"Serious Fan Mail"
FZ: We released a single from the album Ruben & The Jets—a song called "Deseri." And it made the Top 40, it became #39 on KIOA in Des Moines, Iowa. (Laughs.) But only because the label says "Ruben & The Jets," not "The Mothers Of Invention." The disc jockey there had never heard of The Mothers Of Invention, but he thought that Ruben & The Jets was a great new group. And we recently played in Philadelphia and a disc jockey in that city had explained to me that they had played the record— he knew who The Mothers were, but they had never announced that, uh, Ruben & The Jets was actually The Mothers. They had always been announcing the single under the name of Ruben & The Jets. They've been receiving SERIOUS FAN MAIL at that radio station, piles of which I have stashed in my suitcase, saying things like, "Ruben & The Jets is the greatest group since," uh, what was it? "Danny And The Juniors." (Laughs.) Makes you feel real good. (Laughs.)
FZ: Well, you know what happened when the first pressings of this record was sent out to radio stations it didn't say "Mothers Of Invention" on it, it said "Ruben & The Jets." There was no mention of the group. And that's probably why the record got played in the first place. It was only the second batch of pressings that had any credit to The Mothers Of Invention on the single. You see, when we send records to radio stations, especially radio stations in the South and Southwest, we sometimes receive them back. Chopped up. We've received several albums from radio stations in that area—they chop them up with a hatchet and put 'em in an envelope and send 'em back.
Warren Duffy: That's for real?
Warren Duffy: Can't believe it.
FZ: Well . . . You know how they are.
Warren Duffy: (Laughs.)
FZ: Well, I don't think that my intent is to be 100% radical all the time—We made Ruben & The Jets because I really love rhythm & blues. I like that kind of music. And I always wanted to make an album of it, you know. Ever since I was in high school. So, there it is!
FZ: In fact, an interesting anecdote might be inserted here about the time the album was sent to the program director at radio station KRLA in Los Angeles. Uh, he received a copy of the album which of course mentions the name "Mothers Of Invention" on it in small print, so he didn't— Uh, he wasn't fooled the way the other radio stations were fooled into playing our record. So, he knew that it was The Mothers Of Invention and therefore just put the album aside completely, you know, didn't even bother to listen to it. Until one night he was at home and he got drunk. And he decided, "What the heck, I'll play this thing and get these guys off my back." So he put it on the record player and heard that it was 1950s LOVE MUSIC. Woke his wife up and they danced all night to it, and he called the office the next day raving. You know, it affects the—he was about 29 years old—affects that age group very strongly, because they can remember that era, and have a lot of, uh, glandular-tinged nostalgia for that sort of music.
Warren Duffy: You say "they." Is that part of your era too?
FZ: Oh, of course! I happen to like the Ruben & The Jets album very much. I, uh— And I like that type of music and we're cutting another Ruben & The Jets album next week at Criteria Studios in Miami. We'll be sitting around there for a few days before we work a job in Miami, so we booked the studio and we're going in and record the songs in the same manner that they were recorded in the 50s. The Ruben & The Jets album was recorded in a very contemporary way, sort of track by track and very carefully stereo'd out and— uh, everything very organized. In the olden days they used to dump you into a room and stick a microphone somewhere in there and after a few hours of moving people around the room to get the proper balance, they would come up with a nice old-time rhythm & blues record. We're going to use more than one microphone at this next recording session but we do hope to record the band just all sitting around in the room and we're probably gonna make up some of the songs in the studio. Because after all boy-girl situations are timeless.
FZ: Well, I didn't make conscious imitations of vocal group styles but there are certain cliché elements that were directly lifted like, uh— There's part of the fade out from "Earth Angel" superimposed on part of The Rite Of Spring in one of those things. (Laughs.) And, uh— I think that the best harmonizing group from the old days was The Moonglows. They really had it down. But that wouldn't be one of my favorite groups because they were so sharp, you know, so precise that it was almost like they were unreal. You know? (Laughs.) I went for groups that really sang out of tune and really cried, like "Valarie" by Jackie & The Starlites is a real good one. (Laughs.)