Avant-garde collective the Residents recently teamed up with the Pixies’ Black Francis to craft a searing indictment of U.S. President Donald Trump: the fiery cut, “Die! Die! Die!” The video for that song drops Friday, replete with imagery of the coronavirus, the president and “666,” otherwise known as the number of the beast.
The Residents claim that the song was originally written by a long lost bluesman named Alvin Snow — a.k.a. Dyin’ Dog — in the mid-Seventies. The version they created with Francis, then, is a cover. “The group felt the song’s relevance was more compelling than ever but they pondered the writer’s motivation. What betrayal damaged Snow so deeply that he wished to see his transgressor die?” the group wrote to Rolling Stone in a statement.
They continued: “Then, without warning, the world was quickly captivated and consumed by the COVID-19 health crisis. And as the pandemic grew, eagerly enveloping an entire civilization both physically and emotionally, one voice stood out from the cacophony generated by a world gravely stricken with suffering and pain. And for the Residents, something about that voice was familiar… not the actual voice itself but its tone… larger than life, sneering and utterly empty of empathy, love and compassion. And in that moment, almost 50 years of reflection back to the Seventies was complete. ‘Die! Die! Die!’ became ‘Now! Now! Now!’ A perfect parallel with its all too eager protagonist snidely and indifferently turning his back on a world whose approval he so desperately sought.”
According to Francis, the song was initially recorded pre-COVID in San Francisco. “It was pretty intense. I almost felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do justice or something. It was so dark,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I didn’t know whether or not I was going to be able to pull it off. So after I got over that first hump of shyness or whatever, I was able to kind of get into the murdering kind of frantic mode. You know, it’s been a while since I’ve recorded something so frantic and angry-sounding.”
“Die! Die! Die!” comes off of an upcoming double-disc titled Metal, Meat & Bone, which the band says is based on recordings by the mysterious Snow. It drops on July 10. The album features 10 Snow demos, 10 takes on the demos by the Residents and six new works inspired by the bluesman. According to the band, Snow vanished in 1976. Still, this is the Residents, so take the existence of such a musician with the proverbial grain of salt.
The Pixies released their most recent album, Beneath the Eyrie, in 2019. The band appeared on the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast last year to discuss the record.