Whenever I think about Frank Black (which, admittedly, isn’t all that often... dude’s kinda freaky looking, isn’t he?), I think about Jurassic Park.
Chaos Theory, my man.
Let’s face it: Jeff Goldblum's sputtery, pseudo-science nerd-cracks about those incorrigible (read: ferociously murderous) dinos might as well have referred to the wanton, impulsive, and ultimately enduring career of the sometimes bombastic Black, who is kind of a snarling reptile in his own right. I mean, come on; he growls, he roars, he’s relatively hairless, and, just like life, he “finds a way.”
Dubbing himself “Black Francis,” for his successful but ultimately strained run as frontman of Pixies until 1993, Black then changed his path like a drop of water rolling off a hand and decided to revert back to using his real name for a string of solo albums through the rest of the '90s and well into the '00s, most recently culminating in the Dylan-inspired Honeycomb. Even when Pixies reunited, Black stuck to his real name and tended to avoid the old stage moniker like Raptors avoid a T. Rex. Now THAT’S Chaos Theory!
But get ready for another random jerk-around, America, cuz that’s not the end of it. For no terribly apparent reason, “Black Francis” is back, and he’s fixin’ to release a new record called Bluefinger September 11 of this year on Cooking Vinyl Records. According to a press release meant to “explain” the sudden change of heart (apparently Chaos Theory isn’t really a valid reason for things in the REAL world and a legitimate explanation was sought... hmmmm), the newly re-monikered madman had the following convoluted and, dare I say unpredictable, Chaos Theory-affirming nonsense to say:
"I privately went back to the old stage name, if that even makes any sense, almost as a joke. I couldn't get The Pixies back into a studio, but I would transform into my alter ego of yesteryear. I spoke the magic syllables aloud and nothing happened; just as I thought. Soon after, my new manager asked me for a bonus track for a 'best of' compilation to be released later in the year. And as I prepared for the session, I became (honestly) gripped by the spirit of Herman Brood, and my bonus track expanded into an 11 song record called Bluefinger in just a few days. Thank you Herman. You were at the distant edge of my vision for years when suddenly I was under your influence like a cloud of opium, like the scent of the house of the rising sun. Bliss. Bliss. Bliss. I had spoken the magical name and nothing had happened, but I was impatient, and like so many people, I thought the magic would reveal itself in an instant, as depicted in films. Magic is more subtle. And Herman Brood did turn me back into BLACK FRANCIS. Funny how things work out. You just never know."
Yeah, funny how things work out, indeed. So, “Who in the hell’s Herman Brood,” you ask? Well, apparently he was an eccentric Dutch painter and musician who committed suicide about 6 years ago by jumping off the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel (at least, according to Google, anyway). Does that clear things up for you at all? I didn’t think so.
So what IS the significance of the moniker switch and will be its effect on Black’s music this time around? Ladies and gentlemen, not even Dr. Ian Malcolm could answer THAT question. Looks like we’ll all just have to wait until September to try and make sense out of Black’s beautiful chaos. Here’s hoping we all survive.