An Album For Germans

By Bill Hoy

Distant Drummer, March, 1969

(DD interviewed Frank Zappa during his Feb. 11-12 gig at the Electric Factory. [1])

DD: About your music, are you going through any major changes?

ZAPPA: It changes everyday.

DD: In what direction do you feel it’s going?

ZAPPA: It’s heading towards music.

DD: That’s good, Frank. If you don’t feel like answering any of these questions, just ignore them. Do you know any Philadelphian groupies?

Z: Do I know any Philadelphian groupies?

DD: Right.

Z: Not by name.

(At that point, a girl came in and introduced herself. “Here I am, a groupie.”)

DD: Frank, do you ever give any of your money away?

Z: Uh, yeah.

DD: Why?

Z: Mmm, because I’m forced to.

DD: Do you still think it is necessary to shock people?

Z: Do people get shocked?

(The girl who said she was a groupie giggled.)

DD: Do you have an album coming out soon?

Z: You bet your ass, baby.

DD: What will it be called?

Z: It will be called Uncle Meat.

DD: What about a single, do you have a name for it?

Z: Yes, and it will probably be called "Mr. Green Genes". Our new single is about things you eat.

DD: What are you doing now?

Z: We’re touring.

DD: Do you plan to come back to Philadelphia?

Z: Next time somebody hires us to play here.

DD: Are you looking forward to coming back to Philadelphia?

Z: No, the place depresses me.

DD: What depresses you most?

Z: The fact that the people who run the city don’t care enough to keep it in shape.

DD: How could they improve it?

Z: To drive around and take a look at it.

(Everybody breaks out in laughter. By now the room is crowded with people. The groupie is still in the room, her eyes are like rollers on Frank’s body.)

And if that doesn’t make them throw up then the people who live in those shitty parts of town should send them letters.

DD: What else do you think Philadelphia needs?

Z: It needs some liberalization towards the youth in the community.

DD: How do you feel about Philadelphia culturally?

Z: Philadelphia is not culturally dead. The guy who does our album cover came from Philadelphia. He’s a monster, he doesn’t live here anymore.

DD: Where do you live now?

Z: We live in Hollywood.

DD: I understand you live in a mansion that once belonged to a cowboy star who had his horse buried in the cellar.

Z: Yeah, but everybody found out my address so I moved.

(The groupie laughs.)

DD: Is there anything special you’d like to say about your music?

Z: Nope.

(At that point Ruben of Ruben and the Jets arrived.)

DD: What’s your favorite gum drop flavor?

Ruben: Eeee maaah, you know if you asked somebody who was really Ruben and the Jets about gum drops, he’d stab you.

DD: How’s Ruben and the Jets doing?

Ruben: They’re doing alright, they really sharp.

DD: I hear their record is on AM radio.

Ruben: Our record is number 39 on the top 40 at KIOA Des Moines, Iowa.[2]

DD: Do you have any other plans for the group?

Ruben: Well, that’s success there, isn’t it?

(Ruben left.)

DD: Frank, what do you feel about what is happening now?

Z: It is really unpleasant, there seems to be a lack of foresight on the part of government. They don’t pay enough attention to what the young people think. Soon the young people will be the American majority and this majority is not represented in government. That’s bad.

DD: If you ever left music do you think you’d enter into politics?

Z: No, but I’d find me some flunkies that would do a good job of it. Who wants to do that kind of work, people talk – someday us kids are going to bust into politics and take over. Think about it, do you want to do that gig. Actually what you need is to make some sort of real good contact with the people who like that kind of work and are practiced at sitting around smiling at each other and doing that phony stuff. You should get with these people and make them see the merit of your problems.

DD: You have a new label don’t you?

Z: Warner and Reprise are going to distribute our label. It is called Bizarre. You will be able to get material that would normally not be available to you. Our first release on Bizarre will be a two record set of Lenny Bruce – Berkeley concert, completely uncensored, with notes by Ralph Gleason, also completely uncensored.

Then there will be the Mothers’ new album – Uncle Meat. Also Captain Beefheart’s new album will be out on our label. We just signed him. There was a large legal problem in this maneuver. Seems the man who obtained these tapes … well … it gets very complicated.

DD: Frank, I think I’ll ask a d.j. I know if he’d like to play this tape on the air. I guess he’ll play it as long as no one says any four letter words.

Z: How about cock-sucker? Well you see it is not a question of four letter words. The only thing is not to hit on politics cause then you won’t be on the air very long, ha, ha. Lots of Nazis around here.

DD: I read somewhere if you have a swastika you’ll sell about 70% more of whatever it is you’re selling.

Z: You see we want to release an album especially for Germans, and we wanted to have a picture of Adolph Hitler on the front in the nude. With a very minuscular penis and a huge magnifying glass in front of it.

(Groupie giggles.)

DD: Would it be a cut away on the album?

Z: No, it would be hanging right there.

(The whole room laughs.)

Somebody told us you can’t put a record out in Germany like that. You see if you know the people in Germany, they liked him quite a bit. When we were traveling over there and you get to a town everybody knew where he ate and spoke, even the kids. It’s really funny, you know.

1. The Mothers in this time were: FZ, Lowell George, Roy Estrada, Jimmy Carl Black, Art Tripp, Ian Underwood, Don Preston, Bunk Gardner, Motorhead Sherwood, Buzz Gardner. These two gigs in Philadelphia (opened by Paul Pena's band) are not taped and songlists are unknown. 

2. This was actually The Mothers' "Deseri". The real band named Ruben and the Jets was formed only in 1970. See What Ever Happened To The Mothers Of Invention?:

In 1968, Ruben Sano lifted his immense white-gloved hand, made his fingers go "snat!" and instantly Neo-Greaser Rock was born. A single was released from Ruben's boss album (remember Cruising with Ruben & the Jets ?) called "Deseri." It was played on many AM stations (actually rising to #39 on the Top Forty at KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa) until programmers discovered Ruben & the Jets was really The Mothers under a disguise. 

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