Frank Black: A Tale of Two Coasts
Songwriter, lead vocals, guitar
NOTE: This bio is horribly out of date due to a file loss when updating, I'll get around to bringing it up to speed soon. -Dean (Feb. 16/06)
Contrary to popular belief, Frank Black, or rather Black Francis, did not actually exist prior to the Pixies. However, a man often confused for him did: Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV. Charles was “born alive” April 6, 1965 (despite his desire to have been conceived a decade earlier) in Boston. Many years later, he was back again in Boston and the world of music would never be the same.
While attending U-Mass, Charles stayed in a dorm where a computer randomly chose his roommates. 1984: Charles’ roommate, as determined by a bunch of sand and refined metals was none other than Joseph Alberto Santiago – or Joey. Soon, the pair put an ad in the newspaper seeking someone with Husker Du/Peter, Paul, and Mary influences, and Black Francis appeared from the ether.
Four albums and an EP later, the year was 1993. The clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live, and the domestication of the dog continued unabated. The Pixies went their separate ways and as quickly as Black Francis appeared, he faded back to black. Frank Black.
Frank’s solo career has been longer and provided far more diversity, musically speaking, than his career with the Pixies to the point that they’d not even be worth mentioning were they not so influential and inspirational to so many people… and reunited for a world tour in spring of 2004. From Show Me Your Tears, his latest album, all the way back down to the original self-titled “Orange” album, he’s gone from multi-tracked new-wave mayhem to classic rock to a distinctive country twang live to two track. Only one thing has remained consistent: the quality of the work is without a doubt top-notch.
What else has he been up to, you ask? Well, he played at Bowie’s 50th birthday by request, he’s acting in an upcoming moving called “Low Budget Time Machine” (http://www.chud.com/news/may02/may28mutant.php3) , he’s covering “Sugar Daddy” on the upcoming Hedwig & the Angry Inch soundtrack, and now reuniting the Pixies over a decade after they faked their death. For starters. As well as an appearance on the X-Files soundtrack (Man of Steel) and the Powerpuff Girls (Pray for the Girls). And, though you’d have to strain to pick his voice from the rest, he provided background vocals on Alan Merrill’s Merrilly Christmas CD in 2000 (Let’s Think About It).
Black Francis and Frank Black might have been representatives of a past with a large shadow and a future seeking the sun, but there was one final transformation to take place. The resolution of the light and the dark, the man and the myth, the present and the future and past: Frank Black Francis is born. While it is unclear exactly where this will take our hero in future adventures, we are certain of several things. A hotly anticipated Pixies reunion tour (with rumours of a new CD), a solo reworking of several classic Pixies songs with the Two Pale Boys (entitled Frank Black Francis), another solo album recorded with some of the finest musicians Nashville has to offer, a new best-of Pixies CD (Wave of Mutilation), an all new DVD with concerts, videos and some never before seen “On The Road” footage, and more. What of the Catholics? Don’t despair, we’re fairly certain that you will be hearing from them as early as the beginning of 2005.
So, there’s Frank Black, Black Francis, and Frank Black Francis in a rather large nutshell. What about Charles Thompson? As far as personal things go, Frank is now living in Portland, Oregon, living, as he puts it, “the LL – loft lifestyle” though spending most of his time in Los Angeles rehearsing with Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering. And, for what little time he is residing at the end of miles, he’s loving it. He and his long-time wife have gone their separate ways which is very sad indeed – go read the lyrics to Speedy Marie if you don’t agree. “Jean Black” did most of the artwork for Frank’s albums up to Show Me Your Tears, under the name of Inertia. But Frank has shown us his tears, and while they are tears, it seems that they’re also the crucial hydration to the beginnings of the new life. A new bud reaching for the light, or an invigorated young pup “ready to howl at the world.” And perhaps we’ll finally have a Charles V running around. One can hope.
Now if you're wondering about Mr. Black's influences, you needn’t look any farther than the lyrics in songs like “I Want Rock & Roll”. But, to appease you, he’s been known to drop names like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Pere Ubu, Husker Du, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Velvet Underground, to name a few. Or take a look at his b-sides album, Oddballs. Names like Dylan, Springsteen, Daltrey, Strummer will greet you. But mostly, we like it when Frank Black is just “Trying to be Me”.
Frank actually pops by the forum from time to time. Originally under the alias “frankusblackus”, he has more recently returned and even taken questions (!) under the name “frnck blck”. And though he’s perhaps too busy with all his projects lately to post much, rest assured he is here. We are pleased beyond all reason to have him join us in the forums, taking questions, posting trivia, and holding court. What more could you ask for from your favourite musician?
- Dean Katsiris
Got something to add? Please send Dean a note and
let him know!