Friday, July 24, 2009

Frank Black played Fort Wayne and I missed it...

So, I have another interview up at Flavorwire today, this one with former Pixies frontman Frank Black and his wife Victoria Clarke. The two of them are in a very interesting, kind of disorienting project called Grand Duchy which sounds a bit like the Pixies, a bit like Frank Black and a bit like Depeche Mode. (It's the last one that's the kicker, but it sort of works.)

You can read it here.

Anyway, in the interests of professional non-first-person journalism, the editor cut a long digression about Grand Duchy's first single, "Fort Wayne," which was infinitely fascinating to me, because I spent years 4-18 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, riding my bike, wondering about boys, learning to read, etc...(not in that order, but you get the idea).

So what better place for self-absorbed bloggy first-person than here?

This is the part that got cut.
Clarke began contributing regularly to Black’s projects. (She was the main bass player on his 2008 album Svn Fngrs). It was also right about this time that Grand Duchy came into existence, through a casual jam that led to their first song together.

The resulting song is called “Fort Wayne,” and it balances the rough, sometimes sardonic energy of Black with a creamy layer of Clarke’s electro electro-pop. It is also, coincidentally, named after the town where I grew up, a stolid, mid-sized Midwestern city with lots of churches, but, as I recall, no real rock clubs at all. (Bands like Styx and Journey played at the Coliseum when there were no Fort Wayne Comets Hockey games on and when high school basketball was temporarily on hiatus.) Yet Black says that the Pixies played a show in Fort Wayne sometime in 1987 in venue that was mostly a bar, except for Sundays when the owner would bring bands in to boost attendance. I am temporarily flummoxed by the image of the Pixies setting up in a bar in my home town, only a few years after I’ve left forever, deciding that nothing interesting was ever going to happen there.

The song, “Fort Wayne,” seems only glancingly related to the town Fort Wayne, however. There is next to no chance that the Chamber of Commerce will pick it up for a theme song. The cut has a melancholy, nostalgic thread to it, and seems to be partly about the hunger for music and community in the most unlikely places. But it is also about a lot of other things, and contains a long passage in French. It is opaque and evocative at the same time, full of raw, natural feeling, but also glazed over with surreality.


Kitty said...

Hi, this is random, but I was at that show! It was at the 7th Level in Fort Wayne, which was an all-ages club on Sunday nights and probably a bar the rest of the time. It was a truly amazing show. I found your blog because I have occasionally googled to see if I can find some mention of the show somewhere. It was so lifechanging for me that I started wondering if it actually happened. So I was happy to see your post!

jenniferpkelly said...

Hi, wow, that is random, but how cool that you were there! You should write about it. I'd read it. Are you still in Fort Wayne? I've been gone since the early 1980s, but I still go back sometimes to visit my parents.