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Working With A God: How That New Musical By Pixies' Frontman Came About

Photo by Keith Plocek
We told you yesterday about how Pixies founder Black Francis is collaborating with Houston's Catastrophic Theatre on a new musical play. Now we have the details of how the seemingly improbable event came about.

Jason Nodler, formerly of Infernal Bridegroom but now the heart (or, at least, one of them) of Catastrophic, is a hard-core Pixies fan. "Working with Black Francis is, to me, one step removed from working with Bob Dylan," he says. "It turns out he's an incredibly gracious dude, but he's a rock god to me."

Nodler's longtime friend, Josh Frank, is the author of Fool the World: An Oral History of a Band Called Pixies, a book that came out of an aborted attempt to write a Pixies musical.

Frank, who lives in Austin, met Nodler for drinks after seeing Catastrophic's Speeding Motorcycle, and talk turned to the failed effort. Nodler said he'd long hoped to do something similar.

A month later, Frank called to say he'd lunched with Black Francis, and that he was "interested in seeing a pitch" from Nodler.

Which Nodler promptly put together, although it can be difficult to write to a god. "It was hard to hit 'send' on that one," he says.

But Francis was pleased, and the project was born.

It's based on Francis' album Bluefinger, which is itself based on the life and legend of Dutch musician Herman Brood and Francis' reaction to it.

Brood was notorious in the Netherlands, where he actually lived up to the Dutch word for "cuddly junkie." (You know, every language should have a word like that.) He committed suicide in 2001 by leaping from the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton, where John & Yoko had had their "bed-in." Before dying, he got the keys to the bed-in room and left his suicide note there.

The new project, Nodler says, will likely consist of a first act using mainly Brood's songs to tell the story of his life, and then a second act that would be "a radical re-telling of it by Black Francis." It will use Bluefinger songs and, probably, new compositions, he says.

Workshopping will begin in December, and it should open at DieverseWorks in Fall 2010.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly