Interview: Black Francis a/k/a Frank Blank a/k/a Charles Michael Kittredge Thompson IV

Categories: Interviews

"I've always been Black Francis but I tried to call myself something else for a while and I sort of said, 'All right, enough baloney.' You know, 'Back to who I am for real.' And it is an artier stage name and so for some reason. . . while performing under that moniker, I feel a bit artier."

Today, Black Francis releases the "mini-LP" Svn Fngrs.

Looks like the sort of man who likes to break up via fax, doesn't he?

Know that, regardless of guise, Charles Michael Kittredge Thompson IV is prolific man. An album a year as leader of the Pixies, Black Francis. Another dozen under his Frank Black solo artist pseudonym, and now back to Black Francis--first with Bluefinger, last fall's collection inspired by musician, painter and writer Herman Brood (pretty much the Dutch personification of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll), and currently with Svn Fngrs, a seven-track "mini-LP" that continues to lean left with its subject matter.

But the man who chortled about "slicing up eyeballs" and "whores with disease" is a bit more grounded in his day-to-day life, for in less than two months Thompson and his spouse, Violet Clark (who played bass on Svn Fngrs), will welcome a fifth child into their Eugene, Oregon home.

We interrupted his progeny's Saturday afternoon efforts to have their dad chase them around the house in order to talk about songwriting, Svn Fngrs and the balancing of career and family.

Let's talk family man versus Herman Brood and his representation of the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll lifestyle. Is that an outlet or escape for you since you're living a "Father Knows Best" life right now?

CT/FB/BF: I have thought about it in those terms. I can't say that it's really like that because I've never really been that type of a hedonist or whatever, you know what I mean? I've just been a lot more conservative, even when I was younger, and so I can't say that I'm, you know, somehow living vicariously. I think people like to hear about those subjects, though, in rock 'n roll music, so it's definitely given me a way to go there.

Do you have to get your mind in a certain place to write about such things?

CT/FB/BF: No, not really. It all seems perfectly normal to me. I mean, I was probably 8 or 9 years old and consuming the Beatles' White Album and Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. II, so, you know, there's plenty of abstract kinds of poetry, oddball couplets and things on those records, so they were always my example, the psychedelic giants of the '60s.

I'm guessing your house tilts toward the crowded side. Is there a room where you can go in order to write? Or do you have to get completely out of the house in order to compose?

CT/FB/BF: Yeah, I pretty much have to basically book a recording studio. I do have an office downtown here where a young kid works for me part-time. You know, we try to sell a few t-shirts and a few CDs, that kind of thing, and I have a piano down there and so sometimes I go there and work. Before that, before we had the office, I used to get a hotel room for a few days and just go there.

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