Diary of Black Francis
Black Francis during The Pixies' 1989 tour
Melody Maker, December 1989.
Last year, The Pixies' album Surfer Rosa won the Maker critics' poll. This year, their LP Doolittle crashed into the national Top 10 and the band played over 150 dates on their world tour. Here we present edited highlights from Black Francis' diary of the frenetic last 12 months.
BOSTON NEW YEAR'S DAY
This day hardly registers. I laze around a lot and yet I have no time for time. My last watch was 10 years ago and it played "Swan Lake" when you pressed a button. It broke and now time in watch-form is unappealing. I like calendars for pictures, especially rock photos! And girls! Ee-hah!
SOMEWHERE IN THE USA JAN 20
My honey and I cruised to California on a sleeper train. The food reeked of government subsidy, but had lots o' wine. The cabins are narrow - she slept on the bottom, I slept on the top. Hubba hubba. But it scares me sometimes. Fatty and skinny went to bed Fatty rolled over and skinny was dead. But she kicked my ass in chess.
L.A. JAN 22
Rented a car and went to Disneyland. I had been many times when I was growin' up in LA's mean streets, so I could really show her the ropes. Mass murderer Ted Bundy was killed in the electric chair that morning and Jean, my honey, showed off her endurance against electric current on the "Test Your Strength" machine. Lunched on Mexican (Mundy was rumored to have had a burrito for his last meal) and drove off into the night for Arizona.
CALIFORNIA JAN 23
We're right in the middle of fucking nowhere with no towns for miles. We're playing this trucker tape with "Convoy" on it, when suddenly on the other side of the highway, there's this black guy with hair teased up like the guy from "Eraserhead". He was riding a tricycle with bits of bright cloth and trinkets attached to the spokes and a cart at the back. He looked just like the candyman with a big grin on his face. Seemed to come from nowhere and was certainly going nowhere. What the hell was he doing there? It was one big cinematic joke. Still driving. Snowflakes on the Grand Canyon (each one is different ya know), deer photos and Jean stood on the icy edge of the canyon just for a joke.
PARIS APRIL 4
My third time in this cheese-oriented city on the last day of my European Press tour. Honey and I snapped pictures of the Louvre (featuring the I.M. PEI Pyramid) and Eiffel tower, when the camera broke. But who gives a shit....Fuckin' yellow headlights.
LONDON APRIL 16
Record "Monkey Gone To Heaven" on a top-notch TV arts program. Later that night, that guy from Sonic Youth and that guy from Pere Ubu booted our video on "Night Network" because Joey made a thumbs-up sign.
BRIGHTON APRIL 19
Our first gig and we played so fuckin' great it was unbelievable. I suppose I could have sucked, but what do crazy kids know?
CAMBRIDGE APRIL 25
Much joy after hearing "Doolittle" has entered the British National Charts at Number Eight. I've been reading "The Wicked Ways Of Malcom McLaren" and just got up to the part where The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind The Bollocks" entered the British charts at Number 11. Three places below could make me grin. John Lydon can suck my dick any time.
MANCHESTER APRIL 27
Busted my acoustic in Joey's room and sliced my strumming midgets wide open. The nurse at the delightful Manchester infirmary gaily administers a bandage, but plays real dumb when it comes to removing the fiberglass shards from my flesh. She tells me she's a girlfriend of a Stone Rose and I wonder if the indie charts have become an amoral battleground. At least I got to see a guy who had his ear bitten off in a pub fight. A boxing surgeon came to the show in Liverpool and shows me kindness.
EDINBURGH APRIL 30
Played Glasgow and Edinburgh, And I have seen, My quarry cousins in Aberdeen. Scots are tip-top, even if they do cook their pizza in a fryolater. Pizza supper? Give me a break. Head down south again.
MANCHESTER MAY 2
English pop stardom has its perks and our Mancunian tour manager gets us in to see Tom Jones and his unfeasible large testicles at the Manchester Apollo. The man is a professional, no matter who says what.
LORELEY MAY 13
German festival in the mountains in the spring on the shores of the most beautiful dead river I've ever seen. Someone in the audience throws an iron bar on stage. Later we're told it could be a German sign of affection. Hope it affects someone else next time. Lots of good bands like those Sugarcubes. The other half of the PA gets turned on when The Cure hit the stage, but what the heck. They sold the tickets and it sounds great. Afterwards, the promoter gives all the bands a rock encased in plastic that has "The Cure'" printed on it. Someone also gives me one of those reversible Morrissey tour jackets. I look rained on and trodden, yet sharp. I would duet with that guy in a second. No lie.
LANDGRAAF MAY 15
The "Pinkpop" festival. The Pixies mingle with the stars - R.E.M. watch our show from the side of the stage and have dinner with us. Then The Pixies give their lungs a break from that harsh English hash and pump some good ol' green bud. Sometimes Dutch socialism frickin' rules.
MARATHON MAY 17
Vacation on Marathonas beach with plenty of Germans. We rent mopeds and erode the countryside with rubber burning pop - a wheeling American noise. Kim falls off three times and is finally run off the road.
ATHENS MAY 19
Joey and I decide to visit the Acropolis. We end up in a sidewalk cafe, drinking their delicious wine. Tried to get a cab, but no one taught us Greek taxi etiquette. You don't stand in the street flagging, they just try and run you over. You scream where you're going through the window as they drive past and if they happen to be going that way, they nod and you can jump in while the cab's still moving. Several bloody and unsuccessful attempts at this and we decide it's back to bed.
BELGRADE MAY 20
Saw some tanks. The venue we play has no stage, just gaffa tape separating The Pixies from the Slavs.
ZAGREB MAY 21
Strange. Bought strawberries off a gypsy. Cheap, too.
LJUBLJANA MAY 23
Met several dozen members of Laibach.
BOLOGNA MAY 27
Ted Mico came down for the some rock interview stuff. Did one show and canceled the rest because the organization was so f***ing out of control. We got showed some muscle and drove to Nice real fast. In Nice they drill a hole down a baguette and stick a hot dog in it. Frickin' great.
BARCELONA JUNE 3
Disappointment. After years of waiting, Spanish tapas is no big fuckin' deal. Wrote my first song ever "one the road". I'm such a professional. I have dreams of recording it in Berlin at Hansa, just like David Bowie (pronounced Bowee). Gil Norton, the hepcat that produced "Doolittle", is at the gig and promises to fly in for the sessions. It's gonna be great. Hot.
PARIS JUNE 5
The rock shows are before dinner. All the guys wear cowboy boots. All the headlights are still yellow.
BERLIN JUNE 20
My brother Errol shows up for our German tour. And, with my cousin Mark, the guitar roadie, it's a f***in' Thompson family reunion! Oh yeah, we laid down that hot track. It's still hot.
STOCKHOLM JUNE 26
It was great, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, due to logistics, we had to cancel the talented Swedish band The Nomads. The Swedish rock press got very sensitive about it and tore us apart. Whoopdeedoo. I flipped 'em the bird.
BELGIUM JULY 2
The Tourhout festival. I could talk about all the stars I met, or the fact we went on stage at 10.30 in the morning, but I saw Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for the first time today and I never liked music so much. Joey and I went for a pizza afterwards. Cave and Harvey joined us. Then we took in a movie in Brussels and I was creamin' my drawers.
LONDON JULY 9
Flew home to Boston. Just. I decided I hated flying. It was a terrible flight. I only feel safe on Lufthansa.
BOSTON JULY 20
Supposed to fly to Seattle to meet up with the Very Happy Mondays and start the American "Fuck Or Fight" tour. My honey and I then hear about the United Airlines crash on the car radio. Got out of the car, into the pay phone, rung the manager and told him flying is history. I cancel Seattle and take a Greyhound to San Francisco. All goes well past Chicago. Then I ate a bad ham and cheese sandwich in Nevada and shat water the rest of the way. I nearly die of gastric somethingorother and get asphyxiated by the blue, perfumed toilet disinfectant they use in the toilets.
SAN DIEGO JULY 26
Forgot my passport or driving license or ID and can't prove I'm over 21, so the ex-Angels security staff at the door won't let me in. They say they understand I'm 24 and headlining tonight, but I still can't get in. Finally, reason arrives, but I'm still the only person who's ever been barred from their own gig.
LOS ANGELES JULY 27
After the show, I get to meet David Bowie (pronounced Bowee) and fuckin' loved it. I was so completely impressed and continue to tell all my acquaintances about the historic meeting. We had our own corner of the room and everything. Talked about shit you wouldn't believe. We also had corona beer.
TORONTO AUGUST 28
Was this the gig where we played to 50 Cure-heads and Robert Smith in the wings? No, that was another Toronto. Arrived at the gig to find there were no security barriers in the place and the stage was only about six inches off the ground. The crowd just kept pressing forward, getting closer and closer to us. Right in front me, there was one really shifty guy who kept getting really hyper. One guy next to him told him to calm down, so he punched the shit out him. He was six feet away from me and counting, staring at me with pupils as big as the moon. He kept darting his hand inside his coat. I kept thinking he was going to whip out a gun. The crowd started to pull on the overhead sprinkler system in order to catch The Pixies on stage. Wires came down, water came down and everything sparked. I walked off halfway through. A while ago, my grandmother tried to give me a pair of drumsticks (I used to be a drummer) owned by a cousin who was a jazz drummer. He died in the famous Boston Coconut Grove fire in the forties along with 500 other people. Those Canadians are rowdy. They don't even realize that they're part of the United States.
LOS ANGELES SEPT 8
Supported The Cure at Dodger stadium. Played to scattered enclaves of Cure-heads eating Dodger dogs and pancakes melting in the sun.
DETROIT SEPT 16
This was the club where I walked off (again) because I was getting electrocuted. Everyone thinks I'm a wimp and even my own bad hate me. Oh well, I guess I'll flip 'em the bird.
CLEVELAND SEPT 22
Rudeness is dawning. I used to be so polite. Now it's, "Who the fuck are you and what are you doing within a mile of my dressing room, man?" It's probably due to the fact that the combined IQ of the bozos backstage is below room temperature.
WASHINGTON DC OCT 2
I used to think that I didn't matter what a Pixies audience was like as long as there was an audience. Now I'm changing my mind. There's so many bozos, their lameness irritates me. The stage diving is atrocious. It takes them about five minutes to get to the stage and then they do a little jig and then fall back into the crowd. The Yugoslavs were better at stage-diving and there wasn't even a stage.
NEW ORLEANS OCT 14
I went to the French quarter and had cajun red beans and rice. Whoopee ding. Stopped by the Hard Rock Cafe and showed 'em my tour laminate for a little VIP treatment. I got my own corner table and I let everyone look at my pop genius penis. They got a neon sign outside this place that declares: NO DRUGS NO NUKES! I fuckin' love that shit.
BATON ROUGE OCT 19
The security for the gig is manned by off-duty cops. They got big flashlights that make you see. One guy had a hook instead of a hand and wore black leather chaps and a cowboy hat. They also had crowd control zappers that inflict voltage and once again I had to stop the show after some poor slob got heavy therapy. How can I control these kids and protect 'em from the fuzz? I just wanna get all excited about rockin' responsibility and make conscious videos, too. Well, frickin' barely conscious.
AUSTIN OCT 22
After the show, we drive in our solid silver tour bus 20 hours to San Diego. It's a no-stopper and I spend all night playing "Super Mario Bros" computer games. I'm yelling a lot more these days. After four hours, I realize there's nothing more boring than a bunch of guys sitting around talking about pussy. After 16 hours I swear that if I ever tour again, I do not want to speak to a soul. I'll show up just like Chuck Berry, five minutes before showtime., walk on and walk off, because I just don't give a shit. Being in a tour bus means never being in the same place and always being in the same place at the same time. One more gripe and here it is: England is part of Europe.
SEATTLE NOV 2
This place is really Liverpooly. But with more heroin. David's dream has finally come true. Groupies are starting to appear backstage. I read in a science magazine that global warming is affecting our hormones. What a relief! At last there's a scientific explanation for his increasing obsession with schoolgirls.
VANCOUVER NOV 3
The nearest Canadian city is 1,000 miles away. The place is full of lumberjacks and whores and pizza and porno shops. It's snowy and full of the excitement of a big city in the big woods. Drive all night to Salt Lake City, Utah. The entire band and crew smuggle drugs (again) to my fatherly displeasure, but at least now I can get baked.
SALT LAKE CITY NOV 6
Dave and I smoke a big doobie and take a tour of the Mormon tabernacle. A good time, honest. They were really polite and showed us this huge cathedral hall with a giant statue of Jesus that spoke. Then they began to get really friendly and invited us down to the basement to see some more "videos". We ran. David told me he once rode a unicycle through a Mormon church during a service. The gig is in a supermarket that they painted black. We went to the Salt Lake and made a video documentary on the famous brine shrimp, the lone inhabitant of these waters. Sea monkeys or fish food? What's going on?
BOSTON NOV 21
Two big shows in one big night. Parents and cousins all turn up. Joey smashes his guitar to celebrate his new sponsorship deal with Gibson. Damages his hand more than the guitar. Ted Mico pops up and I haven't seen him since San Diego. The two of us drive down to New York City with my honey. I gave him the story. He gave me the flu.
NEW YORK NOV 22
A boring last show. We play like farts. JFK is on my mind. Who did it? Ironically, Billy Joel's video for "We Didn't Start The Fire" comes out About this time and settles me somehow. Jean and I spend snowy Thanksgiving alone together in New York at Victor's Cuban Restaurant. It's an important holiday for stuffing. We head home and my legs are all nervous and excited about thinking about rock in the Nineties. If they don't like my indie rockin' ruckus, I'll flip 'em the bird.
Thanks to the Alec Eiffel site