Frank Black

Frank Black’s World Is Loud, Chaotic, and Extreme. He’s Also In The Pixies.

Q: It sounds like you’ve gotten more comfortable over time with your identity and methods.

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally.

Q: How and when did you start acquiring this kind of self-knowledge?

A: I sort of discovered it because I was going through this divorce and was lonely and going through this pain, or whatever, and trying to find this woman who was going to allow me to impregnate her, basically. It’s like if a woman wakes up one day and says I need to make a baby, now.

Q: Your clock was ticking?

A: Oh, yeah. totally. It was like, what am I doing here? I have to make a baby. I didn’t even know I was going through it but my ex-wife, she said this is what’s going on so you’ve got to go. You can’t do it with me. Go do it with someone else. I was like, oh right, I’ve got to go. Then she was like, no, don’t go. She was filled with regret. But I was, like, I’m gone, baby, gone. I was looking for a woman. I didn’t even know how to find one. I didn’t even know how to talk to women.

Q: Really?

A: I was with this other woman for so long. I’m a monogamous personality, I didn’t want to date a bunch of different people. I had enough trouble getting a date in high school. I didn’t want to keep doing all the stuff you have to do. If you’re in a rock band you’re in situations where people are really drunk or really high and there’s a lot of stupid people that are just kind of throwing themselves at you and then you’re trying to keep a relationship going with someone you’re serious with and you’re constantly trying to alleviate their fears when you go on the road for three months. You’re trying to make sure they’re not fearful about how you’re spending your time and trying to keep this kookiness out of the dressing room or your hotel so I just got used to being, like, don’t talk to me, man. Especially women. You’re really cute but I don’t want to wreck it. Because I did wreck it once. I’m not going there again. So when I got a divorce it was like, I didn’t know how to talk to women. I’d forgotten how. I had to spend a whole tour talking to women after the show every night. I was still married and trying the separation thing out.

Q: When was this?

A: This was ten years ago. I was on the road with another lonely guy, my roadie, and it became almost like this joke. We’re hanging out after shows and practicing talking to women and doing my therapy on the phone. I’m doing it again in 35 minutes.

Q: Therapy on the phone?

A: Yeah. The same woman for ten years.

Q: Every week?

A: We try for every week. That’s when I got into the whole thing about being a snake. I never went in for any mumbo jumbo, but you know how you’re in those weird emotional states and I stumbled onto some book about snakes and foxes and roosters and it was like, what is a snake looking for in a person, whether it’s a business relationship or in this case a romantic relationship? What am I looking for? Snake doesn’t want to go with a dragon. Snake and ox is really good. So me and roadie guy would be sitting there and talking with women and asking them what year they were born in. Oh, ox! Rooster! It was not serious. But I was looking for an ox. One night we were both flirting with this girl. Well, I wasn’t flirting. I was playing my show. Roadie was flirting with this girl in the audience. We were both checking her out. But I won.

Q: You’re talking about Violet.

A: Yes. I never did that before, I never met a girl at a show. It seemed too crass or uncouth to me. Really? I’m gonna be up there and be Buddy Holly and we’re gonna do it because I’ve got a guitar? It’s humiliating. I wanted to meet a girl at the grocery store or the park or on the train. I want it to be real. But there I was and I saw this girl and I was just, like, wow. She’s cute. I want to meet her. And she’s a total ox. Ox likes to stay home. Ox likes to take care of family.

Q: You guys work together too, though, in Grand Duchy.

A: Yeah, a little bit.

Q: How is that?

A: We had to learn how to do it. We used to have really bad fights about the whole thing. She’s pretty headstrong. We’re both kind of bossy and controlling. It’s hard having the same kind of energy going on in the room. Luckily I get to scratch my creative itch a lot, but she’s had to defer a lot due to raising a family. At some point I realized I can just kind of back off and let her run the show and it’s gotten a lot better since we started to do that. She never really stays with it for too long. She’s really opinionated and involved in it but then at some point she starts to have mommy guilt and she’s like, I’ve got to be a mom. I can’t keep doing this right now. My kids need me. It’s hard.

Q: In a way it sounds like a pretty traditional setup. You’re going out to work and bringing home the bacon and she’s home with the kids.

A: Yeah, we find that even though — you know, I want to be married to a cool chick, I don’t want her to just be barefoot and pregnant and not have a thought in her head.

Q: Yeah, but if you’re cool, you’re cool. Whether you’re raising a family or not.

A: Yeah. By the way I think we’ve become a lot happier when we assume traditional roles.

Q: Why? Because it works for you? Does it work for her?

Q: Yeah. It’s hard to do raise a family when you’re a musician. You go away and then you come back and then you’re around all time and especially if there’s a lot of little kids you’re like, I’ll do that and I’ll do that and let me cook dinner. You start doing all this stuff and the woman, maybe she’s breastfeeding, maybe she’s tired, she’s recovering from pregnancy and there are times they can use the help. But then it becomes habitual and you realize that her role is starting to be absorbed too much by me. Right now she’s in bliss because I’m out of her hair and she’s kicking ass. She’s got five kids [two are from a previous relationship.] It’s nuts, getting them to school, ballet, soccer, the whole thing. And we’re trying to learn how to be separate when we’re at home. Its hard because I’m like, I’m home, I’m not on tour, so we can hang out all day, right?

Q: And she’s got her routines, her rhythms, which you come in and screw up.

A: Right. And then we spend all day together and we have big fights.

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