Black Francis talks solo career, life with the Pixies, and his painterly side

FRANK_BLACK_webBlack Francis. Frank Black. Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV. Whatever the name, he’s for more than 25 years been an icon in indie rock, both as the frontman for the legendary and influential Pixies, and as a solo artist. Beyond being a musician, he’s also a painter and a writer. He’s got a new graphic novel, “The Good Inn,” he’s in the process of recording a new solo album, he still tours with the Pixies, and this Saturday, Dec. 28, he’ll perform at the Asylum in Portland, with the band Gambles. Tickets are $15 at the doors, which open at 8 p.m. The Bangor Daily News interviewed him last week, and he talked about all the above, and more.

Do you have a new solo album coming out anytime soon? Last I heard, you were recording in Nashville.

Well, I just got off the phone with my Nashville producer friend, who is coming to the Pixies concert there in February. I don’t know if I have time off there on this trip, but if so there is a good chance of a recording session. There’s a lot of talk about sax, which is a great rock and roll instrument. Just listen to that second Iggy and the Stooges record!

You’re pretty prolific, both in the studio and going out on the road. Do you foresee a time when you won’t care to be on the road for an extended period of time, either solo or with The Pixies? Is it ever a drag?

I don’t know. I love the road. I love working. But I also love hanging out with my family. And I love painting. Painting for a living would mean a different kind of travel schedule which would make it easier for me to be with my family. I could envision that. I’m painting when I have the chance now. I paint and draw a lot now when I’m on tour.

Is there a difference between Frank Black and Black Francis? When you’re at home, do you cease to be those names/characters? Or does it not matter?

These are stage names. They don’t mean anything in my personal life. As to the difference between the 2, they are sort of the same name, one being artier and the other more square. Deduce what you may from that.

What have you been listening to lately? In particular, anything from any new bands catching your ear?

Baxter Dury from London. Check it out.

Tell us about the graphic novel you’re getting ready to release. How long have you been working on it? How did this collaboration start?

I’ve been working on it for about four years or so. It started off as “pixy” demos, as in a kind of movie in my head; a song cycle. It’s now a graphic novel, but the main agenda is to get it made into a movie one day.

You grew up in New England. Any particular stories of Maine, either as a kid or an adult?

I partly grew up here. My dad used to love to drive all night to ll bean to get new duds. It was fun shopping there at three in the morning. Don’t know if they still have that going on. This was 35 years ago.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a University of Maine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, taken belly dancing classes, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.