City Pulse caught up with Tiffany Hannay, guitarist/vocalist in Lansing’s own The Rodeo Boys, to discuss an album that helped shape her own sound. Hannay chose the solo debut from a member of The Pixies. Read on to hear how and why this 1993 album is a life changer. Next month, fans can catch The Rodeo Boys at the Motor City Pride Festival on June 11 and then at the Punk in Drublic Festival (with headliners NOFX) on July 9. A late summer tour and details on the band’s sophomore album will be announced soon. In the meantime, here’s what Hannay had to say.
What album did you choose?
Tiffany Hannay: The most life changing album for me is Frank Black’s self-titled album. I had always loved the Pixies and listened to some one-off tracks, but I didn’t fully indulge in the album until late in 2018, when I was 26. I was going through some tricky life stuff at the time and got super obsessed with it.
How did you first discover Frank Black’s solo material?
I had heard a more recent Frank Black song on a playlist that my friend made for me back in 2012 and didn’t make the connection that it was Charles Thompson (aka Frank Black) from the Pixies. I had listened a little more over the years, but I think I had just fully gone through every Pixies album and I was jazzed to find anything that was adjacent to it.
Between the Pixies, and all of the Pixies offshoots like Black Francis, Frank Black and The Catholics, The Breeders and The Amps, there is so much good music there coming out of that group of people. It’s insanely impressive that Charles Thompson has basically put out an album every year for the last 25 years, sometimes twice a year, and they all have great songs on them. The man is a genius.
Did the album have an immediate impact on you?
Pretty much. The first time I played it all the way through, I just kept relistening. I remember exactly what I was doing. I was at work and we had a bunch of blue spruce removals, which can be really monotonous. I think I was dealing with some relationship troubles at the time and was feeling a little lost and under-slept.
What aspects of the album touch you the most?
I’m just really impressed with the song writing as a whole. The choices he makes with melody really surprise me. He uses a lot of chords that you wouldn’t expect, and the songs change direction, which really grabs my attention and keeps me super interested. I think it’s brilliant. I’ve never been all that wild about his lyric writing in the Pixies. I think it’s good and all, but a lot of it is really abstract. This album has some really cool themes. Specifically, “Places Named After Numbers.”
Overall, how would you describe the album?
It’s really funky and poppy. It shows a less popular side to ’90s music that I absolutely love. There’s a lot of very tasteful saxophone and other horns that hit really well. Some of the tracks, like “Fu Manchu,” almost give me a “Twin Peaks” vibe. I listen to it and can just tell it was not at all that popular when it came out. I always get so excited to show this album to people, but they rarely like it as much as I do. It has definitely validated my instinct to not write songs in a standard format. It feeds into my desire to mess around with whatever feels good.
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