Mmray breaks with Zappa interview
Exclusive scoop reveals band leader's hidden frustrations and intellectual blocks
By Zak Mmray
Mmray: Ah, it looks like a good crowd out there.
Zappa: I'll trust your judgment; I don't know what your criterion for a good crowd is, b u t ...
M: Well, they haven't commenced screaming yet, but a few of them are trying to crawl into the P.A. speakers.
Z: Well, that's your typical San Francisco acid-freak-burn-out, isn't it?
M: Oh, yes, yes, they're quite ripped. They should be primed for you.
Z: ... (beginning of a glare)
M: I was wondering, I noticed you score pretty extensively, often completely—do you ever leave the music to chance—how much indeterminacy do you allow for?
Z: Oh yes, I do that, but I like to control when and where the chance parts occur, to delineate those parts clearly. And you'll notice, even those artists who attempt to exert no influence on their work admit that some influence is unavoidable. You have to have some influence—just titling the piece, you're exerting some influence over it.
M: True, but you could envision the possibility of a man, through constant practice, reaching the point where there would be no conscious control whatsoever over the music— just the automatic writing of the notes.
Z: Yes, well, automatic writing is the ideal, but then he has to orchestrate the music, and you become involved in physics and the range of certain instruments and so on. And then he is influencing the piece.
M: How much does surrealism influence your work?
Z: It's in there.
M: Groping around, eh? What I had in mind, specifically, was Andre Breton's statements, I think in the Second Manifesto—
Z: I've never read that, so I don't know what the hell you're talking about.
M: Ah. Well, anyway, he said that a strange juxtaposition of words or notes could create new objects in the environment.
Z: That sounds like a rational assumption.
M: Yeah, I thought so too.
Z: I mean, that sounds like a very scientific, logical hypothesis.
M: Really? That reminds me; in light of the experiments which demonstrate how plants are sensitive to pain and so forth, do you think that extremely dissonant music would be harmful to plants and cause them to shy away?
Z: Well, I never read the whole report, so I don't know if they exposed the plants to Varese or kept them on a steady diet of cowboy music.
M: We have cowboy plants at our house.
Z: Cowboy music ... that's euphonious.
M: It's not my phonious.
Z and M: 10 seconds of silence, staring at one another.
M: How come there's no horn section in your group?
Z: We do have horns—we have two very fine horn players, Ian Underwood on organ and tenor saxophones, and George Duke on Electric piano and trombone.
M: But no horn section as such—
Z: I think that this group is perfect for what I'm doing now. I'm doing something different now.
Z: I'd rather have you hear it than talk about it.
M: OK. Ah, here's a question I wanted to ask, is Captain Beefheart leaving your company?
Z: Well, that's a moot point—he's recording an album for us now. I'm not up on his contractual agreements. I'm not connected with the company in that capacity. I never go in the office.
M: Ah, so you don't review the contracts and new artists and so on?
Z: Well, with new artists, I sometimes get the tapes that get past the office. But some tapes I can't play on my machine—it rips them up.
M: Did you get my tape?
Z: I don't know who the hell you are, how am I supposed to know?
M: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha —
The Stenographer (in a whisper): Let's get outta here. He's getting mad.
M: OK. Now, do-you-have-anything-to-say-in closing?
Z: NO! IF YOU WANT TO ASK ME A QUESTION! I'M NOT GOING TO FORCE ANY INFORMATION ON YOU.
M: Ah, I gotta drag it out of you eh?
Z: NO. IF YOU WANT TO INTERVIEW ME, INTERVIEW ME! IF THE INTERVIEW'S OVER, SAY IT'S OVER. IS IT OVER OR ISN'T IT?
Z: Well, I wouldn't be half surprised if it was.
Same day concert review by Zak Mmray is Audience zapped by Mother's clean, sharp music talents.
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net