Mothers Invent Sounds Worse Than Music

By Bob Levinson

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, July 24, 1966

They call themselves the Mothers of Invention. Consensus, a form of Group Confucius, has it that this alone will set Necessity back a few years.

The Mothers advocate a form of music currently alien to all except members of the United Mutations of Los Angeles, whose congregation is a delicatessen on Fairfax Avenue.

"If you think I'm weird, you should see some of them," Frank Zappa advised, interrupting his dissertation on "Freak Out" to conquer another piece of peach pie and sip coffee.

Frank is the Head Mother, the group's leader, musical director, composer, arranger, spokesman, and style-setter. He is skinny-tall, an emaciated John Carradine, and wears his hair long. A goatee lurks defiantly under his lower lip.

On this day he was wearing a collarless white shirt, candy-striped pants, and tennis sneakers --- no socks. It was a warm day.
The Head Mother does not go unnoticed, and people were prone to stare now. He was eating and orating at a sidewalk table on the Sunset Strip.

"I don't believe pornography exists," Zappa said. "If pornography doesn't exist, how can it be there, in my music?"

He carved out another piece of pie and sneered at this interpretation of the 58:05 minutes of sound that constitutes "Freak Out", the remote Verve album that also has been classified as vulgar, ridiculous, a dangerous influence, and several un-nice things as well.

"Our whole bag is outrage," he explained. "That's it. The only way you can fight for survival is with outrage, because someone is going to outrage you right back.

"Each song in our album is an abstraction of certain trends in pop music. I tried to make it as gross as possible, so that somewhere along the line someone could say, 'That's really gross.'

"Even when it's supposedly serious, the whole thing is an satire. It satirizes all those groups that cut stuff that oozes. It's satirizing every puker rock and roll group and all that teenage nonsense with oversimplified lyrics, ooh-wah, falsetto, and mumbling business."

Two long-play records contain a plethora of sounds and styles and titles such as "Hungry Freaks, Daddy", "Who Are the Brain Police?", "Wowie Zowie", "Help, I'm a Rock", and "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet".

The last runs 12:17 minutes and includes one section subtitled "Ritual Dance of the Child Killer." The composition is incomplete, but Verve needed something for Side 4, Frank declared.

Inside the album are photographs of the Mothers (Ray Collins, Jim Black, Roy Estrada, and Elliot Ingber), some of the Mothers' little helpers and United Mutations members, as well as reading matter authored by Zappa, much of it relevant to the music.

One part explains that to "freak out" is to practise free expression on an individual or collective basis. The Mothers do it on their records and, one infers, the delicatessen delegation on their rye bread.

Those who obtain the album may do it by discarding the records and playing the cover.

"This is a rough beginning," the Head Mother said. "Whether or not I believe, I was meant to do it."

Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at)