Articles: The Diary of Black Francis
THE DIARY OF BLACK FRANCIS
By Black Francis during The Pixies' 1989 tour
Melody Maker, December 1989.
Transcribed by C. Gourraud for
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
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
CALIFORNIA JAN 23
We're right in the middle of f***ing 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....F***in' 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 f***in' 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
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 f***in' 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
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
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 "F*** 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 f***in' 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 f*** 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:
I f***in' 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
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
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.
Last Updated 07-04-97