Frank Black’s Grand Duchy — “Just turn on the radio” (Herald, 7.18.09)

Posted on July 23, 2009


It was hard to ignore the humble cynicism in Frank Black’s voice when I talked to he and wife Violet Clark for this interview for the Herald. Clark was sure to note that their label was about the release another song as a single, which Black followed up with this bit: “Oh yeah, then all you’ll have to do to hear it is turn on the radio, whenever you want.”

The guy — Charles Thompson, or more recently having reverted back to the Pixies-era pseudonym Black Francis — has sort of always been this way, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved him. Not that he’s totally down on anything — I don’t think that’s really the case. But he tends to take a lot of music biz hype and terminology with a healthy dose of salt. I remember watching a webcast of him in 1998 doing a solo acoustic set in what looked like someone’s basement, with just one guy — the host — as an audience. He breaks a string and spends ten minutes replacing it. “Hey, can you imagine what some kid’s mom is gonna think when she walks in and sees her kid staring at this bald guy on the computer changing his strings?”

He’s started up a new band with Clark called Grand Duchy and it’s supposedly the most collaborative thing he’s done, ever (even in the Pixies, Kim Deal only gets two songwriting credits over the span of five albums). Say what you want about some kind of Paul and Linda-style Wings-complex — who knows? It may be true, Clark was certainly the one sticking to the talking points in our interview — but Grand Duchy is a-okay in my book either way.

Link to article at the Herald here.