Listening to Black Francis and Tunde Adebimpe chat over the phone, I feel like I’m working for the NSA—if the NSA’s goal were eavesdropping on endearingly offbeat rock moments. As singer and guitarist for the Pixies in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Francis (solo name Frank Black, given name Charles Thompson) pioneered a certain strain of left-field rock that Adebimpe’s Brooklyn-born band, TV on the Radio, has cited as a major influence. It even covered a Pixies song, “Mr. Grieves,” on its 2003 debut EP. After an 11-year breakup, the Pixies reunited in 2004, their eight-concert New York engagement occurring during a boom time in NYC’s indie-music scene. Naturally, TV on the Radio was the opener.
Now, more than a decade later, the groups are both set to play big gigs in NYC—two of the city's best summer concerts by a mile, in fact. Phoning from New Orleans, Francis is affable, loquacious and prone to untranscribable yelps and groans, while Adebimpe, in his newfound California home, is soft-spoken and more careful with his words, clearly geeking out at speaking with one of his heroes.