Twice as Black
Paired again with producer Jon Tiven, the 27-song CD was recorded over a two-year period at studios in Nashville and Los Angeles, and slams a bit harder than the laid-back "Honeycomb."
"Fastman/Raiderman" features some of the most celebrated players in music, including Levon Helm from The Band, Tom Petersson from Cheap Trick, Heartbreaker drummer Steve Ferrone, the legendary Al Kooper, honky-tonk hero Marty Brown, songwriting enigma P.F. Sloan, and Simon Kirke from Bad Company and Free, as well as "Honeycomb" "returnees" Steve Cropper, Reggie Young, Buddy Miller, Spooner Oldman and Chester Thompson, to name just a few.
For Black, the recording of "Fastman/Raiderman" was a bit of a homecoming. "On 'Honeycomb' I was walking on eggshells," he admits about his renowned "back-up" band. "These guys are still legends, but now that we'd hung around a bit, I was more at ease."
Songs on "Fastman/Raiderman" include the somewhat bizarre "Kiss My Ring," the almost hallucinogenic "Dog Sleep," and the overlay of the lyrically obscure and the body-punch, visceral groove of "In the Time of My Ruin." "Highway to Lowdown," "Sad Man's Song," and "Where the Wind Is Going" were originally recorded for "Honeycomb" but didn't match that album's laid-back feel so have been in hibernation until now. "Fitzgerald" and "Elijah" look back to when Black and the Pixies were just beginning to turn rock music inside out from their home base in Boston, and "My Terrible Ways" is a true, tragic story of heroism in the devastation in Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina.
One of Black's favorites is the track "Raiderman" which was recorded one lazy summer night at Tiven's house in Nashville. It boasts an accompaniment from a chorus of cicadas chirping in the backyard and Tiven's dog Sammy, who made himself heard right before the second verse. "That provides a nice backdrop to this tale of a Polish coal miner who lost his legs to the coal train," Black says. "He ends up being a security man after he gets fired by the coal company, chasing the Raiderman away"
As Black is fond of doing, some of the new songs were recorded in a single 24-hour marathon session with musicians coming and going in three shifts and only one two-hour break for some shuteye.
"We gutted it out on sheer adrenaline," Tiven remembers. "By the end things were getting surreal and we were just going with the untamed forces of the universe. If you're halfway between waking and sleeping, you can do things with a song that might not normally seem possible."
Black plans to put together a band that can support the songs on "Fastman/Raiderman" and hit the road later this year. First, he'll join his Pixies' bandmates on a European summer tour.