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Pixies' Black Francis: "In the internet age, rock music has been knocked off its pedestal. People just don't need it as much, do they?"

Black Francis
(Image credit: Ricardo Rubio/Europa Press via Getty Images)

In a new interview with the NME, Pixies' Black Francis  has mulled over the current fortunes of rock music from his perspective as a musician that came up a long time before the internet age of streaming services. 

Compared to the way they used to – at least when I was a kid – it's not lauded in the same way and it doesn't have the same stature culturally

"In the internet age, rock music has been knocked off its pedestal. People just don't need it as much, do they?" asked Francis in the interview. 

"Compared to the way they used to – at least when I was a kid – it's not lauded in the same way and it doesn't have the same stature culturally, which is fine – that's show business. It has to compete with other things."

Fair point, and of course the upside is listeners have access to a lot more artists and genres at the touch of a screen / dictation from an algorithm. Francis has seen it firsthand in his own home.

"My kids are plugged into the Matrix of their phones and listen to whatever they want: one minute they're listening to K-pop and the next it's Fats Waller. They're not pledged to just one band or one genre," he notes. 

"When you have a digital archive on your phone, it's [like] 'Great, down the rabbit hole we go!' But it's only when you get off the grid and find something in a record store that's not available online that it feels exclusive to you and magical."

That's a sage observation that will strike a chord with anyone who grew up before downloading. Is that thrill of the physical product and discovering it behind the ongoing resurgence of vinyl? Well we can't just assume it's only older folks buying it, and anyone who's a keen visitor to the myriad of upcoming acts on Bandcamp will know there are treasures to be discovered in the digital realm too. 

Paradise Lost guitaristGreg Mackintosh is one musician who grew up on tape trading in the '80s metal scene, but now gets his new music discovery kicks that way. 

"I'm obsessed with Bandcamp and where it takes me," he told us earlier this year "You have to sift through a lot of shit, but when you find the stuff it's like, wow, I've never thought of that before."

So it's not always an old Vs new argument for rock music and its many subgenres. Like the record store, sometimes you just have to be willing to search. 

 

Pixies' Joey Santiago: "I was afraid people would tell me I never grew up as a guitar player... but f**k it, so what?"

Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.