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Frank Black & the Catholics
By Holly Day
(more articles from this author)
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Frank Black--once known as Black Francis, lead singer/songwriter of the Pixies--embarked on a solo career after the Pixies broke up in early 1993. The Catholics were organized out of Blackís touring band for "The Cult of Ray" album, and in 1998, the band released "Frank Black & the Catholics." Their newest release, "Dog in the Sand," is their third album, and features Scott Boutier on drums, Rich Gilbert on guitar, David McCaffrey on bass, and keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman. I spoke to Frank Black prior to embarking on a nationwide tour, just days before his tour van was raided and over $60K of equipment was stolen.

[Holly Day] What was the initial attraction to being in a band for you?

Frank Black Well, you know, I was playing music, and being in a band seemed like the only logical option to me. I mean, I could have joined the opera, I suppose, if I was really into opera music, or orchestra, but so far as playing rock music goes, you generally play in band. It wasnít even really a question of why I was attracted to being in a band. It was more like, I like playing music; therefore, I will be in a band.

[Holly] Iíve noticed there have been just a ton of Pixies tribute albums that have come out in the past couple of years. Are you consulted at all when those albums are being put together?

Frank No, my permission is not necessary. You can record any one of my songs you like after you talk to the publishers.

[Holly] Where did the band name come from?

Frank My wife suggested it. We were sitting around one day, and they were all talking about their Catholic upbringing, and she said, "You ought to call yourselves Frank Black and the Catholics." I think she was kind of joking, but thatís the name that stuck. Itís a good name especially when weíre coming through places like Minnesota, where a lot of people I know there are Catholic.

[Holly] Why did you pick Dog in the Sand to be the title song of the album?

Frank Because it sounded good. I mean, for a while, we were calling the album "Llano del Rio," because that sounded good, too. There were other titles we had, too, that we were kind of kicking around, but really, I just woke up one day and realized it had not occurred to me yet to call it "Dog in the Sand," and after thinking about it for a bit, I decided that that would be the title. I really did, I just woke up with the title.

[Holly] So is there a message or theme to the new record ("Dog in the Sand")?

Frank No. (laughs). No, not really. I mean, Iím trying to think of how I can elaborate on that so I donít appear to be gruff, but really, thereís nothing that ties it together. Itís not a concept album on any level. Itís just the best of a bunch of songs weíve written over the past year or so. Thatís how all our records are. We only know weíve got a record done when we record enough material to fill up an album, and I think thatís really how most records are. I think people can say thereís a theme, or find a theme, to their albumóusually after the fact. If you only write songs about love, then you will be able to find a Love theme in your album. But I think anybody that makes a record, even if it is truly a concept album, like a rock opera, I think basically the record is still primarily going to be made up of what they perceive to be their best songs for that season, and the theme that supposedly ties it together is actually the albumís secondary "purpose."

Truth be told, each individual song, and the quality of each individual song on a record, is a much more legitimate entity than the entity of the entire record. At least thatís what I think. A song has a beginning and an end, and generally a standard format on how itís put together, and itís just too specific a type of entity to try to tie up with something bigger. An album is, I think, a much more vague, aesthetic kind of entity, and is more something that is marketed to the public to buy than anything else. Only people that are really, really into records are able to get into the album as an entity. Those people usually spend lots of time referring to The Album, and say things like, "Oh, I love that album," and "Oh, I like to lie in my bedroom listening to that album, over and over." Thatís only certain people. I think people in general react to songs, and not albums.

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