Frank Zappa

ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM New Musical Express, January 16, 1971

Mr. Green was definitely on Zappa`s side for this one. If I was there, I wouldn`t have been on anybody`s side, as I was only 6 years old at the time and probably more interested in the nuts and the crisps. So there! 😉
Read on!


Establishment versus the underground

Frank Zappa walks out on film critics after 40 mins

By Richard Green

THE oversexed industrial vacuum cleaner, the voluptuous dance of the newts when they escape from the newt ranch and get into the concentration camp where the orchestra lives, the fake groupie house and the rancid, boutique. Plus songs with titles like “This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich” and a 90-piece orchestra thrown in for good measure.
All of which adds up (as if you hadn’t guessed) to some of the incredible goings-on involved in Frank Zappa’s movie “200 Motels.” Pinewood Studios, where shooting begins in early February, are never likely to recover from the onslaught of the eccentric genius and his cohorts in the world of unpredictability.
After many years of suggesting, planning, hinting, stating, but never quite revealing, Zappa at last decided to hold a Press conference on Monday to calm puzzled minds for once and all.
Some bright soul chose the elegant Nash House in Carlton House Terrace, Westminster. Without comment, I will point out that Nash House is extremely close to George Brown’s former official residence and just up the road from Clarence House, the Queen Mother’s home.
United Artists laid on a sumptuous spread of cashew nuts and crisps and a few bottles of alcohol for journalists, PR people, photographers and the inevitably freeloaders to consume before the conference began.
For a reason which was never explained, the proceedings began some twenty minutes late and soon turned into a series of embarrasing exchanges between Zappa and ageing national newspapermen.
Zappa, as cool and helpful as usual — this is his manner despite the popular image of the man who spends half his time posing on the lavatory — apologised to the assembled multitude for a feature which had appeared prematurely in a Sunday paper. He had, he explained, been duped into doing it.
“Why didn’t you check it with United Artists?” cried a stung national man. – “Because it was ten o’clock in the morning and at that time I didn’t even know their phone number.” Zappa replied reasonably – “Well, it’s a pity, you didn’t check,” came a pedantic cry from the back of the room.

There then followed a somewas acrimonious three-cornered discussion between Zappa and two national men as to whether or not he trusts his PR people, During this exchange, those of us who couldn’t have cared less whether a story had appeared in Pig Swill Weekly, the Sunday Mirror or Beano, but merely wanted to get on with the conference, began at first to listen with amusement, secondly to fidget and at last to groan at the pathetic “points” being raised by the self-appointed interrogators and protectors of personal fredom.
When the hubbub died down, Zappa clarified a couple of inaccuracies in the handout we’d been given. Donovan and Ginger Baker would not be appearing in the film, he said for starters.
“In one sequence, Jeff Simons is supposed to be under the influence of a mystic substance and is visited by his good conscience and his bad conscience. I supposed them to be Donovan and Ginger, but they were never called to appear.” he said.
He also pointed out that there were two directors, not just Tony Palmer. “I have the fascinating job of telling the people how to say the funny lines,” he laughed with a touch of cynicism.
There was another exchange when a national man called Zappa “love” and Zappa called back: “Don’t call me ‘love… Buddy Boy.’ Come down here and talk to me, don’t stand at the back like that.”
When we were kindly allowed to put some questions about the film and not other trifling matters, Zappa revealed that the film would include some of the footage he had in his basement at home, that he had been working on the plan for four years and that the idea had been offered to several companies before U-A accepted it.
Asked about censorship problems, Zappa replied: “At the beginning, there were all kinds of potential problems we thought we may face but they haven’t turned up yet.” After a time he added: “Censorship may be okay for other people but I don’t like it. I don’t like working under someone else’s watchful eye.”
He was asked about the storyline and detailed: “It’s more like a fantasy event than a plot line. It’s based on repeated images that keep recurring during the film. it’s devised from situations that occurred on the road. For example, in one sequence we go into a restaurant and encounter harrasment from rednecks.
“This is contrasted with fantasy events that are a by-product of being out on the road because the places you visit are all the same and any town could be any other town.”


From the back of the room A National Man (the “Sketch’s” Dougie Marlborough if we are going to fearlessly name names) asked: “Will there be nudity?” Zappa took that one, considered it and replied: “Nudes? Oh, nudity. Well, in one scene, Miss Lucy GTO’s costume will consist entirely of a pair of men’s boxer briefs. Does that get you hot?”
Unperturbed, A National Man wanted more details of the carnal pleasures in store and Zappa told him: “Well, I don’t know if you’ll be turned on by any of the actual hairs between the legs. I don’t know what you like.”
Laughter greeted that remark and, when it died down, Zappa returned to his earlier description with: “We’re working to a basic 180-page script. Improvisation will be limited basically because all the musical material and dialogue is going to be rehearsed in advance so that when the cameras are pointed at the artists, they are going to perform it just like it was a concert.
“At any moment during a concert you have an opportunity for improvisation and, in that respect it will be used in the movie but people will work to the script most of the time.”
A budget of 630,000 dollars has been allocated for the film which will be shot on videotape and then transferred to 35 mm film. The completed work will be ready by November at the latest, though only a week has been set aside for shooting.
“My first interest in making a movie was ‘Captain Beefheart and the Grunt People’ in 1964,” Zappa commented. “But that was never done and there are only forty minutes of ‘Uncle Meat’ shot.
“We’re shooting here because the technology to produce on videotape exists here. I saw Tony Palmer’s Juicy Lucy and Colloseum films and was very impressed. Also, production costs are less here than in the United States.”
Later, Zappa volunteered: “There is approximately one and a half hours of orchestra music that has never been unleashed on human ears before. We have three grand pianos, three classical guitars with John Williams playing lead classical guitar, an orchestra, bass guitar, seven percussionists, an accordion, eight French horns, four trumpets, four trombones, four clarinets, four flutes, four oboes, a piccolo and three saxes. There are 90 pieces in all.” No partridge in a pear tree?

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is to be used and this prompted another national man to ask: “Why didn’t you choose another orchestra, why did you choose them? “To which Zappa retorted: “We didn’t ask them, we just rung round and asked who was available.”
“Will you be perturbed if the film is a failure?” the same Fleet Street pundit asked somewhat ungraciously.
“I’m prepared for the film to flop just the same as I’m prepared to have an album flop, that’s the game,” Zappa told him.
“Who do you think is going to see the film? Who would go to see it?” prodded the insistent pest. “What type of person would go and see a film like that?”
By this time, most of us had had about enough of attacking questions from unseemingly antagonistic scribes and a representative of the underground press called out: “Hands up all those people here who will see the movie.”
Over two thirds of the people raised their hands, which proved a satisfactory response and pretty well silenced the critics who seemed to be under the impression that the whole shebang was a big joke anyway.
Zappa continued: “I’ve got a rough idea who buys the records and goes to the concerts but I have no idea who would go to the movie. There are a lot of people who may go and see the movie who don’t buy our records. I’ll take what I can get.”
“Is it going to be a ‘B’ film or an ‘A’ film?” demanded No. 2 national man. — “I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know. It’s going to be a movie, a real movie.”
Asked what kind of films he liked watching, Zappa said: “I don’t go to movies, I don’t watch TV either. I’ll go to see this movie because there are some things that are gonna happen on the screen that are pretty weird.”
Obviously a bit cheesed off with the continuous barrage from national men Nos. 1 and 2, Zappa leaned forward in his chair behind a desk and told us all: “There’s one sequence in the movie where a girl journalist in a stereotyped reporter’s outfit, I don’t know if I can say that, comes on to the stage and sits in a chair and begins asking me a series of really banal questions.
“At one point, I get up and from behind an amplifier place a rubber dummy of myself in the chair. Without looking up, she continues to interview the dummy. After a time, I pick up the dummy and cast it into the screaming mass of dancers who proceed to kick it to death until the stuffing comes out of its head. The reporter, jumps down off the stage and begins to play with the rubber hand, still asking questions.”
And with that, Zappa stood up, put down his drink and left the room. The conference was over. It’s a wonder he stuck it that long.


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ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM New Musical Express, May 9, 1970

I would think that this description of Zappa would be fairly correct. He was a great musician and a fascinating man in every way.
Read on!


Allan McDougall worked for America`s startling

Zappa – outrageous star

I worked for Frank Zappa`s Straight Records in Hollywood recently. And the first time we met – after his manager/partnerHerb Cohen had hired me as national promotion manager for Straight – Zappa and I had a huge argument – about love!
Zappa had summoned me to his creative headquarters in the basement of his house high up on Woodrow Wilson Drive in the Hollywood Hills. After discovering that we are both Sagittarius by birth-sign (co-incidentally, for astrology freaks, most of Zappa’s friends/associates/employees are Sagittarius), we spent a couple of hours throwing questions at each other about our respective philosophies, ideas and thoughts.
Getting around to the subject of lyrics, frank asked me what did I think were the best lyrics ever written? I said McCartney’s line near the end of Abbey Road: “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
To my astonishment, Zappa said a rude word and added: “That’s absolute garbage. There’s no such thing as love!”


We argued pretty fiercely over this, because I had just before fallen in love. We ended our first meeting agreeing to differ, but on reflection I wonder if perhaps this was just another example of Zappa’s apparent big thing in life, which is to deliberately outrage people.
Outrage is absolutely his bag, as was illustrated perfectly in the heyday of the great Mothers of Invention.
The Mothers, and particularly Frank Zappa, were all brilliant musicians, but Zappa would hold them back and make them play loud, irritating, cacophonous bilge until the audience was so annoyed that it would get up and yell insults at them. Then Zappa would turn his Mothers loose and the audience would be stunned by the sheer technical brilliance of the musicians.
But sometimes the outrage would work in reverse. Frank told me that his biggest disappointment was when he came to lecture at the London School of Economics and all the students wanted to know was what was happening to “The Revolution” in America, and how were the Campus riots organised.
He told me: “Those stupid young English ——– wanted to copy the idiots here who think they can change the world overnight. Don’t they realise that if there is a Revolution like they would have us think, it will fail because there is just no leadership for those kids?
“I tend to agree with him there. All the talk of revolution comes from the intellectual section of America, which is a tiny majority. President Nixon’s famous “silent majority” is really vast and they really have all the power.
But if there could have been a revolution leader, it would probably have been Zappa! He is the most respected and revered figure on the Underground scene.
Francis Vincent Zappa, the businessman, is very aware of the power of Frank Zappa, the Image, and he quite successfully combines the business and image facets of himself.
Like he wears Levis, but they are always neatly pressed and laundered Levis. And his magic creative basement is within the facade of a respectable, upper – middle – class house.
He shares the house with his wife Gail, his daughter Moon Unit and his son Dweezil (whose full name is actually Ian Donald Calvin Euclid!). But he spends most of his time in the basement, which is worth describing since there can be no other like it in the world. It is about the size of a tennis court.
One wall is covered by a painting by Salvadore Dali, of a car on fire. There’s an enormous tape and stereo machine, the speakers of which stand over six feet high. A projection room is at one end, and the other end is where most of the composing takes place. Here is a concert grand piano, guitars, drums and a huge desk, which is generally piled high with manuscript paper.
Zappa wrote every note of music for his forthcoming “symphonic operatic ballet” called “200 Motels,” which he scored for about one hundred instruments. There are reels and reels of record master tape (he reckons there is enough material for a further 20 Mothers LPs) and over twenty hours of movie footage.
As usual, Frank Zappa is engaged on several projects at once. He’s reformed the Mothers of Invention for a few gigs, the principal one of which is next week in Los Angeles when Zappa will conduct his band, plus the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, through the public debut of “200 Motels.”

Next album

He is readying the next Mothers album, to be called “The Veasles Ripped My Flesh Off,” and preparing to do a “Live At The Fillmore” album. He is routining his close friend, Captain Beefheart, for what he describes as a “Bluesey Beefheart” album.
And he is editing his twenty hours of film down to a two-hour movie, to be called “Uncle Meat.” Zappa is being assisted in this by the Maurice//Wadleigh – team, who did such a great job in editing about 120 hours of “Woodstock” into a concise three-hour film.
“Uncle Meat” will have a stereo soundtrack, composed by Frank Zappa, and will include film from the early days of synthetic “shoo-be-doo-bop” pop, film of The Mothers — on stage at The Albert Hall and looning outside Buckingham Palace included. It should be released in America in mid-summer.
Frank is certainly the busiest man I ever met in this, or any other business. I cannot honestly say that I either like or dislike him, but with Zappa this is irrelevant. You don’t have to like him, but you do have to admire him, because he really pioneered the progressive music scene, which has given rock music a whole new lease of life.


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ARTICLE ABOUT Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa) FROM New Musical Express, March 11, 1967

A small but golden nugget for the Zappa fanatics out there!
Read on!


*** Mothers of Invention: Freak Out (Verve, SVLP 9154).

Record review by Allen Evans

This music sounds Eastern at times. Lyrics are sung off-key, off-tune and a la Dylan, with news of what a mess America is in — including racial unrest, social-sex relations, an Elvis send-up, and a car melting. All the tracks are composed by Frank Zappa, who arranged and conducted various other musicians behind the Mothers themselves — Ray Collins (lead vocal, harmonica), Jim Black (drums), Roy Estrada (bass) and Elliot Ingber (lead and rhythm guitar). VERY different.

Titles: Hungry Freaks Daddy, I Ain’t Got No Heart, Who Are The Brain Police, Motherly Love, Wowie Zowie, You Didn’t Try To Call Me, I’m Not Satisfied, You’re Probably Wondering Why I’m Here, Trouble Comin’ Every Day, Help I’m A Rock, Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet.


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ARTICLE ABOUT Frank Zappa FROM SOUNDS, April 26, 1975

A well written article by Mike Flood Page with an artist that should be of inspiration for anyone that waves the flag for artistic freedom. The article doesn`t give any answer to how the case in question ended, but I can tell you that the judge, Mr Justice Mocatta, was none too impressed when Zappa’s song “Penis Dimension” was played in court, asking: “Have I got to listen to this?” Zappa lost his claim for £8,000 damages.
Read on!


Frank and his law suit – he wears it well

Our man in and out of court Mike Flood Page

There are three or four great interviews in rock and roll. Lennon obviously, Pete Townshend certainly, one or two others. Zappa is one. A master of outrage from the moment `Freak Out` had mothers (the other kind) locking up their daughters, and record companies wondering if there might not be a fast buck in all that nonsense somewhere.
If you thought the Stones or the Pretty Things gave long hair a bad name, then the Mothers were gonna convince you. Why even their pictures smelt bad.
Last week Frank Zappa was in London, to appear as witness in a case for damages he is bringing against the Royal Albert Hall, to afford a preview of his new album `One Size Fits All`, and to talk to the press. Who could resist it?
But first, before we get to the bit about how Captain Beefheart has teamed up with Zappa again, or the weird and wonderful story of the Groupie Papers, or any of that, let`s go to court:
This would be bloody funny if the implications weren`t so tragic. By a door in a gloomy stone corridor in a cavernous mock-gothic cathedral of a place on the Strand, a notice baldly announces: Queen`s Bench Division. Court 7. Before Mr Justice Mocatta. At half past 10. Non Jury list. 74/NJ/911 Bizarre Productions Inc. v. Corporation of the Hall of Arts & Sciences and ors pt Ind.
Opposite the notice sits what the legal circles call the plaintiff: Francis Vincent Zappa, For once in his life he is wearing a suit, of a pronounced brown check. He has a pale long-collar American shirt and is uneasily trying to loosen the tie at his neck. Beside him his manager Herb Cohen, also besuited, eyes us with envy and wants to know why everyone doesn`t have to suffer a tie. Frank concurs: “Everyone`s neck should hurt.”
It is the third day of the case. In the blue corner and coming on strong with a case for damages for his cancelled gig at the Albert Hall on February 8, 1971 designed to showcase `200 Motels`; smiling Frank Zappa! In the red corner with some deft manouevres of defence: Mr R. Albert Hall! We are waiting for the day`s tedium to begin.

Many times in the past ten years or so, I have had the dubious pleasure of witnessing the infinitely slow spirit of British Justice work its way through a case. Every time I have been struck most forcibly by the seemingly unbridgeable gap between those whose home is the court and its surreal Alice-In-Wonderland rituals, and those real people who, for want of a better word, we shall call its victims. No matter that on this rare occasion Frank Zappa was bringing the case against some other party, instead of being the victim.
Once the rarified and musty atmosphere of the legal profession got stuck in it was hard to tell.
Frank first took the witness stand on Tuesday, the scene could not have afforded a more outrageous contrast:
Francis Vincent, famed for his satirical and iconoclastic career was patient, composed, polite and restrained, he gave his evidence lucidly, succinctly, and always stuck to the point.
The defence counsel began with cool standard questions and then began to probe Frank`s lyrics for `200 Motels` which had arrived at the Royal Albert Hall in the form of excerpts from the film shooting script. Day one of the cross-examination by the defence ended with a discussion of the word `groupie`. That set the tone for what was to follow on Wednesday.
Tuesday night Warner Brothers threw a small reception at Rags, a Mayfair Club, to let the press meet Frank and get a sneak preview of his new album `One Size Fits All`, and a solo project he is working on.
Frank buried himself in conversation with the new London Warners managing director, Derek Taylor, and tried not to look too pained as the assembled hacks got stumbling drunk, wolfed down some nifty buffet grub, talked loud and fast to each other and generally ignored his latest platter.
Asked why he put up with it, he turned to your scribe and enquired patiently: “Do I have any choice? If you had the choice between being a public person and getting your music played, or staying at home and not hearing it, what would you do?” There is no answer to that. Then unable to restrain himself he called for hush in the locality to cop a listen to a really strong passage of the kind that should send most heavy metal bands back to the drawing board.

Why had he never taken those decibel and riff merchants on on their own ground? Well he had once tried, he had a gig lined up where the Mothers would appear anonymously behind Silverhead`s old singer Michael Des Barres, but Michael was so full of himself that he went and blew the story to the press, and the gig was blown out.
Would Frank like to give us an exclusive, unbiased personal review of `One Size`? He`d be delighted: “Excellent!” That`s all? “That`s all”. On the case itself he could not speak, it`s all subjudice, but on everything else he was easily approachable.
Over the years I guess I`d built up a vision of Zappa as a real shrewd, hard character – brilliant but sarcastic, and though you`d probably always get an interesting interview out of him, you might undergo heavy psychic traumas to get it.
Not so, he`s certainly smart, but he`s not smart ass. He sat through the reception taking asinine questions in his stride, dealing politely and patiently with fools, and generally acting like a real handsome human being.
Next day in court, he continued in the same low-key vein. It got so Frank was the most normal thing around, what with the bewigged and begowned legal types, and the setting: a dull chapel-like room with a high ceiling, green velvet drapes, old Victorian wooden benches, and stained glass windows. Lewis Carroll would have loved it.
The defence went through the `200 Motels` lyric line by line at times, ferreting out the most blatant sexual implications while Frank tried to suggest that in almost every case you had to see the sections in the light of the overall context so that `Lonesome Cowboy Burt` for instance is depicted as getting off on the idea of having a waitress sit on his face, because that is the kind of character Zappa set out to portray and the lines in question came from some graffiti he had seen on the wall of just the sort of bar you`d expect Cowboy Burt to hang out in.
Frank indicated where he had used irony and humour so you`d get an exchange between him and defence counsel that would go something like: “Mr Zappa, you have a song here called `Would You Go The Whole Way`. That means: would you have sexual intercourse, does it not?” And Frank would point out that it was an archaic 1950s usage designed to generate laughter.

At one point the defence cousel admonished Frank in a schoolmasterish way: “Mr Zappa, you wrote it. What did you mean? I think you understand very well what I mean.” And a few moments later confessed to the Judge: “M`Lord, once one starts reading this sort of script,” waving a sheaf of lyrics, “one starts making errors”. he further suggested once: “Mr Zappa! Let us come into the real world for a moment!” The irony could hardly have been greater.
Slowly the court had elucidated the meaning of `groupie`, `to score`, `hot action`, `to ball`, and other exotic terms, with the aid of a Webster`s slang dictionary. But by the time the defence got around to suggesting an intelligent adult would see hidden salacious meanings in the word `newt`, Zappa was moved to reply: “Only if that person had such a limited reading comprehension as to be pathetic.”
Frank summed up his attitude to the proceedings when he protested to one persistent line of enquiry: “Your attempt is to direct the meaning of all my lyrics towards sexual intercourse, which I don`t think is fair or accurate.”
To an outsider the court presented a spectacle of two worlds separated by a sheet of glass so thick, that though they could maybe wave to each other, the finer points were getting misunderstood along the way.
Bizarre productions indeed! If it weren`t the case that Frank stands to send good money after bad if he loses, I`d almost believe he and Herb Cohen had set it up between them. But no, this is for real. But even for laughs, my interest was wearing thin after half a day of slow torture, so I left Frank to it, and met him that evening to talk.
Frank that evening in his Dorchester suite (check that out for incongruity) was holding court, in his street threads, pink slacks and a ribbed sweater. Anyone who had come to interview him had stayed to listen to him talk, and to chip in. He takes people that way, he is not only one of the most prolific and varied composers in pop (sixteen albums of outrage satire and good music so far, three due in the next twelve months, and a nine album set in the works) but also talks a blue streak, ideas spilling out in a never-ending stream.


I caught the end of a discussion of the Mothers latest group of fans: real screaming pubescent females. Frank gets teen appeal in his tenth year of business! Even more surprising since a study he conducted in `69 showed his audience to be mainly seventeen year old white male middle class Jewish kids – with short hair! “I`m lucky to have anybody listening to me!” Quoth the prince of outrage rock and roll.
Next up was Lenny Bruce, a long standing influence on the Mothers who once played second billing to Zappa & Co. on one of his attempts to fight back after yet another bout of law-suits. As he got into a discussion of the enigmatic Captain Beefheart, I switched on the National Panasonic: This obviously wasn`t going to be a straight interview, more like rolling with the flow.
Three months back Beefheart, or Don Van Vliet to his intimates, an old school chum of Frank`s who had been bad-mouthing Zappa for the past six years, had holed up in a trailer with his mother in his home-town of Lancaster, California, and rung Frank up to apologise. From there he went on to ask help in getting out of his current management and record contracts and shown interest in joining the new Mothers.
“So I auditioned him – twice! The first time he flunked; and the second time he was worth a try.” Commented FZ drily.
Why didn`t Frank want to continue singing? “My voice is not really a singer voice. I can hold a tune under duress. With Beefheart in the band there`s a guy who`s really into words and what they can do. I respect his literary ability, especially as in some instances I wonder if he`s literate at all.” It emerges that Beefheart`s early lyrics had to be written down by someone else. “He still desperately clutches onto the paper with the lyrics on it; he`s got a bag full of harmonicas and this bundle of lyrics.
“The way he relates to language is unique. With somebody else in the band who`s into it at that level, he gives me the chance to do things I haven`t been able to do before. The way in which he takes my text and brings it across to an audience is something to behold. He can really make the words come to life. One of the new songs is called `Poofta`s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead` – it`s a C & W number that deals with the merchandising of the up-coming American Bicentenery in 1976.”

And that kind of thing is what he and the Capn. both get off on, they share a view of language where: “A single word can have a life of it`s own that`s a whole universe. Like `Pudsey`. When I saw that on the side of a truck I went: Pudsey! How could anybody do that? If Vliet could have seen that he would have just beat his leg until it decomposed, from here (gesture) to here.”
Zappa admits he can “talk like a sonofabitch” but when it comes to putting it across in song, no-one can cap the Capn. “For all his psychological and technical limitations he`s really an artist. He`s got this great mind that functions in a realm for which there is little use in this society. What do you do with a guy who has these advanced concepts and wants to sing them in a voice like the Howlin` Wolf?”
Apart from the fact that as schoolkids they used to cruise the burger joints together and sing along to the radio, a mutual affliction with Howlin Wolf mania has meant a constant affinity between Zappa and Beefheart, Frank considers Wolf: “The ultimate vocal experience.”
For those who are counting, this is the tenth incarnation of the Mothers and includes Terry Bozio on drums – “he`s a monster”, old faces Bruce Fowler, George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock, with Tom Fowler on bass and another old school mate Denny Whalley on slide guitar.
They have `One Size` coming out soon, and plan to record the present group live at Texas` Armadillo HQ in Austen in late May, a place Frank describes as: “more like the early days in San Francisco than anything else. It has the same vibe as the Fillmore West in 1967.”
We then talked of outrage, how the rest of the rock world had slowly caught up with Zappa`s innovations, so that artists (businessmen?) like Alice Cooper (a former Zappa protegè) were using theatre, and shock tactics, in a way Zappa had done years ago. “What does constitute outrage today? Most of what has been perpetrated as outrage has been pure jive.

“From the time when the Jefferson Airplane went protest, it was just so fake.” That, he suggested, had been a management decision to cash in, not as in the Mothers case, a group commitment expressed onstage, from the days when the Mothers all caught longhair, to today. “I think that what I`m doing today has quite a bit of outrage in it, if you look at it for what it`s really doing.”
On the projected nine album set, (Warners are busy trying to figure out a way to sell ten thousand, which would be enough to make it worth while). Frank offers a resume of his career. There is stuff from before the Mothers, live stuff and stuff left off albums through lack of space. Since he tapes all his concerts there`s plenty to choose from. It even includes what he believes is the first use of a fuzz-bass, taped back in 1963. Over time his concerns have changed:
“I`ve been writing music for a very long time, and I`ve said most of the stock protest things. Our first three albums had a lot of protest in them, and I believe that stuff still stands. So why should I keep saying the same thing over and over again? There are other things that interest me.
“I`m a different person to what I was ten, eleven years ago when I started in rock and roll. Anybody that doesn`t change in that period of time has to be frozen. And as my interests change, I`m trying to be honest in what I do. The work that I do reflects the changes in my personality so audiences who are very enthusiastic about repeating glimpses or experiences of what I was doing eight, ten years ago are apt to be disappointed because I`m just not feeling the same things.
“I`m married, I have three kids, three law suits.”
And one of those begins in August when he will haul his previous record company, MGM, into the dock on a variety of counts.
One reason was the series of attempts at censorship, the delays in album releases, oh and other things, says our Frank.
The censorship issue is important here because when you are into outrage, there is a danger that you will become just a rather bizarre commodity to be packaged in a different way, but packaged and sold in a freakier version of what the Mothers have always satirised, the Madison advertising game.
For Zappa whose medium is record primarily, this entails keeping a close watch on the business end of things:
“Otherwise the machinery that transmits it to the listener is gonna chop it up and do bad things to it.”
To stay outrageous, to keep an edge on your satire and to outlive many of your targets, be they plastic hippies or cheesy TV, to do that for over ten years takes some doing. “Well there was a good reason for that… I was right!”


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: Yes, Gladys Knight, Women In Rock, Betty Wright, Steve Harley, Peter Frampton, Labelle, Peter Skellern, Ray Davies, Larry Uttal, Chris Spedding, Anne Murray, Sweet Sensation, Bernard Purdie, Mike Harding, Ronnie Lane.

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:
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, 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:
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.