Frank Zappa

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, September 23, 1972

Yes, I am sure that Frank Zappa was a thorn in the side of many conservatives, but his attitude to work beats most of the blue-collar people to the ground. What he left behind is amazing and I think he will be one of in a small group of people that will be quoted and listened to 100 years from now. Only time will tell and it all depends on a lot of factors, but I think I will be right. Enjoy this great interview in the Talk-In series.

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The Zappa Talk-In

Interview: Steve Peacock

It`s been a long time since the Rainbow: for the rest of us, life`s been going on, but for Frank Zappa a large proportion of that time has been spent lying in hospital beds, and resting in his Californian home, recovering from the disastrous incident in London which left him badly injured. Lately though, he`s been writing and playing music; he did the “Wawa Jawaka” album, and started a tour with a 20 piece band based on essentially the same ideas as that album. Lying in his hotel room last week, an air of weariness and a brace on his leg the only outward reminders of the Rainbow, he talked with not a little bitterness in his voice of his experiences in the world of rock and roll.

THE new band…

… is called The Mothers of Invention Hot Rats Grand Wazoo, or Grand Wazoo for short. It`s a 20-piece electric orchestra, and the group is only going to be together for a total of eight concerts. The Hollywood Bowl, the Oval, the Hague, Berlin, two days in New York, Boston, and back home.

Have you decided against having a regular band now?

Pretty much, yeah. I think that of all the unreliable phenomena that exists in the 20th century, the musician may come up in first place.

Unreliable in what way?

Just in unreliability. So, rather than keep something together to the point where it becomes 100 per cent unreliable, it`s better to just put things in small doses and do a variety of things, because I`m interested in exploring a lot of different kinds of music and a lot of different textures, and I see no reason why it should not be possible to put together a 20-piece orchestra for one tour, and then if I feel willing to put myself through the work of putting together another group of a totally different instrumentation for another tour, then I`ll do that.
As a matter of fact as soon as I get off the road after this tour that`s exactly what I`ll do, put together another group. We have a tour lined up for the United States and Canada at the end of October.

UNUSUAL INSTRUMENT

Have you any idea yet what that will be like?

The main thing in it will be that I`m going to be playing a lot of guitar, and it`s possible that it may have some vocals. I may do some vocals with it and probably have another vocalist – probably some brass, rhythm section, and there`s another man who plays an unusual instrument who I haven`t contacted yet.

You`re still finding it necessary or satisfying to go out on the road and play? Because you must be in a position now where you don`t have to.

Not necessarily. I think the only time you don`t have to go out on the road is when you`re in the position of a large phenomenon like the Beatles or the Stones where you sell large, frightening numbers of records automatically. I would rather face an audience and let them see what I`m doing and let them hear what I`m saying exactly than deal with them second or third hand, conversing to them through the print media or something like that.
Certainly I enjoy playing music and a tour is a good way to keep people informed of what you`re doing, and if they like what you do then of course they`ll follow it up with records.

RECOUP

You wouldn`t feel able to get to them sufficiently closely with just records?

Not really, because I’ve got so much stuff all ready to release now that I can’t put out, because you’ve got to wait three or four months between albums because the company who’s distributing your stuff say they don’t get a chance to recoup their money if you do it in less.
In fact we just had a jam session all night, I guess about a month ago. Jean Luc Ponty happened to be in town and so did George Duke and a number of other west coast jazz men, so we had a jam session in the mix room upstairs in a recording studio in Los Angeles. It was unusual because the only thing that was being picked up by a microphone was the drums and everything else was being plugged directly into the board through transducers.
So consequently everyone except the drummer was standing around the console and they could hear themselves perfectly at high volume in quad – no charts, and nobody even said we’ll play this or that, we just turned the tape recorder on and started cranking away.
We recorded all different combinations of instruments from seven in the evening to seven in the morning, and I can’t release it because I already have another album in the can that’s set for release in three weeks’ time in the States, and then we’re doing some live recording over here, and I won’t be able to put that out until … And whenever you put out an album people assume that I’m totally committed to that at the time, that that’s my new direction or something.
I may have been doing eleven different things simultaneously at the time the album was made. but they don’t get to find out about that until the release schedule catches up.

After the Rainbow, did you want to keep those Mothers together, or were you going to disband them anyway?

I didn’t have much choice in the matter. I couldn’t work so I couldn’t employ them. What could I offer them if we couldn’t go out on the road? But even before that last tour we were getting into some kind of recording contract with Mark and Howard so that they could do their own album, however they chose not to mention the fact that we (Zappa and manager Herb Cohen) fought to get them out of their previous recording contract so…

Really? And then they put you down in their press interview.

Well. I would imagine that that’s just the beginning of it, and that there’ll probably be a lot more of that shit. But I find that distinctly unethical because what happened when we got back to Los Angeles was that I started figuring out ways that I could get the guys some money, because our tour was cut short and we didn’t do about six jobs, and also the insurance money on our equipment that got burned in Montreux only got settled last week – they haven’t given us the cheque yet, but we’ve agreed on an amount.

ADVANCE

So while I was in Los Angeles I tried to find a way to give them some bread, and I happened to have a tape of a concert we did just prior to the European tour, so I decided to release that as an album and I managed to work a deal where I got each member of the group an advance payment of 2,000 dollars, which is way in excess of what they would have gotten if I’d just done it under normal circumstances. I find no mention of that in their press releases. And another thing they’ve been garbling about in some of the papers in Los Angeles is that I didn’t call them up or go to see them or anything. Shit. I’m sitting up in my house in a wheelchair with my leg up in the air, and they never bother to come over and see me either. I think the attitude they’ve shown so far has been strictly commercial.

PUBLICITY

It seems to happen that people who work with you and leave, end up bad-mouthing you in the papers.

Yep. A lot of people automatically assume that because somebody says something like that it must be true, and not once for any article that says something, like that, has any body bothered to call me or the office to corroborate anything that was said.
I guess if you took the combined work of all the interviews where people have said things like that and sat down with all the receipts and all the contracts I think you’d find out that all of them were liars. And that the sole reason for people saying something like that was for publicity purposes, because if you say something that is sensational you wind up getting more press.
So one guy says he’s really hot shit, and the next guy reads it and says look, they did it over there and it worked for them, let us do it, and then the next one and the next one and so on. It does work.

I spent some time with Captain Beefheart when he was over here, and from them I got more of a general anti-Zappa feeling than any specific complaints…

RECEIPTS

Well, yes and I’ve seen some of those specific complaints, and I can’t see there’s really any logical foundation for what they say, let alone what they do. It seems peculiar that they forget all the things that our office did to make things easier for them. to help them get started. Like we’ve got receipts for pumping their cesspool, a tree surgeon for his house… just little things down the line that would go wrong, and they’d call up, and we’d fix it for them. It’s just such a weird attitude.
If we’d used the Motown attitude to our acts none of this would have ever occurred, because when you sign with the label you also get locked into a management thing which is also controlled by the office. But I don’t like the idea of doing that, and consequently the only artist we ever had under contract that I produced was Wild Man Fischer, and the reason for that was that nobody else would touch him. We hoped that we could get him some work in order for him to promote his album, and when he wanted to have his contract back, Herbie just handed it to him.

BEHAVIOUR

Does the whole thing hurt you very much?

It depends on the relationship I had with the artist prior to the press releases that they put out. I felt especially uncomfortable, well guess it was just painful in the cases of Beefheart and Mark and Howard. I just felt that that was extremely low behavior, in the case of Beefheart I just don’t understand it because he’s so erratic that he’s likely to say something like that, and then the next day turn around and say the opposite, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened, and he just kept on trying it. Probably he discovered the more he said it the more press coverage he got.

If I can change the subject for a moment, can I ask how long you were laid up after the Rainbow?

I was a month in the Harley Street Clinic, and then I had about another three months in Los Angeles pretty much incapacitated, and I then gradually started improving from there. I’ve had this brace on my leg for about two months, and before that I had a cast on, sitting in a wheelchair. The leg’s not healing very fast, but it is healing now at last. I had a whole assortment of injuries, and it bugged me a little bit to see the way it was handled in the press, a kind of semi-humorous treatment, here and also in the States, yeah. Yo ho ho, he fell in the orchestra pit.

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SENSITIVE

Well, I’m sure that wasn’t intended.

Maybe, maybe I was feeling a little crazy and over sensitive in that hospital. I had a broken rib, I got a broken shin tibia, I had a giant hole in the back of my head, the side of my face got mashed in, and for the first two-and-a-half or three weeks in the hospital I couldn’t move my hands, and I didn’t know whether I had any brain damage or what. I couldn’t even hold a guitar up by the time I left the place, it was too heavy for me.

But now it’s just the leg?

Yeah, just the leg.

Did you start writing soon after you got back to LA?

Oh yeah, I wrote a whole bunch of stuff as soon as I was able to sit at a table.

And are you still planning on “Billy The Mountain” as the next film?

Well, I was planning to do that with Mark and Howard, so I’m going to have to shelve that until I can come up with a new way to package it. And I’d rather not discuss the next one until I’ve made a deal for it. It’ll be a feature film not a cartoon though.

Do you see film-making now as important as much as music?

I see that as just another thing I do. I certainly like to do it. It gives you a slightly different advantage because you can use things like close-up that you can’t do in a concert, build up a little more character that way. I’d say the next film I do won’t be near the standard idea of a rock and roll movie based on the exploits of a certain fixed group; It’ll probably be a little more into being professional actors, and with a slightly different premise to work from.
I’m about finished with investing large amounts of my time in the development of other people so that they can do press interviews and rip me off.

ATTITUDES

This is the unreliability of musicians, you were talking about. Would actors be any better?

I guess not, but seeing as I haven’t had any actors do bad press releases about me yet, I’ll explore that field. As soon as I find out I have trouble with actors, then it’s cartoon’s all the way.

You seem to be very pissed off this time round, disillusioned and a bit down.

Well I’m tired to tell you the honest-to-God truth, got a bit of the jet lag. But something like that would tend to change your attitude towards people in general, musicians in particular, and also audiences, by the way. You just have to view them as a completely different phenomenon, and as I told one guy at the press conference, something like this shows you who your friends are. if you ever had any.

PLAYBACK

So whatever you do now it’ll be for yourself.

Well, to be more specific about it, I just won’t be doing some of the things that were normally expected of me before.

In the way of patronage and so on.

Right. I’ve had it about up to the ceiling, or maybe up to three floors above, of that sort of activity.

Are you carrying on with Straight/Bizzarre?

Yes we are. But as far as actually producing records for people myself, that’s going to be severely limited because I just don’t like the idea of the personal aggravation of getting the playback from it. So my involvement in the record company will probably be to the extent of approving or disapproving of what’s available to sign, and I’ll turn the actual production over to some other people.
That’s what I’d like to find right now, is some competent producers, who know what to do with people of unusual abilities. There’s a lot of guys that can go out and make a straight, slick record, but what if they had to deal with Alice Cooper in the early stage?

Going back to that Beefheart thing: the one specific charge they did make was that you didn’t create, you just take things and put them together.

Yeah. Is that to imply that Beefheart’s music is 100 per cent pristine and comes from no point of origin, or is that to say that anyone listening to Beefheart’s music is befuddled to the point where they can’t trace his sources? Because I certainly know where it comes from, but I wouldn’t tell any body for fear of embarrassing the dear Captain.
I don’t know what one is supposed to say about taking things from other people and moulding them into something of one’s own, but I’ll tell you exactly what I take and it’s not like taking it either, because in all the groups that I’ve had, the personalities of the individual musicians I felt were important enough to build into the pieces they were performing.
When a person is working on the road a certain number of months out of the year and, if they have to play a set repertoire in order to keep some sort of programme and to ensure some standard of quality for the shows that you have to do night after night, it’s better if the people who are performing it have a chance to have some thing they can identify with. That seems logical, it has to me all along anyway, and what I would do was when I wrote for the group I’d take what you might call the folklore of the group and transmute that into musical terms so that the people playing the music got the chance to play something that represented them as much as me.

ABILITY

Unfortunately, some people didn’t like the way I saw them or what I recognised as their folklore contribution, and other people just didn’t like the idea of performing, period. They’d say we were going on the road too much, and then other people felt we weren’t going enough, because if you don’t go on the road you don’t get paid.
In the case of the old Mothers, at the point that they broke up I was in a very embarrassing situation, because in order to tell the whole truth about I would have had to say some awfully bad things about them – about their musical ability, their attitude, their reliability. It was at a point where I knew they had to get together other ensembles and I didn’t want to do any bad press that might encumber them in their new career, whatever it was.

SLOPPED

But to tell you their attitude at that point now: they were receiving 250 dollars per week, guaranteed, whether they worked or not, and had been for a couple of years. And that was a burden I could not bear any more, because the money we were getting in from concerts was just not enough. At the time we broke up I felt that at rehearsals they slopped through the music, taking no interest in refining their technique or expanding musically to new horizons.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Kay (Steppenwolf), Sandy Denny, Head, Hands and Feet, Maggie Bell, Ten Years After, Manassas, Hawkwind, Rick Nelson, Barry Dransfield, Andy Brown, Carly Simon.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

 

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ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, December 4, 1971

A nice interview that is actually the second part of the last one with Zappa that I posted here. Enjoy!

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Frank`s turtles in disguise

By Steve Peacock

The time is right, thinks Frank Zappa, to unleash on an unsuspecting public the long-awaited nine-album anthology of Mother`s music, together with a 30-page booklet. It`s set for release next March.
A year ago, I asked Zappa when he`d ben releasing the set, and he said: “In about five or 10 years when they assume more historical importance.” Things have obviously moved a lot faster than he`d expected.

DOCUMENTARY ANSWERS

“I think now is the time, because what with the release of “200 Motels”. I think if anybody has any questions about where things come from in that film, it would be appropriate to answer them through this set. There`s a lot of documentary stuff on it.”
The nine albums go right through from 1962 to now, and none of the material has been released before. A lot of it`s live, and about 20 per cent of it is live versions of stuff that`s been on other albums.
“There`s a lot of improvisation,” says Zappa. “The old group`s strongest point was collective improvisation, where the group itself would put together a piece on stage from nothing. There`s some good examples of that. A lot of it was recorded in Europe – there`s a bunch of stuff from the Festival Hall concert we did here in `68, some stuff from the Albert Hall in `69, quite a few American concerts, some stuff from Copenhagen. And then from the most recent Mothers there`s some things we recorded on the last tour.

BOOGIE

“Then there are examples of what our rehearsals sound like – I`ve got a tape of the original Mothers from before we recorded “Freak Out”. That`s us doing “How Could I Be Such A Fool”, on side two of the first album; and then it goes forward in time to `68 when we had a 10-piece band rehearsing a song called “Boogie For Berkley”, and the third one is the Mothers 1970 rehearsing “Fluted Transoms” – the new organised Mothers rocking out on a sort of atonal jam.”
The anthology will obviously be of great interest to people who already know the Mothers, and who`ve followed them through from the early days, but Zappa feels that an important reason for putting it out will be to give people who have only picked up on them recently a chance to find out about their history.
“The number of people who own all our albums, or who`ve heard them all, is very small. I meet people who think that “Hot Rats” was our first album, or that “Chunga`s Revenge” was our first album, and there are even people who think the Fillmore album was our first. And then there are the people who have only the “Freakout” album, and who don`t know about the others. They`re amazed when you tell them there are 13 albums.”
We got on to talking about the way the Press had treated the Mothers in general, and the film in particular. Zappa does feel a bit ill-used, especially in America, though there “200 Motels” has had better reviews than here.
“I can sympathise with somebody who earns his living as a critic – I should think that would be a very difficult thing to do, to be put in a position where you have to tell people what`s good and what`s not.”
Was that how he saw the job of reviewers?
“That`s what it usually comes down to. Most of them don`t really do the formal service of saying `this, this, and this could have been improved` – and be able to say it because they know something about the medium in a technical way. It`s usually so subjective that it doesn`t deal with technicalities at all. They don`t perform a service for the artist – it might be handy to have someone who knew what a mix was supposed to be – listen to an album and say: “I don`t like that mix because there`s not enough of this or there`s too much of that.

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REVIEWS

“But normally what happens is that the person is involved with his own job of being a writer, in expressing himself as a writer rather than being involved in what he`s writing about, and so the basic game of being a writer is to collect words that are going to provide for the reader the sensation that the person who`s writing is really hot shit. Therefore anything that looks good on paper is generally what comes out in reviews, so if it seems attractive to call “200 Motels” a home movie, well then that`s cool. But I wouldn`t say it was a home movie – you should see some of my home movies.”
How much did criticism affect him, especially put-downs based on half-grasped ideas?
“Well, it depends on the person who`s doing it, and the generalised intention behind why they might say what they say. Talking about the film, I made it for people to enjoy, so if nobody enjoys it then it affects me – I should feel I had failed in my duty as an entertainer, because it`s supposed to provide a pleasurable experience for the audience that sees it. But anyway audiences vary in their sense of humour, and it`s especially un-natural when people who write about films go to see them in the presence of other people who write about films.
“You`re there with all the other people in your trade of film writing or music writing, or whatever it is, and everyone`s there to be who he is, or do what you do, and the general attitude is `Oh, let`s see what we can enlighten the world with about this Zappa movie.` I`ve been to a lot of screenings with Press and watched the reactions, and I`ve also been to theatres where the film`s been on display for a regular audience – and there`s a big difference.

TURTLES

“But the final decision is usually left to the people who`ll go and see it when it`s on general release. They`ll either enjoy it or they won`t. It wasn`t made for critics, it was made for people, and if some day a critic decided he wants to become people, then maybe he can get off on it.”
In one way and another, the things Zappa`s thinking and talking about at the moment tend to relate to his films – this one, and the new project “Billy The Mountain” (see last week`s SOUNDS). When he gets back from this tour he has to finish off the script, music, and organisation for that, write the book for the anthology, edit live recordings they`ll be making of their British dates in December.
He`ll also be playing guitar on a few sessions that the Turtle/Mothers are doing to complete a double Turtles` album for Bizarre. Come to think of it, now Jim Pons is with them on bass, the present Mothers are almost Turtles in disguise.
“It`s fairly evenly balanced – three Turtles, three Mothers, and an Aynsley Dunbar. There`s a comedy group if ever I heard one.”
Ah, yes the comedy group. That`s something which has grown out of Press reviews – in America for a long time  the Mothers seemed to be regarded in the same way as the Barron Knights were seen here – and they stress it a lot in the film. The point is, of course, that they`re musicians who happen to enjoy being funny as well, but people seem to find this hard to accept. Even, apparently, their former bass player, Jeff Simmonds couldn`t take the combination. Was his leaving the group really as it was shown in a cartoon sequence in the film?
“It`s pretty close. He was being counselled by his girlfriend or his wife or whatever she was, that he was too heavy to be in the group. I feel sorry for Jeff because he had great comedy ability, but he has this feeling of ambivalence about being funny and being a heavy musician at the same time, and his main interest lay in being recognised as a heavy musician. He figured nobody would ever believe he was heavy if he had a sense of humour, and that opinion was being bolstered by his old lady.”
It`s a combination of approaches that the Mothers seem to have come to terms with, but did he ever feel that the comedy sometimes took away from the music?
“Only in as much as some people can`t comprehend certain musical aspects of the group, so the comedy predominates for them. I do it because there are certain things that strike me as funny, and I like to share that with people who are similarly interested. I don`t see any reason to go on stage and treat the whole thing as a solemn affair – life is too short.

HUMOUR

“There really is a lot of funny stuff, and I think we need some of that these days. Spread it around a little bit, give somebody some relief. I think a lot of people relate to the comedy and don`t even realise there`s music there – that`s why we keep referring to the Comedy Group in the film, that kind of stereotype that`s been laid on us.”
But he never felt tempted to tone down the funnies so people would get more directly to the music?
“No. I`m certainly not going to throw away the enjoyment that I have out of having humours sensations on stage in order to accommodate someone who doesn`t have a sense of humour.
“Look, if you`re going to play 22 jobs in seven weeks, you better have a sense of humour. You better.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Deep Purple, Rikki Farr, Bob Dylan, Nicky Hopkins, Bunk Johnson, Country Joe and the Fish, Steve Marriott, Ian Hunter, Roy Harper, Emitt Rhodes, Charlie Wills, Melanie.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, November 27, 1971

I do love a little bit of Zappa in between all those rock bands here. One of the most talented musicians in modern music history have his natural place here, as he also have in my record collection.
Be well dear readers – until my next update!

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Zappa`s latest box of tricks

A interview by Steve Peacock

Frank Zappa is pretty pleased with his first movie, “200 Motels”. Ask how he feels about it now that it`s all finished and he`ll say: “I think it turned out pretty good.” Tell him that British pop pundit Tony Palmer, who worked on the film, thinks it`s the worst pop film he`s seen, and he`ll say: “That`s quite a distinction. But then he`s such a controversial little rascal.”
Ask him if he can see any reason for Palmer to describe it that way, and he says: “Self publicity for himself perhaps?” It`s not so much arrogance, it`s a strong belief in what he`s doing, and as he says, he does things for people to enjoy, not for critics to write about.
He enjoys it too. He enjoyed making it, and he enjoys watching it. I`d been saying that it was a bit difficult to take in all at once, the first time. “It is a bit difficult. I remember the first time I saw it when it was completed, and I`d been looking at it for months and months in various stages of development but when the final colour print first came back, I went to a screening, sat there, and I didn`t even listen to it – I just looked at it, because I couldn`t believe what it looked like.

CRAZY

“I wasn’t even connecting the dialogue or the music with the pictures up on the wall, it was a silent movie as far as I was concerned. After the third or fourth time I began to assimilate it all.”
I was starting to ask about the way he’s approached making the movie. He’s explained at length before what the film was about how it showed that touring makes you crazy, but presumably he’d seen other pop films and he had ideas about how to do it himself. He immediately picked up on the phrase “pop films”.
“I’m not an avid fan of pop films, but you get dumped into that category by virtue of the fact that the film revolves around a group of people who happen to be musicians. I think I would use the same people whether they were musicians or not. I happen to be interested in making a musical film, but a lot of the music in it is not pop. In a way that’s unfortunate because it’s not like one of those regular rock and roll movies.
“But as far as the ideas for the technical things went, I had seen many examples of the special effects you can get, and I had some idea of the capabilities of video technique. 99% of the effects in the movie happen live while you’re working, which means you can see how they’re going to turn out at the time, and you don’t have to send them away to a lab and get them to do it for you. If you don’t like it you just erase it and do it again. It was extremely appropriate for this film.”
Was there anything in the film he felt didn’t work as well as it could have done, or anything he had to leave out?
“There was plenty of stuff that was left out that might have been more interesting to leave in, if certain other parts had been shot. But you must remember that we only had a seven day shooting schedule and as it was one third of the script, which was 320 pages long, didn’t get shot at all, and so there was a certain amount of restructuring to be done at the point where we were putting the thing together.”
But had he had, say, two weeks on the sound stage, it would have been a very different film? “It very definitely would have been, but that’s beside the point really. What’s there is there, that ‘200 Motels’, that’s the way Fate has made it occur. I also would’ve liked to have had the soundtrack in stereo, but I didn’t have the budget for that either.”

COMPUTERS

Perhaps with the success of “200 Motels”, he’ll get a better budget for his next project, “Billy The Mountain”. Part of the script and some of the music for this is already written, and the Mothers may be performing extracts from it at their Rainbow Theatre concerts in London next month. After the current tour, Zappa will be going back home to finish work on the script and the music. Will he be using the same techniques to make the next film?
“No, there’ll be some improvements in terms of technique. There’s a possibility of involving computer technology in conjunction with the videotape to do even more outrageous things. I don’t want to be too specific with you because a lot of the things are patentable, but say I’ve invested some money in research and development on some machines to extend the capabilities of video, and you might be hearing something in the next few weeks about the success of those experiments.”
The music for the film will be played by the Mothers – “doing our rock and roll comedy music” – and by a synthesiser orchestra. “There’ll be a number of special devices that are in development right now, that’ll do a number of unusual things to the human voice, and also extend the capabilities of the voice by enabling a person’s speech or singing voice to trigger circuits which will cause that voice to be accompanied by synthesised orchestral ensembles, that will be exactly in synchronisation and exactly on pitch with that voice, no matter what it’s doing.
“Say you’re talking. There’s a device that will find out the important information harmonically about the content of your voice, and generate a signal which’ll turn on other devices which will poop out of a speaker on the other side of the stage a sax section that’ll play chords that’ll accompany exactly the rhythm of your speech and the inflection of your speech. It could produce a very interesting kind of music.”

How far advanced is the work on these devices? “They’ve been tested and they work. The only thing I’m waiting for is to get off the road, go back to Los Angeles, and have the guy that’s working on the project hand me a completed box. It’s just a question of putting it all into a little black box with knobs on.”
And learning how to use it? “Right, but that’s not too bad, because once you have the proper amount of rehearsal with the members of the group, all they have to do is adjust their ear to the fact that every time they talk there’s going to be an ensemble of some sort cranking along behind them, that they can’t get rid of. There’s no way you can fool it – if you go out of tune it goes right out of tune with you.”
How do they feel about that? “Oh, they’re interested in doing it. The Mothers of Invention? You know how experimental they are.”
The way they’re going to make the film this time, is to shoot the Mothers straight. playing the music and narrating the story of Billy The Mountain. After that, they’ll use insets and superimpositions, and other fiendish tricks, to illustrate the story; shots of the Mothers acting out the story in costume, and animation sequences.
Would it be as fast moving as the first movie? “Oh yes, at least as fast, but I think you’ll be able to follow it because there’s a linear story – this definitely has a plot. It’s a kind of fairy tale situation and it has events that follow each other in the acceptable plodding manner that people like to identify with.”
Would he like to outline the plot? “Ah let’s see. I don’t want to get too specific, and give the whole plot away, but it’s something like this:
“It tells the story of the creation of life on this planet and in this version, it begins with an empty sky, a fat maroon sofa floating around in it, God sees the sofa, admires it, and decides to explain to the sofa the basis of their future relationships, and he does this, singing in German.

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Then he decides he needs some entertainment so he summons his girlfriend The Short Girl, and her assistant, Squat The Magic Pig, and proceeds to shoot a home movie using the girl and the pig and the sofa. And when he’s finished shooting the film he has some Winged Holy Children take it to a lab where they don’t ask any questions, and while he’s waiting for his rushes to come back he lays down on the sofa to take a nap, and as soon as he goes to sleep, he has a great dream, and when he dreams the Devil appears.
Now the Devil walks out of a cave and he introduces himself with a song and dance routine, and he has these cloven hoofs, you see, and he’s stomping around on the rocks outside the cave and the sparks from his hoofs ignite all adjacent moss, and the moss goes up in flames, the smoke is billowing around, and as he sings in a low voice the smoke turns to stone forming several lumpy new mountains, and one of them can talk. And the one that can talk is named Billy the Mountain.
Billy The Mountain has a tree growing off his shoulder named Ethel, and Ethel is his girlfriend, who soon becomes his wife, and Ethel the Tree is under the control of Old Zircon, the phased-out Byzantine devil. Old Zircon induces Ethel the Tree to trick Billy the Mountain into taking her on a vacation. And so he gets up on his massive granite foot, and starts walking across America, and he’s destroying America as he walks from California to Virginia Beach.
Meanwhile, in a small neat room behind a grocery store, there’s this mysterious figure named Studebaker Hawk, and Studebaker Hawk is dressed in a chequered tablecoth with waxdrips on it from some candles stuffed up a Chianti bottle, and he’s wearing dark green denim trousers such as a bus driver might enjoy, and he sits before a glowing view screen on which he monitors all things potentially dangerous to civilisation as we know it. And on this screen he’s watching Billy the Mountain.

Now Billy has this large cliff for a jaw, and when he talks the cliff goes up and down, and clouds of brown smoke puff out, and rocks and boulders hack up, and he (Studebaker Hawk) sees the new brown clouds coming out of Billy’s mouth and he sings about it because he becomes worried about the implications of brown clouds in terms of the ecology. He gets on the phone to informed Sources in Washington DC. and finds that the line is busy.
Meanwhile, all these disasters keep happening in the Mid-West. On his way. Billy gets hungry, and he eats a diner. You know what a diner is? Well in the United States they have these restaurants that are made out of old street cars, and he eats one. He sees it’s got all this rancid food in it so he eats the whole street car – all the stale lemon pies and bacon drips, he eats the cash register and the chlorophyll lozenges and gum displayed nearby.
But as he’s walking, he finds that it’s interfered with his delicate granite intestinal membranes, causing severe gas, fire, and molten lava, and Billy the Mountain becomes Billy the Volcano, about the time he gets to Indiana. He’s vomiting all these melted chrome diner appliances all over the countryside.
By this time Studebaker Hawk has finally gotten a call through to his informed sources in Washington, and he meets a character called Little Emil, who gives him a code, and when Studebaker Hawk manages to figure out the code he discovers that the Government wants him to stop the rampaging volcano.
And the way they want him to stop it is by sneaking up on it with a special new bomb which will not only destroy the volcano but it’ll wipe out the middle of the United States to a width of about a thousand miles. And this upsets him because he thinks of the long range ecological consequences of such a disaster.”

FARMERS

“So he thinks to himself that there must be some mistake, that the computer in the Pentagon must have gone apeshit, because their rationale for doing this, as explained by the code, is you can go ahead and blow up the Mid-West because those dumb f-king farmers will never know the difference. That’s what the computer print-out had said. So he gets suspicious, and he refuses to obey his orders and calls Washington back, and says he has another better way to stop Billy the Mountain.
And the rest of the story is the part I don’t want to give away, because it’s what Studebaker Hawk’s plan is, and who Little Emil really is, because he doesn’t work for the Government, he owns it.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Redbone, Elton John, Redwing, Carl Palmer, B.B. King, Bill Williams, Alice Stuart, Fanny, Robbie Robertson, Lesley Duncan, Dave Burland.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM New Musical Express, April 17, 1976

Just a short one with Zappa today as he is almost always entertaining in one way or the other. Some interesting accusations in there too.

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At last the truth can be told
Frank Zappa has no underwear

By Cherry Ripe

“Wanna see the best thing I got?” Yes my friends, it`s Francis Vincent Zappa talking about his clothes.
“Now this item was given its stage debut in Hawaii – I haven`t seen any reviews yet, but I`m sure the only thing they`re gonna write is what this sucker looks like under the lights.”
It`s a skin tight tube that branches into two, which would rate as a skin-tight jumpsuit.
And you don`t wear underwear, huh?
“I don`t own any underwear.”
“Then,” he continues “for casual wear, I have these brown harem pants..” into which he casually slips for what has now turned into an impromptu private fashion parade (eat your heart out Lisa Robinson!).. “They tie at the ankles. And I have some type of impressive S & M large belt – with a large buckle, no studs. It`s understated, all sort of brown. (Aside) That may not go over in England.”
But I thought you were never going there again? “Eventually all these things go into a clip book. Then at a press conference in Bilbao somebody`s gonna pick up on something that was transmitted from Fiji… and I`ll have somebody ask me what I`ve got against black leather. The problem is they go to a clipbook and get things that were written by people like them, who went to a clipbook. There`s a bunch of these things – that I stomp on baby chickens, have a fetish about poodles.

True enough, the Police Chief in New Zealand (where he`d just come from), did go along to the show to make sure about the chickens.
“If they think I have a fetish about dogs, they are sadly mistaken. It`s not profound – it`s entertainment. Poodles serve as a convenient mechanism for conveying certain philosophical ideas that might otherwise be more difficult.
“It`s like that old saying. `Shoot low! They`re riding shetlands!`” I never heard that before. “See how old it is?”
Francis Vincent Zappa has just finished up a tour of the antipodes, with yet another incarnation of the Mothers without Beefheart. The line up is Roy Estrada, Napoleon Murphy-Brock, keyboardist Andre Lewis, and drummer Terry Bozzio. “I`m only fourteen I`m sickly and thin, trying to grow me a chin… it popped out once, my dad pushed it in. Why did he hurt me? He`s my next of kin, a Mexican!”
“The song was constructed using every kind of cliche that folk-rock brought to the world – all those stupid bass lines. And it`s sung by the drummer who has a squeaky little teenage voice. He sings on about four other songs: everybody sings.”
Yes, it certainly has a different feel from the last Mothers line up he toured with in `73. “I think the overall impact of that group would be that it was between pseudo-jazzette and cranial. And the people who were in the band at the time – with a couple of exceptions – were genuinely boring people. I mean – I don`t appreciate a band that likes to play chess in their off-stage hours. If you have to spend a lot of time with people who are interested in their chess boards and little card games and shite like that, it can drive you nuts. Eventually, in order to homogenise with the rest of the group, you gotta lay back so far that you`re walking like this..” Doing a limbo?
“Yeah. It`s the Chubby Checker Look – under the limbo bar!”

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There are three things that are important to me right now. The forty-piece-orchestra album. The guitar album. And the ten record set. The problem with that – we got the five thousand orders – is that if you deliver a double album, that still counts as one album. But if its a ten record album? I don`t feel that its right to count that as one album. Warner Brothers aren`t even sure they want to count it as a single album against my contract etcetera… that it`s maybe not commercial.”
Any chance you`d work with Flo and Eddie again?
“No!” Categorically? “Yes.”
“The means by which they chose to promote their careers at my expense, while I was sitting in a wheel chair trying to help them get a job and a record contract. I believe to be despicable, and will always think so, even though I regard Howard as a fine singer, and Mark as a great tambourine player and fat person.
“It`s like a tried and true formula for someone who`s not in the band anymore to go to a newspaper, or go on a radio station, and say how bad a person I am, because there`s someone always waiting to hear that, print it, pat the poor little bastard on the head.
“I was hearing things like I supposed to be stifling people`s careers. Flo and Eddie did that and still continues to do it. Beefheart was doing that when he was on his rampage. Alice Cooper did it to a certain extent. Wild Man Fischer did it, a girl named Sandy Hurvitz did it in New Musical Express…” Oh no..
“I have an expression I use.. It`s not as good as `Shoot Low – they`re riding shetlands,` but I try and remember this all the time – you can use it yourself – like a mantra:
“People suck.”

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You don`t see ads like this  anymore. 

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Radio Luxembourg, Patrick Moraz, Sweet, Third World, Wings, Pavlov`s Dog, Hello, Joe Walsh, ELO, Wilko Johnson, Bill Evans, Michael Pinder, John Denver.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 3, 1976

The writer of this article only presents himself with the name “Miles”. In 1976 people wouldn`t have had a clue about his real identity, but now, in 2017, I just do a quick “google” and find that his real name is Barry Miles.
Mr. Miles is an expert in all things Zappa, and even wrote Zappa`s biography published in 2004. If you are a fan of Zappa you should check it out.
In this article we get an insight into the strange working relationship between Zappa and Beefheart, both having left this planet for good now and we are poorer because of it.
Enjoy this article with two of rock`n roll`s most exceptional characters.

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BLLLAAAaaaaahhhhhHHHHHH

You have just heard Captain Beefheart shattering glass objects with the astonishing pitch of his voice

Actually, it didn`t work. However, something that did work was the re-uniting of THE CAPTAIN and FRANK ZAPPA a few months ago for a tour and an album, “Bongo Fury”. To mark the occasion, MILES recalls the duo`s strange collaborations in earlier times.

The last time the Captain and Frank worked together (until their recent tour) was on “Hot Rats”, September 1969. I know. I was there.
It was 2am and the Captain`s face was green in the fluorescent lighting of the 24-hour snackbar at T.T & G. Recording studios. The edges of the formica-topped tables were serrated with cigarette burns. The room was overlit and bleak. The microwave oven emitted a low hum.
Out the window the magic starlit skyline of palms and the distant Santa Monica Mountains covered with lights was broken only by the floodlit painting on the theatre playing Hair. It was done by Simon & Marijike Koger, “The Fool”, and was billed as the “Biggest psychedelic mural in the world”.
We were taking a coffee break.
“I can break glass with my voice,” said Don (The Capt.) conversationally.
“Really?”
“I once blew out a 1,200 dollar Telefunken microphone.”
I had heard the story.
Don gave a demonstration: “BLLLAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
We inspected the window. Not a crack.
“I`m feeling a little tired.” He looked it.
The door burst open. “What the hell was that?”
Frank Zappa had heard the noise in the soundproof control booth on the floor below.
“We were seeing if Don`s voice could break a window,” I explained, but already Don was thinking about something else and Frank`s sudden entry seemed to have disturbed his chain of thought.

“Come and listen to this track,” said Zappa. “It looks like we`ll be able to put your vocal on tonight.” But Don didn`t think so. His voice was not in top form and it wasn`t till later that he sang “Willie The Pimp” so nice.
Frank was recording “Hot Rats” and Johnny Otis was leading the band: Otis stamped his foot ferociously, just ahead of the beat, revealing beautiful black silk socks held in place by suspenders. His late `50s Tony Curtis hairdo, oiled, black as a Lincoln Continental, bobbed staccato with the beat but not a hair moved out of place.
A little sweat appeared on his brow as he grinned and grimaced with the beat, leaning over and clapping his hands a fraction of an inch from the drummer`s ear. The drummer did not look pleased.
Johnny had been working for the Musicians Union for the past few years but was soon to make a comeback. His massive injection of energy soon made this band rock and it wasn`t long before Frank was twiddling the knobs and explaining:
“I`ll just make a test mix before we go.”
Frank goes out into the studio to discuss the positioning of the microphones:
“We`ll put the Electrovoice there, pointing upwards to catch the sound of the saxophone as it bounces off the ceiling, after bouncing off the wall. That`s how they made it sound so greasy in the `50s…”
The sax player was positioned facing the wall.
Frank`s cigarette burned a brown line in the formica.

He stood alone in the studio with his guitar, his wah-wah pedal and his cans on. Not quite alone, sitting in the far corner, absolutely still, maybe even asleep, sat Don Van Vliet.
Frank played a fine solo, listened to it back and then edited on a new ending.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Gail showed up in the big soft Buick. Steering with the palm of her hand she spun the huge air-conditioned powerbraked and steered monster effortlessly up the twists and bends of Laurel Canyon Blvd until we made the final turn at the top and caught a catherine wheel glimpse of the necklaces of light laid out in the valley below before plunging into the dense foliage which conceals all the inhabitants of Laurel Canyon from each other.
“He`s burned them all,” muttered Frank.
“You didn`t have photocopies?” Frank and Gail talk privately.
“No…Years of work.”
“Are you sure he`s done it?”
“Yep. He told me tonight. He did it two weeks ago.”
Captain Beefheart had burned the only copies of hundreds of the songs that he had written. Frank continued to lament. It was obvious from his distress that Beefheart is just about the only contemporary of his that he regards as a creative genius. Happily a few days later there seemed to be some doubt about whether the songs were really destroyed or not.

ANOTHER NIGHT AT FRANK`S PLACE

Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa were to have a business meeting. Hours went by before they emerged and Frank immediately took Herb Cohen, master of Bizarre business, aside for another one. Beefheart and I took a walk out on the back lawn. Georgia, Frank`s Alsatian dog, sniffed around us. It was 4am.
“Everyone is out to burn. All artists get burned.” It seemed as if he hadn`t really grasped what had been going on at the business meeting at all. He looked worried and distracted.
The problem was “Trout Mask Replica”. The Capt. didn`t like the way it was being marketed. “They were selling me like a freak alongside that madman Wild Man Fischer and the GTOs.” At the time Beefheart was not even happy about  the album itself. In a later interview he said: “Zappa wanted to pretend that he had done `Trout Mask Replica`, on which he had done nothing but go to sleep at the mixing board.
“It was way over his head. Not really over his head, just too unstructured and telepathic for him because he`s so formed and regimented…”
Frank did have problems producing the album, such recording techniques as singing in one room with the door closed and having the microphone in the other offended his sense of studio professionalism as well as giving a lot of hiss from the high levels needed.
When I asked him about this example Beefheart maintained: “Well to me, that`s just the way it is.”

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Last week I asked him if “Trout Mask” was really a Zappa album.
“No, he let me have completely what I wanted to do on it. He wanted to make it more, you know the way he is, he wanted excellent recording techniques and stuff but I wanted to do it the way it is so… He threatened to remix that album! He`s funny!
“It was released again here you see. I like that album a lot. And I definitely appreciate Frank allowing me that out. Nobody else would have.
“At the time I was naive to money, as I am now, and naive to business and whatnot and I would have liked to have taken a lot longer to put that album out, I would have liked to… but I would have probably ruined it if I`d had the time!” He roars with laughter.
The Zappa-Beefheart friendship is well-known to one and all but just in case you`ve forgotten I`ll run through it real fast:
Zappa invented Captain Beefheart`s name around the time that Beefheart moved to Cucamonga to work with Zappa on those two unlikely projects, a film called Captain Beefheart Meets The Grunt People and a rock and roll group called The Soots, an idea they had first kicked around when they were at Antelope Valley High School out near the Edwards Airforce base, north of Los Angeles.
Zappa had a little studio out in the desert, called Studio Z, and here recorded hours of tape of himself and Beefheart playing together – sounding like early Rolling Stones R & B except with Beefheart`s powerful four and a half octaves roaring over everything.
Zappa now has plans to release them as a 15-record set (of course).

Beefheart: “Just before I came on this tour Frank and I had a get-together thing, a happening. It was really interesting because he was finding out if I remembered these things, and of course I remembered everything.
“I even remember the little mouse that was living in the place he was living. It was a quiet little mouse. We used to feed it cheese.”
Zappa was finally busted for making a pornographic tape and went down for ten days. His little five-track studio didn`t have much business and he was starving.
Beefheart remembers: “I was there when he picked his first guitar up, 15 years ago. That was in the desert – it was over on a little street by the fairgrounds where they have the rodeos and things.”

THE GRAND REUNION

“I hadn`t spoken to him or seen him for five years. I was up painting and writing and doing all those things and I just hadn`t come down to Southern California. The minute I came down there we went on a big tour. Ha, that was fun! I`d been with a group for so many years that it was nice to get away and be free again with a very intelligent person. A very old friend, let`s see, he`s a little older than me. I think one month. He`s a Sagittarius and I`m a Capricorn.
“I just called him up and told him I`d like to see him and he says, `Well great, come down and hear this album I`m working on`, and I said, `Well, yeah, I`d like to, but I`ve gotten out of the business. I`m not gonna be in the music business anymore`, and he says, `Oh no, you can`t do that`, and I said, `Well I think that`s what I`m gonna do`. So Frank said, `Well come down and hear some records, you know, we`ll go on a tour!`
“I said, `No, I couldn`t do that! I couldn`t do that!` but when I went down he talked me into it real quick, because he started playing the guitar and I thought, `Well, hell. I`m going!` Like the Pied Piper, I mean to hear that thing every night? Hoho! … I think he`s probably the best guitar player on this planet!”

Zappa`s story about the reunion is of course quite different: “He apologised for all the garbagio and asked for a job.” He was auditioned just before Hallowe`en. “He flunked. See, he had a problem with rhythm and we were very rhythm orientated. Things have to happen on the beat.
“I had him come up on the bandstand at our rehearsal hall and try to sing `Willie The Pimp` and he couldn`t get through it. I figured if he couldn`t get through that I didn`t stand much chance of teaching him the other stuff.”
But Zappa tried him again in the spring. “Although he still has trouble remembering words and making things happen on the beat, he`s better. Just before the tour I tried him again and he squeaked by.”
At Knebworth Beefheart was surprised to hear the above. “Imagine there being an audition for people who`ve known one another for that many years. If he did audition me I didn`t notice!”
Well, they say that the first 20 years are the hardest and now that they had so much fun together on the tour, maybe Frank and Don will settle down together with all their holes open and stop bad-mouthing each other.
Brilliant as it is, “Bongo Fury” is only a beginning of what this pair could do together.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all  of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rory Gallagher, Steve Cropper, Sailor, Paul Bley, Labelle, The Who, Queen.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.