Frank Zappa Zaps Back

By Michael Iachetta

I-AM, March 1977

The resilient avant-garde musician who brought you The Mothers of Invention, Reuben and the Jets, and more, now brings you Zappa.

It was an inauspicious beginning.

Anti-establishment rock music star Frank Zappa was wondering where the $99,000 from his latest concert went when I walked in on him in his hotel suite at the staid Mayfair House on Park Avenue in Manhattan's prestigious East Sixties.

And Zappa's manager was explaining that the gross had been eaten up by paying Frank's six-man backup band, his twenty-member light and sound crew, rental for Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum, union costs, transportation, hotels, and a lot more pluses that added up to a negative reaction for Zappa, a composer, film producer, vocalist, and lead guitarist with a knack for building visual and musical imagery that penetrates the teenage psyche.

"So what it boils down to is nearly $100,000 went up in smoke for a hardworking New York vacation and that perturbs me," Zappa was saying.

He is lean, lanky, lupine, moustached, goateed, outwardly sinister looking, very much the embodiment of the pop culture anti-hero. He has been described as a force of cultural darkness, a Mephistophelian figure serving as a lone, brutal reminder of music's potential for working chaos and destruction – a devil's advocate who started out by disguising his own serious, classically influenced atonal music as irreverent, street-smart, ear-jarring rock.

Yet as Zappa talked at the Mayfair, his voice was surprisingly calm, almost dreamily contemplative, as though some long-ago jolt of novocaine had dulled him to the pain of how people hurt themselves and each other. And Zappa was hurting. For the bass player in an opening act that was supposed to play for Zappa at the Garden had inexplicably plunged to his death from a hotel window.

And Zappa was trying to explain how this had happened to a friend. "The opening act for the show was canceled because of the demise of a group member who fell out his hotel window for reasons no member of the group could explain," he was saying. "I wasn't going to beat them over the heads about it. One minute the bass player was. The next minute he no longer was. So the opening act was canceled."

Zappa spoke with the simple acceptance of fact that comes from knowing the underside of rock – drugs, groupies, betrayals, rip-offs, and down trips – as well as the highs that come from big-money hits, group adulation, musical peer admiration, mind-bending professional dedication, and the explosive thrill of charting new courses or musical sound.

Baltimore-born, West Coast-bred, musically self-taught, and a self-made millionaire with a sprawling desert home in California's Laurel Canyon, Zappa has come a long way from his Sicilian roots. He has written countless songs and several film scores, starred on over twenty long-playing record albums, and scored rock adaptations of Mozart's "Symphony Number 40," Holst's The Planets and pieces by modern classicist Edgard Varèse. He has gone the one-man rock conglomerate route with his own record labels, music publishing companies, a film production company, a book division, and an advertising agency. Frank has also had his music played by groups ranging from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the London Philharmonic. And he has almost gotten himself killed several times along the way.

Zappa's father, Francesco, a data reductions clerk at Edwards Air Force Base, was a scientist involved in ballistics and explosives during World War II All that early exposure to mixing chemicals into shattering combinations influenced Frank in such a way that he never hesitates to blend seemingly unblendable musical chords into jolting rock sound waves. Nor does he hesitate to take risks with his life.

It is almost as though superstar Frank Zappa, thirty-six, has been shocked by so much that nothing leaves him shook-up anymore. Rock has rolled its way into his blood stream so that music is his ultimate charge.

That explosive musical charge was smoldering recently when Zappa sold out Madison Square Garden for three straight performances that were weird, scary, almost supernatural, a cross between primitive ritual and modem rock worship. Strobe lights blinked like hellish flames and fumes from burning marijuana filled the Felt Forum, as Zappa's backup musicians fanned the crowd's enthusiasm by playing riffs from Zappa songs like "Camarillo Brillo" and "Yellow Snow" and "Montana."

And then, twenty minutes after the concert was to start, into the void left by the missing warm-up group stepped Zappa, looking like a brooding Pinocchio determined to tell no musical lies.

For a long minute, Frank lets the audience adulation wash over him, his somber face staring out on a crowd of mouths chanting the name "Zappa, Zappa, Zappa" like a mystic incantation that has nothing to do with the Sicilian roots buried in the name. Frank looks as skinny as the young Frank Sinatra once was as he stood on that Garden stage. His long black hair is tied into a ponytail. His hairless chest is heaving with excitement although he has not yet begun to play. His legs are encased in flared purple corduroy bell-bottoms and he is doing unchoreographed shuffles that set off chain reactions among the band members waiting for Frank to unleash their total force.

Zappa has played this scene before as the leader of the group called The Mothers of Invention – the leading underground rock group in the U.S. until Frank decided to disband them because "I got tired of playing for people who clapped for all the wrong reasons; I was sick of playing for kids who wouldn't know music if it came up and bit 'em."

But the breakup of the Mothers of Invention was behind him now, as was the breakup of his first marriage, the loss of his Roman Catholic faith, the split with his conventional family, and the emotional and physical scars left from nearly being murdered on stage during a London rock show – not the first time Zappa nearly died, having come close to blowing himself up several times while mixing explosive chemicals as a kid.

So Zappa exudes an air of having been to hell and back as he stares out at the crowd, taking their measure with his sallow, canine features, licking his goatee and moustache, almost sniffing the audience like an animal scenting his prey. When he senses that they are ready to explode, he simply says:

"Hi, I'm Frank. Let's play."

And the sax and vibes and percussion and drums and bass and synthesizer blast off behind him like the gunpowder he used to play with in his teens. The Zappa sound hammered at the standing audience, literally knocking them down into their seats and reducing them to a swaying mass of flesh as the musicians chased each other around a stage filled with sound equipment, a skeleton dangling from a lamp post, a life preserver stamped with the legend HMS Pinafore, a rubber chicken with an ARF placard jutting from its beak, a large plaster duck with immense breasts, a huge foot constantly being criticized for its odor, and assorted mannequins.

Jazz, rock, classical, atonal, oratorio, and slapstick are brought together without shame as Zappa zaps you with songs frequently too dirty for conventional air play, even if his music weren't too complex for the traditional top-pop sound. As he sings, he flails away at his rock guitar with a seemingly careless skill, disguising the fact that he is one of the best in the business. His uncanny ear picks off discordant notes like a seismograph and he settles grumbling equipment by quick flicks of knobs and dials, an electronic witch doctor.

Frank's new group, called simply "Zappa," is making pop waves with their latest Warner Brothers' long-playing record, Zoot Allures. But the way Zappa was turning on the Garden audience, and the way the Garden audience was turning on, anything could have happened, so that two hours after the troubled troubadour began singing, the audience was screaming for more. And when their cheers were not enough, the youthful cultists stood up and lit matches en masse like a human birthday cake in their demands for an encore. So Zappa came back to play another lick, the sound gradually ebbed away, the human tide spilled out of the Felt Forum, emotions drained. Once more the hall returned to silence, a pop culture tomb waiting for the next cultist to come rocking in.

Later I met a somber Zappa in his Mayfair suite. He was wearing a white Nehru blouse with tapered white slacks dipping into red, white, and blue boots. As he lounged on a sofa, he mulled over the nearly $100,000 that had slipped through his fingers and the life that had slipped away through a hotel window.

"I don't know what to make of it," he said. "I don't know why what happened, happened. We knocked ourselves out. For what? We made some good sounds, though." He paused.

I told him I'd liked what I heard and so had my son, the thirteen-year-old rock guitarist. And then we got down to the business of the interview. But Frank didn't seem to have his mind on being interviewed at first.

"The only reason I give interviews is to sell my records and hype my concerts and try for mass air play so I can make money to achieve my goal – which is to make more records and quality music," Zappa told me. "One thing I don't talk about is myself because I've been in the business over twelve years and my personal business is nobody's business but my own. No inner feelings given out here. No fan magazine stuff. Interviews are strictly business with me. Most of what gets written about me is pure fantasy."

He spoke politely, calmly, matter-offactly, and then withdrew into silence. His manager excused himself. His leggy, blonde, good-looking public relations girl, Jeffie, looked concerned. And I wondered what I was doing there for an interview with Frank Zappa if we weren't going to talk about Frank Zappa. So I groped for verbal straws.

"I've done a lot of research on you but there's nothing personal – just a lot of farout quotes from you about yourself and your music," I said.

There was the flicker of a smile. "That's because I don't give personal interviews," Zappa replied.

"I was hoping you would because there might be some Italian-American kid out there like you who could profit from your past and present," I answered.

Zappa weighed this for a long minute.

And then he said: "Ask me whatever you want." And the scheduled forty-five-minute interview went on for nearly two hours with Frank talking almost entirely in response to a question that began:

"If you had to make yourself come across to an audience that knows you only as a name, what points would you stress to help me make you come alive in the time allotted?"

"I'm Frank, not Francesco, like my father, and I grew up living in a lot of places – Maryland, Florida, California – wherever my father's work took us, we went," he recalled. "My father was in ballistics and meteorology, and during World War II we did a lot of time in places like the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. My father was and is a grandbull straight-razor dad and we don't get along well because there were things about school I could never agree with. We were always arguing over what I was going to be, only I knew I wasn't going to be a doctor or a lawyer like he wanted me to be, or a chemist like he was."

Frank's father was a variety of men, from a barber to a teacher of European history at Loyola University to a wrestler to a guitar player in a minstrel trio, but mainly he was a scientist who went wherever his work took him and his family.

"We'd take off cross-country in our Italian version of the covered wagon, a broken-down Ford. I can still remember our first trip to California," said Frank. "My father thought it was going to be all sunshine and streets of gold. So we loaded our Italian provincial furniture on our Italian wagon train and headed west with me in the back of the Henry J. in one of those plyboard trailers with no support, and my knees pressed against the walls which had no resilience, and my mind filled with thoughts about whether they would close my father down the next place we got, which was Monterey. But my father had this great idea of this country, and in California there was going to be nothing but warm weather and sunshine and happiness. So when we got to North Carolina we stopped in some poor rural area on the southern route and we gave away all our cold-weather clothes to some people we met in the fields and everybody was jumping up and down, we were so very happy.

"And that included me and my mother (the former Rosemarie Colimore so I'm also part French, Greek, Arab, and a lot of other Mediterranean stocks, but I'm mostly Sicilian) and my brothers, Bobbie, (who sells college textbooks for McGraw-Hill in New Jersey), and Carl (who sometimes makes milk shakes in a California McDonalds), and my sister Patrice, who is married, and, of course, Francesco.

"Anyway, when we got to California it must have been forty to fifty degrees, windy, rainy, and cold. For maybe three months, I was always freezing because we had given away everything heavy that we had to wear. I was so cold that to this day, wherever I go, Texas or whatever warmweather place, you name it, I make sure I have a coat with me.

"Another thing I remember is growing up in this poor cardboard house in the Edgewood Arsenal. My only toys were things my father could bring home from the lab – gun powder, chemicals, gas masks; all very avanti. My toy chest was a real mad-scientist lab. I nearly blew myself up at least four times – no fooling – from using a can opener to open a mustard gas container while experimenting with gas masks, and from trying to make pure oxygen, and by mixing up leftover Fourth of July explosives, and by setting fire to mercuric acid."

Beyond those scientific experiments, which extended from age six through high school, was an endless curiosity that has taken him frequently to the brink of self-destruction – only that curiosity is masked by a seemingly devil-may-care attitude that covers the scars, figurative as well as literal, as well as the sensitivity.

Consider, for example, the day Frank got thrown out of high school in California for taking a woodworking class prisoner. "They thought I was kind of weird because I had a moustache and was always sitting on the lawn with my blue parka pulled over my head trying to play this guitar I couldn't play too well. One day my brother Bobbie came out and told me the metalshop teacher tried to make what might be called improper sexual advances at him, so I went in after that teacher.

"And when that teacher wasn't there, I took over the woodworking class and made the teacher and the class my prisoners and told the kids to carve things in the new desks and benches, which didn't go over very big with the dean of boys. I wound up being suspended for two weeks in which time I had to write a five thousand-word essay, which I did with a list of all the rhythm and blues albums I liked by artist and label. My father wasn't crazy about my getting thrown out of school because he was afraid he would lose his security clearance at the rocket place and there was a lot of hollering going on."

But out of all the turmoil, disruption, and unrest of his early high school years, Frank was finding meaning away from textbooks and classrooms. He began by marching to a different drummer, Ernest McKillip, who taught him during a snare drum course where Frank was one of many kids pounding away at a wooden plank twenty feet long. McKillip sensed the drive in Zappa and urged him to keep practicing. So Frank banged away with a vengeance at home, drumming endlessly until he wore away the varnish, veneer, and four layers of paint "right down to the original Naples yellow on this Italian provincial dresser that must have belonged to three or four of my grandmothers," he remembers. "There wasn't money for drums. So when I got through with the dresser, I'd drum away at pots between my legs."

He became compulsive about making music. "I was maybe twelve or thirteen and there hadn't been no music in my life," said Zappa. "No radio. No symphonies. No nothing. My father's guitar stayed mainly in the closet. And they didn't play much rock around my way in Lancaster and Monterey, and when something came on the car radio, my father switched it off like he could just make the music thing in me go away by doing that.

"I didn't have much money for records so I used to listen to just a few I had and played them over and over. I had a Rite of Spring by Stravinsky and music for two pianos and percussion by Bartok and some records by modern classicist composer Edgard Varèse, including Ionisation, with thirteen performers playing thirty-two percussion instruments, including two sirens and a lion's roar. It was obvious that my tastes were different from everybody I was hanging around with."

He was trying to write his own music and play the sounds in his head before he ever owned his own instruments. "I was playing drums in a group called the Ramblers, only I didn't have drums; just those pots I used to practice on," he remembers. "I got my first set of drums – probably hot – for fifty dollars from a guy at Mission Bay High School in San Diego. They were secondhand. I didn't know how to set them up. And when we played our first job at the Uptown Hall at Fortieth and Mead, I was so excited I left my drum sticks home and had to go back for them.

"Around this time, my brother Bobbie got interested in music and bought himself a guitar for a dollar-fifty at an auction, and I began fiddling with that one and the guitar my father kept in the closet. I wasn't able to afford an electric guitar until I was twenty-one years old but I knew that was going to be my instrument, just like I knew music was going to be my life, only I didn't know how."

After high school, he recalls, "I couldn't abide another season in California so my family sent me on my way to spend my summer vacation with the first of my banana-pushing relatives in Maryland who thought they were kind of society and really hated to have me and my moustache in their house. I mean my Aunt Mary was a society lady, not high society, but the kind who does volunteer work in hospitals and such. One day I embarrassed her no end by smoking this foul Russian cigarette – I honestly didn't know it would smell that bad – when she took me for lunch in this nice little old ladies' lunch room. Anyway, I knew I wasn't long for Maryland and had to figure what to do with my life.

"So to make a long story longer, I knew I didn't have the music credits for Peabody or Curtis or Juilliard or any other conservatory, where I knew I wasn't going to learn what I wanted to learn about music anyway. So I went back to California, started junior college, got deep into a good time with the ladies, lost all my credits when my dad got transferred to Pomona, which is the price you pay for a little leg in college, and enrolled in Chaffee Junior College. There I met a girl named Kay, dropped out with her, got married, and did a lot of things like work as a commercial artist and perform nights at go-go bars like the Club Sahara in San Bernardino, playing the Anniversary Waltz and the Twist and just about anything anybody wanted to hear.

"I became a human juke box with these go-go butts waving in my face while I played 'Wooly Bully' so these geriatric gogo girls with their blue and green legs could keep shaking in front of me. I developed a strong tolerance for ugliness and the smell of beer in places like the Tom Cat A-Go-Go and the Colony Club and lots of places from Pomona to L.A., with the low point probably coming when five guys got seven dollars for playing five hours in a place without a bandstand."

But Frank was pushing himself beyond the mind-numbing hours, trying to write the score for a western movie being cranked out by his former high school English teacher. He moved into L.A. on the strength of that picture, working on deferred payments which never came through when the leading lady got sick and the movie blew up in everybody's face. "There we were with an L.A. apartment, no food, no money, no hope," he remembers. "I worked in a record shop. And noticed I was driving my wife crazy. So we got a divorce."

Shortly afterwards, the high school English teacher did succeed in turning out a film with a Zappa score, so Frank finally had walking-around money – enough to take over a recording studio in Cucamonga, California, by assuming the owner's debts and paying him one thousand borrowed dollars for a treasure trove of equipment, including a baby grand piano and an assortment of electronic apparatus. It was like Frank was back in his homemade lab, free to experiment endlessly.

"It was the best college education I ever had," said Frank. "I recorded like twentyfour hours a day. I overdubbed. Did demos (demonstration records). Worked on anything and everything I wanted to. And I didn't care that the place had no windows. No bathroom. It was nothing but a studio. But it was my home. And it was my life."

But the people didn't take kindly to Zappa and his moustache, goatee, T-shirts, and jeans, pounding out music at all hours of the day and night just a block from the grammar school and across the street from the Holy Rollers Church. "I learned my music on Route 66 in that studio between San Bernardino and L.A., but a lot of insular Italians couldn't stand what I was doing, so I got bugged for things like fire insurance and got caught on an illegal entrapment for conspiracy to commit pornography and the place got torn down and the road got widened. I moved back into L.A. where I bought my first and only car – a '63 Chevy Bel Air whose payments I took over from my Uncle Joe – and went up and down California playing jobs in go-go bars. I used to find and deposit empty soda bottles to buy baloney and gasoline so we could play twist numbers mixed with my original material."

The big break, of sorts, came when Zappa and some of his friends played at a party that was being filmed for the movie Mondo Hollywood. That led to their being hired at the Action, one of four rock 'n' roll clubs in Hollywood at the time. The owner liked the fact that if an audience got obnoxious, Zappa got obnoxious back. That generated publicity and an underground reputation.

And the records started coming Zappa's way. His LP, Ruben & the Jets, was an irreverent look at rock 'n' roll in the mid 1950s complete with a takeoff on cheap thrills in the backseat of a car. His "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" on the album Freak Out was filled with atonal, multi-rhythmic thrust yet he was not above entitling works "King Kong," "The Mothers American Pageant," "The Duke of Prunes," "Plastic People," and "Son of Suzy Creamcheese." Nor did he stop writing serious works for string quartet, chamber orchestra, and films like World's Greatest Sinner and Run Home Slow.

Yet Zappa seemed bent on a suicidal course, professionally and personally. For example, he wrote between eight hundred and one thousand pages of music for his 200 Motels, a movie he described as being about touring and "how it makes you crazy." It took him eight to sixteen hours to draw each page of that score, putting in each little dot so that everything was accounted for, every note of music, every change of tempo, every spoken word, even those "impromptu" squeaks and grunts.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic played Zappa's 200 Motels in 1968. Soon after it became a movie with a $679,000 budget which paid for itself, unusual for a firsttime filmmaker. If anything, Frank was unusual. Rather than curry favor with the record world bigwigs, he made countless enemies several years back while performing at the Grammy Awards, Tin Pan Alley's version of Hollywood's Oscar. He made pig noises at the audience for about twenty minutes because he found the crowd rude and noisy. But he found he had the respect of his peers for his integrity – and a growing reputation as the underground king of rock.

When ex-Beatle John Lennon showed up for a surprise jam session with Zappa not long ago at the Filmore, Zappa et al played background right along under Frank's direction without letting Lennon's guitar lose the lead. For Frank's rapport with his musicians is so refined that a code of hand signals by him can structure improvisations as if they had been rehearsing for weeks together.

Zappa has been an innovator on perhaps more artistic fronts than any other pop musician of his generation. His double-concept album Freak Out in 1965 introduced the Mothers of Invention with their rock-classical sleight of hand. In 1967, he used ten members of the London Philharmonic in an Albert Hall concert which united modern classical orchestral forms with rock 'n' roll. And he was consciously linking rhythm and blues, rock and jazz, with sophisticated compositional elements years before today's fusion music became popular. Yet he knows he can't have the same kind of conscious control over what happens in his life.

For example, he was introduced to his wife, Gail, "an internationally acclaimed groupie," according to Frank, by "another internationally acclaimed groupie at an airport. Gail was an ex-secretary at the Whisky A-Go-Go and I've been with her nine years with three children resulting from our being together – daughter Moon, nine, and sons Dweezel, seven, and Ahmet, two. I usually work in the basement of our Laurel Canyon home whenever I'm not out on the road."

The 1960s were good for Zappa. The '70s started out like something else, with things starting to go wrong during a 1971 promotional tour of Europe when Zappa and company saw their equipment destroyed in a fire in Montreux, Switzerland. So they got more equipment and went to London where they played the Rainbow Theater. It almost became the end of the rainbow for Frank Zappa when a drinker in the crowd became so incensed when his girl friend said she loved Frank that he leaped onto he stage at the end of the set and rushed Frank. Zappa never saw him and never knew what hit him until he woke up fifteen feet down in a concrete orchestra pit with microphones and amplifying equipment all over him. He had a broken leg, a fractured rib, holes in his chin and head, and a twisted neck. His assailant was jailed for nine months. Frank was hospitalized six weeks, and spent nearly a year in a big cast, in a wheelchair. He still limps.

So when a huge, barechested Negro hovered in the background during the interview, muscles rippling like a Muhammed Ali, I could understand the presence of someone I took to be a bodyguard. Just like I could understand a lot of things about Frank Zappa after talking to him.

Take, for example, the breakup of the Mothers of Invention. "Nobody seems to realize we were ten thousand dollars in debt when we broke up," Zappa said. "I mean I was paying those salaries no matter what, and I couldn't keep paying them and doing the kind of music I wanted. Even though we still play some selections from the older Mothers of Invention repertoire, any resemblance between this new group (Zappa) and the original M.O.I. is purely conceptual. This group can do so many things that the earlier ensembles could not, so the emphasis in our current presentation is being placed on the future, rather than the past. With all respect to the former members of the M.O.I. – all fifty or sixty of them – I think the time has come to place them in historical perspective and give more attention to the new musical events being performed by each year's successive group."

Zappa expects his musicians to come and go as they please. "They don't get in the group in the first place unless I sense some desire on their part to assist me in the various musical explorations I undertake, but even so, the level of skill required to perform these pieces is such that most of the musicians who have been in the group would be qualified to do their own thing elsewhere and be successful at it. I always feel when they join that someday they will leave and go on to do something else. As a leader, I've heard I'm supposed to be a tyrant. Not true. I am a benevolent dictator in the same sense as an orchestra conductor qualifies for that occupational title.

"As for the music I'm playing these days, it could be called bionic funk. There are also many selections of overpowering beauty, intoxicating sensitivity, keen insight, staggering social significance, loud, soft, mysterious spatial zonery – you get the drift – and then there are the words. Drugs? They are of no interest to me. Religion? This world is where it's at, not the next. I was a Catholic until I got the drift. I don't like seeing the penalty of the future weighing on poor people."

He sees his musical "freaking out" as an important method of expression, defining "freaking out" as a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricting standards of thinking, dress, and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole.

As the conversation drifted towards the first record hits, Frank said: "After that, everything becomes academic. The record companies screwed me. Managers screwed me. One long-time manager I discovered with one of his vital organs – namely his hand – in the cash register. Lots of things rub me the wrong way. So I don't let them rub. It feels good to be your own boss and there are some things down the line, like a world tour with Zappa, probably to last for six months.

"And I'll go right on enjoying playing my guitar, making fun of things I think are stupid because somebody has to. This is the land of opportunity and has to be for musicians like me instead of just some of the comedians who are running the political thing. Maybe there'll be a movie I'll do. Certainly there'll be more songs and records," he said.

And then the words were punctuated by a phone call from one of his ex-band members. Frank was visibly pleased that an old friend had looked him up: "It's good to hear from one of the world's great perverts," Zappa gushed into the phone, his smile fading as he realized he was talking to a hotel operator. "Of course, you are supposed to announce the call first," he said. "Put him on." And then he filled his friend in on the concert and the unexpected demise of the bass player and invited him to come along to the Bruce Springsteen concert he was going to that night at the Palladium. "Got to check out the new stock," Frank said. "Got to see what's coming up. Damn, it's good to hear from you. It'll be good to see you." And then a little boy flicker of hurt flashed across his face. "Too bad you couldn't make my concert. Made some good music. You would have enjoyed yourself."

I was troubled as I tried to remember when I had seen that look before. And then I had it. It came almost at the beginning of Zappa's concert at the Garden when he looked down from the stage and saw his brother Bobbie sitting in the front row. "Wanna come up and play, Bobbie?" Frank asked. Bobbie nodded no. Frank shrugged and took off on his next song.

And that is as good an insight into Frank Zappa as I can give you. No matter what, no matter where, no matter when, no matter who is out there in his life, Frank Zappa will go on making music. For that is what he is all about.