Michael Halsband

I'm not normally the star-struck type. Stars are regular humans like everyone else, right? Right. Well, unless they're someone whose music reshaped your entire teenage existence and beyond. So don't mock my heart for pumping hard against my ribs as Black Francis, Frank Black, Charles Thompson—whatever you wish to call him—talks to me (to me!) about Pixies lyricism, life as a misfit, and his musty old record collection. At one point—gulp—he even sang, in ascreaming sort of way of course, to me (to me!) on the telephone. I'll never wash my right ear again.

My attraction to music was natural. I never felt like I fit in at school. Teenagers seemed too young to me so I hung out with the misfits. We weren't close, but we all listened to cool records, whatever they were, whatever no one else was listening to. If you're a music snob, your snobbish taste is developed at a young age; your rock family tree starts early.

So do you consider yourself a music snob?

Of course! Yeah! I had a lot of esoteric records and a band of misfits. All the kids with their Journey T-shirts they got at the concert the night before, they were so lame. I wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole. I don't need to listen to that crap!

Can you talk about your lyrics?  

My lyrics came from a darker place but not without a sense of humor. A lot of people miss out on that. They fall for the obvious billboards on the landscape. They think it can't be mixed. It can't be dark and silly or sexy and funny at the same time. Some people just don't get it.

What does it feel like to have been in a band that had such a gigantic influence on modern music?

A lot of people like the band. But I don't see a big influence. People think we were influential, but I think we were inspiring. When you're influential you do certain things that other people copy. I don't hear any bands that sound like my old band.

And it doesn't feel like anything. It's street credibility. It gets you through the door. Yeah, it's great. But you can't do anything with it, can't be bothered with it. I probably take it for granted; you do that if you've always been in bands. I've never had a tomato thrown at me. I've never been booed. People always say, "Yay." When people always say, "Yay," you don't know anything else.