They're Doing the Interview of the Century, Part 3

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By Den Simms, Eric Buxton, Rob Samler
Society Pages (US), September 1990
A four and a half hour chit-chat with Professor Zappa, Part 3, Part 1, Part 2

Ok, boys and girls. This is the third and final part of our December 22, 1989 interview with Professor Zappa. We spent four and a half hours chatting with uncle Frank in his basement listening room on a wide spectrum of topics. And the result was entertaining, enlightening, and funny as hell. We hope you have enjoyed it ...

Den Simms: The world's getting smaller all the time, isn't it?

Frank Zappa: Yeah, well, in some parts of America, the world is too small already. How about Pennsylvania, with this new law they just passed?

Den Simms: That was the abortion law.

Frank Zappa: No, they got another one about phonograph records.

Den Simms: No, I don't know about that.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. I Just did an interview with the LA. Times about it, just before you came in here. I'm not sure that it's gone all the way through the legislature yet, but so far, it looks like it's gonna pass. What it states is this: All records must be rated, and the rating must have been applied by the manufacturer – it's not like the record store can stick their own label on it – or they can't stock it. If a person stocks an unrated record, they can be criminally prosecuted, and so can the distributor.

Den Simms: I don't see how that could stand up [in court].

Frank Zappa: The fact is, the way they work this legislation is, they'll pass a bad law, and it will be the scourge of the area until there's a test case. Now, who's gonna be the test case ...

Den Simms: Who wants to be the guinea pig?

Frank Zappa: Who's gonna take it to the Supreme Court?

Den Simms: Yeah. What a hassle.

Frank Zappa: Once that's on the books there, I understand that there are attempts to pass the same kind of legislation in other states, so each state law is going to have to be challenged at the Supreme Court level.

Den Simms: What happened with Henry Cisneros (mayor of San Antonio Texas), and all that?

Frank Zappa: Henry Cisneros had a little embarrassing situation to his political career down there. Didn't he wind up having a girlfriend, or something, and have some political problems about a year ago? Yeah, I don't know what happened to his career.

Den Simms: But the health ordinance that he was ...

Frank Zappa: That's on the books, as far as I can tell.

Den Simms: So, I mean, down there, they can tell you that ...

Frank Zappa: It's unhealthful to go to rock [concerts]. [1]

Den Simms: Right. Until you're some certain age, or something.

Frank Zappa: I'm waiting for the people in this country to get smart enough to go our into the street to protest about what their governments are doing, y'know.

Den Simms: Yeah, sure. Well, it gets discouraging sometimes, doesn't it?

Frank Zappa: Yeah, it does, but you can see how, laying in bed in the middle of the night, looking at CNN, and this report comes in that [Nicolae] Ceauşescu, who is really a total asshole. Just got dumped out, I mean, oh, man, they really don't ...

Den Simms: He's a fugitive right now, isn't he?

Frank Zappa: Yeah. They don't know where he is. They think, maybe, China. He could be in North Korea. He could be in Iran. He could still be in Romania [2], but they just found the shallow grave of about forty-five hundred protesters, that were killed in that other, uh ... Timişoara, whatever ...

Den Simms: Yeah, yeah.

Frank Zappa: ... where they had the protest earlier in the week. He just told the army to gun these people down.

Den Simms: Y'know what I find kinda curious, is that China got so much coverage when that happened, but Romania was just sort of like, (said with nonchalance) "Yes, and two thousand people were supposedly killed", and there wasn't that much hoopla about it. I mean, I just wonder whether or not It's just that tendency for us to see something magnanimous on the news, and then you see it get repeated again, even though it's equally as heinous, or important, or whatever, and it's not that big a deal the second time around, whether it was that, or it doesn't matter what the reasons were.

Frank Zappa: No, I think that the news is managed in the United States just as it's managed in every other country. The people who control everything want to make sure that you have one focus, and the focus is PANAMA right now.

Den Simms: Of course.

Frank Zappa: Unless you're watching CNN, and the focus is two things. It's Panama, and cold weather. (laughter) That's what you get, so, you have to learn to read between the lines.

Den Simms: Right. OK. Let's go back to music. I've said that a few times tonight. What can you tell us about these exotic items: 'Remington Electric Razor', with Linda Ronstadt?

Frank Zappa: In 1967, we were living in New York, and I got a request from an advertising agency. See, I did one commercial in '67 for Luden's Cough Drops, and that got an award. It got a CLIO for the best music in a commercial in '67. Then I got this request from Remington. They were looking for some kind of a 'new sound' for their commercials. (laughter) So, Linda Ronstadt happened to be managed by Herb Cohen, who was our manager at the time, and they supplied me with this advertising copy, and they wanted music for it. So, Ian Underwood and I put together this track, and Linda did the vocal on top of it, and we made a demo. They paid a thousand dollars for the demo, and that was the last I ever heard from 'em. They didn't like what I did.

Den Simms: Needless to say, they balked on doing anything with it in terms of actually, y'know, using it on the radio, or something like that.

Frank Zappa: They never did it. No. It was a funny commercial, though.

Den Simms: Yeah.

Eric Buxton: Do you have the CLIO?

Frank Zappa: No.

Eric Buxton: Was it presented to you?

Frank Zappa: No, I found out about it after the fact. I mean, they don't invite me to CLIO ceremonies, but the advertising agency that did it, y'know, they told me that it got a CLIO.

Den Simms: What can you tell us about the [Mt.] Saint Mary's College [in Claremont, California] performance of tapes and stuff that you did?

Frank Zappa: Well, I can tell you that it was the first time that I was forced to spend my own money to hear my music performed. That concert cost me three hundred dollars. Three hundred 1962 dollars, which was a lot of money then.

Den Simms: Yeah.

Frank Zappa: The event was recorded by KPFK [Los Angeles]. I think they've run [the tape] few times.

Den Simms: How many people attended that?

Frank Zappa: Maybe ... two hundred.

Den Simms: It was, like, a college type thing.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, it was a small college auditorium thing.

Den Simms: D'you have any remembrances of what their reaction to it was?

Frank Zappa: A combination of amusement and bafflement, (laughter) which was totally appropriate.

Den Simms: Right. I've heard a recording of 'Sad Jane', for two pianos. I believe it was something that was done over Dutch radio. (To Rob) I think that's where it's from.

Rob Samler: Um-hm.

Frank Zappa: Really?

Den Simms: Yeah, and it was really pretty. Really a nice job on it. I was quite impressed, and I just wondered if you knew anything about it, or had any idea what it was about, or anything.

Frank Zappa: Well, let me just say this, that they never applied for a license to perform it, and they never paid me for performing it or recording it.

Den Simms: (to Eric and Rob) Speaking of performance licenses, what was the question from the guys in Belgium?

Eric Buxton: In Brussels. Do you remember when I came over [last May]. before I was headed over there, and you said. "It was a surprise to me, because they never applied for any rights or anything.?" Did you get paid yet for that. do you know, for the performance in Brussels? [3] They say, adamantly, that they paid all the proper people over there, and it might just be a ...

Frank Zappa: Well. I don't know who they paid over there, but none of it ever came to me.

Den Simms: (to Rob) Read the question as it's stated, can you?

Rob Samler: "Have you received your performance rights from Brussels. May, '89? They were paid."

Frank Zappa: No. In fact, I was not notified that there was even a performance, and we received nothing.

Den Simms: You've confused some of your listeners with another thing, which is a medley, which you called 'Farther O'Blivion', which would usually be done in concerts in which you were also doing a song called 'Father O'Blivion. So, there's been lots of people, who aren't really listening real closely, that get them mixed up. What was the reason for the title of 'Farther O'Blivion'?

Frank Zappa: Well. 'Father O'Blivion' is a character in ...

Den Simms: Right ...

Frank Zappa: ... 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow'.

Den Simms: ... 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow'. How 'bout 'Farther O'Blivion', the medley?

Frank Zappa: That was originally done with the '72 Petite Wazoo band, and part of that medley turned into the song 'Cucamonga', on 'Bongo Fury', and the other part turned into 'Be-Bop Tango'.

Den Simms: There's a beginning part to it which was part of 'Greggery Peccary', which I tend to think of as the 'steno pool' section.

Frank Zappa: It is.

Den Simms: What was the relationship between that medley and 'Father O'Blivion', the reason for the similarity of those two titles?

Frank Zappa: None whatsoever.

Den Simms: None?

Frank Zappa: No, It's ... all these are arbitrary decisions that you make, because if you write a piece of music, how is it finally going to be deployed on a record? Sometimes the way the thing is originally conceived, the idea mutates, and you do something else with it, but you gotta call it something, otherwise you can't tell the guys in the band, "Get out the music for ... you remember that one that has the ... " (laughter) You gotta give it a name.

Den Simms: Right. The reason why I ask questions like that is because, y'know, quite often ...

Frank Zappa: People wanna know.

Den Simms: ... there's some arcane reason for this. The example that makes me laugh so much is a recent interview in which you gave the reason for the title of the song 'Damp Ankles' [4], which is hilariously funny.

Frank Zappa: It's true!

Den Simms: Yeah. So, quite often there's reasons like that, but on the other hand, quite often there's no reason in particular. So, it's nice for somebody that wants to try to put things in historical perspective to be able to weed through these things. So, I hope you're bearing with me on some of this stuff.

Frank Zappa: Naw, it doesn't bother me. I think 'Damp Ankles' would make a great ballet.

Eric Buxton: What did you get for your birthday?

Frank Zappa: Well, Gail gave me a very beautiful black overcoat, and a new black suit, and Dweezil got me ...

(Gail enters the room)

Den Simms: Speaking of which ...

Frank Zappa: Hi, Doll!

Gail Zappa: Hi. I didn't know you had ...

Den Simms: Hi, there.

Gail Zappa: Did you meet the little ...

Frank Zappa: Oh, it's so cute!

Gail Zappa: ... the little princess?

Frank Zappa: Yes ... Breezer. [5] (laughter)

Gail Zappa: Oh, Breezer. Did she ... ?

Frank Zappa: She breezed us. (laughter) Yeah.

Gail Zappa: Oh, God. Well, you've been breezed.

Frank Zappa: Yes.

Gail Zappa: It happened twice in the car.

Frank Zappa: It's SO adorable.

Gail Zappa: Do you know what it's like with a car full of teenage guys ...

Frank Zappa: And a Breezer..

Gail Zappa: ... and a small dog, and it's like, all of the windows suddenly open, and heads went flying. It was scary.

Frank Zappa: Everybody making sort of gakking noises?

Gail Zappa: Oh! Frightening. But, did you hear the story about the dog running ... uh, they opened a door, or something, inside the shop, and the dog ran out and into the beverage center ...

Frank Zappa: No.

Gail Zappa: ... and it found Jay.

Frank Zappa: Well, of course, it did.

Gail Zappa: (laughs) It was so extraordinary! There's a guy looking out of the store, and saying "Where's the dog?", and Jay's sayin', "It's out here." He's going, "Hey! Here's the dog.", 'cause Ahmet had it. He was playing with it, and the girl says, "Oh, he's kidding.", and I said, "I don't think so." (laughs) It was so funny. They didn't have a dog to deliver.

Frank Zappa: I'm glad you got it.

Gail Zappa: She's very cute.

Frank Zappa: It's such a pretty dog.

Gail Zappa: So, what are you guys doing?

Den Simms: We're doin' an interview.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. They're doing the interview of the century, and, of course, if you'll notice, Eric Buxton has performed a miracle in the corner there. [6]

Gail Zappa: I noticed that, and that's so wonderful, because y'know what? I was going to replace that tree deftly, without telling anyone.

Frank Zappa: With empty space?

Gail Zappa: No, no. I was gonna get another (laughs) tree.

Eric Buxton: Another one, and let's start the whole cycle over again. (laughter)

Gail Zappa: I was going to get another tree tomorrow, fix it all up, so you could have your Christmas tree.

Frank Zappa: No, I wouldn't notice. At least it's fulfilled its destiny, and y'know, what better way, than at the hands of Eric Buxton.

Eric Buxton: I mean, it's not a bad job.

Frank Zappa: I think it's a great job.

Den Simms: You did quite well, Eric.

Gail Zappa: Did you guys bring some ... oh, yeah. You have ornaments and stuff.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. They walked in with a bag of lights and some ornaments, and ...

Gail Zappa: Really?

Frank Zappa: No. (laughter)

Gail Zappa: So, the little dog has a little cage.

Frank Zappa: Yeah? Well, how's Dogess like it?

Gail Zappa: Oh, Dogess seemed to like it immediately.

Frank Zappa: What about Fighty-Bitey batting it around?

Gail Zappa: Fighty-Bitey is all fluffed up and ready.

(At this point, Eric hands one of the first Society Pages advertising flyers to Gail for her to look at)

Gail Zappa: What a scary [picture] of you that is.

Den Simms: That's what I thought.

Eric Buxton: We were thinking of replacing that, maybe with the cover of 'Broadway The Hard Way'.

Den Simms: Yeah, the facial expression that you have on the picture from 'Broadway The Hard Way' is one of my favorite pictures of you, 'cause to me, it makes you look like the Frank Zappa that I think of you as, which is a nice guy, with kind of a nice smile, and looking sort of bemused, y'know. That particular photo [from the flyer] kind of looks sinister.

Frank Zappa: That particular photo looks like it would be more ideal for the Czechoslovakian branch of the fan club.

ALL: (laughter)

Eric Buxton: Well, then I guess it's unanimous. We'll change the photo.

Den Simms: So, that's going to be replaced.

Eric Buxton: Luckily we didn't mail too many of them.

Den Simms: OK. Here's another question. What is the Booger Bear? What is the significance of Marty Perellis, the dog, and the two Booger Bears? Who is Rashid, and what is Do-Do room service? [7]

Frank Zappa: OK. Well, that's a lot of questions.

Den Simms: They kind of all go together.

Frank Zappa: A Booger Bear is an extremely ugly anything, and a Booger is short for Booger Bear, in the parlance of that '73 band. Perellis was our road manager, and there was an occasion where he met some girl, I think it was in Memphis, who had a great Dane. Apparently, this girl, uh, liked to do things in conjunction with the great Dane, and Marty brought the girl and the dog to his room, and that's how that ...

Den Simms: That's the legend of that. Yeah. How about Rashid?

Frank Zappa: Rashid is George Duke's son, right?

Gail Zappa: Yeah, that's the only significance that I know of. I like that, you're asking this. It's your interview.

Frank Zappa: I just wanted to check. I thought that that's what ...

Eric Buxton: We want to set up an interview with you later on, early next year, maybe.

Gail Zappa: All right, maybe. If you change the picture.

Eric Buxton: (laughs) OK.

Gail Zappa: (laughs) Or at least fix the nose.

Eric Buxton: And we'll send you a copy of our mailing list as soon as we get it organized. Trade you your list for ours.

Gail Zappa: I don't think so.

Eric Buxton: (laughs) I know, but Jim mentioned that you'd like it, and we'd be glad to give it to you.

Gail Zappa: Oh, yeah.

Den Simms: Lastly, Do-Do room service.

Frank Zappa: The room service routine is something that we used to do in 'Pygmy Twylyte'.

Den Simms: Does it just stem from adventures that you had while on the road, concerning room service?

Frank Zappa: Yeah, the whole idea of Do-Do room service is something that Napoleon came up with, and I don't know where that stems from.

Gail Zappa: Dogs, probably.

Frank Zappa: That's probably what it was, yeah. Oh, I could tell ya another story that ... I don't know whether that's where that actually came from, but it shoulda been. (laughter) Perellis had another girlfriend, that he met in Ohio, who had a cockapoo.

Den Simms: It's one of those dogs that you can't tell which end is the front, right? Yeah.

Frank Zappa: Well, I believe we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the girl, the cockapoo, and Perellis were in a Holiday Inn, and, uh, it was discovered that the cockapoo had worms, and this was Sunday. So, in an emergency effort, he wanted to do something about the dog's worms, and called a veterinarian. I don't know how he managed to do all this, but the net result was, they recommended that they give the dog a Fleet enema ... in the bathtub.

Den Simms: A what enema?

Frank Zappa: Fleet. It's one of those prepackaged chemical enemas that you buy at the store. By the way, Fleet enemas are manufactured in Lynchburg, Virginia. (laughter)

Den Simms: I saw that show. [8] That was pretty funny ...

Frank Zappa: So, they wound up (laughs) filling this bathtub with dog do-do and worms, (much laughter) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

ALL: (laughter)

Frank Zappa: Marty and his folklore was often directly connected to dogs.

Rob Samler: Do you think you'll have any tapes to put any further adventures of Marty and the dogs out in the future? Yeah. You did some of that on a videotape, I guess, with 'Dub Room [Special]', right?

Frank Zappa: The further adventures of Marty and the dogs?

Rob Samler: Yeah, and the Booger Bears.

Den Simms: Well, the Do-Do Room Service, I think, is what I'm thinkin' of, on video ... on 'Dub Room'.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, it's on 'The Dub Room Special', but, um ... there's a sequel to that thing that was recorded in New Jersey! [9]

Rob Samler: Right. The 'Ruthie, Ruthie' ...

Frank Zappa: Yeah, that whole medley, there. That went on for two shows, and there was a follow-up there, a conclusion of the Booger Bear story, that's coming out on another one of the ['You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore' volumes].

Rob Samler: Yeah, 'cause it seems like a lot of those '74 shows, in the introduction to 'Dupree's Paradise', George Duke would ...

Frank Zappa: Do a lot of stuff.

Rob Samler: ... go on with that. Some really funny stuff.

Den Simms: Did Tom Waits ever appear on stage. or were the references to that, that I've heard on a couple of tapes, just joking references?

Frank Zappa: He used to be our opening act, 'cause he used to be managed by Herb Cohen.

Den Simms: Ahh. I see. OK. During 'Broken Hearts Are For Assholes', that dialogue section that comes in the center ...

Frank Zappa: Um-hm.

Den Simms: ... there's a reference to somebody named Buddy Love. Who is Buddy Love?

Frank Zappa: Buddy Love is the character that Jerry Lewis played in that ... scientist movie.

(Gail returns with a new Honker Home Video promotional flyer)

Gail Zappa: These are hot off the presses.

Rob Samler: Oh, thanks.

Den Simms: Thank you. Oh, great!

Gail Zappa: For you fetishists.

Frank Zappa: Oh, thank you.

Den Simms: Yeah, everybody's anxious to see this.

Frank Zappa: Nice Job!

Gail Zappa: Um-hm. Do you want a coffee, or something?

Frank Zappa: I was gonna say, I just made a pot of coffee in there, and since I've got this thing pinned on me, could you bring me a cup?

Gail Zappa: Yes.

Den Simms: Yeah, again, you're being exceedingly gracious with giving us, not only your time, but giving us this BIG HUNK of your time here, and ...

Frank Zappa: Hey, if you want to do something, do it right.

Den Simms: ... yeah. Good. We're really grateful for it.

Frank Zappa: All right. Buddy Love, the nutty professor. Isn't that the character that Jerry Lewis turns into when he drinks the potion? (laughter)

Den Simms: Yeah, I've seen that.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: Maybe, like, with the two buck teeth?

Frank Zappa: Yeah, yeah. Patrick O'Hearn is the one responsible for all the Buddy Love stuff.

Den Simms: Right. I recognized his voice as being the one saying that. How about the involvement with Lisa Popeil? How did that come about?

Frank Zappa: She auditioned for the band one day when we were trying out drummers (To Gail) Thank you very much [for the coffee].

Gail Zappa: See ya.

Frank Zappa: OK. Gimme a kiss.

Gail Zappa: Ummm

Frank Zappa and Gail Zappa: (SMACK!)

Gail Zappa: Thanks for doing the tree.

Eric Buxton: You're welcome.

Frank Zappa: Lisa had, at the time, a boyfriend, who was a drummer. We were having an open call for drummers. This was when we were auditioning, when Chad got the job. So, when her boyfriend showed up to audition for the job, Tommy got into a conversation with her, and came over to me, and told me, "This girl says she can play the piano, and sing, and sight read, and all this stuff. Why don't you try her out?" I said, "OK. I will." Her boyfriend didn't get the drummer job, but she could play. She could sight sing. I handed her the music for 'Be-Bop Tango'. She sight sang it!

Den Simms: Wow!

Frank Zappa: And, y'know, she's a skilled musician. So, I said, "I'll consider putting a girl in the band again, why not?" And so, she attended a few of the rehearsals, I guess for about a week. and there were some things that she could do, and do very well, and other things that she couldn't, and it just turned out that there were more of the things that she couldn't do, that we needed, for a second keyboard position in the band, that it, y'know, just didn't work out.

Den Simms: That position ultimately went to Bobby Martin.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: I heard on a tape that was made from the show that you guys did, where she appeared in Santa Monica [10], and during that segment that she did her thing, where she sort of told her life story, there was some reference in there that gave me the impression that there was ... some reference to Scott that gave me an impression that there was ... something

Frank Zappa: Some hanky and panky going on?

Den Simms: Some hanky and panky in there.

Frank Zappa: I think you better talk to Scott about that.

Den Simms: Talk to Scott on that, huh? (laughs) All right.

Frank Zappa: It's called unverified hanky panky.

Den Simms: Sure.

Rob Samler: Did you hear something that Scott got married recently?

Frank Zappa: Yes he did, and he has a very lovely wife. She's German, and she was over here just the other day. Her name is Ute [11], and she's great.

Rob Samler: That's good.

Den Simms: Congratulations, Scott [and Ute]. Tell us about something that happened with Smothers putting cheese in Arthur's suitcase.

Frank Zappa: Well. Arthur and Smothers didn't get along, and, uh there's this legendary cheese that we experience when we go to Denmark. It's some of the worst smelling stuff on the planet, that you will often find laid out for breakfast at the Palace Hotel in Copenhagen, and it's lethal stuff. (laughter) I can't remember exactly what Arthur did that pissed John off. I can't remember what it was, but the revenge was John threatened to get a quantity of this cheese, and since John often was working with the bag boy to coordinate the luggage, he was gonna slip some of this cheese in on top of Arthur's clothes for the trip back to the United States, therefore rendering them radioactive by the time they arrived.

ALL: (much laughter)

Den Simms: Did Smothers have much of a tendency for practical joking and such, while on the road?

Frank Zappa: Ahh, yes. He was a practical joker, that's for sure. I've even got some videotape of Smothers doing practical jokes.

Den Simms: How did your association with Smothers come about? Was he just somebody that you hired?

Frank Zappa: Perellis know Smothers from Baltimore. Perellis is also from Baltimore. When I first started carrying a bodyguard, I had tried out two ... let's see ... no, I had three bodyguards before Smothers. The first one was a guy named Newmar, who lost the job because on one occasion, he took a fan, who'd tried to jump onstage, I mean, some menial little transgression, and took him out in back of the place, and beat him up, (laughter) and, y'know, I thought, "This is totally uncalled for."

Den Simms: That's overkill.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, way-overkill. So, he got fired. Newmar was an off duty LAPD, and then, the next guy was another LAPD, except he was a Jehovah's Witness ...

Den Simms: Oh ... (chuckles)

Frank Zappa: ... and when you have to spend a lot of time with these guys ... and I couldn't handle that guy y'know. He didn't last long.

Den Simms: I'm surprised that it's not that he couldn't handle you, y'know. I mean, y'know, you understand why I'm saying that ...

Frank Zappa: Well. I mean, y'know, he just had to grin and bear it.

Den Simms: The Jehovah's Witnesses that I've met have been so devoted. I mean, they are a pretty devoted bunch, to their religion, and, uh, I'm surprised that somebody that would be that devoted would be willing to have that sort of a job for a paycheck. That kind of surprises me.

Frank Zappa: (chuckle) A buck's a buck.

Den Simms: A buck's a buck.

Frank Zappa: Then, another guy, who was really a great bodyguard, and I wish I could remember his name, he was only with me for a short time, but he used to sing in a rhythm 'n blues group called "The Calvanes", on Dootone, and he recorded a song called "Florabelle", which I have in my collection. His name is Bob. I can't remember his last name. Bob was a good guy. We used to sit in the dressing room, and sing doo-wop tunes together, but he wasn't available anymore, and couldn't do it anymore. And then, I got another guy named ... John, who was the brother ... of a girl that I went to high school with in Lancaster ...

Den Simms: These must've been have been all through the early seventies.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, and he contributed a little folklore. He was the one who cane up with 'swimp', and, uh ...

Den Simms: With what?

Frank Zappa: 'Swimp'.

Den Simms: Can you explain that?

Frank Zappa: Well, there is a language called Gullah. D'ya know what that is?

Den Simms: Never heard of it.

Frank Zappa: Gullah is that black dialect, that Negro dialect that is repeated most constantly. It comes from this language called Gullah. They have different words for different things, and different pronunciations and 'swimp' is 'shrimp'. They call 'em 'swimp'. His language was very Gullah, and so, I was introduced into the concept of 'swimp'. The other thing that guy was famous for was he liked to fuck Holiday Inn maids with hairy legs.

ALL: (laughter)

Frank Zappa: And, the idea that, uh ... y'know, to imagine this guy in the morning, when the maid knocks on your door, and you have to get up too early, and he would be dragging one of these women into the room, and, y'know, strapping her on before he got on the bus, and telling everybody how hairy her legs were, scratching his back, and all this weird shit. (laughter) Quite a guy. Then, along came Smothers. At first, at the beginning of the tour, he thought I was crazy. He tried to go home. He tried to get out of the job. But, he stayed with me for ten or eleven years. [12]

Den Simms: So, speaking of Smothers, what is 'the Falcum'?

Frank Zappa: Well, that also goes back to Copenhagen. Now, John also has a mysterious command of the English language ...

Den Simms: Sure.

Frank Zappa: ... as we all know. Once upon a time, on his first trip to Copenhagen, we were playing at a place called the Falkoner Center ...

Den Simms: Sure.

Frank Zappa: ... and we didn't have a limousine. I had to take a cab to the place. We get in the car. It's just this little tiny car, (laughter) not a Fiat, but maybe, slightly larger than a Fiat. You know how big John is ...

Den Simms: Sure.

Frank Zappa: ... and it's a cab, and the driver is Danish, and he doesn't speak English. I get in the back, and John gets in the front, and the cab driver is just sittin' there, 'cause he doesn't know where to go, and John finally realizes that he must tell the driver where to go, so, he just turns to him, and goes, "FALCUM." (laughter), and the guy looks at him, y'know, kinda lookin' up like this, and John goes, "FALCUM."

ALL: (laughter)

Frank Zappa: ... and the guy DOESN'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON. And then, John gets vehement. He goes, "TAKE ME TO THE FALCUM!"

ALL: (laughter)

Frank Zappa: And the driver jumped out of the car

ALL: (hysterical laughter)

Frank Zappa: ... and ran into the lobby of the hotel to ask the guy in Danish at the desk (laughs) what the fuck is going on.

ALL: (much laughter)

Den Simms: That's a good story.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: I imagine John provided you guys with lots of entertaining anecdotes over the years. He's a unique individual.

Frank Zappa: Oh, yeah. One of my favorites was on the last tour [13] that he did with us. We were driving in, I guess it was in Germany, in the middle of the night. coming back from the gig, and we're passing a corrugated aluminum building, and he hasn't been talking much, 'cause I found out after the tour that he was very ill. He had, uh, diabetes, and he had a bleeding ulcer. At the end of the tour, he went into the hospital, and y'know, had to have his ulcer taken care of, and he never said anything about it during the tour. So, here we are, driving along. Everybody's quiet, and he sees this corrugated aluminum building. Now, if you were in a car, you probably wouldn't even pay any attention to a regular old corrugated aluminum building. John looks at it, and goes, "LUMIUM ADELOIDS!"

ALL: (laughter)

Frank Zappa: (laughs) You figure it out! (laughter) LUMIUM ADELOIDS.

Den Simms: (laughs) That's pretty funny. Oh, my.

Rob Samler: What about the project for Lyon, France, and the orchestra?

Frank Zappa: That's this June or July. [14] They're gonna do it. They've got the scores.

Rob Samler: Are you gonna be there for it?

Frank Zappa: Yes, I'm supposed to go there to produce the recording, 'cause they're going to record 'Sinister Footwear'.

Rob Samler: Hmm. Great.

Eric Buxton: Is there gonna be a public performance of it?

Frank Zappa: Yep, and the ballet will choreograph it, and then, the tapes will be used for this ballet company to tour with it. They'll dance to the tape.

Eric Buxton: Let's hope we can all attend the opening.

Frank Zappa: In France?

Eric Buxton: Sure.

Frank Zappa: (chuckles) All right! (laughter) Well ...

Eric Buxton: [Rob and I] just flew here ...

Frank Zappa: Yeah, I know ...

Den Simms: It's easier for these guys on the east coast. I live up near San Francisco, so it's a little harder for me to get all the way across to do that. OK. During performances of the 'Torture Never Stops', 'Pick Me, I'm Clean', and other songs, I guess in the late seventies [15], you would, quite often, do a solo with erotic female sounds coming from the P.A. Perhaps you can settle a long-time rumor. Who's that voice?

Frank Zappa: I can't tell you.

Den Simms: All right.

Frank Zappa: Let's just call 'em field recordings.

Eric Buxton: Should've played a tape of Denise.

Frank Zappa: Of who?

Eric Buxton: Denise.

Den Simms: This woman friend of mine, who's putting us up while we're here in L.A. This lady has this sound that she makes at The Grateful Dead concerts, which is ... when you were doin' the tour in '88, at the time that I was thinkin' of the tour and when it would get to the west coast, I really badly wanted to introduce this lady to you, and unbeknownst to her, say, "Denise. You gotta do your sound for Frank. He's gotta hear this.", and I would even imagine you, y'know. makin' a ...

Frank Zappa: A sample of it?

Den Simms: ... sample of it, 'cause the sound that she makes is so unique. I would describe it as a female Tarzan at the moment of climax.

Frank Zappa: (laughs loudly) And she does this for The Grateful Dead?

Den Simms: She does it when she goes to Dead shows, when they're comin' out for a set, and there's this kind of lull after the crowd has cheered

Frank Zappa: And the blue smoke is about here? (laughter)

Den Simms: Right, and they're just about ready to start playing. If you know, at Grateful Dead shows, they allow people to tape their shows.

Frank Zappa: Um-hm.

Den Simms: So, there's this thing called the 'taping section'. When we go see the Grateful Dead, we sit in an area of the seating which is always kinda near where the people tape. We have a tendency to wanna sit in a place in the hall where it's gonna sound good, so we have a tendency to be near those people with their microphones. At that point, she always let's out with her (Den lamely attempts to imitate Denise), and does this sound, and like, forty of these microphone beladened Deadhead tapers will all turn simultaneously, and look at her, and go, "G-R-R-R-R!" (laughs) It's just a thing that's happened ever the years that's pretty funny.

Frank Zappa: Um-hm. I'm sure I'll hear it one day.

Rob Samler: In the future, would you ever consider allowing the taping section at your concerts?

Frank Zappa: Probably not. Probably not, because I think that the privileged would be abused.

Rob Samler: Yeah, but you realize that there's no way to stop it anyway, right?

Frank Zappa: Well, we've done everything that we could in (laughs) the past.

Rob Samler: Well, even metal detectors don't stop people from gettin' tape recorders in.

Frank Zappa: Well, one real way to stop it is to not play live. That stops it, y'know.

Agency Man
Sell us a president, Agency Man
Smiling big brothers and fathers perhaps
Sell us a president, Agency Man
A gay smiling nothing we know never craps
(One, two, three, four)
(Ba-bum-bum, ba-bum-bum, ba-bum-bum,
Bum-bum, ba-bum-bum, ba-bum-bum,
Ba-bum-bum-bum-bum, etc.)
When he's closed the schools and
Burned the books the way we planned,
We'll get the press together
With the Barry Sadler Band
(La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la, etc.)
With lots to drink from nine o'clock
They'll all be bombed by ten
We'll reveal he's bound for Washington
And sell him once again
Rump-pump-pump-pump, etc.)
We'll sell him in the movie's,
On the tube throughout the year
We'll sell him by the buckets
To the Okies drinking beer
We'll teach him how to walk and talk,
We'll putty up his chin
We'll print his picture everywhere,
Of course the shmuck will win
People are a lot of pigs,
They're greedy and they're dumb
I'm sure that's just a simple truth, Look how far he's come
From the heart of old Death Valley
To the ruling of our land
A simple trick, you simple pigs,
Just the way we planned

Den Simms: Obviously. Well, the thing that has allowed the them to have some success, and have that work out, for Grateful Dead, as an example, is the fact that they tour constantly, and it's part of the scene that goes along with their whole deal, and in the long run, with them, because they are a constantly touring entity, and because over the years, there's been recording after recording after recording made by dozens of these people in the audience, the one thing that has done really good for them, in an economic way, is. It has put bootleg albums of the Grateful Dead into the realm of the past. There's no reason for them to exist, because somebody can always pick up a cassette somewhere. That's the one real positive aspect that they've gotten out of it. I've thought about that, in terms of you.

Frank Zappa: Um-hm.

Den Simms: The one thing that you have in common with that band is the fact that there's a lot of improvisation that goes on. No show is the same. But the one limiting aspect to it is how much touring happens.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. Well, the other thing is how much they do overseas, or how much, uh I think that ... the real answer is ... I wouldn't consider it.

Den Simms: OK. Here's something completely unrelated to that. Is Oliver North the modern day Agency Man?

Frank Zappa: No. Agency Man is about advertising agencies selling political candidates, and Oliver North is not that character.

Den Simms: OK. I have to plead guilty to not listening closely. I'd always thought that Agency Man had something to do with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Frank Zappa: Well that's another meaning for it, but the original ... the song was written because at a certain point in American political history, politicians discovered Madison Avenue, and it changed the face of American politics. Because the Republicans always had more money that the Democrats, they were the first to hire a real Madison Avenue agency. I believe it was BBD&O, Batten, Barton, Durston, and Osborne, (laughter) that took on the Republican campaign. I think it was for the Nixon campaign. The amount of money they started to spend on the campaign became science fiction.

Den Simms: Sure.

Frank Zappa: That was the beginning of what we have now.

Den Simms: Yeah. Nixon's campaign machine really pioneered what we have today.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. What we have today, and how 'terrific' it is.

Den Simms: Right.

Frank Zappa: So, that's where it came from, the idea that instead of dealing with the issues, you're just dealing with the candidate as a product "Sell us a president. Agency Man."

Den Simms: I've seen some photos taken from some sort of a photo session ... I'll state the question over again. I saw some photos, I believe, in High Times, from a photo session which there's a bunch of potted plants and you, clad in, like, leopard skin underwear with topless harem girls, and all that.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: What was that photo session about?

Frank Zappa: That was done in Amsterdam in the early seventies. It was just a stupid photo session.

Den Simms: Right. Pretty funny photos.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. Most of the girls were probably from the places with the little windows ...

ALL: (laughter)

Eric Buxton: The picture of Baby Snakes, with the girl with the tongue. Is that just a model, or is that someones ...

Frank Zappa: That was the make-up girl.

Eric Buxton: That was the make-up girl.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, It was a candid shot, y'know. She Just happened to have her tongue stickin' out when she was touchin' up my make-up on the thing.

Rob Samler: Oh. and that's why she's got, like, a little white patch of make-up smudged or something?

Frank Zappa: Yeah, yeah.

Den Simms: What ever happened to the contingency suit that was supposedly filed by several ex-Mothers?

Frank Zappa: It is going to arbitration, and It's not gonna go to court. It's gonna be arbitrated, and it's coming up very soon. [16]

Den Simms: OK. So, that should be sometime in the future. All right.

Rob Samler: How 'bout this one? In 1988, after the show on Hamburg, did you jam in a club, or something?

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Rob Samler: D'you remember the name of the club?

Frank Zappa: Oh ... no. I don't.

Rob Samler: My friend from Germany wanted me to ask you that.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, we did jam. We've done that a couple of times. We did practically, well, three quarters of our live show at a place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after the concert at the Chrysler Auditorium there one night. We went to this fabulous club, and just went in there, and ... it was the band with Napoleon and Bozzio. We went in there, and just did our show.

Rob Samler: Wow! Never heard about that one.

Frank Zappa: That'd be a great bootleg tape, wouldn't it?

Den Simms: That'd be a great one. Um ... have you tried doing any serial music with the Synclavier? It seems to me, like, with the computer technology, you could do some programming, and sort of sit back and see what the result is. Have you tried anything like that?

Frank Zappa: Oh, yeah. I've done that. Sure.

Den Simms: And what was the result?

Frank Zappa: The result is it's serial music without most of the eyestrain and brainstrain. If you like the way serial music sounds, you know, you can do it

Den Simms: Do you think that, uh ... well, certainly, I don't claim to be an aficionado of serial music. I'm aware of what it is, and all that, but y'know, I don't ...

Frank Zappa: There's certain serial procedures that you can use for tonal music, too, and I do that all the time, but, y'know, strictly serial music, that's not my realm.

Den Simms: Right.

Frank Zappa: I tried that when I was in high school

Den Simms: Strictly adhering to that recipe.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. I gave up on that, because I'm not that kind of a structured guy. I think that the important thing to remember to keep in mind is whether you'll like the piece when you listen to it, and however you got it to sound that way is irrelevant.

Den Simms: So, your tendency is to just hear things in your head, and put it on the page, or type it out on the keyboard, or hum it to the guys in the band, and do it that way.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, and if I don't like the result of what I told them to do, then I change it, until I can tolerate it.

Den Simms: Have you ever done a live show in which it felt to you like things were going badly, and at the time it was happening, you were not satisfied at all with the result, and then, subsequently listened to a tape recording that you'd made of it, and ...

Frank Zappa: Two or three times.

Den Simms: ... found out that the result was something that was worthwhile?

Frank Zappa: Yes, two or three times. But usually, if I think it's going badly, I am right. The only time that I will get that kinda surprise is if you're playing in a hall where the acoustics are so bad that you literally can't tell what the fuck you're doing onstage, but sometimes, when you listen to the tape afterwards, because of the way microphones work, and the fact that in a multi-track mix you can turn off the ambience, you can hear that certain things are good. The concert in Metz, [France], is a good example of that, because the hall was terrible, but in listening to the tapes, there were two or three selections from that that I've used in albums. [17]

Den Simms: Yeah, I always kind of wondered, because you had written about the acoustical quality of that facility in liner notes of things that you subsequently used, and I kind of wondered what would be the circumstances that would lead to something that seemed like that bad of an environment, yet something came out of it worthwhile ...

Frank Zappa: Because you literally can't tell while you're doing it all the time. I mean, you can tell by feel, and often, everybody on the stage hears a different thing. That's just the way acoustics are ...

Den Simms: Absolutely.

Frank Zappa: ... and if a guy's in a position where he really ... he's just going on muscle memory, he can't tell what he's playing, he can't hear what he's singing. he's depressed, because everybody in the band likes to feel like they're into it, and doing a good job, but the remarkable thing is that the way the guys in the band have been trained, they can go on muscle memory in situations like that, and finish the show, and then, we can all be surprised, after the fact, how well things will turn out when you're performing in adverse circumstances.

Den Simms: Lemme ask you this too. During the improvisational section that'll come in a song like 'Pound For A Brown ... ' or 'King Kong', one of those sections, are there any times when that pulse which is commonly thought of as being the 'one', when you're playing a solo and that pulse gets lost ...

Frank Zappa: Sure.

Den Simms: Generally, how do you react to that? Do you get distressed by that, or do you find that to be another element of music that you can work with in some capacity, or just, what happens?

Frank Zappa: Both. I get distressed, because I know when they lose the one, that means when I give the cue to come back in to the rest of song, there's gonna be a train wreck, (laughter) and also, when they lose the one, y'know, it's a license to kill in the middle of the solo in some ways. You just do whatever the fuck you want, because everybody's out there in the zones. But, the thing you always have to be concerned about is how you're gonna end it. Where ya gonna go when its all done?

Den Simms: That's right.

Frank Zappa: You have to keep some sort of logic to it.

Den Simms: Have you ever worked out any kinds of procedures with bands, in which there's, more or less, a contingency for that happening?

Frank Zappa: Sure. You wait. You wait, and then, you give one big massive downbeat. It's messy, but, y'know ...

Den Simms: It's not subtle, but it works.

Frank Zappa: That's right.

Den Simms: OK. Here's something I've been thinkin' about for years. On 'Revised Music For Guitar And Low Budget Orchestra', on 'Studio Tan', there's a really beautiful solo that you play on that song which has always been one of my favorites, but there's a tone quality to that guitar, which sounds brassy. To my ear, It sounds like there's a trumpet, or something, accompanying it, which I assumed, given the way that the notes are being bent, and all that kinda stuff, that it couldn't be happening.

Frank Zappa: You're so very, very wrong.

Den Simms: Tell me all about it.

Frank Zappa: Well. I played the solo. It's an Ovation gut string acoustic plugged directly into the board, and it was transcribed by Bruce Fowler, and he wrote it down, and he doubled it with four trombones ...

Den Simms: Oh, shit!

Frank Zappa: In harmony.

Den Simms: With all the bent notes

Frank Zappa: All the bent notes.

Den Simms: That is somethin'. That is somethin' else. I mean, to my ear ... when I would listen to that, my ear would say, "Brass."

Frank Zappa: It is brass.

Den Simms: "That's brass.", but my mind would say, "Brass can't do that. That's goin' beyond ... "

Frank Zappa: Brass can't, but Bruce can. (laughter)

Den Simms: Well, that is really somethin' else. I'm amazed, and not amazed, at the same time.

Frank Zappa: That's one of the reasons why I was so pissed off at Warner Brothers, that they fucked those albums up, because I believe there's some fantastic pieces on those albums, and people shoulda had a chance to hear 'em with good quality sound, and ...

Den Simms: Some of the versions which were part of Läther wound up being different versions, I guess, from what ...

Frank Zappa: Or different mixes.

Den Simms: Yeah, and again, I guess this would revert back to the earlier question about Läther, as opposed to releasing those as they were. I mean, I'll just kinda make an assumption that since you originally wanted to release Läther as Läther, that you preferred those versions over the ones that Warners released.

Frank Zappa: Well, its been so long since I went through that brain process, I couldn't give ya a good answer to that, but I think that the way I prepared 'em for CD release, you'll be happy with the way they sound.

Eric Buxton: Are you planning on re-releasing the EMI CD's? [18]

Frank Zappa: Yes. That's all for next year.

Den Simms: How do you feel about this recent thing with rap musicians, and the sampling they do? I noticed that you put the little sampling specification, the little clause that you find on your albums.

Frank Zappa: Um-hm. Well, I don't appreciate it.

Den Simms: You think it's a sleazy thing to do?

Frank Zappa: It depends on what they do with it. I mean, one group has already done it with one of my things.

Den Simms: Really? With some of your music?

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: Who's the group?

Frank Zappa: I can't remember. Somebody told me about it, but I know it's been done.

Den Simms: I saw some little news story on MTV. or 'Showbiz Today', or one of those kinda things about this, and I was kinda surprised that, quite often, the music that they pull their samples from is something that's in a completely, totally different realm that what you'd think that people who are doin' rap music might listen to. I'm kinda surprised about that

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Eric Buxton: We were speaking earlier tonight about taking little snatches of other music, and inserting it in your music

Frank Zappa: But. I'm not stealing a recorded performance. That's the difference, see, because I there's a copyright on the actual performance.

Den Simms: Here's somethin' else here. It's my impression that as a teenager, that you really didn't have the means to be able to do things like have a big hot-rod, and all that, but yet. you seem well versed in hot rod lore. [19]

Frank Zappa: I'm not well versed with hot-rod lore at all, I mean, only marginally, because that was not part of my life. I didn't drive a car until I was, what ... twenty ... two? Somethin' like that. My parents wouldn't let me get a license. They were always ...

Den Simms: I guess I've seen these little references like, um ... I don't know, just things that I tend to think of as, like, hot-rod lingo

Frank Zappa: Appletons, and stuff like that?

Den Simms: Dingleballs, and ...

Frank Zappa: Well. y'know. If you're a teenager in southern California. ya gotta know the language.

Den Simms: Just pickin'up that stuff up by osmosis.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: What was the significance of Vinnie's seal calls?

Frank Zappa: That was just something that Vinnie could do. It was a noise that Vinnie could make, so why not use it?

Den Simms: It was pretty funny.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: (laughs) He's a pretty interesting guy.

Frank Zappa: He is.

Den Simms: He's my favorite of your drummers. It seemed to me that that particular chair in your band is, perhaps THE critical one.

Frank Zappa: True, because the style of the drummer is gonna determine the style of the band, and his personality pervades everything that goes on. If he's a wild and crazy guy, you re gonna have a wild and crazy band.

Den Simms: Among your fans, I think still today, the drummer of yours that still keeps that status, and people think of him as the best, is probably Terry.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, because he was the most visual of all the drummers, and there's no question that he's a fabulous drummer.

Den Simms: Yeah. The thing that I like about Terry, and I like about Vinnie, the thing I like about those two guys is not only did they have the precision, and the licks, and all of that stuff down, but they had this kind of hard to define quality, which I call 'gonzo'.

Frank Zappa: It's attitude. [20]

Den Simms: It's attitude. It's REAL STRONG enthusiasm, or something.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. It's not just a job with these guys. It's a way of life.

Den Simms: Well, I just saw, recently, and these guys did, too, Terry playin' with Jeff Beck.

Frank Zappa: Was he good?

Den Simms: Yeah! He was truly amazing.

Frank Zappa: Great!

Den Simms: Yeah. I haven't seen anybody play drums like that since seein' those guys play with you. I saw Vinnie, a few years back, playin' as part of Joni Mitchell's back-up band, and I was real curious to see how he would be in a context which is definitely gonna limit him more, in terms of ... you know how he could thrash around

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: ... and he was hot.

Frank Zappa: He's always hot. He's just a fabulous drummer.

Eric Buxton: Are you gonna release your versions of 'Purple Haze' and 'Sunshine Of Your Love'?

Frank Zappa: Yes, Indeed.

Den Simms: Good. 'Sunshine ... ' was taken from a rehearsal, right?

Frank Zappa: Yes. So was 'Purple Haze'. [21]

Den Simms: We got to hear what 'Purple Haze' sounded like, but 'Sunshine ... ', we haven't heard that, but Keneally tells us that it's even more bent than 'Purple Haze'.

Frank Zappa: It's pretty bent. (laughter)

Den Simms: That's quite a statement. 'Purple Haze' was out there. Also, congratulations on your speech at the pro-choice rally. [22]

Frank Zappa: (chuckles) The prayer?

Den Simms: Yeah, that was pretty cool. I was very surprised to hear that. It was, I thought, a good thing to do.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, I thought so, too.

Den Simms: How many people were there?

Frank Zappa: A hundred thousand. The press reported twenty [thousand]. They tried to make it look small. It was a hundred thousand. Not my count. That was the announcement at the event. [Richard] Dreyfus was on before I was, and I think he was the one that said it. I looked out there, and to me, it looked like a hundred thousand people, I've seen twenty thousand before, and this wasn't twenty thousand. They were all over the fuckin' place.

Den Simms: Do you think you surprised any feminists that might've been there?

Frank Zappa: No question, but I had a lot of good reports about, y'know, people appreciated the fact that I showed up, and, uh ... Dweezil videotaped it.

Den Simms: No shit?

Frank Zappa: I've got the whole prayer on tape, plus, you can hear people praying along with it, (laughter) and I'm thinkin' about stickin' that on an album.

Den Simms: The tapes that I've heard of it ... I got to hear a cassette tape of it from somebody who was out in the audience with a little cassette job, and it sounds great! Particularly, there was one kinda long line in the speech that ended with " ... asking for the death of a Supreme Court Justice ... ", and it's really cool when ya listen to it on the tape as they repeat back, 'cause the first part of that line is jumbled up, and then, the last, about, four or five words coalesce, and they all say it right together ...

Frank Zappa: How 'bout the one that goes. "HUH!"?

Den Simms: Right! (laughs) Y'know, and you can hear that one part of that one kind of coalesces, and they all say it together, then a little bit of laughter that kind of comes up as a result, that came from the people hearing it in that way, kind of gettin' a little laugh from it.

Frank Zappa: Well, I think they needed to have that, because the proceeding was pretty fuckin' serious, up to that point, and y'know, you do need to keep up a good fight, but you need to keep some perspective, and keep your sense of humor about this stuff, because if it's all dreadful, dreadful, dreadful, then people ...

Den Simms: It's not much fun. It's hard to keep people ...

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: ... keep people on the bus.

Frank Zappa: That's right.

Den Simms: Yeah. That's very true.

Frank Zappa: So, the kind of character that I am, I can get up there, and get away with that. I think that somebody else doing it woulda been perceived as out of place, but I thought it was the right thing to do, and so, I did it.

Den Simms: It worked well. Um ... certain compositions such as 'Stevie's Spanking'. seem paradoxical to me, in the respect that they seem like a parody, by nature. With 'Stevie's Spanking', certainly, when seein' you guys live, you're kinda goin' through the poses, and doin' all that kind of stuff, but at the same time, it seems like there's a note of seriousness to it, in that it's being performed righteously.

Frank Zappa: Why shouldn't you? If you're gonna do parody, you can perform a parody righteously.

Den Simms: I mean, is that something that you initially start with an intent to do, which is to have those two seemingly opposite qualities coexist, or just that you wind up doing a song, and that's an aspect that evolves as a result of it?

Frank Zappa: Well let's face it. Heavy metal is already a parody of itself. For a band like ours to do anything that even smells like heavy metal, you're well into Parodyland the minute you count it off. (laughter)

Den Simms: Yeah. It seems these days that to be in a heavy metal band, the most important aspect is how well you can whip your hair and forth.

Frank Zappa: That's right. (laughter)

Den Simms: So, are we beginning to wear ya out, Frank?

Frank Zappa: Yeah. Well, can you hear my voice is going down, y'know? I don't talk this many hours non-stop during the day. Remember, I work by myself, and don't talk to myself, and, y'know ... I'll answer some more, but I'm fadin'.

Den Simms: Let us know at any time, because at this point, you've exceeded our expectations.

Frank Zappa: All right. I'll give ya three more, and you're done.

Den Simms: That sounds reasonable. I'll tell ya what. Why don't I even do this? (To Eric & Rob) You wanna make the questions ftom you guys, 'cause certainly I've been doin' the bulk of the question asking tonight? It's the least I can do.

Eric Buxton: What else did you get for your birthday? You started to tell us. This is my kinda question

Frank Zappa: Dweezil gave me a real nice sport coat, which is purple, and kind of heavy ... fuzzy weird shaped ...

Eric Buxton: I know you like those heavy, fuzzy coats ...

Frank Zappa: Well, y'know, it's a very nice coat, and he got one exactly like it for himself. I said, "What's this? Our new band uniform?" (laughter) The people at the office gave me presents. Fialka gave me this videotape of 'The Worlds Greatest Sinner'.

Eric Buxton: It was video?

Frank Zappa: Yes.

Den Simms: I wonder where he came up with that?

Frank Zappa: I don't know, but he got it. Judy gave me four cappuccino cups, and Dottie gave me three or four bags of different kinds of coffee beans. Lisa gave me a little pin that looks like a Christmas bulb, that you pin on your coat, that lights up, and blinks on and off ...

Eric Buxton: It's neon?

Frank Zappa: I don't know what it is. It's this cute little thing.

Eric Buxton: We tried to get you a piece of the Berlin wall, but it didn't come through. [23]

Rob Samler: Yeah. it might still happen.

Frank Zappa: I'll go there and get some, live and in person. (laughter)

Rob Samler: Just watch it, though, 'cause it might have asbestos in it.

Frank Zappa: Yeah, well, that's dangerous. I won't sniff it. And, let's see, who else gave me stuff? I got two pairs of socks from Catherine, and a long list of people that called up to say , "Happy Birthday" . I started, last night, to try and call them all back. 'cause I got their numbers. I managed to call one guy, and left a message on his phone, but I'll never get through the list ... 'cause the minute I started tryin' to make the calls, all these people came over, and ...

Eric Buxton: Well, when you get up to number four and five ...

Rob Samler: Yeah. [Eric and I] were four and five, but, uh, (laughter) you can thank us in person.

Frank Zappa: OK. Thank you, thank you. (laughter) And ... uh ...

Eric Buxton: A new puppy.

Frank Zappa: Well, that's actually ... that's not for me. That's for the whole house. Let's see? What else did I get for my birthday? Um, the Steins gave me two books. One Is called 'A Curmudgeon's Garden Of Love', and a big picture book called 'How Things Work', which is pretty hilarious ... and that's about it. No ties. No underwear.

Rob Samler: What Is 'Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt'?

Frank Zappa: Do you remember 'The Six Million Dollar Man', or 'The Six Million Dollar Woman', those two shows?

Rob Samler: Uh-huh. Sure.

Frank Zappa: You remember, there was an episode where they were being attacked by 'Fembots'?

Den Simms: (laughter) No.

Frank Zappa: OK. These female robots? Fembots. Well, If you've got a robot full of electrical circuitry, and she enters a wet T-shirt contest, (laughter) what happens to her?

Den Simms: Sparks fly.

Rob Samler: So, why did you change the name of that on the CD from the original title?

Frank Zappa: Why? What does it say on the CD?

Den Simms: 'Wet T-Shirt Nite'.

Rob Samler: No, It doesn't. The CD says 'Fembot In A Wet T-Shirt', but originally, on the album, It was called 'Wet T-Shirt Nite'.

Frank Zappa: Well, that was the original title. 'Fembot'.

Rob Samler: Oh, it was?

Frank Zappa: In fact, it was just called 'Fembot'.

Rob Samler: Uh-huh. And, I guess, the same thing with 'Toad-O Line', which is called 'On The Bus'.

Frank Zappa: Yeah.

Den Simms: All right. I've got one here that you can probably answer with a yes or no. As a kid, did you read MAD Magazine?

Frank Zappa: Yes.

Eric Buxton: Do you still read MAD magazine?

Frank Zappa: No, but in the world of ...

Eric Buxton: It's still really good. It's just like it was.

Frank Zappa: Really?

Eric Buxton: I subscribe to it. (laughter)

Frank Zappa: Glad you enjoy it. I don't have time to read it. I talked with Jack Kirby today ... the comic book guy? Jack Kirby?

Den Simms: Can't think of who he is.

Frank Zappa: He did Dr. Doom, and all those ... for Marvel Comics.

Den Simms: Oh, for some reason, I read D.C. comics when I was a kid, which are definitely more whitebread, as comics go.

Frank Zappa: Yeah. Well, I talked to him, and I invited him over. He's comin' over next week.

Den Simms: One last one. What does 'Moo-aah' mean?

Frank Zappa: It doesn't mean anything. It's just a noise.

That was the final chapter in our exclusive interview with Frank. We hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to stick around for the next issue Society Pages. We will be presenting the first installment of an interview with Dick Barber, who worked for Frank as a road manager from 1968 through 1975, another Society Pages exclusive! Part 1 Part 2


1. In early 1986. Mayor Henry Cisneros of San Antonio sponsored legislation for that city that allowed local health department officials to set a minimum age limit of 16 years for attending a rock concert without being accompanied by a parent. This ordinance was able to skirt First Amendment questions by virtue of being regulated as a matter of 'health', rather than legality.

2. Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife were apprehended in Romania a short time later and were summarily 'tried' and executed by firing squad.

3. May 27, 1989, Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium – 'Frank Zappa Day' with the Cucamonga Trio and the BRT Big Band

4. Aug. 18. 1989, KNON, Dallas: "There's this guy named Steve Ciedian(?) who used to be an art director at Hustler [Magazine]. He worked as an orderly in a mental institution. This is gonna sound like a science fiction story, but he was, like, the scoutmaster in the pinhead hut, and the pinheads liked him, and they would express their appreciation by licking his ankles. He had to start wearing these muffs on his ankles."

5. Earlier in the interview, the Zappa kids had come into the room with a very cute Dalmatian puppy, later named 'Shillelagh' by Frank, that they had just gotten. As they explained, they had been at a shopping mall, and the puppy had escaped from a pet store, run up to them, and captured their hearts, whereupon they purchased him and brought him home. The puppy, unfortunately, had a chronic flatulence problem, and proceeded to "breeze", emitting a dreadfully reeking gastrointestinal toxic vapor as Frank held him, much to the amusement of all. (see Part 2)

6. Earlier in the interview, Eric had volunteered to perform the task of hanging ornaments and stringing lights upon a bare Christmas tree which was sitting in a corner of the room. (see issue 1, page 17, right hand column)

7. During the '74 world tour, the Mothers performed an improvisational 'routine', the theme of which revolved around the adventures and experiences of Marty Perellis, girls, and dogs. Do-Do Room Service, also known as 'Room Service', was another routine that often shared thematic material with the 'Marty Perellis' routine. Examples of 'Room Service' can be found on 'The Dub Room Special' and 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 2'.

8. This was in reference to the concert on Feb. 14, 1988 at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania in which a fan presented Frank with a Fleet enema (a ready to use disposable enema), and Frank informed the audience, "See this? It's a Fleet enema. You know where they make these things? Lynchburg, Virginia, exactly the same place where (televangelist) Jerry Falwell conducts his ministry. I suspect a symbiotic relationship."

9. Frank referred to 'Ruthie, Ruthie' and 'Babbette', which were recorded on Nov. 18, 1974 at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey, and were included on 'You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 1'.

10. Dec. 11,1981 Santa Monica Civic Center. Lisa's performance of 'Teen-age Prostitute' from the same concert can be heard on 'Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch'.

11. Ute Friesteben, of Erlangen, West Germany

12. The earliest reference that the 'Society Pages' research staff could find of John Smothers is an Apr. 26, 1974 interview with Frank on the WLZZ, Chicago television program 'Kennedy At Night'.

13. John Smothers' last tour was the 1984 World Tour.

14. The performance is scheduled for Sept. 20-24, 1990.

15. 'Pick Me, I'm Clean' actually was not played in the seventies. It premiered on Mar. 25, 1980 at the Seattle Center Arena

16. The legal dispute between Frank and several ex-Mothers is, at this time, still unsettled.

17. The only known recording from the concert on June 22, 1982 at the Parc Des Expositions in Metz, France used on an album is the segment from King Kong (the "blow job" version) that was used on the You Can'T Do That On Stage Anymore sampler and Volume 3 in the same series. It was also included on Video From Hell.

18. EMI released Sheik Yerbouti, Tinseltown Rebellion, You Are What You Is, and in a 'two albums on one disc' format, hip Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch/ The Man From Utopia, and Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention/ Jazz From Hell. Although Frank received royalties for these albums, they were released without his prior consent, and without being remixed for compact disc.

19. The "hot rod" references that Den was thinking of were the ones that can be heard on Lumpy Gravy.

20. Frank discusses "the Altitude" in detail in 'The Real Frank Zappa Book', pages 164 and 179.

21. While 'Sunshine Of Your Love' was never performed in concert, 'Purple Haze' was performed in front of an audience on May 26, 1988 at Stadthalle in Fürth, W. Germany.

22. Frank spoke on behalf of freedom of abortion at a pro-choice rally on Nov. 12, 1989 at Rancho Park in Los Angeles. (see issue 1, page 42)

23. A short time after this interview, the editors were able to get a piece of the wall for Frank. (see issue 1, page 43)