Vol. 2 No. 2
Frank Zappa: ????
By Michael Davis, pp 6-9
How long has it been since Lather was completed?
Oh, a long time.
Could you bring us up to date on what you've been doing lately?
I just keep working all the time. The only time other people know about, what I do is when something is released, but I'm working all the time.
You must be prolific to just toss out a 4-record set at the same time someone would usually come up with one record.
Well, as you can see for yourself, there's no scarcity of tape. That's the tape from one tour right there.
You tape everything that you do live?
Yeah. We spent $10,000.00 on tape in New York alone. But I'd rather spend that $10,000.00 on tape than buy a new sports car.
Why do you do so much recording back in New York?
It's the best audience in the world. And the place where we usually work back there, The Palladium, is my favorite place to play. The acoustics are good and there's a big stage where you can do audience participation, and the people that come to the shows are there for a good time. It's very pleasant to work there. It's not like Los Angeles or London, my two unfavorite places to work. (read more)
Vol. 4 No. 1
Zappa Busy As Ever While Coming Out of Joe's Garage
Interview by Michael Davis, pp 6-8, 11
I heard something about a vocal having to be redone on his album.
Oh yes, a classic tale of showbiz stupidity. I was recording Shankar's album and he had written this tune and wanted some words to it. I was sitting in the studio, scribbling some words down when I got this phone call out of nowhere. It was Van Morrison who was shopping for a new label in Europe. I don't know Van very well but I asked him to stop by the studio and see if he'd sing this song. He walked in and took one take: fifteen minutes was all it took. He came in, sang the song and left. We paid him: he accepted the check. The check is cashed, cancelled and so forth.
So we go through all the trouble of mixing the record, getting it ready to go and we start hearing from Warner Bros. that they have Van Morrison under contract and there's no way that they'll let his voice appear on a record coming out on Zappa records. There's no way they're going to help me. Well, they're not helping me: the guy's singing on Shankar's album. Warner Bros. was so desperate to harass me that they were injuring third parties, namely Shankar.
Also, it's standard in the industry that if a person wants to play on somebody else's record, they do it and there's a little blurb that says so-and-so appears through the courtesy of ... But Warners has no courtesy.
So negotiations went on and on; for two months I tried to reason with these people. The last straw was when Van Morrison's manager called me up and said he wanted half of the publishing for the song. Do you understand what this means? He doesn't publish it but he wanted half of the publishing on it. Van's manager had the nerve to call up and demand the publishing. I thought about it for a few days, then I called up the president of the company and said, "I'll give him the 50% if he can arrange for Warner Bros. to let it be released." And that didn't work. So we went back into the studio and I sang it. (read more)
RECORD REVIEW: How long have you had a studio at your house?
Frank Zappa: About a year-and-a-half. I'd rather not talk about what I have here but in general I have a studio at my house, it's a private studio, it's not for rent to anyone else, it has a lot of top secret equipment in it, and that's that. I do all my recording here including mixing and I also have a remote 24-track truck and that stuff is processed here. I only got this a year-and-a-half ago because I had to save my money; I had to save my money just to get a facility where I could work.
Before when I came off the road and I would need to make an album and all the famous groups would have all the time booked at all the good studios in town. Fleetwood Mac would be at a place for eleven months and you couldn't get in there and somebody else would be at the Record Plant and you couldn't get time at a first class studio unless you wanted to wait around. So I said. 'I'll build my own.' (read more)
Source: Charles Ulrich