Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hang On To Your Ego

Now it is time to end this week of Pixies reminiscing... but with one more story.

Once someone asked me if my head would explode if I ever met the band. "No, " I replied. "I don't ever want to meet them." "Why?" "Because they're nuts."

In late 1994, promoting his solo CD Teenager of the Year, Frank Black came to my college radio station. We were all excited, and my friend who was going to interview was one of the best we had. He is the kind of guy who can hold a conversation with anyone, knows everything about any kind of music, is clever and funny, multilingual, and a talented musician himself. There was no way he wouldn't have an interesting interview with Frank Black.

We were alerted to the fact that this was going to be a "special" interview when Mr. Black's manager faxed us a release, asking the interviewer to sign a statement saying that he would not ask Frank about two things: 1. The Pixies. 2. His weight.

This left us a bit puzzled: we could understand why he wouldn't want to talk about the Pixies, having recently come out of a relationship with the band in a bad way (yea, breaking up by fax is a bad way), but his weight? Were we going to be so hard up for questions that we'd ask about his weight? The release was signed and returned.

Frank came in for his interview, and he was a total ass. He would speak in gibberish rather than answer any questions, strummed his guitar and made up weird little songs, and kept referring to the station as "your cute little radio station." (Never mind that it is still one of the 10 best college radio stations in the country, but whatever.) He got a bit friendlier when he wasn't on mike, picking out music to be played, but once the microphone was on, he was back in character. Towards the end, my friend asked him, "So how do you handle the rumors that you're a homosexual?" And Frank spit back, "I have a girlfriend in France!" End of interview.

Later, Cult of Ray came out. It is practice at our station for someone to listen to a new CD, slap a sticker on it and write a review. After that, anyone who listens and wants to write alongside that review can do so. The review comments for this CD went a little like this:

"Cult of Ray- Frank Black: Former leader of the Pixies keeps going with the surf and space thing and comes up with another album sort of like the last one. Ho-hum."

"All I can think of when I listen to this is how fat he is."

"He is one fat fuck."

"The problem with this disc is that I can't hear how fat he actually is."

"Obviously, you aren't listening hard enough."

"This space is actually for a review of the album; which is an average attempt of what he's been doing for the last couple years."

"Aside from getting really fat, the fat fuck."

I'm doing this from memory, but to this day, I still refer to him as The Fat Fuck. As do most folks from that era at the station. I have since learned that before that interview, he had a Q&A with Dave Thomas, leader of Pere Ubu (whom the Pixies once toured with) and fellow Big Man. Dave repeatedly asked Frank questions about his weight and told him to embrace being a large frontman, which I guess left Frank pretty traumatized. I also recently had a talk with a swell guy who told me that he has had many a meal with Frank, who was always very pleasant. Well, maybe age has mellowed him.

Although a friend of mine interviewed him back in September, and said he was a nutjob. So who knows? I just love the Pixies.