Black Francis: ‘Record companies have been overcharging people for way too long’

Pixies man discusses the state of the record industry and his latest projects

Now that he has finished producing Art Brut‘s latest album, Pixies frontman Black Francis (aka Frank Black) has been busy touring with his latest band, Grand Duchy, and is gearing up for a handful of shows with the Pixies, as well as the June 15 release of the band’s career-spanning box set ‘Minotaur’.

The prolific singer-songwriter took some time out to speak with NME.COM about the challenges of touring, the release of the new box set and the current state of the music industry.

Grand Duchy is challenging because mommy and daddy are in the band,” said Francis, the father of five young children with Violet Clark, the other half of the Grand Duchy duo.

“We wish we could just throw money at the scenario, which is what we do, but unfortunately we’re just not in the bracket of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. It’s really challenging touring with little people and making sure they’re comfortable. You can’t just throw them in the back of a van as we’ve found out. They have a lot of needs and touring is hard. We’re trying to figure out how to accomplish Grand Duchy stuff without making it a bummer for the kids.”

Francis said that nowadays touring is more important than ever for bands because fewer people are buying albums.

“The rendezvous point between the patron and the artist has been moved from a record shop or online…to live shows,” he said. “People are excited about live personal appearances. They’ll buy tickets for that. That’s a great thing for live music. But now everyone’s touring, which is great for roadies and nightclubs and theatres. But now everyone and their mother is on the road. So that means there’s a lot of competition for your dollars.”

“I think what has to happen is everyone has to get used to making less money and have to charge less money,” Francis declared. “Everything’s got to get cut down to more of a five-dollar world. People will say, “Oh yeah, I’ll pay five bucks to see that or for a T-shirt or a record. I think it’s gonna become more of a five-dollar world than a $25 world, $50, or a $150 world.

“I realise to some people I may sound like a hypocrite because the Pixies are getting ready to release a box set. I think the limited edition version retails for $450. But that art already exists–the demand for that particular product has been researched by the people putting it out. If people don’t buy it, we’ll all be fools.

“I think everyone should sell whatever product they want to sell for whatever price they want to sell it for, but ultimately the market will dictate what it is and people will have to charge less money for everything. Record companies have been overcharging people for way too long and now this is the trouble that they’re in. They created this situation because they were just a little too greedy,” he said.

Pixies are set to perform at the Isle Of Wight Festival on June 14, and Francis said that the band plan to play a handful of other live dates as well, but they have not yet been confirmed.

Meanwhile, Francis is hitting the road with Grand Duchy, performing at summer festivals including New York’s Siren Festival on July 18 and Chicago’s Wicker Park Festival on July 25.

–By our Los Angeles staff.
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