Interview: Black Francis

Charles Thompson A.K.A. Black Francis and A.K.A. Frank Black plays a solo gig at The Southern. (Publicity photo) Charles Thompson A.K.A. Black Francis and A.K.A. Frank Black plays a solo gig at The Southern. (Publicity photo)

Enigmatic Boston musician “Black Francis” played a leading role in the ’80s alternative rock scene. Art, darkness and angst defined Francis’ career with The Pixies and the solo years as Frank Black (and Frank Black and the Catholics) as did his unique, ranting howl vocals.   The seminal Doolittle album ( The Pixies)  is a time capsule-worthy work of perfection, and Kurt Cobain credited Francis’ work  as an influence. The alt-grunge forefather is back on the road under the Black Francis moniker, and will play tonight at the Southern. He answered the following questions for C-VILLE via e-mail.

C-VILLE Weekly: You’ve had plenty of years to work on this one, but how difficult have you found it to separate your identity as a solo performer from your identity as a member of The Pixies? Or do you even feel compelled to do so?
Black Francis: “I don’t feel these compelliatory-ish feelings! It’s all good. It’s all fun. I am a singer, a writer, a dude who likes to play and record and sing. I love playing in The Pixies, of course. It’s my first band. And it’s the band I am known for; I’m not in denial about that. It’s special for sure, but I don’t wear a different hat; I’m always the same guy whenever I perform.”

Do you have a favorite track (or few) to play live, whether a solo cut or a piece from The Pixies, Frank Black and The Catholics, etc.?
“Always like to play ‘When They Come to Murder Me’ from SVN FNGRS. I get obsessed with obscure covers, usually stage same song for a period of years. Lately it’s been this thing called ‘That Burnt Out Rock and Roll’.”

Your latest release was Paley & Francis. How was working with Reid Paley?
“Mr. Paley and I have officially begun working on a new record. I’m not sure when it will come out, but it will be very different than the last one. I can’t explain why, but let’s just say, ‘I Am The Walrus,’ O.K.?”

Who currently inspires you? Any recent releases or artists you’re really into?
“I’m really into a record by Baxter Dury (son of Ian) called “Happy Soup.” Love his vibe. Poetic. Gritty. Funny. Excellent production. Minimalist. Charming as hell.”

What do you think of Charlottesville? How do you like smaller venues like The Southern as opposed to larger shows?
“I love small shows. I get even more nervous for smaller venues. It’s exciting. Everyone right there looking at you, singing all the words (can’t fuck it up!). And the nightclub is where I am from. It’s the environment I relate to the most.”

Tuesday 2/19 Black Francis/The Southern Cafe and Music Hall 7pm