Sandy: That'd be the punk rock thing. What do you think of all that stuff, like the Sex Pistols? Zappa: Well, I think that it definitely gave the writers of the rock 'n' roll publications something to write about, which is what they always want. And since what they do with their little typewriters and pencils has little or nothing to do with music, then the punk rock phenomenon was ideally suited to their talent and craftsmanship.
(Quoted from: Zappa Digs Sabs Shock!, 1978.)
Street: What do you think of punk rock?
Zappa: "I think it's gonna be the next great humiliator of the rock n' roll journalistic circuit."
Street: Do you think it's that already?
Zappa: "No, it hasn't reached the two front covers of Time and Newsweek with what's his name on the cover?"
Street: Johnny Rotten?
Zappa: "No. Who's the one they announced last year was gonna be the new Bob Dylan?"
Street: Not Iggy Pop.
Street: Richard Hell?
Zappa: "God, there's so many of them. The guy from New Jersey."
Zappa: "You've heard of Springsteen. Yeah."
Street: But do you really think he's part of punk rock?
Zappa: "I'm saying that along those some lines. He hits both covers of major magazines with rock journalists saying; "Yeah, this is it." It's all a hype. And then the next thing you know they call it punk rock and now those guys are gonna be writing about punk and how great it is. Unfortunately, a lot of people who are writing rock criticism today weren't around during the sixties or they'd already know that punk rock already happened folks. It was better already."
Street: "Do you think you can relate to the punk rock kids?"
Zappa: "What do you mean, relate to them?"
Street: "Do you think they'll come to your concerts?"
Zappa: "Do you think I could have a coherent conversation with somebody with a safety pin stuck in his cheek? I mean, aside from their speech impediments."
Street: "Do you think they'll buy your records?"
Zappa: "Probably not."
Fass: "Do you think the punk rock scene such as you see at CBGB's or the Bottom Line encourages prostitution?"
Street: "Do you think it encourages anarchy?"
Zappa: "No, I think it encourages buying the merchandise specified by peer group pressure in that particular trend. In other words, it encourages people to put safety pins in their cheeks; it encourages people to buy leather goods; it encourages people to look a certain way; it encourages people to purport to espouse a certain attitude towards things."
(Quoted from: Phi Zappa Crappa Interview:, 1978)
What did you think of punk?
Well I liked the attitude of punk, I didn't necessarily like it from a musical standpoint; it is anti-musical. The whole idea was we're gonna play shitty and fast and so what? The "so what?" part I always like. But anybody who's against music I don't like. I don't like people who smash instruments. I don't like the abuse of things that could produce beautiful results.
Did you ever make any punk records?
Oh sure, yeah.
(Quoted from Signs Of The Times)
References to punk in Zappa's work
- I'm So Cute is a parody of a punk song.
- Packard Goose: "All them rock 'n' roll writers is the worst kind of sleaze/selling punk like some new kind of English disease/Is that the way of the future/Oh spare me, please!"
- Tinsel Town Rebellion (The Track):
"But then they took some guy's advice
To get a record deal, he said
They would have to be more punk
Forget their chops and play real dumb
Or else they would be sunk"