Frank Zappa – his own favourite recording artist

By Dave Perkins

Eyeopener, November 22, 1973

On Tuesday the Eyeopener's [1] entertainment editor Dave Perkins had an exclusive interview with Frank Zappa mustachioed beatnik leader of an outrageous group of individuals known as the Mothers of Invention. The following is a text of that interview:

Q: How did a Lancaster, California high school student named Frank Zappa ever get into music.

Zappa: I just started.

Q: Why did you go the musical way you went instead of strumming along with a combo turning out commercial, straight music?

Zappa: I wouldn't have minded playing straight music, but I have more fun doing what I'm doing. I play complicated music to a limited audience, but that doesn't mean everybody can't like it.

Q: The key is limited audience. Do you ever try to gear your music to a wider listening range?

Zappa: I'm not stupid enough to think that everyone is going to be interested in my music. Long-time fans get the preferential treatment.

Q: What was your association with Don van Vliet (Captain Beefheart? )

Zappa: Captain Beefheart is an asshole. We went to high school together, and back then Don van Vliet was a pretty good guy. I gave him his start in music, but I never see him anymore.

Q: Why did you let him do a guest vocal on one of your earlier albums?

Zappa: That was before he turned into an asshole. He's not creative anymore.

Q: How creative are you? Can you turn it on and off when a deadline approaches?

Zappa: I'm creative 36 hours a day. The extra 12 are on my schedule from another planet. As for deadlines, they're a fact of life in the business I'm in.

Q: Do you ever release an album you're not pleased with because of deadlines?

Zappa: There's ways around deadlines. Just miss a release date and the next one doesn't come for another month. I've never released an album I'm not pleased with.

Q: You're happy with all your albums then?

Zappa: At times I'm happy with none of them, but that's from listening to them too much. If I leave it alone for a couple of months and then come back to it I'm happy with it.

Q: What's your favorite Mothers' album?

Zappa: The next one.

Q: During concerts, how close do you like fans to be to you, both physically and musically?

Zappa: I like them to get into my music, and I like them to participate in the show. At Waterloo (his previous concert at the University of Waterloo) we held a be-bop tango contest among members of the audience. [2]

Q: You used to ask people up to the stage during your shows. Why?

Zappa: Subconsciously everyone would like to be on stage with the band, so we used to encourage it.

Q: What happened in London when a fan on stage pushed you into the orchestra pit?

Zappa: The man was deranged. The show was over and the band was leaving the stage when this guy jumped onstage and ran up behind me. He pushed me into the orchestra pit, 15 feet down to the concrete. I had a hole put in the back of my skull, twisted my neck, broke my wrist and leg. I was in a wheel chair for nine months and off the road for over a year.

Q: Why are you banned from the Royal Albert Hall?

Zappa: Because the woman who runs it is insane. She's an old lady, very prude and very sick. She gave us a list of 12 words we couldn't say on stage. One of them was brassiere, so you know where she's at. There's about a dozen other bands that are banned from the Albert.

Q: Speaking of other bands, who are you a fan of?

Zappa: Frank Zappa. Nobody else.

Q: So you've never borrowed anything from any other musician?

Zappa: Every music composer takes advantage of what's been done in the past. He just composes what he can identify with.

Q: What do you identify with?

Zappa: Having a good time.

Q: What's your idea of having a good time.

Zappa: It changes from day to day. Today I'd like to be playing to a Florida audience.

Q: Why a Florida audience?

Zappa: Every audience we've had so far on this tour has been a Northern audience. I'd rather play in the south because the crowds are different.

Q: In what way?

Zappa: They've got a whole different folklore and are much more easy going. Northern audiences are more reserved because the climate's tougher on them and given them a harder life.

Q: You play Toronto often. Why?

Zappa: Toronto's not a bad place to work, we usually get a good, receptive crowd here.

Q: This is a six-week tour. You play 28 dates, so you're travelling quite a bit. Do you like travelling? [3]

Zappa: I love travelling.

Q: How much can you do when you're in the hotel-concert-airport run?

Zappa: I get to know a lot about the city and the people travelling in from the airport. The billboards and road signs give me a pretty good indication of what the mentality of the people is.

Q: Where are the worst road signs?

Zappa: South Carolina has the dumbest by far.

Q: Some musicians love to tour and some hate it. Do you regard it as work or do you enjoy doing it.

Zappa: You're damn right it's work. Hard work.

Q: When you compose music, do you ever talk it over with members of your band to get their opinions?

Zappa: Never. I write my music to please myself. If people like it enough to go out and buy the album that's good.

Q: Does your recording contract give you financial security, and how important is it to you?

Zappa: I wouldn't say I'd never have to work again if I quit today, but financial security is as important to me as anyone. I've got a wife and two kids and another one on the way. We all live in this shell called a human body which seems to run better when it has certain things like food and clothing and shelter.

Q: Have you ever thought of quitting, and if so what would you do?

Zappa: I'll never quit music. I like it, it relaxes me. I don't want to do anything else but make music.

Q: What kind of contract do you have now?

Zappa: We've just negotiated a new one for about four or five years.

Q: With all the political troubles in the U.S., what's your opinion of the President?

Zappa: Nixon's probably a criminal. He should be sent to prison with his wardrobe chosen by Bebe Rebozo [4].

Q: Have you written a song about Nixon?

Zappa: Yeah, we've done one called 'Dicky's Such An Asshole' that will be out on an album when we get around to doing one.

Q: What's next for Frank Zappa?

Zappa: I have a solo album called Apostrophe coming out in January. I play everything but drums on it.

Q: Any special songs on it?

Zappa: There's one inspired by the Mennen foot-spray commercial where the dog keels over after the guy takes his shoes off. Do you know how hard it is to write a song about something like that?

Q: Any final words?

Zappa: Get your shoes fixed.

1. The Eyeopener has been providing Ryerson students with award-winning journalism since September 26, 1967. An independent voice on campus, The Eyeopener covers news, sports, arts and culture for the Ryerson community.

2. 18. November 1973 Waterloo, Canada

3. 1973 Last North American Tour October – November

4. "Bebe" Rebozo – a close friend and confident of Richard Nixon. Allegedly an associate of the Genovese Family. wikipedia

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