Pixies frontman Frank Black has released plenty of solo albums over the years, but perhaps nothing as freaky as his forthcoming NonStopErotik, due out on March 30th. The disc — which was co-produced by longtime collaborator Eric Drew Feldman — features some of his most overtly sexual songs, including the swirling ballad “When I Go Down on You” and the snarling, mid-tempo anthem “Lake of Sin.” Rolling Stone caught up with Black to talk about his inspiration, why raising five kids hinders his ability to work and the future of the Pixies.
Many of these songs are overtly sexual in a way, including “Lake of Sin,” where you sing about someone undressing behind ferns. What was the inspiration for that?
When I was a kid, in second grade, “fern” was a euphemism or code word for vagina. I don’t know where that came form. I guess the record has some graphic sexual detail but it’s only really referenced in a literal way; it’s just me talking about ferns.
Many indie-rock bands don’t discuss sexual topics so openly in their songs.
You know, I read a disparaging review that questioned whether someone wants to listen to old Frank Black singing about vaginas or whatever. I understand the point, but really the record is not meant to be a sexual appendage to your own experiences. It’s not meant to be a record you make love or masturbate to. I wouldn’t masturbate to a recording of my own voice either!
You recorded most of these songs while on the road. Why?
I’ve got five kids. Maybe I can sit at the kitchen piano and start to work on something for a few minutes. But in general, I work on the road and in hotel rooms or studios.
NonStopErotik includes a particularly revved-up version of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Wheels.” Where’d that come from?
I forced Pete Yorn to record that for a session of his that I was working on. He did a fine, tender version of it. I realized at the time that the obsession with that song was my own obsession and that I need to do it myself. I didn’t want to do anther country rock version of it so we just changed the tempo — you know, the whole “let’s give it the Velvet Underground, indie-rock treatment.” A lot of eighth and sixteenth notes. I’m pleased with the Velvet Underground treatment.
Any plans to do a solo tour?
I don’t have anything on the books yet. I’m working something out with this film company and we’re trying to do a simulcast with a Q&A and a band performance. It’ll be a performance of the record with these little films and then a Q&A. We’re still working on that, though.
What’s the status of another Pixies album or tour?
I certainly hope to tour again. I don’t want to misspeak but Europe and Israel are happening and there’s other stuff happening in the fall. But that’s still to be confirmed. As for an album, we’re not doing one officially. I think everyone in the band is creative and writing and stuff. But we haven’t raised the flag, like, “The Pixies are currently recording.”