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Frank Black, a.k.a. Charles Thompson IV, resurrected his Pixies alter ego, ‘Black Francis,’ for the release of his latest disc, Bluefinger. The legendary Pixies frontman was inspired by Dutch musician/painter/junkie Herman Brood, who, at 54, jumped off the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton after learning he had only months to live.
Frank Black, a.k.a. Charles Thompson IV, resurrected his Pixies alter ego, ‘Black Francis,’ for the release of his latest disc, Bluefinger. The legendary Pixies frontman was inspired by Dutch musician/painter/junkie Herman Brood, who, at 54, jumped off the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton after learning he had only months to live. And while Francis, the family man, practices clean living in Oregon, the spirit of Brood pushed him to create an electrifying 11-song record, including the Pixies-sounding Brood cover, “You Can’t Break a Heart and Have It.” So death to Frank Black, and long live Black Francis.
Where did the name ‘Black Francis’ come from and why did you choose to use it again now?
My Dad suggested it about 20 years ago. It’s a mixture of family names. I changed it back for this album and I’m back using that moniker for whatever else I do. The Herman Brood experience is what made this technicality of the name game meaningful. I was goofing around on the computer one night and stumbled onto a clip of him performing on YouTube and I just became mesmerized by him.
Brood has been referred to as the “Dutch personification of ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll.'” And he was a Pixies fan?
I did find that out after the record was done. I was in Holland hanging out with some people that were close to him and they’re the ones that told me. There was a Best of the Pixies compilation in his huge stack of CDs.
So every song on Bluefinger is related to Herman Brood? Even “Tight Black Rubber,” which seems to have a bondage theme?
Yeah, all of the songs are about some aspect or imagined aspect of his life. People hear [“Tight Black Rubber”] and they assume that. There’s a lot of innuendo in the lyric that sounds sexual in nature, but the song is about shooting up. It’s a drug reference to tying off one’s arm before shooting up a drug.
What does “bluefinger” mean?
It’s a reference to the fact that Brood is from the town of Zwolle. At one point in history, it was a nickname for people that came from that town [based on the legend that local authorities’ fingers turned blue from counting copper coins].
Any Bunuel films inspire you lately-the way Un Chien Andalou inspired the song “Debaser?” What have you been reading or watching lately?
No, I can’t say I’ve had a lot of opportunity to see Bunuel films lately-it’s mostly Pinocchio and stuff like that around here now….I tend to read a lot of biographies or history books. I’m reading a Tom Waits book right now. As far as films go, my wife and I have been renting a lot of Werner Herzog films for the last year or so.
Any future tour plans or Christmas songs on the horizon? Do you have a MySpace page for Black Francis?
There’s always some tour looming on the horizon-Europe, Japan. There’s hope for Christmas tunes with the Internet, because you can get it up so fast. It’s kind of nice that the music business is kind of falling apart, because there’s more space-it’s a more level playing field. I don’t personally have a MySpace page, but I started BlackFrancis.net in the last month or so. I come from a world of being at arm’s length from my audience, so I have to decide what’s important to change and what’s frivolous, or fashionable. I don’t have a MySpace page now, but I’m not saying that I won’t.
So, no new Pixies music with the exception of “Bam Thwok” on iTunes, and the Warren Zevon cover “Ain’t That Pretty at All” on his compilation?
That’s the word on the street.