If you went to college in the late ’80s/early ’90s and you were listening to what was referred to as “alternative” music of the era, then you probably love the Pixies. To find yourself sitting in a room with three of the Pixies — Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering — years later, it’s akin to sitting with Shatner and Nimoy, chatting about Star Trek. It’s a “wow” moment. There are lots to think about. How do you address Black Francis? Does he even call himself that anymore? “Mr. Francis” sounds weird. He records solo albums as “Frank Black.” So maybe “Frank?” Or “Mr. Black?” No, too Reservoir Dogs.
Then there’s the five-ton gorilla in the room: How to approach the issue that beloved bass player Kim Deal recently left the band, marking their first lineup change, ever. The men of the Pixies don’t seem enthused about the interview from the get go; they just played a gig the night before and seem a bit bleary eyed. Maybe, give them a break and don’t ask.
You have to ask.
Happily, there were things other than lineup changes to talk about. The band recently released a new single and video for “Bagboy,” as well as a new EP (the first of a series) called EP1. And it was produced by Gil Norton, the man who helmed Dolittle, Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde. The new music holds up to Trompe le Monde, if not their earlier classics, although at least one influential critic disliked it and took it rather personally. But with over 10 Frank Black albums since the Pixies split in the early ’90s, was it easy to write Pixies music? “I don’t ever think about it that way, but when we put together this recent selection, Gil asked me to think about it that way so I did. And so, I like to think I put on my ‘Pixies cap.’”
In the years while the Pixies were in “retirement,” one of their big influences – David Bowie – covered them. “Cactus” the highlight of his 2002 album Heathen. The band still seemed blown away by that particular honor, and Black said, “Well, after I came to and reoriented myself, I felt thrilled. I like his version!” Despite the news that Bowie has no plans to tour for his excellent The Next Day album, Black has invited the man to go on tour. “We should do a tour with David Bowie. We can be his band. That’d be cool. We can be his backing band. We go out and do our set, he comes out to do his set with us and, you know. That’d be cool.”