Zappa: his music, himself

By Bob Datz

Daily Kent Stater, May 3, 1973

A Winston barely hanging to his lips, Frank Zappa relaxed after Tuesday’s concert in Memorial Gym and discussed a variety of topics.

Stater: The Mothers have seen a lot of musicians come and go. When you write, are you writing for the person you’re playing with or do you just let your own trends develop?

Zappa; Well, its a little bit of both. You get a better performance if you write for the idiosyncrasies of the players.

Stater: How do you adapt the older materials to the players?

Zappa: The first thing you do is to gauge the playing ability of the new musicians and figure out whether or not the equivalent part played by the last guy who held that position is insulting to his intelligence. In other words, if the new guy has more technique, you make the old part harder. If it’s the other way around, you simplify the part.

Stater: Do you notice a change in your audience as your group evolves?

Zappa: I don’t believe that there are more than, say, 5000 people in the United States who have any idea of the continuity and growth of the group. Most of the people in the new generation of audience we have started listening to us about the time “Hot Rats” was released. They never saw the group in its early days and can’t appreciate how radical it was at the time it was formed.

Stater: What’s happened to the more scorching social lyric that was common on your earlier work?

Zappa: Well, what’s the percentage in presenting scorching social lyric to an audience that wishes merely to be entertained?

Stater: Can that be attributed to the death of the “counter-culture,” if there ever was one?

Zappa; Yes, if there ever was one. Maybe it’s not dead, it just smells funny...

Stater: Are the comments that you’ve done on “groupies” a sort of overall reflection of American womanhood?

Zappa: Well, I have an opinion of American womanhood, but that’s not to single out groupies as being any specific example of the whole spectrum... You classify a groupie by her occupation, not by her personality.

Stater: Were you satisfied with “200 Motels” and do you have any plans to do any more cinema?

Zappa: I’m probably going to do another film at the end of the year. There were a number of things in “200 Motels” I wasn’t too thrilled about but all that could have been corrected with more time and money. Seeing as how none of that was available, I’d just have to say –.

Stater: How did you come to be thrown off the stage in London?

Zappa: I was attacked by a mentally unbalanced person from the audience who came on stage at a point where the security guards were getting loaded on the side. He ran up just as we were finishing an encore and the next thing I know I woke up in the orchestra pit with a broken leg, a broken rib, a hole in my head, my neck twisted to the side and somebody saying, “Is there a doctor in the house?” I spent a month in the hospital over there and then nine months in a wheel chair.

Stater: What are your perspectives on higher education?

Zappa: I spent one semester at junior college. I went to college for one reason – to get laid. And I got laid and I got out...

Stater: You’ve lampooned the Holiday Inn scene. Are you staying at the Holiday Inn while in Kent?

Zappa: What’s it to ya?