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Pixies’ Black Francis Is Tending Chickens and Making Tempeh in Quarantine

Singer says he’s happy to lend you some olive oil

Here’s what the Pixies' Black Francis had to say about life in quarantine, and what he's been listening to during the lockdown.

Christopher Polk/Shutterstock

“Music’s been canceled; you know, she’s moved on from whatever party has been going on,” Pixies leader Black Francis says when asked about the current state of his industry. “It’s all canceled. I mean, Christmas is definitely canceled.”

There’s no official word yet on the status of the Pixies’ previously scheduled summer shows, but in the meantime, we checked in with the singer-songwriter — who just released a searing anti-Trump song with the Residents — to see what he’s been up to in quarantine, why he hasn’t been feeling the creative spark, and what’s been on his turntable during the lockdown.

What are you doing with your unexpected time at home?
I never considered myself as part of the rat race or working for the man or anything like that. I always considered myself an independent artist. I guess, if anything, I’ve been given some perspective that maybe I was kind of running around in the rat race a bit.

So, I’ve just been trying to learn how to grow things, how to build things. I built a chicken coop and got some chickens. Tilling my yard and growing corn and beans. I feel like I owe it to myself to figure out self-sufficiency. I know that sounds like a really incredibly naive statement coming from someone who, like a lot of people, their world is completely on the grid in every possible way, between cellphones and bank loans and commerce.

I suppose like a lot of people, especially, you start to get older, you’re like, “Oh, gee, I’ll get into that whole gardening thing one of these years.” And suddenly you’re 50 years old. It’s like, “Oh, shit, I haven’t really figured that out.” Now, I’m sort of like, “OK, here you go; here’s your shot, dreamer.” So I’ve been learning how to do stuff. Learning how to make tempeh.

I’m not saying that I’m off the grid. I’m certainly not. But I guess I’m sort of asking the question, “What if I did have to be? What if they unplugged the power tomorrow?” I’m not the suicidal type, so what am I going to do? I’m not going to become a robber. Some people, they stick a seed in the ground and see what comes up. They maintain a chicken and make themselves an omelet.

I really have no interest in playing music or painting or all the kind of creative things that I used to do. I’m sure that the time will come when I’ll return to those things and I’ll want to do those things again. Right now, I’m finding it very interesting to learn how to do things.

What music do you turn to in times of crisis for solace and comfort, and why?
I would probably listen to Bob Dylan every day. Lately, for some reason, I’ve been listening to the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed album a lot. I listen to a lot of turn-of-the-century classical music, like Chopin and Debussy. A lot of Alfred Hitchcock soundtracks. A lot of classical music, some Sixties rock, some jazz. A lot of Bernard Herrmann.

Anything else you want to say to your fans right now?
I don’t know. … “You need any olive oil? You need anything?” The kitchen looks like a Pakistani bodega.