Dweezil Goes Out To Lunch: Yet Another Interview!

By Ben Watson and Danny Houston

T'Mershi Duween, #29, February 1993

Good thing the front cover states 'Zappa Fanzine' and not 'Frank Zappa Fanzine' as we bring you the seriously edited highlights of yet another Dweezil interview, this one conducted by Ben Watson (what's happened to the book?) and Danny Houston for The Wire. I haven't yet seen if they used any of it. Dweez was joined by Ahmet. Take it away, boys!

Q: So what were you doing in the recording studio?

DZ: We've been doing all sorts of crazy things. We started recording the new record and it's sort of blossomed into the next five records. We don't know the title yet for sure because we've recorded mostly only the music and we haven't done most of the vocals, so we don't know which song has taken control over our life so much. Lately the phrase that's in control is 'Put the phantasm ball up yer ass'. I don't know why. It's been very inspiring for us. We recorded about twenty-nine songs and then I went to Japan for three months and toured with this Japanese guy who's like the equivalent of the Japanese Mick Jagger meets Michael Jackson. His name is Eikichi Yazawa. He's the most popular Japanese entertainer, has been for twenty years, and he is so funny and cool. His music is sort of like the Rolling Stones a little, but he does weird sort of pseudo-jazz things where you envision him sitting on stage at a little cafe with a Cinzano; he just sits there and wears a suit. He's famous for having beach towels.

AZ: And drawing mustard gas...

DZ: The mustard gas is really strange. He has this crazy merchandise staff and the fans buy everything he can possibly sell them and they go insane. They throw these towels in the air; they cost $50 and the whole audience buys them. We did twelve nights at the Budokan. He could do two or three nights at the Tokyo Dome – seventy thousand people a night – that's how crazy a following he has. I played all throughout the show. I had to team about twenty of his songs. It as really funny because the audience take these towels and during only two of these songs, they throw them in the air in time to the music. It's insane looking into the audience because of these flying towels going up in time to the music. One of the songs is called 'Travelling Bus'. Its the funniest thing because it has some English in it. I was thinking that I was understanding what he was saying because these English words came out. I said 'Ajon – that was what we called him – what is the first line of that song? Because it starts out with something like 'Freakin' out' or 'reachin out'. But he says 'Oh no, it's a state in America'. I went 'What? Louisiana?' A five syllable word that he's squeezed into three! That's the beginning of the song – 'Wee-zann-aah'. The rest of the words suddenly made more sense; he's singing about Chicago, Montana. That's his most popular song. He is so funny about it. He says 'Dizzl – he can't pronounce my name – y'know Dizzl, this song 'Travelling Bus', I hated the song, but my audience, they crazy about it. Why?' He has the best stories. He'll be asking me to play a certain kind of song with a certain feeling, and he'll say 'Dizzl, can you play a 'good smelling feeling'?'

Q: That reminds me of a recipe I once had – cook until you have a good brown smell...

Q: What you been doing here? Is there just the two of you?

AZ: We haven't been doing any recording.

DZ: I was supposed to be working with Jeff Beck and Brian May. I have this song that will be somewhere between twenty-two and thirty minutes long, and it will be every conceivable style of music that I can possibly connect up from start to finish.

Q: We were listening to 'Confessions', and we thought we detected some classical guitar. Do you play that?

DZ: Not at all. I like classical music and I like to take little things from classical music. 'Intro to Earth' is me doing a little joke. I'd just watched 'Amadeus' and I thought I'd do a little joke Mozart, but Brian May style with only guitars. No, the idea of this instrumental is to do with guitar stuff that you would never do, like Glenn Miller style orchestrations and Scott Joplin piano things on acoustics. We're doing other crazy heavy metal things that connect up to whatever. It's blended together and there's going to be four different drummers on it as well as fifteen or twenty guitar solos by different people. If I can get all the people that I want to get, it'll be the most insane piece of music ever, because I could cue up for the CD all the solos and have just like their names and go straight to that section, but it's all one piece of music that will be continuous. There's a few more sections to record. The first half of it we recorded live, ten minutes all the way through. It's different time signatures, different rhythms, different feels. You could never record it to a click track. Warren DiMartini from RATT and Tim Pierce have already played on it. L Shankar played violin and sang. He plays violin through a zoom box; it's the coolest sound. It sounds like a guitar, but it's obviously not. It's a really strange thing. We've also got Ahmet making his major debut as a vocalist and persona on the album.

Q: How do you record? Do you all play at the same time?

DZ: Yes. We did some overdubbing too. The most important thing is to get a good drum track. I can redo my guitar part if I don't like it. We're trying to make everything sound as close to what we sound like live as opposed to making a big production record. It won't sound like we've bought every single device that we could possibly use to cover the sounds that we're doing. It's going to have personality; that's basically what we're trying to do.

Q: Apart from the shows in Japan, how much have you played live?

DZ: We didn't do too many shows for 'Confessions' because honestly we didn't plan on doing that many. We have only ever played twenty-five shows as a band. The thing about that album is that it was made to be a studio record because I worked with Nuno and had him come in. We collaborated on some things and made a good sounding record. Once we played some shows, we realised that our personality as a band live was completely different than what is on that record. When we realised that, we decided that the next record would be the beginning of what we're actually doing. We'll probably do a lot more shows for the next record. What will be different is that we will be able to reproduce what the album sounds like live because, aside from the fact that there's different drummers on it, everyone else will be the same. I sang most of the songs on the last record because Ahmet didn't have any interest in being the front man for a band. It's years later now, and Ahmet is the coolest man alive on stage in front of people. So he's going to have his opportunity to do that in 1993. Our biggest thrill live is just to see people pointing and laughing at us. Because when you go to see a show, it's so fucking rare that you'd be able to go and be entertained to the point where you could laugh and like the songs. Everybody takes themselves too seriously when they go on stage. That's cool sometimes too if the people are really good at what they do, but if they're just pretentious and have an attitude, it's so fucking lame. I've never seen too many jazz guitar players go and play for any length of time and keep everyone's interest, apart from the few crazy muso freak guys who are into this thing. A lot of jazz makes me laugh – are they thinking this sounds good? Am I missing something? I like dissonant sounding things, but there are standardised jazz formations and turnarounds that really bother me, the same with certain standardised blues turnarounds.

AZ: You guys are all ahead of me. I think jazz is diabolical.

DZ: I prefer things that have a more regular melodic base.

Q: You can tell that from the records. It's much straight-ahead than your dad's music.

DZ: You haven't heard the new record. You can definitely tell that we are our father's sons. The older we get and the more confident we become as musicians, the more we understand all the things our father has done, and the more we appreciate it and the more it becomes inspiring to us. If you know anything about music technically, you can tell that we've crafted songs that you can listen to rather easily, but there are some difficult things going on underneath. This new record is very much a combination of all of that. There's gonna be like ten different drummers on this by the time it's all done. The record will have continuity even though there'll be a different drum sound and a completely different attitude to nearly every song. That was the challenge of the project – to record all the songs, but for them all to have their own identity and be nothing like the song before it. My dad's music is very strange and our music in comparison, is really nothing like it. We're more of a rock band. But we have a certain penchant for twisting things as far as we can twist them without losing someone's attention. We have our own guidelines for what that is. My dad has a crazy ability to write in any style and he doesn't care if he is going to lose someone's attention. He is committed to only his idea of what it will sound like. He doesn't care if someone else likes it. There's very few people performing music for the sake of playing music – and that's what is the best thing about music, if you have the opportunity to play live and create something that has not been created before given a certain environment. Improvisational music is completely hit or miss, and there's so little improvisation in popular music. So there's no life really. My father has been incredibly successful in terms of getting amazing performances in a live arena. There are so few bands that can go ahead and be recorded live and have anything worth listening to.

AZ: When we do a show, when the album is all done, we're going to try and bring back a show...

DZ: Or create a new style of show. With us, it's almost as much theatre as anything else because we'll incorporate whatever we're thinking about at that moment. Whatever happened that day that was funny, we like to bring it up onstage, talk about it, have fun with the audience; make a song about it. We'll play certain songs of ours half-steps apart, just wrong and out-of-tune, like Lou Reed or something, because we hate Lou Reed.

AZ: Let's just get this out in the public. Lou Reed is the world's biggest loser, the king of losers. He's commander of the losing side. You see, there is really a good reason why we hate Lou Reed.

Q: Does it relate to Frank at all?

AZ: Yes!

Q: Ah, we know about that. Here's an example of how far he took it. He was booked to play at the Hammersmith Odeon and when Frank got pushed offstage, he changed the venue to the Rainbow, he said, so that lie could look down at the point where Frank hit the ground.

AZ: That's why we hate Lou Reed!

Q: Why does he hate Frank so much?

DZ: Oh, it's because 'Freak Out!' was the first rock gatefold when the Velvet Underground were meant to have the first. Tom Wilson was involved with both camps and apparently Frank got in there first.

Ben W: Some time I'd really like to interview your dad, but I'm terrified he'll treat me like he does other British journalists.

DZ: They were really very unkind. He hates England. He never likes to come over here because of all that.

BW: Will you say that you were interviewed by the guy who had 'Out to Lunch' on his raincoat and introduced himself as Eric Dolphy and danced on stage at the Hammy Odeon; because that was me.

DH: I gave hint a book called 'Breeding From Your Poodle', which is society ladies showing how to make poodles fuck.

DZ: He talks about that book. He sat down reading it and he was killing himself. It had these little drawings.

(At about which point, the interview petered out as Ahmet wanted to go and get something to eat. Check out the news pages for the latest spoo on the Dweez's next waxing.)

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