Grand Duchy is the latest venture from Charles Thompson (a.k.a Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis). It’s a duo with his wife Violet Clark that explores relatively off-road terrain for Thompson: high-gloss new wave and vampish synth pop. Grand Duchy’s playful and slightly Euro-affected debut album, Petits Four, is out April 14 on Cooking Vinyl. Thompson and Clark are guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with them.
Morrissey may be throwing his arms around Paris as of late, but Grand Duchy has had her in a combination bearhug/leglock for years now. Outdoor cafes with tables for days. An abundance of verdant parcs and sparkling fountains. Soaring cathedrals with gargoyles on guard. The charm of the Seine. Wide boulevards veering off at crazy angles into narrow cobblestone alleys lined with quirky book and wine shops co-existing with baby-clothes boutiques and bistros. She’s also a nice place to throw back a glass of Veuve Clicquot while being entertained by mimes—it’s the best of all possible worlds. All of these things and a zillion more make Paris a dynamic, yet extremely serene, sophisticated and walkable, city.
One of the greatest things Paris has to offer, however, is an abundance of scarily wonderful, magical museums and galleries. The one we are especially turned on by is Le Centre Georges Pompidou or, simply, the Pompidou. A fine art museum with an emphasis on 20th-century European art (but encompassing global contemporary art and performance trends as well), the Pompidou is itself a work of art. Walls of glass and steel, exposed, color-coded systems of pipes, and external escalator tubes make travel from one level to the next rather thrilling. Designed by famed architect Renzo Piano and some other folks, and constructed in the ’70s, the Pompidou is the Studio 54 of art museums. It’s like Willy Wonka World in there—except the candy is the art, and you are not allowed to eat it.
The last time Grand Duchy paid a visit to the Pomp, we were struck by a meditative Ellsworth Kelly painting: essentially a giant field of midnight blue. Upon returning to the States, we wrote and recorded song about it. The song sucks. But it’s a nice souvenir.