EXCERPT: How To Grow Up To Be A Debaser


Armed with a bottle of wine and a little chien andalusia, Black Francis — in an extremely candid 7,000 word interview with yours truly — bares his soul and sets MAGNET straight on Kim Deal, Kim Shattuck, dope, daddyhood, new songs, old wounds, and how, after 26 years, he finally found his mind. Here’s an excerpt of our in-depth discussion of The Kim Deal Situation. Enjoy. — JONATHAN VALANIA

MAGNET: I’m not going to make this whole thing about Kim Deal, but I would like to give you the opportunity for you to respond to this narrative that’s emerged that you were doing the lion’s share of the heavy lifting. Writing all the songs. Singing them. And yet Kim was the one that got all the adulation. People really liked her — she smiled, she had a dreamy voice…

BLACK FRANCIS: …she’s got charisma.

MAGNET: Right, she’s got charisma…and you somehow resented that. Is there any truth in that? Or is that just kind of people projecting.

BLACK FRANCIS: Well, there’s truth in it in the sense that the narrative that you referred to, those kind of narratives can be hurtful if they’re not factual. So I’m resentful of the narrative. That resentment can start to effect your interpersonal band situation. The fact of the matter was that I was the writer, we had a band, we had a little thing going. One time, Kim walked into rehearsal we were not psychologically prepared. She just showed up to practice one day, probably because she had to get her nerve up and say, “oh, I have a bunch of songs, also.” We had never heard about these other songs before, it was out of the blue. So the way she did it was a little like, “Woah!” But we went along with it. But the thing is, we’re rehearsing with shitty amps in a really loud rehearsal space. We’re probably bonked out of our mind on marijuana and we’re trying to make some sense out of a din. So she brings in all these new songs or chord structures or whatever and of course it didn’t click. So the rest of the band and I talked about it and went, “Yeah the new stuff she brought in today seemed kind of different. It didn’t seem to really work.” Now whether it was really good or not, who knows? It was a fucking cacophony [when we tried it.] So we just went, like, “Kim…” And she was very bashful and said, “Oh that’s okay, don’t worry about it.” So, that was put aside.

MAGNET: When was this, roughly? What album?

BLACK FRANCIS: This was around Surfer Rosa or maybe after Surfer Rosa.  Somewhere in there. I remember a couple years after we were touring around in England. We were doing something at the BBC and she was listening to mixes in another room in the studio complex of her new record for her new band. She invited us down to hear them. So we went down and we listened to them. So really, the fact of the matter is that she was putting together the first Breeders record while The Pixies were going and nobody had a problem with it. She didn’t have a problem with it; we didn’t have a problem with it. That’s the way it was going on. She didn’t really find a receptive space for her material within the band until she started her own thing, and we were all like, “Cool.” So that’s really all that happened. So people that are writing about it trying to figure out…Again, it’s a narrative. “oh, that’s Charles, the guy who screams TAAAAAAAAAAMMMME!!! He’s not letting her write the songs.” And that’s not exactly right. That’s not exactly how it went down. So, you know, who knows what would have happened if we were able to get some vacation time in.

MAGNET: It seemed early earlier on that you guys sang a lot more than you did on the last two records. Was there a conscious decision to stop doing that?

BLACK FRANCIS: I think that there was probably iciness between us two and then there was probably Gil was trying to always force it or something. He’s trying to force these two people to sing together…

MAGNET: You didn’t really want to?

BLACK FRANCIS: I don’t think I was against it, I think…you know, people were barely showing up at the sessions and the whole thing starts to turn into the Charles Thompson Show.

MAGNET: When you were deciding you were going to break up The Pixies, had you thought it through, did you tell yourself “I’m not going to be able to operate at the same level I’m currently operating at. I’m going to have to start over again, back to playing bars.”

BLACK FRANCIS: Probably not. I must have been way too cocky to have that kind of thought process. Yeah, I probably thought it was all going to just continue and I was going to become great or something. I had a good time doing what I did. You know what I mean? I got to earn my dues so I could play my blues. But yeah, I didn’t have any kind of vision. I just continued. I learned pretty quickly. I became humble pretty fast. MORE