CD and titled the resulting opus Fast
Man Raider Man. It was picked up by the Americana-heavy Back Porch label and
released this summer.
Fast Man's repertoire turned out to be as varied as the guests who played on it. I'm Not
Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh) is a slice of sardonic country. In the Time of My Ruin is all
tough-knuckled pop, and Dog Sleep is a brassy bit of funky surrealism. And for those
yearning to hear the Black and Brown team in action, there is a hot-wired, honky-tonk
reading of the folk chestnut Dirty Old Town.
"I don't think the record is necessarily for everybody," Black said of Fast Man. "But what
can I say, man? I got to play with Steve Cropper and Levon Helm. Now, I'm sure there
are people who think that something like this is oil and vinegar. They're like, 'How dare
Steve Cropper play with that alternative rock guy?' But, you know, it's like Iggy Pop said:
'It's all disco.'"
If Fast Man seems to possess a just-for-the-fun-of-it aura, so should Black's solo
acoustic concert Saturday at The Dame. The singer isn't slated to tour again with a full
band until the fall. He decided to squeeze in the Dame before opening a series of
acoustic concerts for the Foo Fighters later this month.
The Dame concert will be Black's first local performance since a Pixies show at the
University of Kentucky more than 18 years ago.
"This Lexington show will be very 'There I am.' It'll just be me and an acoustic guitar.
There will be plenty of room for me to mess up and ... for the audience to yell stuff at
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Dame, 156 W. Main St.
on the Web: www.dameky.com
Call: (859) 226-9005
Edited by - Carl on 08/09/2006 14:10:59
-= Modulator =-
Posted - 08/09/2006 : 09:39:30
| there's nothing sexy about shooting the shit over here, hey zammo?
what do we say?
the apron knows all.
Cheers for this, Carl. I'm gonna nick it and plonk it in the db while you're not looking.
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/09/2006 : 10:28:49
Give the Chinese What
The many moods, names, aspirations, and
tourmates of Mr. Frank Black
by Rob Trucks
August 7th, 2006 2:33 PM
As the past and present leader of the
Pixies, Charles Michael
Kittridge Thompson IV (a/k/a Black
Francis, a/k/a Frank Black) is the
undisputed master of melodic-
postpunk primacy. As an interview
subject he is rumored to be
affable yet reserved, amiable yet
remote. Knowing such, I tread
I presume he would rather not
discuss the Pixies (disbanded to
great dismay in '93, reformed to
great acclaim in '04), preferring
instead questions regarding his
13-year solo career, which has
lately compelled him to take on a
string of solo acoustic dates while
riding a bus with his wife, four children, a nanny, a tour manager, and a
After all, it's more than laborious to imagine this poster child for onstage
catharsis leading a load-out of Big Wheels and booster seats. I offer
possible (but unlikely) parallels: the Partridge Family, the Trapp Family
Singers. Perhaps even the Simpsons, who, upon entering the Witness
Protection Program in an effort to escape archnemesis Sideshow Bob,
actually adopt the last name Thompson.
"Maybe the Osbournes," Black says with a laugh. "We're just going to
give it a shot, you know, to see if we're a showbiz family. I don't know
how to do anything else."
So far, so good. Life is a cordial sundae topped with a sweet (if reticent)
cherry. But when I ask Black whether he harbors hopes of writing songs
while sharing a tour bus with, again, his wife, four children, a nanny, a
tour manager, and a driver, he instead proceeds to expound on the
possibility of a new Pixies record.
And I, for lack of a better term, am fucking astounded.
"There's some gentle talk among the Pixies," Black says. "And when I say
'gentle' I mean it's like even via other people and stuff—it's kind of
crazy—but, you know, about getting together to jam. And when I say
'jam,' we're not like Phish or whatever. We don't jam in that sense. What
you do is you almost meditate on the material. You play it over and over
again. You practice, you know, and that's what we need to do as a band
if we're ever going to record again."
That the Pixies must depend upon the "gentle talk" of go-betweens to
schedule a rehearsal is odd. That the same quartet—despite sharing a
stage for well over 100 shows in the last two years alone—has not yet
transitioned into being a complete band again is odder still. Until you
remember that you're talking about the Pixies. Towering tales of
personality conflicts, professional disagreements, and general animosity
from the group's final days linger like a hangover. So for many, news of a
Pixies reunion was on par with the loaves and the fishes, the water
turning into wine.
Following the band's initial dissolution, Charles Thompson reversed his
Pixies nom de plume (Black Francis became Frank Black) and released an
album annually, more or less, for the next dozen years, often with his
crack backing band the Catholics. Much excellent work was overlooked
because it wasn't the Pixies, and some not-so-excellent work was
passed over for the same reason. And yet on the eve of the Pixies' most
unlikely convergence—with his profile thus as elevated as it had been in
a decade—Black made the first of two sojourns to Nashville, where
marathon recording stints with Southern studio vets such as Steve
Cropper, Spooner Oldham, and David Hood produced over two hours of
material—Black's initial foray into Americana, 2005's Honeycomb, as well
as the more recent double-disc set Fast Man Raider Man.
The sessions were "a long-standing whim," Black says. "I had over the
years become a very huge fan of [Bob Dylan's] Blonde on Blonde. I
started talking about this with [producer] John Tiven like 10 years ago
when he was in New York. And he would very gently call me every six
months or so, and sometimes he would bring it up, and sometimes he
wouldn't, but he occasionally would say, 'Hey Charles, so you ready to
make Black on Blonde?' "
Do Honeycomb and FMRM
make that cut? "I guess
you could say both
records represent the sort
of Black on Blonde
scenario, where the
artiste heads to Nashville
and works with musicians
that got a lot of mojo,"
Black says. "I mean, I
wasn't necessarily trying
to sound like Blonde on
Blonde or anything like
that. It was just to kind
of go through that
experience—'Hey, I want
to go to Nashville. I want to play with those guys.' "
Fair enough. But both releases have once again been overshadowed by
the specter of uncertainty: a beloved band unsure of its next move. So
what exactly do Frank Black fans want? Well, the Pixies, of course. The
soft-verse, loud-chorus formula as found in your proto-grunge program.
"They want Surfer Rosa or Doolittle," Black says. "Those are the records
which I have gold discs for. Those are the most popular records, and so
just the sheer numbers of that audience, the audience that likes those
records, it's like sort of dealing with, like, China or something. What do
people want? Well, what people? Which people, you know? Even among
my most ardent fans I can kind of suss that there's a variety of opinions
there, but for me, people are the Chinese. They're this other vast
audience which bought a bunch of copies of Doolittle and a bunch of
copies of Surfer Rosa, so they're like the army of people, and yeah, what
they want is they want some more of that."
And so maybe, finally, once more, for the first time ever, Black is ready
to give it to them. But will it be as a solo artist? Or with the band that
helped make Boston famous?
"I remember performing recently [with the Pixies] in Zagreb, Croatia,"
Black recalls. "We were playing at a little outdoor sports arena, and it
was full. There were four-and-a-half thousand people, so that's pretty
good for a band that, you know, is in Croatia and hasn't put out a record
for 12 years. And I was standing on the stage and I had this little
inspired epiphany, enjoying myself there in the summer evening, in the
big, massive Pixies sing-along there with the Croatians. I said, 'You
know, if I can't get the Pixies to record another record, screw it. Maybe
I won't be able to come back to Croatia and deliver the Pixies, but
maybe I can come up with something that will, you know, be an
approximation of that.' "
For this month, Frank Black and family will take in the bounty of
America's vistas among acoustic tour stops. But come September,
somewhere within this country's great expanse, the Pixies will get
together to jam (but not like Phish). Or they may not. "If the Pixies are
suspicious of me—or if they think that they don't want to be in a band
with me, or if I don't have their vote of confidence—then it's kind of over
and I can't get there," Black says. "I can't get to that same space. I've
never really felt the need to do it, but talking about Zagreb, Croatia, the
other night, I mean, I'm thinking, 'Well, you know, maybe that's what
people want, even if I can't do it with the original band.' " Maybe,
instead, he can do it with his wife, four children, a nanny, a tour
manager, and a driver.
Frank Black headlines Southpaw Saturday, August 19, and opens for the
Foo Fighters Monday, August 21, at the Beacon Theater.
Hounded by the Chinese, led to epiphany by
photo: Michael Halsbrand
A shortened version of the above article here:
Edited by - Carl on 08/09/2006 10:35:37
* Dog in the Sand *
Posted - 08/09/2006 : 15:27:23
| Thanks Carl :)
= Cult of Ray =
Posted - 08/09/2006 : 23:35:43
| Those are great articles, thanks for posting.
I am getting really excited for this tour.
Here I am for your judgement
When the paint grows darker still
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/12/2006 : 09:10:48
On his own but not alone
By Daniel Durchholz
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
When you think of Frank Black -
the intense, throat-shredding
once-and-future frontman of
seminal alt-rock outfit the Pixies
- it's unlikely that you picture a
guy tooling down an Oregon
highway in his minivan, wife and
four kids in tow and "Scooby
Doo" playing on, as Black calls
it, "the flat-screen hypnotizer."
But that's where he is as he
squeezes in a phone interview
while heading for a family
vacation before starting a solo
tour to promote his latest album,
"I don't want to give the
impression our kids are a bunch
of TV heads," Black says.
"Because, actually, we don't have television at our house. We have a DVD player in the van
and one at home, but no cable access. The only real TV they get to see is when we stay in a
Obviously, Black is as focused on his parenting skills as he is on his music, which is
saying something. "Fastman Raiderman," a two-CD set, sports a stellar cast of musicians -
among them guitar greats Steve Cropper and Reggie Young, fabled Band drummer Levon
Helm, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson and Free/Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke.
It's a gathering of players that
makes no linear sense, in that
they come from different periods
of rock history and different
styles of music. So how'd they
all wind up in a Nashville studio
with Frank Black?
"I can't claim any credit for that,"
Black says. "The producer, Jon
Tiven, assembled all of them. I
showed up with my guitar and
some songs. They're legendary
players, but I'd like to think that
maybe they heard it was a Frank
Black session and they were
interested. Or at least they
Googled me and said, 'OK, this
guy seems all right. I'll do it.'"
In a sense, the several generations of musicians working on "Fastman Raiderman" and
"Honeycomb," Black's similarly styled previous album, gives the lie to the notion that alt-rock
icons like the Pixies sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus. In fact, they're as much a
part of the ebb and flow of rock history as anyone.
"Indebted as I am to the alternative-rock scene, I have to admit that, within that scene,
there's a lot of shortsightedness," Black says. "That group of people is trying to stay away
from mainstream culture, which is noble enough. But, unfortunately, it breeds a kind of
snobbery and elitism."
Black says he was drawn to Nashville, Tenn., to record his last two albums, which eschew
his loud punkish style for a softer Americana sound, because of Bob Dylan's "Blonde on
Blonde," which was recorded there.
He and producer Tiven had a longstanding joke of recording an album they called "Black on
Blonde," which they eventually accomplished with "Honeycomb" - just as the Pixies were
about to reunite for some live dates. Much of "Fastman Raiderman" was recorded in-
between another batch of Pixies shows.
What the world awaits, though, is another Pixies album. Will it ever happen? Black isn't
"I think what we ought to do is make a film," he says, only half-joking. "That would give us
the opportunity to be bad actors, because as you know, musicians make truly horrible
actors. But we could make a soundtrack album, and that would take the focus off of, 'Ooh,
what are we going to do for our big comeback?' That would take the pressure off, and you
never know, it could be a great record."
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard
How much: Sold out
More info: 314-727-4444
July 20, 2006
Frank Black just wants to make records—and move to
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
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?’ ”
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
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
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.”
Edited by - Carl on 08/12/2006 10:27:23
a guy in a rover
= Cult of Ray =
Posted - 08/12/2006 : 12:29:49
| Holy feck. Where do you get all these articles from Carl?
Kiss my ring...I am the greatest
-= Modulator =-
Posted - 08/12/2006 : 15:21:44
| it's a gift
"Hello, Janet? Yeah, it's the big man. Sorry to get you out of bed, but this is a matter of immense theological importance. I want you to canonize Frank Black immediately...Black Francis, you mongoloid! The Pixies! Make him the patron saint of extremely evil guitar music...Well there is one now...What do you mean I can't? 'Look, just do it, okay?...Oh fuck off then. You're fired and damned for all eternity as of Monday"
- FB Fan -
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<
Posted - 08/13/2006 : 11:53:01
| Maybe he can go to Zagreb with Schwarma!
God save the Noisies
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/13/2006 : 14:59:33
8/11/2006 8:18:00 AM
Concert Preview: Shades of Black
Life has changed for Frank Black since his
days as frontman for the Pixies, influencing
acts like Nirvana and giving rise to alternative
Though he's reunited with his old bandmates
and continues to tour with them, Black's just
as busy with his solo career and his family.
He's got a new double album, "Fast Man
Raider Man," out now on Back Porch
Records. This week he launched his first
solo tour in 11 years. He'll perform
acoustically Sunday at Birdy's, 2131 E. 71st
St., Indianapolis, in between dates opening
for the Foo Fighters.
What makes this road trip all the more
special for Black is that his wife and four
children are joining him.
"There's no school right now, so there's been lots of hangin' around in the
pajamas," Black says of his present home life. Though it can be chaotic at
times, he's enjoying the other side of the coin.
"I don't think about rock music a lot when I'm in family-man mode, other than
checking out some music in a blue moon," Black says. "I don't pick up my
guitar, so it's kind of nice in a way, to take a break from it and have your mind
filled with other things."
Even so, he still found time to record 27 songs for "Fast Man Raider Man." That
follows last year's "Honeycomb." Both were mostly produced in Nashville
utilizing famous session men from Music City, U.S.A. - including Steve Cropper,
Reggie Young and Spooner Oldham - veterans of Motown and Stax recordings.
Both efforts are a far cry from the Pixies' mercurial brand of dash-and-bash rock.
There's a relaxed, countryish vibe to Black's pixiliated world view. He credits his
collaborators for helping accentuate his more reserved side.
"Maybe I'm getting used to playing with those kinds of players," Black says. "A
big part of their thing is there's a lot of restraint. It's not about aggression and it's
not about being loud. In some cases it's about doing something that's very quiet,
or something that has a lot of space in it. I've just been getting more on their
However, Black isn't being pulled in a direction he doesn't want to go. "Fast Man
Raider Man" and "Honeycomb," he says, are a natural progression in his already
"Among certain rock critics, I'm pigeonholed by an earlier part of my career that
was kind of loud and punky and eclectic, because my career after that is more
obscure," Black says. "Some reviewers tend to ignore the more obscure part of
my career. The only reference point in their review is something I did 15 years
ago, and they have this, 'Golly gee, where'd this come from?' attitude about my
records. It's silly. I've made a lot of records leading up to this, and many of those
songs have not been about loudness and aggression, and have been more about
restraint and playing music in a different way. It seems perfectly natural to me."
Black hasn't always been able to move passed his work that proved most
inspiring. After all, Kurt Cobain once said without the Pixies, there wouldn't have
been a Nirvana. Black is decidedly unaffected when such accolades are
"As crass as this sounds, I don't have that much feeling about that at all," he
says. "I guess I'm flattered. But what can you do with flattery? Especially if
you've heard it a million times.
"I'm much more aware of a bigger truth. And that is bands make records, and in
response to those records other people start bands and they make records. It's
a cycle that goes on and on. That's the way it's supposed to work. It makes me
feel like I'm doing a good job, but I don't feel special because I think there's lots
of things that are influential."
By no means is Black trying to bury his past. He acrimoniously split with his
Pixies bandmates in 1993, then reunited for extensive touring starting in 2004.
Beyond that, the Pixies' future is up in the air.
"I've mentioned maybe the band is at an impasse, or I wasn't sure or it didn't look
like (there would be another album)," Black says about his words being
misconstrued in recent interviews. "And I hate to use the word 'headlines'
because I don't feel famous enough, but the headlines are always like 'The
Pixies will never record again.' Or other times when it's seemed more hopeful
that we were going to record something, and I happened to do an interview during
that time - never promising there was going to be a record - the headline says, of
course, 'The Pixies have recorded a new album.' I guess it's a good sign that
we're kind of hot for some reason, even though we haven't released a record in 12
Besides an upcoming tour of Australia, tentative plans have the Pixies convening
in December for an informal jam session. Whether anything comes of it remains
to be seen.
"I don't know if there's going to be a new record," Black says. "We haven't been
to a recording studio yet. But having said that, we're going to play. It's going to
be preparation for a hypothetical record. I can tell you this: If it doesn't sound
good, no one will ever hear it except for us four."
Frank Black released the double CD
"Fast Man Raider Man" in June and is
on his first solo tour since 1995. He
performs acoustically Aug. 13 at Birdy's,
2131 E. 71st St., Indianapolis. (Photo
Here's a paste-up of that interview CheekyDan posted a link to:
Frank Black Won't Quit
The former Pixies frontman takes some time off from prepping for his upcoming
headlining tour to talk about Hurricane Katrina, Dada and rumors of a new Pixies
ALEX MAR AND LAUREN GITLIN
In the last two years, Frank Black has given James
Brown serious competition for the title of hardest
working man in show business. 2004 saw his much-
beloved rock band the Pixies reuniting on tour,
followed by the 2005 release of Honeycomb, a
critically lauded country album recorded in Nashville
with old-school session heavyweights Steve Cropper,
Buddy Miller, Reggie Young and Chester Thompson.
Earlier this summer he released Honeycomb's follow-
up, the ambitious double-disc Fast Man Raider Man,
for which he returned to Nashville to re-team with his
Honeycomb players and a few impressive additions:
Levon Helm, Al Kooper, Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson,
honky-tonk player Marty Brown, Los Angeles
songwriter P.F. Sloan, and Simon Kirke from Bad
Company and Free.
"You know what they have in Nashville?" asks current
Portland resident Black of his decision to record in
Music City. "A really high standard of musicianship.
That's what I discovered as an insider -- you can just
call up three or four guys and they're going to kick
your butt with any instrument in their hands. You can
get all uptight as an indie rocker like myself, like 'Wait a
minute, these guys aren't involved in college rock!' But
they all know about rock and roll music -- hell, half of
them used to be in Little Richard's band!"
As on Honeycomb, Raider Man finds the self-described
"quirky alternative guy" once again plumbing the
depths of his early musical influences.
"The first time I sang music in public as a kid, I sang
a Woody Guthrie song," he says. "I grew up listening to
gospel and Leon Russell and blues. This is who I am."
Despite Raider Man's formidable sonic departure from
Black's Pixies material -- not to mention a much more
straightforward lyrical style -- the singer confides that
his unusual Pixies-era approach to songwriting has
remained intact. "I definitely don't decide to write a
song about any particular thing, ever. The whole Dada
thing, I still do that. I sit down and try to make words
rhyme and the subject comes from that," he says,
likening the process as a series of linguistic games.
One minor exception is Raider Man's rhythm-and-
blues-tinged ballad "My Terrible Ways," which Black
says was inspired by a news story he saw on CNN in the
Denver airport during the onset of Hurricane Katrina.
"It was this poignant story about this inmate during the
hurricane and what happened to him and his family. It
was really heavy," he says. "I'm not the kind of
songwriter who said, 'I got to get me one of those
hurricane songs!' I didn't plan it, but I just heard his
story like anybody else that day and I was in
songwriting mood and I went in my hotel room at
three in the morning. And that's that."
Fans still holding out for the Pixies to cut a new album
may be disappointed. "I just recently tried to write
some songs that I was hoping the Pixies were going to
record, but it seems that they're not interested," he
reveals. "It's really a tough challenge. People keep
wanting you to re-do your big glorious moment.
Sometimes I try to accommodate them. I think, 'OK, I'll
give them "Monkey Gone to Heaven Two," but
artistically once you do that, it starts to feel really icky
really fast. It's cool because we're getting paid for work
we did a long time ago, but it's not vital in the sense of
creativity. The Pixies isn't that anymore. I wish it could
Currently wrapping up a string of solo acoustic dates
opening for the Foo Fighters, Black will join Tom Petty
and the Heartbreakers on the road before mounting his
own tour with a full band to support Raider Man in
AUGUST TOUR W/ FOO FIGHTERS:
9 Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT (headline)
11 Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO (headline)
12 The Dame, Lexington, KY (headline)
13 Birdy's, Indianapolis, IN (headline)
14 Chameleon, Lancaster, PA (headline)
15 Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. (w/
16 Tower Theatre, Philadelphia, PA (w/ Foo Fighters)
18 Wellfleet Beachcomber, Wellfleet, MA (headline)
19 Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY (headline) (2 shows)
21 Beacon Theatre, New York, NY (w/ Foo Fighters)
22 Wang Center, Boston, MA (w/ Foo Fighters)
23 Hummingbird, Toronto, Ontario (w/ Foo Fighters)
24 Call the Office, London, Ontario (headline)
25 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL (w/ Foo Fighters)
26 Sokol Underground, Omaha, NE (headline)
29 Pantages Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (w/ Foo
30 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA (headline)
31 Harlow's Night Club, Sacramento, CA (headline)
29, 30 Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA
(w/ Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
1 Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
4 Mercy Lounge, Nashville, TN
7 New Daisy Theatre, Memphis, TN
9 Gypsy Tea Ballroom, Dallas, TX
10 La Zona Rosa, Austin, TX
11 Meridian, Houston, TX
13 House of Blues, Lake Buena Vista, FL
14 State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL
15 Savannah Smiles, Savannah, GA
16 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA
17 Orange Peel, Asheville, NC
18 Sonar, Baltimore, MD
19 World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
20 Warsaw, Brooklyn, NY
22 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
23 Irving Plaza, New York, NY
24 Avalon Ballroom, Boston, MA
25 Le National, Montreal, QC
26 Opera House, Toronto, ON
27 Mr. Smalls Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA
28 Headliners, Louisville, KY
30 House of Blues, Cleveland, OH
31 Southgate House, Newport, KY
1 Metro, Chicago, IL
2 High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI
3 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
5 Pantages Theatre, Winnipeg, MB
6 Conexus Hall, Regina, SK
7 The Odeon, Saskatoon, SK
9 Reds, Edmonton, AB
10 MacEwan Ballroom, Calgary, AB
12 Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
13 Showbox, Seattle, WA
14 Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR
15 The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
17 House of Blues, West Hollywood, CA
18 House of Blues, San Diego, CA
19 House of Blues, Anaheim, CA
Posted Aug 10, 2006 11:25 AM
Frank Black hits the road
Photo by Frank Mullen/WireImage.com
August 13, 2006
Here comes Frank Black
By KEN CAPOBIANCO
If you've paid attention to rock music in the last decade or so, almost all of
the most challenging and diverse bands have somehow been influenced by
Frank Black. The singer-songwriter, set to perform Friday night at the
Beachcomber in Wellfleet, was an instrumental force in the groundbreaking
unit the Pixies and has been cranking out sharply focused and ambitious
solo records since his former band broke up in the early '90s.
His knotty, complex lyrics and
cathartic, expressive vocals were
part of the essential elements of the
Pixies' multilayered, explosive
sound. It's easy to believe that
without Black (who was then
known under the moniker Black
Francis) and the Pixies, a band like
Nirvana, which refined its
predecessor's quiet-to-roar dynamic
to a fine art, might never have
emerged. Of course, countless other
acts have copied that sound, as well
as the Pixies' cryptic worldview and
defiant anti-formula approach to the
business of making music.
As a solo artist, Black - born Charles
Michael Kittridge Thompson IV - has
built on his legacy as one of his former
band's creative masterminds. Earlier this
year, he released a 27-song opus, the
double-CD ''Fastman Raiderman'' (Back
Porch). It's an expansive set of tracks
that covers a lot of musical genres,
including soul, rave-up rock, grass-roots
Americana and Southern swing.
This follows last year's stellar solo disc,
the roots-inflected ''Honeycomb,'' as well
as the Pixies reunion tour, which lasted
two years thanks to the overwhelming
demand for tickets worldwide.
''Yeah, I guess you could say I'm on a
roll,'' Black says.
''There was a lot of momentum created
with the last record, and the reunion was
simply great,'' he says just a few days
before he's about to go out on tour solo
(most of the dates are on a bill with the
Foo Fighters). ''That's why I decided to
keep a lot of the people who played on
'Honeycomb' together. I mean, it's pretty
tough to go wrong when you are
surrounded by such great musicians and
they are in tune with what you are trying
to accomplish. It was a great experience,
and I think we turned out some real good
Among the musicians who appear with
Black throughout the 27 songs are guitar
legend Steve Cropper as well as
drummer Jim Keltner, former Band
member Levon Helm and keyboardist Al
Kooper. You can hear the smooth
musical dynamic of the sessions, and
Black's songs are among his best solo
''I could have given them 'Happy
Birthday' to play and they would have
made it incredible,'' Black says, laughing.
During the Pixies' peak, Black was
considered a mysterious figure (that alias
helped) and his somewhat obtuse,
difficult lyrics added to the persona. But
in conversation he's a genial, gentle guy,
who answers each question thoughtfully.
All rock 'n' roll clichés are subverted.
No impatience or nonplused attitude.
Black is making a detour during the tour
to play a special show at the
Beachcomber. He says he had to play
the Cape and was just looking for a
place that could accommodate him and
''I love the Cape, and I was raised on it.
My family is still there,'' he says. He adds
that his brother, Errol Thompson, runs
the Quarterdeck Lounge in Hyannis. ''I
have a lot of good memories from the
Cape, so I don't think I could go out on
tour without playing there, and the
Beachcomber is a cool little club. I think
it's going to be a highlight of the whole
The singer-songwriter understands that he now is able to live on the margins
of the rock 'n' roll world and put out double CDs in a supremely depressed
industry. Let's face it, unless you have the clout of a Christina Aguilera,
putting out a two-disc set is unheard of these days. But Black is working
with the tiny label Back Porch, and with the kind of critical cachet he has
earned through the years (as well as the kind of financial rewards he found
from the Pixies reunion tour) he can pretty much exist outside the music
''Would I like to be on a major label? Sure,'' he says. ''But I wouldn't have
the kind of creative freedom I have now, and that means a lot to me, it
''There are all sorts of compromises you have to make on a major label, and
right now I don't want to do what the rest of the world seems to be doing,
and that's dumbing down my art in order to be accepted or to make
''I'm not saying I'm this great original or that my music is so challenging or
eclectic, but I think that it's different than most of the stuff out there now and
it isn't something that you can spoon-feed people mindlessly. And I really
think the problem with a lot of our music and art today is that people are
really, and I'll say it again, dumbing things down, and that's a scary thing. I
just refuse to participate in that.''
Certainly one way for Black to challenge audiences again is with a new
''With that it has to be right with everyone involved. We have to get our
schedules straight and come together to make the record we are capable of.
If it's not the right situation and if everyone's not on the same page, then it's
not worth doing. We're not going to put out a record just to capitalize on
the demand that's put there. It has to be good. Why else would you do it,
(Published: August 13, 2006)
Frank Black's catalog has grown and is
impressive in its range. Here are some
records any new listener needs to seek
out to get an understanding of his
"Doolittle" (the Pixies): Many folks
prefer "Surfer Rosa," but here Black
and company show more shades.
Crucial songs like "Silver," "Here Comes
Your Man" and "Monkey Gone To
Heaven" are on this release.
"Frank Black": His first solo record
from 1993, and it stands up. He
achieves a big bold sound, and some
irresistible power hooks abound.
"Honeycomb": Black's warmest and
most focused solo record, from 2005.
He digs deep into American roots music
"Teenager of the Year": Hints of
"Fastman Raiderman" and its epic
scope are in this 22-track effort from
1994 that is filled with pop gems. The
real Frank Black seems to emerge as he
moves far away from the tightly coiled
"Dog in the Sand": He fleshes out his
sound considerably with a different,
more subtle instrumental dynamic
(including banjo). More good songs.
Black's craft is in full bloom on this 2001
Musician: Cape needs another club
Frank Black says he hopes to see on
Cape Cod in the next few years a club
that books national acts and can
accommodate musicians like him.
"There are a lot of clubs that have
cover bands or local blues bands, but
what's needed is a venue that an act of
my level and with my kind of audience
can play. The Melody Tent (in Hyannis)
is great for what they do, but it's clearly
not for me to play on this kind of tour -
it's too big, to begin with - but I'm also
talking about a more rock vibe. That
would be a big step for the Cape to
He also says his brother, Errol
Thompson, is contemplating making a
move up from the Quarterdeck Lounge
in Hyannis and opening a club for
"Nothing's definite now, but it is a
possibility, and I think it would be a huge
Who: Frank Black (solo acoustic) with
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: the Beachcomber, 1120
Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet
Frank Black returns to the Cape for a solo
show Friday night at the Beachcomber in
(Photo by Michael Halsband)
Edited by - Carl on 08/13/2006 17:11:10
-= Modulator =-
Posted - 08/16/2006 : 15:17:27
| nothing new, but hot(ish) off the press.
At home with Frank Black
By Brian Heater
“Annabelle, gently. Don’T push her too hard. When you push it, she goes higher and higher. And she’s too tiny for that.” Charles Thompson (aka Frank Black, aka Black Francis) clearly has other things on his mind when I call his Oregon home at 9 a.m. on a Friday morning to speak about rock’n’roll. The mascaraed Black Francis, who made his name singing about sliced-up eyeballs and broken faces, isn’t around at the moment to indulge some New York City music writer about the romanticism of it all. Two of his kids are pushing one another a bit too hard on the swing set, and his son is getting ready to go off to camp. “He’s about ready to be a star,” Thompson laughs, interrupted momentarily. “He knows the press is on the phone, and wants to get in on this.”
His next of kin may be gearing up for their moment in the spotlight, but 13 years after the breakup of the Pixies, and two years after the beginning of their ongoing reunion, Thompson, it seems, doesn’t spend too many hours wallowing in the romanticism of his long and celebrated career. “It came about in the most dull, mechanical way,” he says, when asked about Fast Man, Raider Man, his new double disc and younger sister to last year’s star-studded Honeycomb. “I know a guy, his name is John [Tiven]. He’s a record producer. He’s got a lot of connections among older players—blasts from the past. I told him I wanted to make Blonde on Blonde, go to the studio, lay it down with some cats, and he was the kind of guy who could provide those people. That’s it. I wrote some songs, I showed up, here I am.”
The topic of the newly reborn Pixies elicits a similar response. “To tour with The Pixies can mean a lot of money over the summer, but this whole reunion thing isn’t going to last forever,” he says, simply. “We’re enjoying the big easy. We just walk on, like Tom Jones, and when the show’s over, walk out. We deserve it. We’ve earned it.” His finite response has echoes of recent, well-publicized statements that the band has no plans to record any new material, beyond 2004’s first—and thus far only—new post-reunion song, “Bam Thwok.” The tune is a bubbly number, penned by the band’s resident ex-cheerleader, Kim Deal, which sounds much closer to the material on The Breeder’s Last Splash, than anything the band put to record in their first incarnation.
“They called up and said, ‘Hey, we want you to write a song for Shrek 2, and if you do, you can all buy your own submarine,’” Thompson says of the iTunes single, with another one of those laughless, it’s-funny-because-it’s-true jokes he fires off with reckless abandon. “You can’t turn down an offer like that. ‘Oh hey, you got beat out by the Counting Crows, which were the producer’s favorite band, and he was planning on putting them in the movie all along, anyway.’”
These days, with four kids, a wife, an album a year, and the touring schedules that come with supporting two main projects, it seems that the magic is best left up to those who have the time to wave their wands. “People ask us: ‘You got that song in the Fight Club movie. Tell us how that all came about.’ How did it come about?” Thompson proposes the question I learned not to ask. “Some music supervisor calls up your manager and says, ‘Hey, can we use one of your songs?’ Great. Bye. There’s no romance. The romance is sitting in a movie theater, watching a great movie, and your song comes up in the pivotal final scene.”
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/16/2006 : 15:26:53
| Thanks indeed, Soren!
-= Modulator =-
Posted - 08/16/2006 : 15:31:24
| Not Frank, but Frank. You'll see what I mean.
Violent Femmes Frontman Gordon Gano Goes Solo -- With Some Friends in Tow
Never one to do the expected, Gordon Gano took an unusual approach to his first solo album away from the Violent Femmes. Hitting the Ground is a collection of songs Gano wrote for David Moore's film of the same name, almost all of which are sung by others, in this case all-stars including PJ Harvey, Lou Reed, John Cale, They Might Be Giants, Mary Lou Lord, and Frank Black. The songs were inspired by the film, but the collaborative pieces are held together by Gano's smart and funny songwriting and propulsive straight-ahead rock 'n' roll sensibility. Barnes & Noble.com's Steve Klinge caught up with Gano to find out how Hitting the Ground got off the ground -- and to get the skinny on Rhino's recent deluxe reissue of Violent Femmes' classic debut album.
Barnes & Noble.com: What's the relationship between the album Hitting the Ground and the film?
Gordon Gano: The music was originally written for the movie, and most of it is in the movie but some of it isn't. The movie was done a little while back, and it never got a theatrical release. In my view [the album] is not a soundtrack. This may be completely wrong thinking, I guess, but I always think a soundtrack would involve some of the scoring for the movie, and this is just the songs from the movie.... When I wrote it, I wrote it with the possibility and the hope that these songs would stand apart from the film.
B&N.com: Many of the songs are loud and rocking. A song like "Run" would overwhelm anything else that was going on in the film.
GG: [laughs] Yeah, I'm trying to think right now of the scene in the movie when that happens. Obviously, there's a lot of energy going on right then. You know what, I'm willing to bet somebody's running. Brilliant guy that I am, I'll write a song called "Run" because somebody's running. Actually, I'm sure. That had to have been it!
B&N.com: And you ran with the idea.
GG: Right, right, that's it. And got the perfect person to do the vocals. That's one of my all-time favorite lead vocals that I've ever heard, is Frank Black on that song. He took that song to a place that I don't think anyone could have done it better.
B&N.com: He sounds like he's hyperventilating.
GG: Every song and every artist, there's always some story about it. In this case, I was on tour in Australia with Violent Femmes when Frank Black became available. So Warren Bruleigh, who co-produced the record, went from New York to L.A. and got in the studio and did it. I wasn't there, but I heard a lot of stories. The engineer in the studio wanted to stop: From what I'm told, Frank Black would actually go running at the microphone, and it turned into some very physical event when he was doing it, and the house engineer was like, "Somebody stop him!" And Warren Bruleigh was like, "Nobody moves, keep the track rolling. It's okay that it's distorting, it's okay that he's hitting the microphone with his head or whatever." [laughs]
= Cult of Ray =
Posted - 08/17/2006 : 23:26:40
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/18/2006 : 11:27:42
| "Somebody stop him!"
Nice find, S!
Pixies' co-founder Frank branches out
on his own
Friday, August 18, 2006
By YAHAIRA TORIBIO
WHO: Frank Black.
WHAT: Indie rock.
WHEN: 8 and 11:30 p.m. Saturday (two headlining shows); 8 p.m. Monday
(opening for the Foo Fighters' acoustic tour).
WHERE: Saturday at
Southpaw, 125 Fifth Ave.,
Brooklyn. Monday at
Beacon Theater, 2124
HOW MUCH: $20 Saturday,
8 p.m. show sold out. $50
to $58.50 Monday, sold out
Frank Black will forever be
linked to the iconic indie
band the Pixies.
And while that's hardly a bad
group to be associated with, the 41-year-old singer-songwriter would sometimes
like his name to stand on its own.
In the trailer for the forthcoming Pixies documentary, "loudQUIETloud: A Film
About Pixies" (due Nov. 7), Black says, "Everything I've ever done has been
overshadowed by the Pixies."
Black and his college buddy, guitarist Joey Santiago, formed the Pixies in Boston
in 1986 with drummer Dave Lovering and bassist Kim Deal. They disbanded in
1993 but reunited in 2004; the Pixies wrapped up their most recent tour through
Europe late last month.
This month, he hits the road solo in support of his double-disc "Fast Man Raider
Man," an Americana-infused work that -- like most of his dozen non-Pixies albums
-- is miles away from his "indie rockin' ruckus" past.
Black recently spoke by phone from his Oregon home about the Pixies, touring
with the Foo Fighters and getting older.
Q. I heard you decided to bring your wife and children on tour with you. Why?
It came out of this ongoing discussion [my wife and I] were having, like, "Gee, what
am I going to do with touring and babies and the logistics of leaving Mommy home
with four kids?" and all that stuff. She suggested we just do it: "Let's just try to see
if we can do it. Let's give it a shot."
Q. How was playing the European festival circuit with the Pixies?
It was lovely and short, so that means I got to get home before I started feeling
Q. Any chance the band will do another U.S. or North American tour?
No. We've done that. We're pretty much playing places we've never played before.
There wouldn't be another tour in North America unless we had an album out.
Q. How did you get involved with the Foo Fighters?
I was just about to give a slightly sarcastic made-up story about how I ran into
Dave Grohl in the sauna, but his agent just called my agent and asked, "Hey, do
you want to play some shows?"
Q. Critics have been implying that "Fast Man Raider Man" is an album for older
audiences. What do you think?
I just think music is more mysterious than that, and this isn't geared to anybody --
it's just a bunch of songs that I wrote, and I happen to play them with some
I also feel that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. If I were just spitting out
records that were all in the same vein as [the Pixies'] "Surfer Rosa," people would
be accusing me of rehashing ancient history. So you try to do something different.
I've said it a hundred times: When you first start out, it's all about breaking the
rules and avoiding cliche. And then when you get better at it, and you get older,
you start to embrace cliche a little bit more. Not just so that you could be cliche-
ridden but so you can do something that's universal.
I understand why some people don't get it. To them, it seems like, "Oh, he's turned
into an old guy." What they don't understand is the challenge from the artist's point
of view: to just do it old-school -- just do it straight up, without all the arty-farty
Edited by - Carl on 08/18/2006 13:13:43
-= Modulator =-
Posted - 08/18/2006 : 13:32:45
Originally posted by Carl
"Somebody stop him!"
Nice find, S!
tip of the iceberg, mate.
= Cult of Ray =
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 08/23/2006 : 10:13:17
| Yeah, Stuart posted it, and I stuck it in the 'Pixies doc to premiere at SXSW' thread, because it concerns LoudQuietLoud. It is a new Frank interview, though, so it certainly has a place here. Actually, I may as well paste it up while I'm at it:
'I used to have a band, and now
When the Pixies reformed, they invited a film crew to
join them for the ride. Frank Black talks to Xan Brooks
about the train-wreck of a tour that followed
Tuesday August 22, 2006
The great should-have-beens of American music ... The Pixies. Photograph:
The artist formerly known as Black Francis answers the phone
and explains that he can't talk; he is in crisis. He's in
Pennsylvania but can't say where, exactly, because he has
switched hotels twice in the past few hours. He has four children
and they are very hungry. He has lost his charger and reckons
there is maybe 40 seconds of life left in the mobile. "You could
say that I'm facing a lot of challenges in my life right now," he
bellows. Charles Thompson (aka Frank Black, aka Black
Francis) is currently tripping eastwards on a solo tour of the US.
It sounds nearly as fraught as on his last outing with the Pixies.
I have been chasing Thompson for several days now, eager to
gauge his reaction to loudQUIETloud, a rambunctious little
documentary about the Pixies's 2004 reunion tour, which debuts
today at the Edinburgh film festival. Directed by Steven Cantor
and Matthew Galkin, the film is a bit like a Pixies song itself. It
is film where simmering tensions erupt into primal storms, where
high tragedy goes cheek-by-jowl with low comedy, and where
the drummer goes mad and won't finish his solo. "We knew the
band had an acrimonious break-up so we knew it wouldn't be
plain sailing," Cantor tells me. "That said, there were still some
surprises along the way."
The Pixies were the great should-have-beens of American
music, an impish, ill-starred quartet who indirectly kick-started
the grunge movement and then imploded too soon to reap the
rewards. They recorded songs that flared red hot and ice cold in
the space of a heartbeat, that played the Old Testament as
sexed-up soap opera ("You crazy babe, Bathsheba"), and led
Kurt Cobain to write Smells Like Teen Spirit in a vain attempt to,
in his words, "basically try to rip off the Pixies".
Once upon a time this band meant something. But by the time
of their reunion they have been defunct for 12 years and the
royalties have dried to a trickle. Thompson (rechristened Frank
Black) is struggling to sustain a solo career. Guitarist Joey
Santiago is "eking out" a living writing TV soundtracks, and
drummer Dave Lovering has lost his home and needs the cash
to support his new job as a conjurer. As for Kim Deal, the
Pixies' iconic bassist, she is fresh out of rehab and living at
home with her folks. The tour was wonderful news for Kim, her
mother explains "She needs something to do besides writing
poetry and, er, sleeping all day."
If the aim was to boost the band's bank balance, the Pixies
comeback was a huge success (tickets sold out within
minutes). But, behind the scenes, matters were more torrid.
Initially conceived as a celebration, loudQUIETloud quickly veers
into train-wreck territory. Lovering is the first to crash.
Devastated by his father's death, he hits the bottle, guzzles
valium and suffers a public breakdown on stage in Chicago. His
behaviour appears to impact on Deal. Having initially stipulated
that the tour should be alcohol free, she is shown surreptitiously
nursing a bottle of beer during a stopover in Reykjavik. "Hey, it's
only 5% proof," she insists. "Pretty much all beer is 5% proof,"
retorts her sister, Kelley.
Actually there was plenty more in this vein, Cantor says. It's just
that the band ordered him to take it out. "Kim, in particular, felt
there were too many scenes that showed her trying to stay
sober," he explains. "She felt that there was more to her than
just being, like, rehab woman. So yes, we had to tone it down."
At times the band's intervention was more forceful. In one scene,
during a protracted drugs debate between Deal and Lovering,
Thompson seizes the camera and pushes it to the floor.
Was the band happy with the final version? "Oh yes," the
director assures me. "They think it's really truthful. They
recognise themselves in the movie." Yet he sounds slightly
Rumour has it that the Pixies remain unimpressed with
loudQUIETloud. Perhaps this is why Thompson is proving so
elusive. Exasperated, the film's distributors suggest that I try a
new tactic. I should approach his management company, tell
them I want to discuss Frank Black's solo tour, and don't
mention the film at all. I should pretend, in fact, to be unaware
that there even is a film.
The day after our aborted conversation in Pennsylvania, I
trackThompson to a hotel in Washington DC. It's eight in the
morning and I get him out of bed. "Hold the line for a moment,"
he croaks. "I must pass my urine or I won't be able to think." He
is gone so long I start to wonder if he's slipped away again.
On stage, Thompson is an electrifying presence: big, bald and bawling;
a furious baby grown to the size of a barn. But he
emerges from the documentary as an oddly distant figure. For
some reason, the film features numerous shots of him lolling,
semi-naked in bed, lovingly patting his belly, or stroking at his
scalp. He looks like a cross between Leigh Bowery and Marlon
Brando in Apocalypse Now.
Thompson flushes the loo and returns to the phone. I ask him
what he thinks of the documentary and he hums and haws.
"Look," he says, "I've got nothing against the film or the film-
makers, but they manipulated the whole thing. They wanted a
story, and that story became this tension within the band, how
awful we got along, and Dave's downward spiral. Whereas Dave
was actually the one who was holding us together. His
breakdown only came at the end of the tour when he was upset
about his dad's death. Then he became this kind of Jekyll and
Hyde figure, dulling the pain with red wine and pills."
Deal's portrayal proved the other sticking point. "Kim wasn't
happy with the film at all," he admits. "It made her look like she
was hardly there, clutching her beer and chain-smoking
cigarettes. It made it look as if we had just scooped her out of
the gutter." So they asked for some scenes to be removed?
"Well, yeah. We told them we didn't care for the original cut. We
ended up putting a lot of stuff back in."
The problem, Thompson suspects, is that the film-makers never
really understood their subject matter. "They were naive, like a
lot of people who don't understand how rock bands are when
they go on tour. They'd roll into the hotel every morning and say,
'So what are you guys going to do today? Ooh, are you going to
go buy some ice cream?' I guess they expected us to be like
the Monkees, always up to mischief. But we're boring, you
know. And touring is boring. You just sit around not talking to
This, at least, is something that the film was able to pinpoint.
"The movie as it stands is basically truthful, even though it's
exaggerated," Thompson says. "But it does suggest something
that is correct: the awful lack of communication within the band.
That silly dysfunctional quality. Sometimes we don't speak
Thompson famously broke up the Pixies by fax back in 1992. At
the time he thought this was the classy way to call it quits. He
says now that he regrets the decision, and that the band still
hate him for it. Recently he has been angling for a longer-term
collaboration: he wants to corral the Pixies into a studio and
test-run some new material. "But there is some reluctance, let's
put it that way. They don't trust me." He sighs. "They used to
I had been hoping to wring a quick quote or two out of
Thompson. But we have now been on the phone for more than
40 minutes. He keeps beating back into the past; unpicking old
grievances and festering rivalries; discussing who's still mad at
who, and why; spotlighting all the waste and loss that lurks in
the wings of loudQUIETloud.
"I used to have a band," he laments. "And now I don't have a
band anymore. That's why I'm off doing my little solo tour. That's
why I'm sitting in a hotel room telling you all about it".
Rockumentaries that went wrong
Cocksucker Blues (1972)
The genre's seedy antecedent trails the Rolling Stones on their
1972 American tour. But the group was so incensed by the
portrayal of them as narcissistic, drug-guzzling hedonists that
they sued to prevent its release. It remains under a court order
to this day.
Ramones: End of the Century (2003)
Johnny steals Joey's girlfriend, Dee Dee is a junkie and Tommy
struggles to keep time and make peace. The Ramones might
not have been real brothers, but the fraternal tension is palpable.
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
There is a decided whiff of Spinal Tap about this portrait of a
band bedevilled by death, drugs and galloping self-absorption -
particularly when their management hires a costly therapist to
sort them out.
The Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre start
out as allies with a mission to get "a full-scale revolution going
on". One band ends up on a Vodafone advert; the other goes
down in a hail of rotten fruit.
New York Doll (2005)
In which bassist Arthur Kane quits the Dolls and becomes a
Mormon, but finally rejoins the band at the Meltdown festival.
Meanwhile, three other band-mates have long since died and
· LoudQUIETloud is at the Edinburgh International Film festival
on August 22, 25 and 27. Details: 0131-228 4051. The film is
released on DVD in November.
Former Pixies frontman still shows his sharp edges
By RACHEL LEIBROCK
Frank Black's family is on its way out the door to run some errands and, as their mother shoos the last kid
toward the car, the former Pixies frontman momentarily breaks off his phone conversation.
"Bye everybody _ I love you," he calls out in the voice made famous by songs such as "Gigantic" and "Wave
With four kids and wife Violet Clark along for the ride, the tour bus is ready to roll and Black appears to be
the picture of domestic bliss.
At first it seems like a strange image of the artist formerly known as Black Francis _ the notoriously prickly
man who reportedly broke up the Pixies via a terse fax.
But settle into a few minutes of conversation with the Oregon-based musician and it's clear that Black,
though polite and friendly, still retains a few refreshingly sharp edges.
Black, 41, whets those edges when the subject of his new album, "Fast Man Raider Man,"is broached.
Don't try too hard to figure out the sprawling, rootsy two-disc set, Black says.
Recorded with an all-star back-up band during one Pasadena and two Nashville sessions, some critics
have labeled "Fast Man" as Black's "Nashville era" album.
And though Black admits he trekked to the epicenter of country music in part to relive Bob Dylan's
celebrated "Blonde on Blonde" journey, he deems the categorization as too simplistic.
"It's too convenient or pigeon-holey to call this my 'Nashville' record," Black says. "I'm just making records
with musicians like I always do. It's not rootsy or bluesy. To me they're just very Frank Black-y.
"I always like to quote Iggy Pop," he says. "'It's all just disco, drum-driven music.'"
Er, maybe not quite.
"Fast Man Raider Man," which features a few "leftover" tracks from Black's 2004 "Honeycomb" recording
sessions, is rootsy and bluesy, not to mention folk, rock and country.
Not so much the heartbreaker as 2002's "Show Me Your Tears" _ written after the break-up of his first
marriage _ the songs here are reflective and forthright, using plenty of acoustic guitar and pedal steel to
craft an Americana heartland sound.
There are songs about longing ("It's Just Not Your Moment," "Sad Old World"), songs about dreaming
("Wanderlust," "Highway to Lowdown") and even one about the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina
("My Terrible Ways").
Black credits his crew of seasoned session players for threading the sound together with a consistent,
Not that he'd planned it that way.
"I didn't have any particular musicians in mind," he says. "I just wanted to go to Nashville like Dylan did in
1965 - a lot of people have made that journey.
"It's just the great case of the outsider rocker dude hanging out with the cats. That was my initial intent."
Producer Jon Tiven took it from there, Black says, calling on friends such as Levon Helm (The Band), cult
songwriter P.F. Sloan (along with partner Steve Barri, he penned classic pop tracks such as "Secret Agent
Man"), songwriter Spooner Oldham (he and partner Dan Penn wrote for, among others, Janis Joplin and
Aretha Franklin), Americana singer-songwriter Buddy Miller and Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MGs) to
flesh out Black's sonic vision.
Black marveled at their "sheer musical prowess."
"They played with such restraint and were so soulful," he says.
"I used to think of Nashville as strictly a country kind of place, but the whole area is really just a crossroad
of every American genre," he says. "There's rock 'n' roll and R&B and folk, and every night of the week these
musicians are out there playing."
He likens his Nashville experience as a natural extension of a childhood nutured on Beatles records.
"If you're listening to 'Magical Mystery Tour' or 'The White Album,' you get the perception that you could do
anything," Black says.
"You can be aggressive, you can be sweet, you can be experimental _ there are no rules. I always feel
within my right to break the rules and jump around."
Of course, that's easy to say when you're Frank Black, founder of one of modern rock's most influential
bands. (And, for the record, Black refuses to confirm the possibility of another Pixies tour or reunion,
offering only a coy "Maybe, maybe not" in answer to the question.)
Perhaps, but Black doesn't buy into that whole corporate overlord-artist-as-seer concept _ for anyone.
"I know I'm fairly buffered from record companies because of my age and (I've) been through all the
baloney, and so there's just not a lot of chit-chat about what goes on," he says. "(But) I hate it when I hear
artists say they're being controlled by 'The Man,'" says Black.
"It's not like the French Foreign Legion," says Black, who says he's "excited" about bringing his family along
for this end-of-summer solo tour outing.
"It's just rock music _ do what you want to do."
(Rachel Leibrock can be reached at rleibrock(at)sacbee.com.)
Frank Black - Where is his mind?
Article by Paul Mitchell
In ‘Fool the World’, an oral history of the Pixies, meticulously
compiled by Josh Frank and Caryn Ganz, Charles Thompson
offers some background into the underlying tensions between the
band members that ultimately led to the ‘death’ of the Pixies.
“It’s a band, but it isn’t exactly like a democracy. It was my ad
they answered in the paper, you know what I mean?” he said
just before they regrouped in 2004. This is a pointed defence of
the creative control he was wielding which so disgruntled one Kim
Deal in particular. Fast forward a few years, and in the aftermath
of a hugely successful Pixies reunion, a couple of well-received
Nashville recorded solo albums (as Frank Black), and the feral
maelstrom that was Black Francis of the Pixies now seems to be
mellowing into someone altogether more magnanimous.
Speaking to the Skinny whilst babysitting his young children
(newborn Lucy Berlin and 1 year-old Jack Errol, “the problem
child”) he now says the band is “effectively a democracy”, and
refers to rumours that he’s written new material for the band, but
that recording has yet to begin in earnest, if it will at all. “How
should I put this? It’s all up to Kim Deal, she holds the reins.
Everyone has a veto vote, and when one member doesn’t want
to participate, it’s a no go Deal (ahem) and Kim’s not interested
in making a record now, she’s working on Breeders stuff.”
So does this veto translate into frustration from his perspective
as a workaholic songwriter? “Not at all, everything’s very
friendly. OK, so I’m more interested in making a record, but what
will I do? Make it without Kim Deal? I’ll be stoned, wouldn’t get
away with it. I don’t think I’d want to get away with it either.”
If this pragmatic tolerance seems at odds with his earlier
incarnation (Thompson first wanted to fire Kim Deal, then in
frustration disbanded the Pixies via fax), then so does the
development of his music. Critics are unsure if his seemingly
steady progression from psychotic, screaming hell child into Hank
Marvin is a good thing. Many have praised Frank Black’s recent,
country tinged efforts (last year’s ‘Honeycomb’ and the recently
released ‘Fastman Raiderman’) for their excellent song writing,
and those who don’t like it, tend in the main to compare it
unfavourably to his Pixies material. Thompson is now quite
sanguine about this, having spent many years post-Pixies,
refusing to speak of ‘that band’. “I guess somebody looking for
that next exciting, post-punk, guitar scaring rock 'n’ roll moment
won’t like the fact I’ve turned around and said ‘Hey, let’s do
something soulful, or a little country’. I respect that, some people
love what I’m doing now, some don’t. That’s cool. I couldn’t listen
to jazz music for years.”
So, is the implication that a certain level of maturity is needed to
appreciate what he’s doing right now? “Not necessarily. I just
wanted to try it out. Dylan went to Nashville and made ‘Blonde on
Blonde’ with some good players. Nashville still has good players.
I wanted to play there, not necessarily to make a country record,
just play with those American musicians who have a lot of vibe. I
wanted some mojo in my records.”
The players involved on 'Fastman Raiderman' (“I love the title, it
sounds like a Quentin Tarantino movie, sounds kinda tough”)
include Levon Helm from The Band, Tom Petersson of Cheap
Trick, Steve Ferrone and Marty Brown, to name but a few and
Thompson admits he was in awe of his company at first. “These
guys have a lot of flavour. They’ve been playing in bands since
they were 14, it’s hardcore. When I say playing in a band, I don’t
mean like they’re getting high for half their career and then
putting out half-assed, overdubbed pro-tools records every now
and again. And you know, they get criticism for playing with me!
They can turn out all these riffs and here they are sitting down
with this young (well, younger), post-punk dude - It’s oil and
vinegar, it doesn’t work.” With typical penchant for colourful
imagery, he continues, “To me, they’re just like an old cheese or
wine that has matured in a pleasant way. And maybe you’re right
Mr Reviewer, maybe this old cheese doesn’t taste right with that
particular bread, but I don’t mind. You just get hooked on playing
with those guys. I don’t care if we’re playing Happy Birthday.”
Thompson has never been slow to take full credit for forming,
disbanding, and ultimately reviving one of popular culture’s
quintessential acts. He was after all, the driving force and
principle lyricist. Indeed, it was the outright strangeness of some
of these lyrics, dealing with the curious (alien abduction) and the
taboo (incest), coupled with moody, yet catchy melodies, quirky
Joey Santiago riffs, fearsome David Lovering drumming and
haunting harmonies with Kim Deal which combined to make the
irresistible package. That said, though always well-received in
the UK, in their USA homeland, they remained a relatively
unknown quantity until Kurt Cobain famously suggested that
Smells Like Teen Spirit was a failed attempt at a Pixies record.
This ‘posthumous’ attention has led to millions of new, younger
fans, but the attention lavished on the Pixies as a whole hasn’t
focused itself to the same extreme on Frank Black throughout his
moderately successful solo career. Does he think that there is
justification in the belief that the whole was perhaps greater than
the sum of its parts? “At the time, I didn’t think that was true. I
guess after all these years, and having played with other people,
I give that theory some credibility. Perhaps me and those guys
really were the ‘magic’ line-up.”
“Since we got back together, it doesn’t feel so different than it did
back then. It’s not like hey, we haven’t released a record in 12
years, it’s more like, I’m touring with the Pixies playing Gouge
Away and there’s always been the Pixies playing Gouge Away.
It’s like a wrinkle in time. Best of all, because we haven’t been
doing it for 12 years, it’s not boring anymore, it’s actually
interesting again. It doesn’t even hurt to scream anymore.”
Fastman Raiderman is out now
(c) The Skinny
Black shows sharp edges
The Sacramento Bee
September 30, 2006
Frank Black’s family is on the way out the door to run some errands and,
as their mother shoos the last kid toward the car, the former Pixies
frontman momentarily breaks off his phone conversation.
“Bye, everybody — I love you,” he
calls out in the voice made famous
by songs such as “Gigantic” and
“Wave of Mutilation.”
With four kids and wife Violet Clark
along for the ride, the tour bus is
ready to roll, and Black appears to
be the picture of domestic bliss.
At first it seems like a strange image
of the artist formerly known as Black
Francis — the notoriously prickly
man who reportedly broke up the
Pixies via a terse fax.
But settle into a few minutes of
conversation with the Oregon-based
musician, and it’s clear that Black,
though polite and friendly, still
retains a few refreshingly sharp
Black, 41, whets those edges when
the subject of his new album, “Fast
Man Raider Man,” is broached. Don’t
try too hard to figure out the
sprawling, rootsy two-disc set, Black
Recorded with an all-star backup band during one Pasadena and two Nashville
sessions, some critics have labeled “Fast Man” as Black’s “Nashville-era” album.
And though Black admits he trekked to the epicenter of country music in part to
relive Bob Dylan’s celebrated “Blonde on Blonde” journey, he deems the
categorization as simplistic.
“It’s too convenient or pigeon-holey to call this my ‘Nashville’ record,” Black says.
“I’m just making records with musicians like I always do. It’s not rootsy or
bluesy. To me they’re just very Frank Black-y.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Marquee Theatre, 730 N. Mill Ave., Tempe
Information: (480) 829-0607 or www.luckymanonline.com
Edited by - Carl on 09/30/2006 12:00:48
= Cult of Ray =
Posted - 10/02/2006 : 17:26:27
| Black shows softer, sentimental side with latest Nashville release
By Ron Wynn, firstname.lastname@example.org
October 02, 2006
Frank Black has long been among alternative rock’s pioneering figures as a bandleader, vocalist and songwriter. Whether it was his experimentation with dynamics and range during his leads, penning compositions that ignored the usual 2/4 and 4/4 rhythmic conventions and structures or heading such groups as the Pixies and Catholics, Black has delighted in surprising and challenging audiences with his choices and performances.
His latest release Fast Man Raider Man (Back Porch/EMI), a two-disc set, continues his collaborations with acclaimed rock, pop and soul musicians, writers and producers. He’ll be performing selections from it and many other previous works Wednesday night at the Mercy Lounge, but Black says it’s understandable he would change his approach for the sessions chronicled on Fast Man Raider Man and its predecessor Honeycomb.
“Well when you’re in a room with people like Steve Cropper and Spooner Oldham it doesn’t exactly make a lot sense to grab a microphone and start screaming,” Black laughed. “Working in Nashville with the caliber of musicians that were on these sessions was a joy because they not only could handle anything that I wanted to do, but they challenged you with their degree of skill. I didn’t put out a double-disc for any reason except that we made so many great songs that I wanted people to hear them. The sound and sensibility of what was happening in the studio is really reflected in the songs that we did, and I’m very happy with the way things turned out.”
Fast Man Raider Man features low-key, yet vital production from Jon Tiven and has contributions from songwriter P.F. Sloan and other notables like Levon Helm and Al Kooper in addition to Cropper, Oldham and Anton Fig. But what has produced the strongest responses (both pro and con) from longtime Black followers is the restrained style and use of falsetto, as well as some of the arrangements and backdrops to the numbers.
His cover of Ewan MacColl’s “Dirty Old Town” is wobbly yet striking, and his vocal on “Sad Old World” is easily his most soulful ever. But he also shows on “Down To You” or “Kiss My Ring” that he hasn’t completely deserted the upbeat, energetic rockers that established his reputation, despite a preponderance of pedal steel guitars and sax solos on several numbers. Overall, Fast Man Raider Man and Honeycomb together represent Black’s successful immersion into country and Southern soul territory.
But Black hasn’t abandoned or deserted alternative rock. He’s now working on a new disc with Eric Drew Feldman and while the Catholics are no longer together, a pair of CDs with b-sides and rare tracks from that period are available on iTunes and Black hints that more may be coming down the line. In addition, though his band for this current tour includes guitarist Duane Jarvis, bassist Feldman and drummer Billy Block, Black says there may yet be some more Pixies dates in the future.
“I can’t really say anything about that now, but in a few months the fans may get some good news on that front,” he said.
What: Guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and bandleader Frank Black
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Mercy Lounge, One Cannery Row
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 10/04/2006 : 18:13:38
Cover story: Speaking Frankly
An interview with Pixies frontman and mercurial rock legend Frank Black, who
brings his new band to Savannah Smiles Oct. 15
By Jim Reed
Anytime any music journalist worth his
or her salt gets a chance to talk with
Frank Black, it’s cause for a certain
type of alarm.
That’s not only because Black is a
highly intelligent songwriter and
legendary rock star with an imposing body of work, but also because he has a
deserved reputation for not suffering fools gladly.
Not that such a reputation is an indictment of him. Quite the opposite,
in fact. Truth is that ever since Black first burst onto the underground
(and later, the above ground) music scene in the mid-1980s as the
frontman and chief composer for the Boston-based noise-pop quartet
the Pixies, he’s had to field some of the most inane questions
One would have to look back to the golden age of Bob Dylan’s dada-
esque mid-’60s press conferences to find some sort of corollary. Back
then, Dylan was forced to either limit his answers to snide, terse,
offhanded remarks, or go on the attack, fending off similar inanities
and queries from writers less interested in getting to know what really
made their subject tick than in regurgitating the same old party line.
The similarities between Dylan and Black don’t end there. Both are
voracious readers who take great pride in the lyrical construct of their
work. Both emerged seemingly whole, at a time when the music world
seemed quite unaware that it was drastically in need of a severe
thrashing. And both of them would create and release albums early in
their careers that would —in many respects— haunt them for years.
Some would argue that Dylan has never lived down the amazing, mind
bending imagery and disjointed, trashcan blues of his heyday, and that
in fact, his neverending attempts to outrun his own legacy are what
keep him writing, recording, and touring to this day.
For an entirely different generation— those weaned on punk rock and
all it begat— Frank Black (who, like Dylan, works under a pseudonym)
and the albums he made as Black Francis with his first serious band
the Pixies, resonate with the same timeless, elusive qualities as
Dylan’s mid-’60s triptych of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61
Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde.
It’s those qualities, along with the harsh and caustic sonic
characteristics of their records, their cathartic live shows, and the stark
and naked first-person imagery of Black’s lyrics (comparable in their
starkness and often disturbingly surreal subject matter to those of The
Velvet Underground or of early Patti Smith) that spawned countless
new bands and solo artists — all enraptured with the same intoxicating
sense of rock freedom (or Freedom Rock).
In hindsight, the Pixies discs —which were marginalized by many
critics and listeners upon initial release— are now generally
considered classics of what came to be known as “alternative rock,”
although in all fairness, there were scores of adventurous musicfans
at the time who instantly recognized them as some of the most
exciting, refreshing and inexplicable pop records ever made.
And, just like Dylan’s most enduring works, those albums (Come On
Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde)
still stand up remarkably well today, almost two decades after their
While that band imploded only a few years into their promising career
amid tension and disappointment that’s been chronicled in minute
detail countless times before in untold fanzines and music mags,
Black (Born Charles Michael Kitteridge Thompson IV) defiantly
soldiered on, slyly reversing the order of his adopted handle, and
burying himself headfirst into an idiosyncratic solo career that has
found him releasing a steady stream of inventive, quirky, irrepressible
albums full of brainy rock and roll that is at turns noisy, soft, brash,
sweet, ugly, ethereal, spiritual, violent, morose and playful — qualities
shared in large part by the Pixies’ back catalog.
First solely under his own freshly-minted assumed name, and later as
the leader of a (slightly) rotating cast of ace backing musicians he
christened The Catholics, Black’s career arc has in some ways
mimicked that of Dylan’s or Elvis Costello’s — or of another restless,
mercurial seeker of a songwriter who’s not content to rest on his
laurels: Neil Young.
All four have taken (not totally) unexpected detours into the fringes of
their chosen bags, exploring the more traditional formats of country,
folk, blues, swing and Tin Pan Alley songwriting.
In Black’s case (and to some degree, all of theirs) along the way, there
have been high points and low points, albums that sold surprisingly
well, and those that seemed in many respects to be little more than
curious love letters to an adoring and fiercely loyal cult fanbase. Yet,
through it all, Black has retained an unassailably high standard of
quality, not to mention the artistic respect of most all who’ve worked
with him in a creative capacity.
When the Pixies surprisingly reunited a few years back to almost
universal —if not sadly belated— acclaim (and a seemingly
neverending retrospective tour of their own in major venues across the
globe), it seemed to many longtime observers as though Black was
nearing a turning point in his artistic journey.
Sure enough, right on the cusp of that unexpected development, Black
disbanded The Catholics, with whom he had famously insisted on
recording the old-fashioned way: completely live in the studio, without
the benefit of overdubs, post-production, or other modern-day fixes.
He then set about fulfilling a personal fantasy he’d harbored for years:
cutting an album in Nashville with some of the veteran journeyman
session players that helped create the classic rock, soul and country
albums of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
It was a notion born from Black’s fascination with Dylan’s Blonde on
Blonde album, the 1966 2-LP set that found the Beat poetry-inspired
rock chameleon paired with the cream of Music City’s backing
musiacians. In fact, for ages, the cheeky working title of Black’s album
was actually Black on Blonde.
Tracked in just four days on the eve of a lengthy string of Pixies dates,
those sessions, helmed by veteran producer and songwriter Jon Tiven
(who’d previously worked with everyone from Big Star’s Alex Chilton to
Jim Carroll to Wilson Pickett), posited Black as one of the most
versatile and unselfconscious singer/songwriters of his generation.
The unabashedly soulful material still retained Black’s trademark
oblique lyrical bent, but, when married to the smooth, almost scarily
confident playing of folks like drummer Anton Fig (of The CBS
Orchestra), Emmylou Harris guitarist Buddy Miller, Booker T & The
MGs/Blues Brothers axeman Steve Cropper and keyboardist Spooner
Oldham (who’s recorded and toured with both Bob Dylan and Neil
Young), the combination became downright beatific.
Despite rough mixes of the sessions finding their way into
unauthorized circulation before the finished LP could find a home, it
was eventually picked up by Back Porch Records, a subsidiary of EMI
specializing in roots-rock and Americana, and released to no
shortage of critical acclaim in 2005. It was the closest Black had come
to fully embracing straight-up country-rock and R & B since starting to
lean heavily in those directions around 2002 with his one-two punch of
separate-but equal Catholics discs, Devil’s Workshop and Black
His brand-new 2-CD set Fastman Raiderman continues in that same
vein, with a whopping 27 songs honed to some sort of loose
perfection by an all-star cast of characters that includes The Band’s
Levon Helm, Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, The Faces’ Ian McLagen,
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ drummer Steve Ferrone, Dylan
keyboardist (and Blood, Sweat & Tears founder) Al Kooper, reclusive
“Eve of Destruction” songwriter P.F. Sloan, and famed Muscle Shoals
Rhythm Section bassist David Hood, among others.
Composed of set-asides from the original Honeycomb sessions, as
well as several songs tracked in a bizarrely ambitious marathon 24-
hour straight session that Black squeezed in between high-dollar,
throat shredding Pixies dates (and which found three different all-star
lineups working around the clock in shifts to finish in time), it’s a
meandering collection of woozy ditties, Van Morrison-esque rave-ups
and somber ruminations on love, death, divorce and destiny that
seems at times like some bizarro world redux of Black’s other
Magnum Opus, 1994’s Teenager of The Year, a sprawling, 22-song
collection of frenetic, post-punk sci-fi art-rock which many diehard fans
still insist is his finest (and most idiosyncratic) accomplishment to
Now, for the first time since 2003 —and in fact, the first time since the
Pixies reunited— Black is touring with a brand-new electric backing
band. This stripped-down lineup of Black on rhythm guitar and vocals,
Billy Block on drums, Duane Jarvis on lead guitar and Eric Drew
Feldman on bass and keys is at first glance an odd grouping.
Block’s a respected Nashville ringer and songwriter who’s played and
recorded with the likes of Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and John
Trudell. Jarvis has a well-received solo career of his own as a
singer/songwriter, who spends much of his time in Portland, Or., where
Black and his family recently moved. Feldman is a multi-instrumentalist
who’s worked off and on with Black over the years (even co-producing
Teenager of The Year), as well as with such other oddball rock
luminaries as Captain Beefheart, PJ Harvey and the late Snakefinger.
I caught up with the man by phone a few hours before he would lead
his band through their first official debut gig — which also marked the
start of their tour. In atypical fashion, instead of breaking the group in
at some out of the way dive bar, they were set to open 2 nights in a
row for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at The Greek Theatre in Los
Angeles — on Petty’s sold-out 30th Anniversary Tour, no less!
I mentioned at the start of this article that any music journalist worth
their salt likely gets nervous when speaking with Frank Black. That’s
because he’s well known for being wonderfully easy to talk with, and
quite gregarious and forthcoming — up to a point.
This was the 4th time I’ve had the pleasure to pick his brain, and every
time before this, I wound up constantly second-guessing myself
throughout the proceedings — always on guard not to do or say
something that might trigger that instant loss of interest on Black’s part
that is all too familiar to those who follow such articles.
This time, I did my darnedest to just roll with it, and not get caught up
so much in the minutiae of the chat. The result? Within 30 minutes after
hanging up the phone I was kicking myself for not getting around to
asking some of the questions I’d most wanted to field.
So, you won’t find out from this piece if Frank Black feels any more or
less free as an artist now that the Pixies are back together. Or, the
criteria he used in selecting which songs from his expansive catalog
this new group would play on their first headlining tour. Or, what it is in
particular about his old pal Reid Paley that has made him a favored
opening act on Black’s solo tours for years.
You also won’t find out whether he actually composes many of his
songs on the ukulele, as I suspect he does (not that 99% of you cared
about that anyway). Hell, you won’t find out a lot of things that I —and
possibly many of you— wanted to know.
Hopefully, though, you will discover a few pleasant surprises, and in
the end, it will have been worth your time, as well as his.
Connect Savannah: How are things this morning?
Frank Black: Well, I’m feeling a little rough... I stayed up too late last
Connect Savannah: Last night was the first gig with the new band,
Frank Black: We had a little impromptu show. It was real casual. Not
like a formal gig, you know? We crashed a P.F. Sloan gig and played
Connect Savannah: How was it received?
Frank Black: You know, the drunk guy that was dancing all night in
front of me — I think he was pleased. (Laughs)
Connect Savannah: Did you get to rap with him after the show?
Frank Black: Thank God, no. He may even have been ejected before
it got that far. He was very enthusiastic. He gave me a guitar before
Connect Savannah: To sign, or just to have?
Frank Black: To have.
Connect Savannah: Was it a nice guitar?
Frank Black: I don’t know. I forgot it. Then he gave me his driver’s
license, and when I showed it to the club owner, he said, “Oh, this guy!”
Connect Savannah: So he’s a regular there.
Frank Black: Yeah. Regular trouble, I think.
Connect Savannah: Ah, to be back in the bars again.
Frank Black: Yeah. Some people shouldn’t drink, basically. That’s
how I’d sum that up. (Laughs)
(At this point, Frank takes a call on another line from his drummer and
Tour Manager, Billy Block, and I can clearly hear Black’s end of the
Frank Black: (to Block) You might have to babsysit me on this tour. I
don’t know. Anyway, I won’t be pullin’ that anymore. So, I’m fine. I’m
gonna go get some soup and begin resuscitating my voice... It’s all
that gabbing you know. Talking to people in a loud nightclub. Classic.
Anyway, I’ll be fine by the time we’re at the gig tonight! (Laughs)
Thanks for checking in on me. (To Connect) That’s my drummer and
also my Tour Manager.
Connect Savannah: He’s cracking the whip? (Laughs)
Frank Black: (warily) He and I have never worked together on the
road before, so I hope I’m not giving him too poor an impression. Now
he’s gonna think... Well, I was kinda havin’ a couple of beers last night
during the show and gettin’ a little loud. Which is a pretty rare thing for
me. I don’t do that stuff too often. But, we’ve been rehearsing all week,
and me and Eric Feldman kept laughing the whole time about the sort
of “industrial complex” that we were rehearsing in. The big motorized
barbed wire gate that opens and closes to let bands in an out of this
rehearsal facility had us pretending and fantasizing that we were in
some sort of minimum security prison. It felt so good of them to let us
out from time to time to walk around the neighborhood and get some
coffee at the local coffeeshop. (Laughs and coughs) Anyway, after
three days in this place, it really was like getting released from our little
prison, so last night I reunited with all my old friends I hadn’t seen for a
while, and had a few drinks and wound up talkin’ up a storm.
Connect Savannah: Also a P.F. Sloan gig is a pretty rare occurrence
on its own, so that’s something to celebrate.
Frank Black: Yeah, apparently he hasn’t done too many of these. His
first concert tour ever.
Connect Savannah: That’s really amazing.
Frank Black: Yeah. It just goes to show that everybody’s career or
experience in show business is not the same necessarily.
Connect Savannah: I know you’ve been intensely rehearsing the
band. Was that all done in California or did any take place in
Frank Black: It was all done here.
Connect Savannah: Is the group getting up to speed the way you’d
hoped they would?
Frank Black: Oh yeah. They’re good players, you know. We’re a little
rough on the edges, but I think that’s sort of OK. We know about 20
Connect Savannah: Do you imagine you’ll be adding more songs as
the tour progresses, or you’ll just stick with those 20?
Frank Black: I don’t know yet. I imagine we’ll add some more.
Connect Savannah: This group seems cherry-picked to promote
your last 2 solo albums which obviously lean in a more roots-rock
vein than some of your earlier stuff. Do you see this band as a one-
off project with a finite lifespan, or could it have the potential to
continue on for years, much like The Catholics did?
Frank Black: Well, it may appear that way on the surface, because
I’ve gotten a couple of the guys who played on the Nashville sessions,
but then I add Eric Feldman in there. So I have one compadré on
board... I think it’s more like I’m taking my new Nashville friends and
saying, ok, so we’re going on tour! But, guess what? We’re gonna be
more of like, well, a punk band. So, let’s play like that. I mean, in
whatever country-style songs we might be playing, we’re approaching
them with a kind of punk-rock abandon. At least that’s what it seems
like. I don’t know. I feel like it’s sounding more like The Replacements
or something, rather than a slick Nashville thing. I’m not sure why that
is, either. I guess I don’t feel comfortable with us going out there and
being real slick. I don’t mind doing that in a recording session. But
going and playing that way in nightclubs is not my idea of... I mean, I
think I’m much more comfortable being kinda loud, you know? So,
that’s what we’re doing. And I think we’re playing to the “loud crowd”
as well. If I had inherited John Hiatt’s audience, then maybe I wouldn’t
be doing this. But I don’t think that I did. I believe I’m playing to the
louder, more punk-rock crowd.
Connect Savannah: Did you tell the bandmembers what you were
after right from the start, or did you wait until rehearsals began to
spring it on them?
Frank Black: These guys have rock and roll conventions. It’s not like
they’re gonna go, “What?” See, a lot of people don’t ever seem to
understand that a lot of it’s the same world.
Connect Savannah: It’s just like a different set of clothes.
Frank Black: Kind of, yeah. Like, I was having a drink in a bar in
Wales on a tour. I think it was with the Pixies. And, it was a little quiet
village on my way to Ireland, and an American guy came over to the
table and he’d heard me chatting with a bunch of English roadies. I
don’t know who he was, but it seemed like he was an artist who
performed some sort of popular songs, but nothing like rock and roll.
Connect Savannah: Like folk music?
Frank Black: Not even that. It was more square than that. He was
probably like Jerry Vale. For an older crowd
Connect Savannah: A lounge singer.
Frank Black: Yeah, but the kind that would play in theatres or
something. He must have been a name of some sort. He was well
heeled, and he was older than me. Anyway, he could tell that we were
musicians and that we were on the road. As was he! And he was
coming from Ireland. Like us, he had the night off for travelling, and
here we all were in this little pub in the middle of Wales. He said how’s
it goin’, and that he’d overheard we were on a tour playin’ in such and
such a town. Well, he’d just come from there, and blah, blah, blah, blah,
blah. Well, it was nice to see you guys, and have a good trip. We
talked for about 10 minutes about fishing or golf or something. The
point is, that as far as he was concerned, we were all in the same club
as him. Right? And I appreciated that. He knew damn well that we
were rock and roll people. He didn’t say, “Hey, I’m a rock and roller,
too.” He didn’t pretend to be something other than what he was. But
basically, (adopts a carny barker’s voice) “We’re all in showbiz here.”
That was his take on it. And I totally agree. That’s why I think people
get too hung up on musical genres and stuff like that. At the end of the
day, people that are in showbiz like to think of themselves as... Well,
we’s all people in showbiz! There’s not all this division. We all step into
the limelight and take the stage to do our thing. We’re all troubadours
or whatever you want to call it. I like to think about it like that. And so, I
get disappointed when people — especially other musicians or music
fans— get too caught up with “well, they sound like that, and that’s their
bag.” “See, this is our bag over here and we don’t hang with that over
there.” It’s not that different, you know what I mean? People are
gathering this evening at the appointed hour. Perhaps it’s a drinking
room, or perhaps not. Whatever. But they’re gonna gather for the
concert. Big night out! You know? We’re gonna take the stage and
we’re gonna try to give ‘em their money’s worth. That’s why I really love
reading books about jazz musicians in the ‘30s or Vaudeville
comedians. You know, reading about the Three Stooges or whatever. I
mean, I’ve played in rooms and older theatres, where I’ve realized, oh
my God! Ted Healy and the Three Stooges probably played here in
1925! (Laughs) So, how different was their world from mine? Well, of
course there are a lot of big differences, but what’s so interesting are
the similarities. They travelled to this town from that town. They
probably took the same road. They stayed in a hotel in this part of
town. They had to wake up in the morning and go find coffee and
breakfast. They saw the same kind of sunlight and smelled a lot of the
same smells. For crying out loud, they came in contact with the same
gene pool that I’m coming into contact with! You know what I mean?
There’s all those kind of connections. Anyway, I find it fascinating.
Connect Savannah: Thanks for being so eager to speak with me.
Frank Black: Sure. I appreciate it. I’ve never played in Savannah.
Connect Savannah: Well, we’ve been trying to get you here for a
Frank Black: I’m looking very forward to it! I guess most people first
heard about Savannah because of that big murder story.
Connect Savannah: Midnight In The Garden of Good & Evil.
Frank Black: Yeah, yeah. All that stuff. You know. Of course, I’m
Connect Savannah: Weirdness?
Frank Black: Weirdness. You know. Old ladies drinking mint juleps
and thinking about murder in the shadows. (Laughs)
Connect Savannah: Well, if you want, we always keep mint julep
ladies on standby, and we can have them trucked over from Central
Frank Black: (Laughs)
Connect Savannah: Well, I’ve seen you play in Charleston before,
and Savannah’s a little like Charleston.
Frank Black: It’s steamy down there.
Connect Savannah: Yes. It’s steamy, but it’s less snooty. We’re kind
of like the slightly backwards, more keep-to-ourselves version of
Frank Black: I like it. I like it.
Connect Savannah: For those of us for whom your post-Pixies output
is at least as important —if not more so— than your work with that
band, it’s hard to imagine a world in which there’s no hope of you
working with The Catholics again, and specifically under the
regimented live-to-2-track tape method that you adhered to with that
project. Do you have any interest in ever working with those folks
again under similar circumstances, or is that gone forever?
Frank Black: I don’t know. I mean, you know, those guys were great.
But they also became disinterested in the process. So, if the band
isn’t still feeling whatever kick you’re on, then it’s over. I mean, I still like
that kind of approach to working, but I haven’t taken it up again yet. I
suppose I will. I don’t know. I guess I’m just taking a break from that
Connect Savannah: Was there ever a real possibility of getting
some of the extremely famous session guys from your last 2 albums
to accompany you on the road — such as Steve Cropper or Spooner
Oldham? I know those guys don’t really like to travel that much.
Frank Black: I don’t know. The possibility always remains, but I don’t
tour on quite the same level as Neil Young. I don’t know that I was ever
really gonna be able to attract those guys. As far as my road
experience goes, I think they’ve been there and done that in their
younger years. They don’t wanna go on the road for 6 weeks and stay
in a lot of Best Westerns, you know?
Connect Savannah: But there is a certain charm in that.
Frank Black: Oh, yeah. It’s great!
Connect Savannah: A lot of your new material prominently features
pedal steel and keyboards on the albums. Was it hard to rearrange
those songs to work with this road band lineup of 2 guitars, bass and
Frank Black: We’re still in the process of forging a sound for this new
band. We’re trying to make it deep, you know. All of the old songs that
we’re playing that are slow, we’re makin’ ‘em slower, but we’re not
makin’ ‘em more mellow. We’re tryin’ to make ‘em tougher. We want
‘em to have a kind of tough, raw, Beatles or Doug Sahm kind of
“oomph,” you know? Anyway, it’s still developing, but I’m pretty sure
we’ll have our shit together by the time we get to Savannah.
Connect Savannah: So, tonight is the official debut gig with the new
Frank Black: Yeah, but I’m giving myself till Arizona, ‘cause these are
just opening gigs that we’re doing. I’m very happy that Tom Petty has
asked us to be there, obviously. I might add, he’s very generous in
paying his opening bands. Much more generous than most, shall we
say. So, we’re gonna be giving them a real show, but my own tour
starts on Sunday, so I’m still considering this a work in progress.
Connect Savannah: Are you a big Petty fan?
Frank Black: I love Tom Petty, yeah.
Connect Savannah: I know he’s done a lot of work with Rick Rubin,
who you’ve worked with before. Have your paths ever crossed
socially? Are you and he good friends?
Frank Black: We’ve met a few times, but you know. He’s a big
superstar. I appreciate these situations. I say hello and everything. But,
whatever. He’s a very nice guy.
Connect Savannah: What’s the mood of the band going into such a
high profile first gig tonight? Are they nervous?
Frank Black: I think they’re looking forward to it. I don’t know how
nervous they are. These guys have played every kind of gig possible.
In the universe. Whether it’s playing behind chicken wire in a
roadhouse, or headlining some arts festival in Rotterdam, you know?
This will be old hat to them in a manner of speaking. But we all love it.
That’s why we do it.
Connect Savannah: I was a little surprised to read that your setlist for
this tour would include some Pixies material.
Frank Black: Nah, there’s no Pixies stuff.
Connect Savannah: Okay. Well, that makes sense to me, because I
assumed that now that the Pixies were back together that you’d
segregate those tunes to those shows alone.
Frank Black: Exactly! That’s exactly what’s happened. They’ve been
Connect Savannah: Yet you still do some of those songs when you
play one-man acoustic shows. Did you choose to drop those songs
on your own, or did some of the other Pixies feel it would be weird for
you to do that as long as they were a functioning unit?
Frank Black: Well, there was no discussion. It’s a free country. I wrote
the damn songs, and I can sing ‘em in whatever context I want. But
yeah, it seems a little awkward. And I’d add, at this particular moment
Connect Savannah: I’ve always appreciated the relative
unpretentious and self-deprecating way you conduct yourself at your
solo shows. It remind me a lot of Jonathan Richman. There’s a high
comfortability factor between you, your material and your audience. I
think that has a great deal to do with the great affection you fanbase
has for you. Are you surprised that more artists at your level don’t
react to their own output and fame with what comes across in your
case as good natured bemusement?
Frank Black: I think everyone reacts to the situation of being in the
music business in a different way. I don’t want to criticize anybody for
walking around like a pompous ass. (Laughs) I mean, it’s a funny
situation to be in. It requires a lot of ego, and some people get very
nervous and uptight about the whole thing, and that affects how they
deal with fans. I guess I try not to take it too seriously.
Connect Savannah: You try to be very serious about not being very
Frank Black: Exactly.
Connect Savannah: I know you’ve recently become a father, and that
your entire family will be travelling with you on this tour. Have you
noticed a difference in the way you write songs now that you have 4
Frank Black: Yeah. Now I write on the road, or when they’re not with
me. I don’t work at home anymore. Now, I only seem to write when I get
out of Oregon. I don’t mind that. It’s just a matter of making better use
of my time, instead of having all this time at home.
Connect Savannah: Any real difference in terms of the output?
Frank Black: Naw. “Now I’m going to do a song about my precious
little baby girl...” (Laughs) She is my precious little baby girl, but I’m not
gonna get up there like that.
Connect Savannah: I didn’t mean actually writing songs about your
kids, but you hear folks talk eloquently about how their worldview
shifts once they become a parent.
Frank Black: Well, sure. That happens. I mean, you have all kinds of
poignant shifts once you become a father, but I think my art reflects all
kinds of things anyway.
Connect Savannah: You often draw on historical facts and
references to religious doctrines and different types of mythologies
in your lyrics, and some of your songs seem like these oblique
constructions that challenge the patient listener to discover the true
meaning of the song. Is it safe to say there’s a certain amount of
playful obfuscation on your part when writing songs for a core
audience that you know can sometimes obsess over stuff like that?
Frank Black: I believe it’s called a riddle. Yeah. (Laughs) Sure. I
Connect Savannah: (Laughs) Do you find yourself coming up with a
riddle and then constructing a song around it?
Frank Black: Well, when you’re a riddler, you just riddle. It doesn’t
require extra time to riddle. You know? Trying to figure out what
rhymes with elephant is a whimsical challenge. The whole process of
songwriting as far as I’m concerned, is riddled with... You know...
Connect Savannah: Have you always felt that way?
Frank Black: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Always felt that way. Always worked
Connect Savannah: Who are some other artists whose work you
might enjoy personally in the same manner that I have described
your fans pouring over your own songs for clues and inspiration?
Whose songs do you sit and wonder about?
Frank Black: The Beatles.
Connect Savannah: Any particular songs that you are especially
proud of, in terms of how you constructed the riddle, and which to
your knowledge, no one has ever solved?
Frank Black: Oh, ahh...
Connect Savannah: The songs of yours that I enjoy the most seem
rather elliptical. They seem to have red herrings thrown in there to
knock you off the track. They’re like written math questions which
include erroneous or misleading information to confuse the reader.
Is that a method that you find yourself applying when writing songs?
Frank Black: Yes.
Connect Savannah: (Laughs) Well, I appreciate you being patient
with me while I linger on this tangent!
Frank Black: No, no. It’s rare that someone would discuss things of
this nature with me on this kind of a level. It’s usually like, (adopts a
foolish voice) “So, Frank, you know. How do you write your songs?” I
guess that’s kind of the same question, isn’t it? But it’s just obvious
that they’re not clued in. They’re not even close to being on the same
Connect Savannah: I don’t mean to seem like I’m trying to pry into
Frank Black: No, it’s cool. I’m egging you on. (Laughs) It’s rare that I
would just answer a question with “Yes.” But, if the question is chock
full of information, and upon analyzing the question I determine that the
best answer would be yes, then I have to go with that. (Laughs)
Connect Savannah: I have noticed similar refracted songwriting
methods in a lot of Elvis Costello’s work, and over the past few years,
he’s become much more open, penning liner notes and discussing a
lot of the ideas behind his songs. Can you imagine a time when you
might be more forthcoming, and perhaps aid people in cracking
some of these codes and solving some of these riddles?
Frank Black: Well, the main thing is that most people don’t ask yet.
You know, when someone is asking you questions from the angle of,
“So Frank, your new album is called blah-bity blah blah blah. Uh,
what’s the theme of this record? What’s it all about?” It’s like they don’t
just want me to fill in the blanks, but they also want me to decide what
the blank is.
Connect Savannah: It’s like a Mad Lib interview. (Laughs)
Frank Black: Yeah! (Laughs) Most people don’t get that specific with
their questions. They wanna ask about the Pixies and that whole “Kurt
Cobain said ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was a rip-off of a Pixies song”
thing. “How does that make you feel?”
Connect Savannah: You should tell them that smells like they
looked you up on Allmusic.com right before they called! (Laughs)
Frank Black: Exactly. (Laughs)
Tiny Team Concerts and Connect Savannah present Frank Black
and his new band with special opening act The Reid Paley Trio at
Savannah Smiles (314 Williamson St. near the corner of MLK, Jr.,
Blvd. and Bay St.), Sunday night, October 15. Tickets for this 21+
show are $30 in advance or $33 at the door, and can be charged
online at www.tinyteamconcerts.info, or purchased at the following
Cash Only outlets: Primary Art Supply, Le Chai Wine Gallerie,
Annie’s Guitars & Drums, Marigold Beauty Concepts, Silly Mad CDs
and Angel’s BBQ.
Frank Black\'s new 2-CD set
Edited by - Carl on 10/04/2006 18:16:59
-= Modulator =-
Posted - 10/04/2006 : 18:38:49
| Nice find, link man. Now here's one subject you definately know about =P
>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 01:21:57
| Damn! Just when I was about to outrun Carl, I'm 5 hours late in posting that one. That's a great interview; I love it when the journalist knows his subject.
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 01:33:52
| Well, sorry Vilainde-actually, this is one article that's worth doing a proper cut, past and edit job on-the huge gaps make it almost unreadable on the site!!
* Dog in the Sand *
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 03:33:18
| That interview is a real pleasure to read. Thanks!
* Dog in the Sand *
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 05:14:03
| that's one amazing article! love the riddler questions! i thought jim might have gone on to ask about some specific songs...but he certainly kept trying to get some more stuff out of frank!
"I joined the Cult of Frank/ cause I'm a real go-getter!"
Edited by - fumanbru on 10/05/2006 05:27:33
* Dog in the Sand *
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 05:21:34
| hey and i just realized that the interviewer is peter radiator on this site!! well done! you are the man!
"I joined the Cult of Frank/ cause I'm a real go-getter!"
* Dog in the Sand *
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 09:05:07
quote:Great interview. Peter Radiator has always been a class act.
Originally posted by fumanbru
hey and i just realized that the interviewer is peter radiator on this site!! well done! you are the man!
>> Denizen of the Citizens Band <<
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 09:39:19
| Yes, congratulations Peter on a great interview (and praise from The Man).
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 10/05/2006 : 09:45:57
| It's Peter Radiator? Wow, did'nt know, good stuff, man!
Rocker plants Southern seeds
Alternative pioneer Black hones repertoire with legends
By Mark Jordan
Special to The Commercial Appeal
October 6, 2006
Charles Thompson, better known as alternative rock singer Frank Black, was rolling
through the hills of Arkansas in his tour bus, heading straight toward the unlikely
source of his most recent musical transformation -- Tennessee.
"It's not like I made the switch from rock and roll to opera," says Thompson of his
recent projects, a pair of albums that teamed the early '90s alternative rock darling
with a host of Memphis and Nashville session greats from the 1950s and '60s.
Thompson, who performs
Saturday at the New Daisy,
was reached by phone
"If you're a person who
likes rock and roll records
in general, and you listen to
all different kinds, then it's
inevitable that you heard at
least some of the records
these guys were
Still the influence
of a generation of Southern
soul and country greats
had not been obvious in Thompson's musical career up to this point.
Originally from Boston, Thompson formed the Pixies there with bassist/singer Kim
Deal, guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer Dave Lovering in 1986. Together only
about six years, the Pixies nevertheless managed to create a body of work -- just four
full-length albums -- that sums up the history of rock music and sets the stage for
much of what followed, with bands such as Nirvana and Radiohead citing them as a
But the Pixies' jarring, stop-start songs and oblique, sometimes outright weird lyrics
by Thompson, who was calling himself Black Francis at this time, did not endear the
band to record buyers in the States. This despite rave reviews and such high-profile
gigs as opening for U2 on the "Zoo TV" tour. In 1992 tensions between Thompson
and Deal led to a breakup, but Thompson did not miss a beat. He had already started
work on a solo album, inverting his Pixies stage name to become Frank Black.
In the dozen albums he's made since going solo, Thomson has displayed an astonishing diversity, from his eclectic, lavishly
produced solo debut Frank Black, to the raw, immediate records he made with his later backing band, the Catholics. But even
alongside those works, 2004's Honeycomb stood out.
"Blonde on Blonde. Bob Dylan. 1966," says Thompson of the inspiration behind the initial sessions that formed the basis of
Honeycomb and its sequel, the recently released Fast Man Raider Man. "That was the concept: Go to Nashville and record with some
cats who had a lot of mojo. It's something I'd been talking about with (producer) Jon Tiven (Alex Chilton, Little Milton, Van Duren) for 10
years or so before we finally got together to do it. There wasn't much analysis beyond that."
The "cats" Tiven assembled are a Who's Who of Memphis rock and soul, with Steve Cropper and Donald 'Duck' Dunn from Stax, and
songwriters Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham all lending a hand.
"I just showed up with my guitar," says Thompson. "(Guitarist) Reggie Young, who's actually from Memphis, he used to play with Elvis
and Waylon Jennings and Johnny Horton. I mean those were just three of his gigs, you know. You start multiplying those kinds of
credentials by five or six people. It was quite a repertoire that these guys have been responsible for over the years."
Faced with such a distinguished cast of side players, Thompson had to shake his natural starstruckedness to get to the matters at
"People who are professionals, they show up to work and make a record," he says. "I find people who are big names tend to be very
polite and humble, and they're there to serve you, if you're the lead guy on a session. Everyone's about the project at hand."
Four tracks left over from the initial Honeycomb sessions formed the nucleus of Fast Man Raider Man with the rest of the album's 27
cuts (spread over two CDs) recorded in a loosely connected string of sessions over the next two years. That included a raucous all-
nighter at Sun records legend Jack Clement's Nashville studio, where the mongrel backing band consists of members of Cheap
Trick, Bad Company, the Band and the Motown house band.
Not surprisingly, the album of Fast Man Raider Man is an embarrassment of riches, full of subtle and delicate performances that are,
nevertheless, uniquely Thompson. The record layers upon Honeycomb's Southern soul primer, often giving the patina of a back-
porch jam session as on the acoustic original "Raiderman." Elsewhere, Black recalls the glory days of the Pixies, as channeled
through a barrelhouse bar band, evoking the Pixies' wry humor on "I'm Not Dead (I'm In Pittsburgh)."
In fact, as Thompson winds down his tour, he is working his way back to the Pixies. The band patched together the hard feelings for a
2004 reunion tour that was a smash success. And now the band is contemplating other projects.
Frank Black with special guest Kentucky Prophet
Saturday at New Daisy Theatre.
Tickets $20, plus $1 restoration fee, available at New Daisy box office, at (800) 594-TIXX, or at NewDaisy.com.
Charles Thompson, better known as alternative
rock singer Frank Black.
FRANK BLACK AT THE GYPSY TEA ROOM
The sometime Pixie charges ahead as a solo artist, too
12:00 AM CDT on Friday, October 6, 2006
By MIKE DANIEL / The Dallas Morning News
Frank Black can be fast, prolific and intense. But right now, he's dragging hard.
"Greetings," he moans at 9:30 a.m. San Francisco time, at the start of a phone conversation. He
apologizes, confessing that he was up until 4:30 a.m. partying with some buddies and his
bandmates after a gig at a small club in town. He was, you know, being fast.
"That's why my voice is a little rough today," he croaks. "But I'm two blocks from the Fillmore
now in Japantown, which is my favorite place to be in San Francisco. As soon as we're done, I'll
go get some miso soup to clear my brain."
The previous night's show was a warm-up date for a tour supporting
Fast Man Raider Man, a
sprawling double-disc CD of soulful, plucky Americana made with a bevy of session legends in
Nashville and Los Angeles. The jaunt, which started Oct. 1 in Tempe, Ariz., is his first with a new
backing band that includes two of those cats: drummer Billy Block (who is also serving as tour
manager) and guitarist Duane Jarvis.
These guys (as well as one of Mr. Black's longtime collaborators, bassist Eric Drew Feldman)
seem up to matching the growly singer-songwriter's pace, both recreationally and creatively.
They'd better be, because they and Mr. Black were about to open for Tom Petty at the Greek
Theatre in Berkeley on two successive nights before the headlining trek that will swing them by
the Gypsy Tea Room on Monday.
"I've played with Tom Petty before, right here in this same town, actually," Mr. Black, 41, says.
"They did a long run at the Fillmore: played like 30 nights in a row there about eight, nine years
ago. We opened on four of those nights. My picture's on the wall there from Pixies shows years
Ah, Pixies. Mr. Black is, well, frank about the fact that his on-again, off-again reunion with the
seminal alt-rock outfit in 2004 has contributed to his higher profile of late. Even after Fast Man
Raider Man was released in June, he played Pixies shows in Eastern Europe and Australia.
He was cryptic about Pixies otherwise, especially regarding rumored new material. "Some of us,
hopefully all of us, are rendezvousing in January" to jam and record. That's all he would reveal.
Whether he generalized on purpose or because of his hangover is up for debate. One thing is
made clear, however: He is not sure if there is a connection between lasting Pixies fans and
enthusiasts for his eclectic and frequent solo efforts.
"I've gotten a lot of nice write-ups, but I think that's a result of the Pixies tour raising awareness
of me, not of what I'm doing now," he says. "I don't really know that there's a connection
between people that like Pixies and people that follow what I do now. I hope so, but I don't
The connections between Pixies' raucous, punky indie rock and Mr. Black's calmer and rootsier
material are initially hard to make. But both his recent CD and its predecessor, Honeycomb, are
soulful, dry and brooding folk-rock records that Mr. Black says were born from childhood, well
before his collegiate days in Boston and Puerto Rico informed what Pixies became. "The first song
I ever performed live was a Woody Guthrie song in third grade," he says. "If you grew up in the
'60s and '70s, that's what you listened to."
The Honeycomb sessions were set up by another friend, producer Jon Tiven, who'd moved to
Nashville several years ago and developed gobs of studio connections. Mr. Black had professed a
love for folk to Mr. Tiven more than a decade ago, and the producer kept bugging Mr. Black
about making that record. Mr. Tiven eventually set that up in Nashville in 2004 with such
country, blues and R&B luminaries as guitarist Steve Cropper and keyboardist Spooner Oldham,
compelling Mr. Black to commit.
"Tiven is a 'How may I help you?' kind of guy," Mr. Black says. "So years ago, if I'd professed a
love and a wish to do a reggae record, he would have" tracked down reggae legends Sly Dunbar
and Robbie Shakespeare and "gotten it done."
But Mr. Black and Mr. Tiven instead discussed Bob Dylan's momentous 1966 album Blonde on
Blonde, and that provided the premise: "Take a rock 'n' roll dude, plunk him in the studio with a
bunch of cats that play in the Southern style – country players, but even more background in
R&B recording – and go to town. That was his whole angle on that. It was a good twist, and it
made things fresh."
The Honeycomb sessions, however, produced only four songs on Fast Man Raider Man. The
remaining 23 were cut during four other gatherings that varied widely in approach: an all-night
Nashville record-a-thon with drummer Levon Helm of the Band, bassist Tom Petersson of Cheap
Trick, Motown bass icon Bob Babbitt and others; a more controlled second Nashville date with
guitarist Reggie Young, multi-instrumental country ace Buddy Miller and others; a frenetic block
in Los Angeles with drummer Steve Ferrone, bassist Carol Kaye, pianist-songwriter P.F. Sloan and
others; and a single, spontaneous taping of "Raiderman" with Mr. Jarvis at Mr. Tiven's house.
That's the kind of off-the-cuff variety that Mr. Black is motivated by. It's impulsive. You know,
"Impulsive is a good way to put it," he says. "I can't stand planning. I will plan to the extent to
book a recording studio or members in a band. All of that logistical stuff is what gets me going
with the other stuff; 'OK, we've got studio time, so now I've got to start writing songs.' So I do
plan in that sense. But it's very impulsive; it doesn't involve a lot of foresight.
" 'Make rock music' is the goal. That's it. And you work with nice people to get it done. There's
no catharsis involved, like with a lot of other folks. In Chinese terms, I'm a snake. I slither and
end up wherever I end up."
With Kentucky Prophet, Monday at the Gypsy Tea Room's Ballroom, 2513 Main St. Doors open at
8 p.m. Front Gate Tickets.
That interview also appears here:
Edited by - Carl on 10/07/2006 18:52:47
- FB Fan -
Posted - 10/10/2006 : 03:51:27
| eastern europe and australia eh? ha! I wish.
my shirt is shitty!
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 10/14/2006 : 13:35:40
Back in Black
Frank Black revels in his 'little corner
of the universe'
By ROD HARMON
There are many reasons musicians
leave successful bands to become
solo artists. But there's one
overriding factor: The allure of
calling all the shots , without having
to endure incessant whining from
Frank Black, aka Black Francis,
aka Charles Michael Kitteridge
Thompson IV (he's also called
"Chuck," "CT" and "Char Char" by
members of his family), knows this.
It's why The Pixies, the influential
punk-surf band he founded in the
late '80s, imploded just as they
were about to hit the big time in
1992. (Spats between Black and
bassist Kim Deal even resulted in
And it's why he's following up a
highly successful reunion tour by
The Pixies with a new solo album
"I haven't done a tour other than
Pixie shows in like, three years, so I
am anxious to get back in my
copious niche," Black said in a
phone interview. "Because it's mine.
It's all mine -- my little area, my little
corner of the universe."
The album in question is "Fast Man Raider Man," a critically acclaimed,
double-disc set that's the result of numerous recording sessions occurring in
numerous parts of the country with legendary session musicians over a two-
One of those sessions occurred in Nashville during the recording of Black's
previous album, "Honeycomb" (2004), and included veteran sidemen Steve
Cropper, Spooner Oldham and Reggie Young.
Four other sessions and thousands of miles later, Black had accumulated
more than two dozen tracks that boasted Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick),
Simon Kirke (Free, Bad Company), Levon Helm (The Band), Chester
Thompson, Al Kooper, Marty Brown, Jim Keltner and others.
Having all this seasoned talent made recording extremely easy, Black said.
Most of the sessions were recorded at breakneck speed, with many tracks
completed in one take.
"I mean, they hadn't even heard the song, all they had was a chord chart in
front of them," he said. "And it was just sort of like, 'What sort of tempo are
you thinking about, Frank? How about a little something like this?' And
suddenly, it's three-fourths into the song."
Last modified: October 13. 2006 3:07PM
Frank Black has maintained a solo
career since The Pixies disbanded in
1992. The Pixies, heavily influenced by
punk and surf music, reunited as a
touring band in 2004 but haven't
released an album since 1991. The
group, however, released a single, "Bam
Thwok," exclusively at the iTunes Music
Store in 2004.
Edited by - Carl on 10/14/2006 13:43:17
= Cult of Ray =
Posted - 10/14/2006 : 16:05:05
Originally posted by Carl
By MIKE DANIEL / The Dallas Morning News[/size=1]
He was cryptic about Pixies otherwise, especially regarding rumored new material. "Some of us,
hopefully all of us, are rendezvousing in January" to jam and record. That's all he would reveal.
That's something, I guess. January... Is the Breeders' album supposed to be out by then?
- A 'Fifth' Catholic -
Posted - 10/19/2006 : 11:21:40
Frank Black is back 'A lot of these things are casual.' frank black
After a solo gig opening for the Foo Fighters at DAR
Constitution Hall in August, Black will return to Washington
Sunday to play the 9:30 Club
Date published: 10/19/2006
By EMILY GILMORE
Frank Black rarely sleeps late. He normally tries to get his interviews out
of the way early, and then has the rest of the day to himself.
But on this day, Black slept in. It was one o'clock in the afternoon, he
was still in bed in a hotel room in Dallas, and he hadn't yet had his
espresso. Still, there were interviews to be done.
And despite his lack of caffeine, the charm and intelligence of the man
who, as Black Francis, helped turn rock music on its head as one-fourth
of seminal alternative band The Pixies still managed to show through
during a phone interview.
Some have tried to create a myth around Black, whose given name is
Charles Michael Kitteridge Thompson IV, but it seems that he would like
people to know that he's just a normal dude. He's a matter-of-fact family
man, and he has a sense of humor. He also just happens to be
regarded as a phenomenally talented musician.
After a solo gig opening for the Foo Fighters at DAR Constitution Hall in
August, Black will return to Washington Sunday to play the 9:30 Club.
He brings with him his new band: bass player Eric Drew Feldman, with
whom Black has collaborated on past projects, and guitarist Duane
Jarvis and drummer Billy Block, both of whom played on Black's latest
album, the two-disc "Fastman Raiderman," which was released in June.
After playing only a few shows together, things were "going well," Black
said. "And it's starting to come together. It's a new band, so we're still
finding our chi."
He paused a moment to take a quick call from his mother before adding,
"I don't have any preconceived notions of what it's supposed to sound
like other than I want it to sound good."
That's why he likes having a new band--because they're more apt to
follow through on new ideas than to try to re-create the recordings.
Black's motivation to assemble this group of musicians was pretty much
driven by their availability, he said.
"You just kinda go, 'I think I'll do a tour with that guy,' and see if he's
available. It's real casual. A lot of these things are casual," he said.
Casual is a big thing for Black.
He has no idea what motivated him to go to Nashville, Tenn., to record.
Or what motivated him to call up producer Jon Tiven to make an album in
the vein of Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde." He just had the idea, and he
went with it.
"Fastman" was recorded over the last couple of years during several stints in Nashville and one in Los
Angeles. A few songs were held over from the sessions for Black's 2005 album, "Honeycomb," which Tiven
The "Fastman" sessions drew a remarkable group of musicians to provide backup--and these weren't just
any session players.
Muscle Shoals organist and sought-after backing musician Spooner
Oldham, "Eve of Destruction" songwriter P.F. Sloan, Free drummer Simon
Kirke, venerable songwriter and guitarist Steve Cropper, Cheap Trick's Tom
Petersson, and others appear on the album. The Band's Levon Helm is
even said to have made a special trip from New York to contribute.
Anyone, even Frank Black, could easily be forgiven for being star-struck by
this assortment of musicians, some of whom played on "Honeycomb" as
well. But Black took it in stride.
"It's kinda of hard to be intimidated by Steve Cropper when he walks in in
a big Hawaiian shirt, carrying his own amp," Black said.
He illustrated his point with a story about a recording session with David
Bowie, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and Bowie's guitarist Reeves
Gabrels. After the group sorted out a couple misunderstandings, they got
to work and wrote a song, acting as professionals and colleagues.
"My whole point is when you get into a working kind of environment, even
if it's the Thin White Duke himself, people are just people."
But there's still a reason these particular people are so highly esteemed.
"The magic is when music is being played and it's being recorded. But
there's all these other moments leading up to the magic moments that are
grimy and gritty and real."
The resulting collection on "Fastman" is more eclectic than the quieter
soulful country sounds of "Honeycomb," but its Americana bent is still a far
cry from the intense, melodic cacophony of The Pixies. After the group
broke up in 1993, Black released a number of albums on his own and with
his band The Catholics.
Rumors about The Pixies' status have been swirling ever since the band
reunited for tours in 2004 and 2005, but Black can't put the questions to
rest because even he doesn't know the answers.
But he seems to find it a bit ridiculous that some are so eager to know the
future of the band. It's not like The Beatles are getting back together or
"It's as if, you know what I mean, [he said in a deep, exaggerated voice]
'Oh my god! Simon and Garfunkel are getting back together again
for a concert on the moon!'"
But Black doesn't mean to completely dismiss those who react to The
Pixies like teenage girls once did to the Fab Four.
"I appreciate the interest," Black said, "but I sometimes have to kind of laugh at the compulsions of people to
ask what the status is."
WHAT: Frank Black will perform with his band
WHERE: The 9:30 Club, 815 V St., N.W., Washington
WHEN: Sunday, doors open at 7:30 p.m.
WEB: 930.com, frankblack.net
TICKETS: 800/955-5566, tickets.com
Date published: 10/19/2006
Frank Black will play Washington's 9:30
Club on Sunday with his band. His
latest album was released in June.
Preview: Frank Black finds a 'certain
unmysterious reality' in creative process
Thursday, October 26, 2006
By Ed Masley
You'd be hard-pressed to name an artist as intent on de-mythologizing every
aspect of his own creative process as Frank Black.
"Some people have symphonies in
their head," he says. "They've got to
get it out. 'I've got to get this sound
out of my head! I can't sleep at night!
I'm going insane! If I could only find
the right people to play this thing
that's inside of me.' It's like they're
scratching this great elaborate itch.
My itch is of a different nature. It's
like 'Yeah, I haven't made a record in
a while. Let's make a record.' "
Take his latest effort, "Fast Man
Raider Man," a sprawling 27-song
affair that finds him fleshing out his
own distinct approach to American
music with saloon piano, pedal steel
guitar, Memphis horns and Al
Kooper on organ.
The reason he made it a two-record
set, he says, is because he recorded
a whole bunch of songs, from a
spirited cover of "Dirty Old Town" to
a country breakup song co-written
with local punk veteran Reid Paley, a track whose setting Black insists is
nothing personal -- "I'm Not Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh)."
"It's not like a choice between making a record and writing a novel," he says.
"I'm not trying to downplay it too much, but there is a certain unmysterious
reality about it. 'Hey, we've got a lot of songs here. Maybe we should go
double this time.' It's not about artistic vision."
This one started with four songs he'd left off "Honeycomb," an album he'd
recorded on the fly with Nashville session greats because he thought "Hey,
'Blonde on Blonde,' that's a pretty good record. What's the background?
Ohhh. He went to Nashville, played with guys down there. I think I'll do that."
As to why he left them off the earlier release, he says "At some point, you
decide to go lean and mean instead of going long. You're just throwing paint
on a canvas, just making a pretty picture. Sometimes, it's like 'Nah, there's
too much stuff up there. Let's strip away some stuff.' And sometimes it's like
'Yeah, I'm really going to town on this. Get me a bigger canvas. Get me more
Having started in April 2004 at the "Honeycomb" sessions and wrapping
almost two years later with a California session, "Fast Man Raider Man" is the
product of six separate sessions involving a rotating cast of musicians including
such notable figures as Bobby Bare, Jr., Steve Cropper, "Pet Sounds" bassist
Carol Kaye, Jim Keltner, Ian McLagan, Buddy Miller, Spooner Oldham,
P.F. Sloan and Reggie Young. One all-nighter at Cowboy Jack Clement's
found him uniting the talents of Levon Helm, Free drummer Simon Kirke,
Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick and Bob Babbitt of Motown fame. And
should you find it odd to find musicians from such different backgrounds all
working together -- on a Pixie's record, no less -- Black finds it odd that you
would feel that way.
"Why wouldn't two musicians work together ever? It's all circumstance,
coincidence. It's who you know or who you meet, who shows up, who
doesn't, all that kind of stuff. It's not something you really think about. You
don't sit around going 'Well, that sub-genre is a little different from that sub-
genre.' I'm sure Dylan didn't say, 'Well, Sly and Robbie, that's kind of a
reggae thing, isn't it? Do I really want to go there?' It's all disco. Trust me."
He laughs, then adds, "I read that."
Asked how he knew when the record was done, Black says, "When my
accountant told me I'd spent way too much money and I'd better stop. See?
That's the thing. People don't understand how much pragmatic thinking goes
on behind the scenes. They think it's about art. It is about art. But art doesn't
get created in a vacuum. Where's the magic? I don't know. The magic's in the
playback, hopefully. The magic isn't all the other stuff. That's all just phone
calls, rendezvous and stuff like. And I'm not saying it's devoid of anecdotal
information. I'm just saying I don't focus on it too much."
This is Black's second record since putting the Pixies back together for the big
reunion story of 2004, which means he's getting more attention for these last
two records than he's used to. But he'd never buy into the myth enough to
honestly expect those feelings of Gen-X nostalgia for simpler alternative times
to translate into mobs of aging Pixies fans connecting to the kinder, gentler
sounds of "Fast Man Raider Man."
As Black says, "People that are passive music listeners are very swayed by
production. That's just how they listen to music. It's not 'cause they're dumb.
They just have bigger fish to fry. It's like my ex-wife's father. Great guy.
Perfectly intelligent. But Chinese food, he understands. Stick a Thai food
menu down in front of him and he's like 'What the [hell] is this?! This is all
funny! I can't eat this!' But there might not be much difference. It's chicken
and string beans. And that's how most people are with music. They like what
they like. And they don't want to change."
(Ed Masley is a freelance writer based in Phoenix. )
Frank Black's new two-CD set
includes a tune written with local
punk veteran Reid Paley. The two
share a bill Friday night at 8 at Mr.
With: Reid Paley.
Where: Mr. Small's Theatre, Millvale.
When: 8 p.m. Friday.
Tickets: $20 advance; $22 at the door;
Black's recent CDs blend country, rock
By Regis Behe
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Artistically, at least, Frank Black is leading a charmed life.
The last couple of years have seen him successfully reunite the Pixies on
an acclaimed tour and record two fine albums: "Honeycomb" and this
year's "Fast Man, Raider Man," a double disc.
And, although he has yet to tour extensively behind the albums, Pittsburgh
fans don't have to worry about seeing the a lighter shade of Black when he
performs Friday at Mr. Small's Theatre in Millvale.
"There are some more-relaxed tempos, but I have to say that the set we're
playing now is fairly hard hitting," Black says. "It's more natural to me to go
that way rather than take a more restrained, Nashville approach."
That means one of
the great rock
voices -- a guy
who, to paraphrase
a line from the
excels at going
from a whisper to a
scream -- will likely
be in full throttle.
And that's the way
his fans like it.
As Black allows,
"To be honest,
after putting out a
couple of Nashville
records without touring behind them, I feel like I've haven't necessarily
expanded my audience, shall we say. I don't now play to the John Hiatt
audience. If I did, I think I'd be more concerned about representing the
record in a more precise way. I'm still playing to a rock 'n' roll audience, so
in a way, if there's anything I have to prove, it's that I'm still a loud rock
No one who knows his body of work would ever accuse Black of shunning
his rock credentials. Both "Honeycomb" and "Fast Man, Raider Man" are
filled with Black's wry, observant and sometimes caustic songs. The
difference is in the presentation. Both were recorded in the epicenter of
country music with some folks of impressive credentials, notably Levon
Helm, of the Band; bassist Carol Kaye, of Beach Boys fame; sessions
pro's drummer Jim Keltner and keyboardist Al Kooper; and guitarist and
singer Buddy Miller. Hard rockers Simon Kirke, of Bad Company, and Tom
Petersson, of Cheap Trick, appear.
"It was sort of like I had my own Navy SEAL commando team," Black says
of the assorted players who he could call upon. It was like 'OK guys were
going to scale this building now. No problem, boom boom boom.' OK guys,
were going swim across the bay and hold our breath.' We had all this
prowess in the room. They could do anything, and it was wonderful."
The blueprint for the recording sessions was simple: There was no
blueprint. On "Fast Man, Raider Man," that approach yielded a sprawling
collection of 27 songs that charms continually by the wealth of its diversity.
There's the buoyant "Johnny Barleycorn" and its roadhouse horn section,
the desolate beauty of "You Can't Crucify Yourself" and its barrelhouse
piano, and "Seven Days" in which Black seems to be channeling, at least
thematically, Lyle Lovett.
"I didn't come with some sort of vision," Black says. "The vision is 'I'm a
rock 'n' roll dude who ain't from around these parts, and you guys are all a
bunch of mojo cats, and we're going to make a record and it goes a little
something like this. Boom boom boom boom.' It was real quick."
The album also includes four songs co-written by former Pittsburgh singer
and songwriter Reid Paley. Paley, who used to front The Five, one of the
more significant bands to emerge here in the '80s, notably contributed "I'm
Not Dead, I'm in Pittsburgh." No, it's not Sienna Miller's theme song, but a
humorous song about being stranded in a town that you'd rather not be in.
Hmm, maybe it could be Miller's rallying cry, with lines the likes of "I'm not
dead, I'm in Pittsburgh/They got me suited up for crazy times," all to a
"He's got a great sense of humor," Black says of Paley, noting that he
thinks Paley could be a great country-western songwriter if he wanted to be.
That seems about as likely as Black making a relatively mellow -- for him --
record with a group of ace musicians in Nashville.
Which means anything is possible.
Regis Behe can be reached at email@example.com or (412)
With: Reid Paley
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Admission: $20 ; $22 day
Where: Mr. Small's
Details: 412-821-4447 or
'Fast Man Raider Man'
By: Scott Tady - Times Entertainment Writer
MILLVALE - Frank Black dodges the blame for "I'm Not Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh.)"
"Well, I just co-wrote that song," said Black, who's quick to
point out it was songwriting partner Reid Paley who set their
dark and quirky tune in the Steel City.
"I have a lot of memories and experiences related to
Pittsburgh, but his connections go a little deeper," Black said.
"We've been doing that song every night of the tour, and
people really seem to like it," Black said. "People like the
sentiment of the song; it's got a bittersweet, cynical,
humorous kind of attitude. And it's a little bit of a toe-tapper."
Black will find out tonight what the hometown crowd thinks
when he sings "I'm Not Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh)" and a batch
of other songs from his riveting new double-disc, "Fast Man
Raider Man," during a show at Mr. Small's Theater in Millvale.
Sprinkled in his set will be a few choice cuts from his days
guiding Boston's trailblazing alt-rock band the Pixies.
Told that Mr. Small's is a restored 19th-century church, Black says, "Good, I like it already.
"Wait, we're not playing a service, are we? It's a rock club, right?" Black said.
On "Fast Man Raider Man," Black sashays through musical terrain influenced equally by vintage rock, pop,
R&B and folk. He assembled an all-star lineup of Steve Cropper, Jim Keltner, Chester Thompson, Levon
Helm from the Band and Simon Kirke from Bad Company.
For his fall tour, Black is joined by his new band: guitarist Duane Jarvis, bassist Eric Drew Feldman and
drummer Billy Block.
"They dress in black and they're mean," Black said, continuing to deadpan, "They're quasi-criminals and I
wouldn't trust them, but if you want to play rock, you have to hang out with people like that."
Black's most recent memories of Pittsburgh are a show with the Pixies at Chevrolet Amphitheatre.
"That was that outdoor place with the coverage, right? We enjoyed that gig. That was a real good one."
So, as someone who sings "I'm Not Dead (I'm in Pittsburgh)," what does Black think about the city? Don't
worry, he harbors no Sienna Miller animosity, though his view of our region is characteristically peculiar.
"Pittsburgh to me is this industrial town with the echoes of yesteryear in all these steel bridges and old
buildings and factories and that kind of thing," Black said. "But then in the summertime, there's this hot,
humid, green type of feel where things are growing in every crack in the sidewalk, and it's lush and rocky and
kind of gives you the impression that if human activity stopped for a week, the city would be overgrown and all
these trees, weeds, flowers and rocks would take over everything and Pittsburgh would disappear."
That would make a cool movie, agreed Black, now a Eugene, Ore., resident, who said he was angling for a
"Twin Peaks" attitude in the off-kilter publicity photos he's using to promote his album and tour.
As for Black's songwriting collaborator Paley, the guy who put Pittsburgh in their "I'm Not Dead" song, local
fans can ask firsthand what he thinks about our region.
Paley will open tonight's show at 8 sharp.
Scott Tady can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©Beaver County Times Allegheny Times 2006
Edited by - Carl on 10/27/2006 09:31:53
= Cult of Ray =
Posted - 10/29/2006 : 06:40:22
| I haven't seen this interview posted in the forum, which is weird because I know the guy in charge of Blackolero is a member of fb.net. It's a short interview, but it's a good one.
Appologies if this has already been posted.
Entretien avec Frank Black
Entre la scène, le studio et la route, Frank Black a bien voulu répondre à quelques-unes des dizaines de questions qui nous brûlent les lèvres depuis quelques semaines, voire plusieurs années. Avec une concision parfois frustrante mais qui n'exclut pas l'humour, il évoque pêle-mêle et notamment son prochain album, Eric Drew Feldman et le Massif Central, avant de nous dévoiler en exclusivité mondiale son grand fantasme secret. Prudents et diplomates, nous avons choisi, pour ce premier entretien, de ne pas évoquer les Pixies, dont le destin n'a plus grand-chose de mystérieux d'ailleurs...
Blackolero : Certains fans ont tendance à voir Fast Man Raider Man comme un lien, voire un mélange entre Dog in the Sand et Honeycomb. Partagez-vous ce point de vue ?
Frank Black : Je peux le comprendre. Je ne sais pas ce que je peux ajouter à cela. Je ne désapprouve pas cette opinion, mais d’un autre côté je pense à mes chansons comme mes chansons, rien de plus. Si l’un de mes disques s’avère contenir des éléments déjà présents sur d’autres disques, tout ce que je peux dire, c’est que le lien entre elles, c’est moi, le compositeur. Ce n’est pas une intention consciente de ma part. C’est mon son.
Il y a, mine de rien, pas mal de similitudes entre Fast Man Raider Man et Teenager of the Year… Tous deux sont généreux et variés, ils peuvent être considérés comme des prolongements de leur glorieux prédécesseur (respectivement Frank Black et Honeycomb) et ils ont fermé un chapitre dans votre discographie. Et, assez bizarrement, tous deux ont été tièdement accueillis par la critique. Un commentaire peut-être ?...
Je suis plutôt content que mes albums soient critiqués, que ce soit favorablement ou non. Quand un artiste n’est pas critiqué, il existe un peu moins sur le marché. Les chroniqueurs sont censés être critiques [critical], alors je ne les blâme pas d’être critiques. Il m’arrive de penser que leurs commentaires sont merdiques, mais c’est en partie une réaction émotionnelle à une mauvaise critique. Cela dit, il m’arrive de penser qu’ils sont merdiques indépendamment de ma réaction émotionnelle…
Eric Drew Feldman est très populaire parmi vos fans, pas seulement parce qu’il est un grand artiste, mais aussi, probablement, parce qu’il joue sur Frank Black, Teenager of the Year et Dog in the Sand, que beaucoup d’entre nous considèrent comme vos albums les plus audacieux voire les plus décisifs. Etes-vous conscient de cela, et aviez-vous cela en tête quand vous avez décidé de faire votre prochain album avec lui ?
La présence d’Eric Drew Feldman est un grand avantage quand j’enregistre, alors oui, j’ai toujours cela à l’esprit quand je travaille avec lui. En outre, c’est quelqu’un de bien [a good soul], et c’est la principale raison pour laquelle j’aime travailler avec lui.
Black Sand [titre aperçu dans la discothèque digitale de Frank Black sur MOG] est-il le titre de votre prochain album?
Non, c’est juste un titre de travail qu’Eric Drew a donné pour la session [de Houston].
Eric Drew Feldman a-t-il participé à l’écriture de votre prochain album ?
Pas encore, bien qu’il le produise et devrait beaucoup travailler sur les arrangements.
Quelles sont les deux chansons que vous avez récemment enregistrées à Houston ?
Dead Man’s Curve et That Burnt Out Rock’n’Roll [une reprise de Gary Green].
Votre prochain album inclura-t-il des chansons que vous destiniez initialement aux Pixies ?
Je vous ai promis de ne pas vous interroger sur le déjà légendaire 6e album des Pixies, et je tiendrai ma parole… Cependant, j’aimerais savoir quel est votre état d’esprit quand vous écrivez ou essayez d’écrire une chanson pour les Pixies. Etes-vous à l’aise, confiant, curieux, excité, un peu anxieux ?
Dans ces moments-là, essayez-vous d’être Black Francis, comme vous essayiez autrefois d’être Joe Strummer sur Hate Me ou Everybody Got the Beat [clin d'oeil aux liner notes de la compilation Oddballs] ? Ou êtes-vous simplement Frank Black, peut-être un «nouveau» Frank Black expérimentant de nouvelles directions musicales ?...
Je peux essayer d’être n’importe qui, mais à la fin de la journée je finis toujours par être moi-même – du moins je l’espère. Si je suis influencé ? Oui. Mais j’espère que je vais au-delà de toute imitation dont je pourrais être coupable…
Certaines de vos chansons récentes manifestent un intérêt pour la spiritualité hindoue. Comment et quand est né cet intérêt?...
J’ai toujours intégré des idées religieuses à certaines de mes chansons. La religion est intéressante, vous ne trouvez pas ?...
Je me demande depuis longtemps de quoi parle exactement votre chanson Los Angeles (l’une de mes chansons favorites tous artistes confondus, soit dit en passant)… Je sais qu’on vous a déjà posé cette question 37.598 fois, mais on dirait que vous y répondez différemment à chaque fois…
Il est toujours difficile de dire de quoi «parle» une chanson. Les idées qui sont derrière une chanson peuvent être assez nombreuses ou assez abstraites. Si vous cherchez des réponses, il est important de penser à la psychologie...
Votre chanson Massif Central est-elle basée sur une expérience personnelle ? Avez-vous vraiment séjourné dans les «collines du centre de la France» ?
J'adore le Massif Central. Si vous y êtes, cherchez-moi...
Que sont devenues les chansons que vous avez écrites pour Shreck 2 et The Low Budget Time Machine ? Les entendrons-nous un jour ?...
Je ne sais pas. Ce n’est pas une grande priorité pour moi...
Seriez-vous prêt à écrire la B.O. d’un film, et si oui, y a-t-il un genre de film en particulier pour lequel vous aimeriez écrire ?
Pas vraiment. Les gens du cinéma investissent tellement dans leurs films, en argent comme en soucis, que vous avez vraiment l’obligation de les satisfaire, et je pense qu’il est difficile de rester fidèle à soi-même tout en leur donnant satisfaction. Je pense que les compositeurs professionnels restent plus facilement fidèles à leur art dans ce contexte.
La grande Kristin Hersh [ex-leader des Throwing Muses, maintenant à la tête de 50 Foot Wave] a joué un rôle important dans la carrière naissante des Pixies. Etes-vous encore en contact avec elle ?
Non, mais nos chemins se croisent de temps à autre. Oui, c’était généreux de sa part de me prendre en première partie de ses concerts il y a des années. Ç'a été une grande opportunité pour moi et, de fait, cela a vraiment fait avancer ma carrière.
Quel disque de Frank Black emporteriez-vous sur une île déserte ?
Et quel disque des Pixies ?...
Trompe le Monde.
Aimeriez-vous ajouter un mot pour vos innombrables fans français ? Un scoop peut-être ? S’il vous plaît, ne répondez pas «Vive la France !»
Je rêve de faire un tour complet de l’Occitanie. Un jour. S’il vous plaît aidez-moi ! Je chanterai comme un vrai troubadour ! Le fantôme de Daniel Arnaut [troubadour légendaire des XIIe et XIIIe siècles] m'accompagnera ! Vive le Languedoc !
(Interview réalisée les 20 et le 22 octobre par courrier électronique.)
Edited by - velvety on 10/29/2006 06:47:18