By Town Fool, Al Sorensen, David Longworth, Voice from the Audience (VFA), Dan McLeod, Mouse, and Terry Mulligan

Georgia Straight, August 30, 1968

The following interview took place August 25 after the Mothers concert. Interviewers in order of appearance are: the Town Fool, Al Sorensen, David Longworth, Voice from the Audience (VFA), Dan McLeod, Mouse, and Terry Mulligan. [1]


FOOL: Are you going to Chicago? [2]

ZAPPA: People who go to Chicago for fun and entertainment sure got the wrong thing in mind.

FOOL: Oh no, not entertainment … but is there any point in supporting the cause there?

ZAPPA: I don’t think so because it’s a phony cause. I don’t believe in Yippies. [3]

FOOL: Ed Sanders and the whole thing …

ZAPPA: I don’t believe it.

AL: Why did you do your third album in parody of Sergeant Pepper?

ZAPPA: Why do you think it’s a parody of Sergeant Pepper?

AL: The way you’re dressed, and it’s laid out exactly like the album.

ZAPPA: That’s the album cover. What’s the inside got to do with the cover?

AL: Nothing, OK. I meant the cover.

ZAPPA: I thought it would be fun to do.

DAVIE: On Freak Out!, when you were doing the Ritual Dance of the Child Eaters [Ritual Dance of the Child-Killers], did you ever think about what effect that might have on some of the younger kids hearing it?


DAVIE: Did you figure it would scare them?

ZAPPA: I figured it would be a bizarre form of home entertainment.

DAVIE: Home entertainment? I spent a lot of hours breaking chromosomes and listening to that record.

ZAPPA: I heard about a couple of people who committed suicide to it.

DAVIE: To it? Or afterwards.

ZAPPA: To it.

AL: Dave says you’re down on drugs.

ZAPPA: I don’t use drugs. People who use drugs are no better or worse than people who drink. When I think of people who drink I think of the government.

AL: Why are you so anti politics and government?

ZAPPA: Well, first of all it’s curious to me that a bunch of people who supposedly feel that they’re enlightened – in other words, hippie colonies, etc. – are not politically oriented. I think it’s rather amazing that people aren’t concerned about politics. That’s one of the reasons why things are so shitty.

DAVIE: Most of your music isn’t directed at the politicians though. It’s just directed at everyone.

ZAPPA: It’s directed at people who listen. They can respond to it any way they want.

DAVIE: But if you laid on them a more political trip then they would know how you feel a little more …

ZAPPA: But why should I be that explicit. I’m not here to tell them what to do.

DAVIE: No, but I think they’d like to know how you feel about it a little more. Most people think you’re just really fuckin around you’re not serious about everything.

ZAPPA: Well I shouldn’t spoil their illusion.

VFA: … Can you personally identify with a candidate that would fit your specifications … like McCarthy …

ZAPPA: I don’t think McCarthy is a good candidate. I wouldn’t vote for him.

VFA: Have you seen any?

ZAPPA: I haven’t seen any. There are no men of wisdom. And I’m waiting for one of those, and then I’ll vote for him. Meanwhile I’ll get a ballot and write Donald Duck on it.

Some asshole’s going to tell me he’s going to improve the economy of the United States when they aren’t doing enough to advance it sociologically.

DAN: Do you think the Yippies should cut off their hair and get more involved with serious politics?

ZAPPA: No. Because anybody who would join the Yippies is not ready for serious politics.

DAN: But they may be ready some day …

ZAPPA: When they’re ready then they should get into it, but right now let them be Yippies, because it’s fun for them to do that.

DAN: Even though you don’t approve of their thing.

ZAPPA: Listen, it’s not that I don’t approve. I don’t want to get involved in it because I don’t believe in it.

I think it’s droll that they should want to elect a pig to the presidency and then kill the pig.

DAVIE: Is that what they’re going to do?

ZAPPA: Of course.

DAVIE: I don’t dig that either. It’s just like that burning that dog thing, that’s really a drag.

ZAPPA: Yes, they’re going to assassinate the pig.

DAVIE: Yea, that’s fuckin ridiculous.

ZAPPA: Today an election is the choice between two, three, maybe four different evils.

DAVIE: Have you been involved in what’s happening on the street much, or are you pretty much involved in the group and the music …

ZAPPA: You only get involved with street activities for one reason. They aren’t effective. They’re run by people who don’t know what they’re doing. And the things are attended by people who are there to see their friends in the street, who have no real commitment to a cause.

VFA: Do you think communication is attainable, it seems impossible to know what’s going on in the United States, with something that big.

ZAPPA: Listen, it’s impossible to know what’s going on in something that little (points to hole between fingers) if you don’t look.

VFA: I know, but you got a chance there.

ZAPPA: That’s right, but you have in the United States en extremely well organized communications network …

VFA: You have to depend upon it for everything.

ZAPPA: Not for everything. It could be used better than it’s being used, is the point. Instead of bringing in the Beverley Hillbillies they could bring in something more informative.

VFA: When you depend on something that’s going on in Vietnam or Chicago, it’s impossible. Just from the sheer distance and the fact that every one sees it through their own eyes.

ZAPPA: Even if you were there watching it, if you thought you saw one thing, that would not necessarily mean that you would know what was happening.

AL: What about this freak image that you’ve given the group. How carefully planned is it?

ZAPPA: Pretty carefully. We’ve been very careful to let people know what the guys are really like.

AL: In what way?

ZAPPA: because they are individually quite freaky.

DAVIE: How do you feel about the whole thing, in the last few years since it’s really started snowballing … there’s been a lot of good things come out …

ZAPPA: Name some.

DAVIE: The way the music scene is changing …

ZAPPA: Do you know why the music scene is changes?

DAVIE: People like your group and other groups involved in it.

ZAPPA: No. Because there are promoters and record companies who all of a sudden found they could make money off selling long haired music.

DAVID: Yea, but some of the music they’re turning out is really good, too.

ZAPPA: And some of what they’re turning out is really shit.

DAVIE: Right, but how do you feel about the good stuff that’s coming out.

ZAPPA: There isn’t much of it.

VFA: What do you listen to?

ZAPPA: I listen to contemporary music, serious music.

MOUSE: Do you think your music is any good?

ZAPPA: Sometimes.

AL: What do you think of what’s happening in San Francisco with the groups they have there?

ZAPPA: I don’t think they’re very creative. I think they’re very initiative, some of them are very competent imitators.

DAVIE: What about Doors?

ZAPPA: I don’t like them too much … I’ve never seen the Doors perform since they’ve changed their image. I used to watch them at the Whisky A Go Go in L.A. when they were really making it and I thought they were good musically, but I don’t care too much for what they’re doing now.

VFA: What do you think about the Cream?

ZAPPA: I like the Cream.

AL: Are you going to be doing any filming?

ZAPPA: Yes, we’ve been offered an hour TV special in the United States.

AL: One thing that really surprises me is, having heard your album and then listening to the promos on the radio for you, you’re billed as something like the Fugs almost.

ZAPPA: It’s not my fault. I didn’t make the promos.

AL: But why would they do that?

ZAPPA: They figure that everybody’s gonna come down here expecting me to shit on the stage or do some bizarre number. They think, “God, if I get to see him do that,” it’s like coming down to wait and see if Jim Morrison takes his pants off. That’ll draw more people than to tell them that we play music.

DAN: Have you been to Europe?


DAN: Have you played there?


DAN: Did they dig the Mothers there?

ZAPPA: Yea, very much.

DAN: I notice a lot of the new wave jazz people are going over there because the audiences are more appreciative.

ZAPPA: They always have.

DAN: Do you think they really do dig it more.

ZAPPA: Yes, I think they do.

DAN: Do you have any idea why?

ZAPPA: They like music.

DAN: They’ve listened to it.

ZAPPA: Yea. Most American audiences don’t like music ‘cause they never heard any. They like entertainment. They come to be entertained. And they can’t appreciate any subtleties in what you’re doing.

They’re trained consumers, they’re trained to buy a certain type of entertainment, and anything that doesn’t match that consumer specification is obviously not necessary to that society. They have no concept of music as art. Their concept of music is a Pepsi-Cola jingle.

TERRY: Have you ever been asked to do a jingle?

ZAPPA: No, I’ve never been asked to do a jingle, but I’ve done a commercial for Luden’s Cough drops, which was electronic. [4]

TERRY: Was it played on the air?

ZAPPA: It’s on TV in the United States: “A box of cough drops smashes a cough.”

TERRY: You were in advertising in the beginning, weren’t you?

ZAPPA: Year.

TERRY: Have you gone back to it?

ZAPPA: We maintain a small agency called NT&B [Nifty Tough & Bitchin'] which turns out our album covers. We turn them out for other people if they can afford it. But we usually ask a lot of money and they go away.

1. drdork: “This interview with FZ was conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, on August 25, 1968, after the concert released on Road Tapes #1. Among the interviewers were Dan McLeod (one of the founders of the Georgia Straight, and currently its owner, publisher, and editor) and Terry David Mulligan (disc jockey, video jockey, actor, and former Royal Canadian Mountie; he interviewed FZ for CBC radio in 1975).”
For some other interviewers and Georgia Straight staff see "Storming The Barricades".

2. In August 1968 – in the same month of Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia, pictured on this issues front cover – in Chicago happened the turbulent Democratic National Convention, also called "Czechago".

3. The Youth International Party, whose members were commonly called Yippies, was a radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. wikipedia

4. Ed Seeman asked FZ to do the music for TV commercial he was animating. It won a Clio Award in 1967 for "Best Use Of Sound". Zappa's Ludens Cough Drops

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