Pixies profess love The Pixies with Weezer at the Molson Amphitheatre (909 Lakeshore West), Saturday (July 9), 7 pm. $29.50-$55. 416-870-8000.
Frank Black is at home, about 100 miles south of Portland, Oregon. "Why don't you guys go get some clothes on?" he keeps asking his kids. You know when you're on the phone with someone and they keep talking to someone else? Argh.
"Sorry to be multi-tasking," he apologizes when he re-focuses. "If it were up to them they'd be completely nude all the time. I understand. I like being scantily clad as well, but one of them is getting over a cold and y'know."
Black and company head to town Saturday as part of the Pixies reunion tour. It's over a year since they got together, and they've yet to kill each other. He says his supposedly volatile relationship with Kim Deal is mostly hogwash played up by the press. What? Would we do that?
"It's not that it isn't true, but it's definitely played up by journalists. It's an angle, something to hang your hat on. Kim and I are like the most famous couple in rock because we hate each other so much, and it's kinda true and kinda not true.
"She likes to work it. She sets up her microphone 6 inches behind mine to make me look like I'm pushing myself forward, like, 'Hey, man, I'm the frontman.' It's all in good fun. We're getting along better than we ever have, and I'm lucky to have them all."
They might even record toward the end of the year. "We don't have any idea what it's gonna sound like. As long as it's good - that's all everyone in the band cares about. Kim will probably get to sing a lot more than she has in the past."
Black recently released his own solo record called Honeycomb, which I tell him I quite like, and he replies, "Well, it's from the heart, you know." Honeycomb is actually really good, and I'm not one of those people who says that about everything Black does. The Catholics do absolutely nothing for me.
For this record he went to Nashville with producer Jon Tiven (Wilson Pickett, B.B. King, Robert Plant... okay, who cares about Robert Plant?) and enlisted the aid of such talented session musicians (legends) as Reggie Young, Anton Fig, Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn.
Tiven and Black had been planning to record something in Nashville for ages, but when they finally got around to it, a cancelled Pixies reunion was suddenly back on, leaving four days for recording. The result is a soul-, R&B- and country-tinged album. Don't credit Nashville's influence; it ain't Nashville. Being in a town so drenched in music-history greatness had no effect on the recording whatsoever.
"I can't imagine that the spirit of Nashville is so powerful that it reached up to the 16th floor of the Ramada Inn (where Black was doing his writing). The spirit of anywhere isn't so powerful that it will affect the four walls of your hotel room. I mean, if I was out in the streets and in the clubs with the people maybe, but I wasn't doing that. I was making a record."
The album features a duet with Black's now ex-wife, Jean, entitled Strange Goodbye, which is basically about the two of them saying goodbye. Very Fleetwood Mac, only a little friendlier, it seems, and probably without all the snorting coke off each other's perineums.
"It felt great," he tells me. "It was a public display of affection, if you will, by two people who were together for a very long time. As difficult as the breakup was, sometimes I think it was a lot more traumatizing for friends of ours. Probably because they transfer a lot of their own fear about their own relationships onto the situation and feel threatened by it. So it was a way of saying, 'Hey, everybody, yes, the rumours are true, and we'd like to sing a little song about that. '"
Honeycomb also features a cover of the soul classic Dark End Of The Street. Yeah, the tune was co-written by Dan Penn (and Chips Moman), but isn't there also some concern that soul devotees might think Black is treading on sacred ground?
"Maybe, but I don't even know the soul version; I only know the country rock version. So I was able to ignorantly go there, and I had that band, so at least the band is right."