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The Innovators: Frank Black

You once said you only had five records when you formed the Pixies, was that true?
Oh yeah, I moved around a lot. In my senior year in high school, we moved back to Massachusetts from California and I wouldn’t have brought many records with me. And you know what, when I went to college I had an armload of records and they ended up in Joey’s [Santiago, Pixies guitarist] collection. I think he still has them. Joey has my circa 18-year-old record collection at his house, and I remember one time when I was over there and he was like, “Are these your records?”

Why do you think people generally reject goofiness in rock?
I guess it’s because they wanna be sexy. People wanna be perceived as cool, they wanna be Elvis. And that’s fine. I have no problem with people saying, “Hey, my band is totally sexy and cool and has sunglasses.” Hey, I love Bryan Ferry, man! I saved my copy of the The New Yorker on my last plane trip because there’s a hotel ad with Bryan Ferry in it. But, yes, a lot of people who play music are afraid to be a dork.

What’s the most important development of the past 20 years?

I suppose the rise of digital information, because it’s just everywhere and in everything — to tell the time or record music or watch a movie or take a picture or talk on the phone or go on the Internet or have heart surgery. So, yeah, digital technology versus analog technology, I suppose. But I’m dum-dum so I don’t know if I’m saying that right.

How about the worst?
Nationalistic chauvinism. Everyone knowing history and the world and the world being a smaller place and it’s all connected and blah blah blah. And I’m not against culture, I’m not saying that. I’m into culture, totally to the max. It just seems to me that too many people are uptight about what country they’re from and what that means to them. It does more harm than good. It seems like people should be less loyal, less into flags, and loyal to something else. The whole concept of sovereignty is eroding anyway and clinging to it is gonna have a lot of negative effects, the most obvious being war.
Interview by Jon Dolan