This is the second of 2 Frank Zappa interviews which were transcribed
   from an imported CD called "The Frank Zappa Interview Picture Disk".
   According to my closest estimation based on the interview's context,
   it must have been conducted sometime in early to mid 1984.
   As with the first transcription, The Interviewer is not credited on
   the disc and so he remains anonymous. I believe, due to the context
   and the accent of the interviewer, that this was possibly conducted
   somewhere in Germany. While in the first interview it was obvious that
   the interviewer was a fan, in this one it seems equally clear that
   this interviewer knows very little of Frank and his work. He keeps
   referring to an incorrect bio for information on asking some of his
   This Interview was fairly hard to transcribe in places because of the
   poor quality of the original recording. I have tried to present it as
   accurately as possible.
   By the way, in case anyone is wondering, the imported CD that this
   material comes from contains positively NO copyright information of
   any sort. Also, and in case anyone gives a fuck, please note that this
   text was transcribed by Robert Moore on Saturday, Dec.11 at 1:40 AM
   EDT - a mere week since FZ died at the much-too-early age of 52. My
   universe remains significantly diminished by his passing.
   The Bio says that you've got a book as well.. "Them or Us" - I haven't
   seen it. Can you tell me something about it?
   Frank Zappa:
   It's due off the press in 2 weeks in the United States, and it's Three
   hundred and sixty-something pages and I'm publishing it myself.
   Frank Zappa:
   The first printing is 5000 copies.
   Can you tell me something about... what is it about? I mean, you
   cannot judge by the album obviously. The story has to be more...
   cohesive if I may say.
   Frank Zappa:
   The book is written... It's a book for people who hate to read, and
   it's written in the style of a screenplay so that each situation is
   described in terms of what a camera would see, what the physical
   action is, what the people say and what they do. And so it takes you
   very wuickly through some complicated situations where, if you had
   written it as a normal book it would that [probably makes
   finger-width gesture].
   Frank Zappa:
   And it's a fiction book and it's very funny.
   Has it got anything to do with the album? I mean, can the album be
   used as a soundtrack to it?
   Frank Zappa:
   Well, the way it works is: the book... you know what the Unified Field
   Theory is?
   I'm afraid not.
   Frank Zappa:
   Well... in physics they have this thing that they've been looking for
   - it's the Unified Field Theory that explains the interrelationship
   between how gravity works and atomic energy and all this stuff -
   they're looking for one equation that explains it all and makes it
   work because right now there's contradictions. And.. let's just say
   that the book is like a Unified Field Theory that will hold together
   "Billy The Mountain", "Greggery Peccary", "Joe's Garage" "Them Or Us",
   "Thing-Fish".... all these different stories, it shows you how they
   work together to make one long, really complicated story. And the
   "Them Or Us" album is only one part of this major release that is
   coming out this year.
   There are three other albums that are released at approximately the
   same time. The Boulez album, the Francesco album, and the "Thing-Fish"
   album - and the book relates... The Boulez album is not related to it
   but all the rest of the stuff is related. And so if you read the book
   and listen to those three, plus knowing from the past "Joe's Garage",
   "Billy The Mountain", "Greggery Peccary" then it would make an awful
   lot of sense to you. But other than that it's very hard to describe.
   The way you describe it, it comes as a summation or culmination of
   what you've been working for the past twenty years, let's say?
   Frank Zappa:
   Well, no it doesn't really work like that. People, especially in
   Europe, when they want to know more about what the lyrics mean, if
   they can read English the book would help them.
   Frank Zappa:
   And if they can't it'll.... confuse them very much.
   Any possibility for the book being issued in this country?
   Frank Zappa:
   Since I'm paying to have it printed myself, I'll have to just see
   whether or not I can sell enough of them in the United States. I
   haven't even spoken to any publishers in [unintelligible]. I took it
   to publishers in the United States and they were afraid of it, so I
   said "Forget it. I'll just print it myself" and sell it mail-order.
   But it's obvious that what's published nowadays.... that anything
   serious... you know... doesn't really .... there's plenty of dross
   being printed nowadays as far as I can gather.
   Frank Zappa:
   When we talked to a US publisher, they were more concerned that it
   LOOK like a book, and this doesn't look like a book - it looks like a
   screenplay. And so they have taken a position that people won't read
   it because it doesn't say, "The leaves fell off the tree", and "It's
   five o'clock" and it's all in paragraphs. I personally don't like to
   read, and I've said in other interviews that, for me, reading is about
   as much fun as standing in line at the passport window in the French
   [laughs] - That's very exciting.
   Frank Zappa:
   Yeah. That exciting. So, it's designed basically for people who would
   enjoy the albums rather than for a literary audience.
   The book, which is in a book form obviously is written like a
   screenplay, and the music that you've been making for the past twenty
   years... you've obviously had a certain disregard for what is
   considered a proper album, you know what I mean - one style, each song
   nicely defined. I mean, let's take "Them Or Us". It's, uh, there are
   different pieces which, by today's industry standard, is very odd.
   Frank Zappa:
   Uh-huh. So?
   So. My question is: How have you managed to survive all these years in
   such a bitchy industry?
   Frank Zappa:
   It's not even a matter of surviving in it because I refuse to be
   stopped. You know, just because somebody... There's a big audience
   that wants albums that have all the same songs on 'em, and there's a
   number of other artists who do that so they're never going to run out
   of material - they'll always have what they like, but the people who
   like what I do like variety. They enjoy that experience of having the
   contrasts between a song in one style with one kind of a sound
   followed by something completely different. To them that's a
   refreshing experience.
   That's the way I like to hear music, I like things next to each other
   that at first seem incongrous, but then when you step back into the
   whole thing you see it fits together properly.
   So in this contest of the free discussion, what does a success mean to
   Frank Zappa:
   Success to me is if I have a musical or let's say any kind of an
   artistic concept and I start out to execute it, if it is executed to
   100% of the specifications of what I imagined when the idea first came
   up - that's success. That's the only thing that really matters to me
   because if I don't enjoy listening to it myself when it's all done,
   then why did I bother to do it? because there are other things I can
   do to make more money than this. This is a high overhead business. I
   happen to like what I'm doing so, to me success is if you get close to
   Another thing the bio states is that your interest lies more within
   the serious music.
   Frank Zappa:
   No. Let me explain to you about serious music. What most people regard
   as serious music is not really that serious at all. See, there's been
   a lot of propaganda about classical music since it was first invented.
   Let's examine the history of classical music briefly, and then you'll
   see what I'm talking about.
   All the music that people regard as great masterpieces today were
   written for the amusement of kings, churches or dictators - that's who
   was paying the rent. If the man who wrote the music happened to be
   working in a style that was appealing to the person who was paying for
   it at the time, he had a hit, he had a job, and he stayed alive. If he
   didn't, he could lose his fingers, he could lose his head, he could be
   exiled or he'd starve to death. There was very little in between.
   All you have to do is look at a book called "Groves Dictionary of
   Music and Musicians" and you can see that throughout the ages there
   have been guys who had hits and guys who didn't have hits, and it's
   not necessarily connected to the quality of what they wrote, it's
   connected to how well they pleased the patron that was paying the
   freight - and it's the same thing today.
   So, all the norms, the acceptable norms of classical music, are really
   the taste norms of the church, the king, or the dictator that has been
   been paying for it down through the ages. It was not the taste of the
   people. People never got to decide. So, when you say I have more of an
   interest in serious music, I take my work seriously but I perceive it
   as entertainment and it's entertainment for those people who like that
   sort of entertainment. I don't write for a king, I don't write for a
   church, and I don't write for a government - I write for my friends
   and that's the way the material should be perceived - it's
   entertainment for them. Even if it's written for an orchestra or it's
   written for a rock and roll band, it makes no difference, it's the
   same people who would listen to the music. I have several orchestral
   albums, okay? Those are not purchased by people who go out and buy the
   Dvorak New World Symphony, they're bought by rock and roll consumers.
   A special type of rock and roll consumer.
   So in other words, the bio is wrong because whatever music you make is
   serious in approach regardless to being regarded as rock and roll or
   put in a shops rack - rock and roll and the other one is serious
   Frank Zappa:
   Hmm, I see. Well, um, future - you recently had two plays.
   Frank Zappa:
   No, I've written them but they haven't been produced yet.
   I, um, you see the bio is not right so.... (laughs)
   Frank Zappa:
   Not correct.
   That's the only thing I had to, uh...... Well, I see that you are
   extending into all these areas. I mean, movies being an old love of
   yours since you were 16 or something? Is there a way to stop you?
   Frank Zappa:
   I don't understand the [unintelligible] of these because you can't...
   It's hard to expand into movies because it costs so much more money to
   make a movie than it does to make a record and I'm self- financed.
   But you were one of the first to have an independent label.
   Frank Zappa:
   That's true.
   When did you realize that you can be self-employed in the industry
   that does not, until that time did not allow self-employment?
   Frank Zappa:
   I realized it at the point where... that first independent label deal
   was as a result of a lawsuit that was brought against MGM. They were
   happy to give me an independent deal because we had caught them doing
   something with the books that was not.... right. So they figured you
   know, this stuff will never sell, he'll be out of business in 15
   minutes - let him do it. But my arrangement is unique, not only in the
   fact that I'm self-employed, but that I own my all my masters. I own
   the rights to everything that I do. Most people who make records do
   not. And I fought for that and I think that it was worth fighting for.
   Can you remember what was the first, and when did you get your first
   Frank Zappa:
   First guitar I played on was my father's guitar.
   So what was actually the first guitar that you owned? Was it after
   that movie - "Run Home Slow"?
   Frank Zappa:
   No, the first one that, well actually that I *owned*, yes, because
   prior to that time I rented the guitar. I rented a Telecaster from a
   music store in Ontario, California - but the first one I was able to
   buy was the one on "Run Home Slow". It was a PS5 Gibson SwitchMaster.
   What is the one that you use now?
   Frank Zappa:
   It's a customized Stratocaster. The only thing on this guitar that is
   Fender is the body. Everything else on it is custom. It has a custom
   neck, it has customized electronics, custom pickups, Floyd Rose
   Do you use it in the studio as well as on the stage?
   Frank Zappa:
   I just starting using this particualr guitar in July, and usually when
   I go on tour I take a number of guitars and I change them during the
   show. The ones I brought on the 82 tour I changed a lot. On this tour
   I just play this one guitar.
   And the other part of the same article is going to be your thoughts on
   some of your contemporaries and your people, if you don't mind. People
   like Chuck Berry?
   Frank Zappa:
   Chuck Berry? Well, I used to like Chuck Berry when I was in High
   School. Songs like "Havana Mill" and "Wee Wee Hours" which were the
   flip sides of the hits that he had - the more bluesy things. His main
   innovation besides that duck walk choreography was the multiple string
   guitar solos - the lines were harmonizing because he was playing on
   two strings at once. There was another guitar player who used to do
   that named Jimmy Nolan who I had a lot of respect for.
   B.B King?
   Frank Zappa:
   I don't like B.B. I saw him on television before I went on this tour
   and he was still blue.
   Oh yeah, I've seen him recently and I thought he was amazing. Keith
   Frank Zappa:
   I don't know anything about Keith Richard.
   Jimi Hendrix?
   Frank Zappa:
   I knew Jimi and I think that the best thing you could say about Jimi
   was: there was a person who shouldn't use drugs.
   John McLaughlin?
   Frank Zappa:
   I met John. I think he's a great guitar player and I think that he's
   probably done a lot to educate American audiences to some aspects of
   Eastern music that they wouldn't have come into contact with before.
   We did a tour with McLaughlin and old Mahavishnu, we did 11 concerts
   with them.
   Lowell George?
   Frank Zappa:
   There's another guy who shouldn't use drugs.
   Eric Clapton?
   Frank Zappa:
   I know Eric, I haven't seen him in years and years. There's another
   guy who shouldn't use drugs.
   Jeff Beck?
   Frank Zappa:
   One of my favorite guitar players on the planet. From a melodic
   standpoint and just in terms of the conception of what he plays, he's
   fabulous. I like Jeff.
   Rory Gallagher?
   Frank Zappa:
   We worked 2 jobs with Rory Gallagher on this tour and, uh,......[long
   pause]... he's still playing the blues.
   Jimmy Page?
   Frank Zappa:
   I don't know anything about Jimmy Page.
   Peter Green?
   Frank Zappa:
   I don't know him either.
   Jerry Garcia?
   Frank Zappa:
   We did one concert with Garcia on this tour but we were the opening
   act and I didn't see any of his set.
   Pete Townshend?
   Frank Zappa:
   I've met Pete but I don't know what I can say about his guitar
   Robert Fripp?
   Frank Zappa:
   I've never heard of Robert Fripp.
   Ritchie Blackmore?
   Frank Zappa:
   I have met Ritchie too, and..... I'm not really familiar with the work
   of these people because you have to understand I'm not a pop consumer
   and I don't listen to a lot of these.
   [What do you listen to?]
   Frank Zappa:
   Well, what I do is I take cassettes with me on the road because
   sometimes you're sitting in the hotel room and you just want to listen
   to something, but what I take is not rock and roll. I like Chopin, I
   have Purcell, I have Webern, I have Varese, I have Bulgarian music. I
   don't listen to Rock and roll.
   Yes, um, Carlos Santana?
   Frank Zappa:
   We worked with Carlos Santana on Cologne in 1980 or 81 and it was a
   similar situation. We did two shows at the sport palace in Cologne.
   They opened the first show, we closed it. Then we opened the second
   show and they closed it so I never heard him play.
   As you said you don't listen to popular music so I don't expect you
   know Eddie Van Halen.
   Frank Zappa:
   I do know Eddie. He comes over to the house because he hangs out with
   my son.
   I see. But do you know him as a guitar player?
   Frank Zappa:
   Oh yeah. He and my son play together and he's fabulous, but there's
   another guy who shouldn't use drugs.
   I presume you don't know The Edge - from U2?
   Frank Zappa:
   The Edge?
   Frank Zappa:
   [unintelligible] from Big Country?
   Frank Zappa:
   What would be your thoughts on the original guitar playing of the
   Mothers, i.e. yourself?
   Frank Zappa:
   Well, there's one other guy whose work I know who should be included
   in that list who I respect and that's Allan Holdsworth.
   I was going to ask you who was your favorite guitar player.
   Frank Zappa:
   Well, my original favorite guitar player was Johnny "Guitar" Watson,
   not from a technical standpoint but from listening to what his notes
   meant in the context in which they were played; and also Guitar Slim
   who was the first guitar player that I ever heard that had distortion
   - even during the 50s. In a strange way I think I probably derive more
   of my style from his approach to the guitar from the solos that I
   heard then.
   You still haven't told me your thoughts on yourself as a guitar
   Frank Zappa:
   Well, I do something very different on the guitar. I don't so much
   play the guitar as make up stuff... the notes that I play during the
   solo, I conceive it as a composition that's happening instantly at the
   time that it's... You know, you have 2 minutes to fill up or you have
   9 minutes to fill up or whatever it is - a piece of time which is
   anywhere from 2 to 9 minutes long and you're gonna decorate it with
   notes - you're gonna make a composition in there.
   The quality of that composition is determined by what you're
   physically capable of playing at that time, what the rhythm section
   will allow you to play and whether or not the keyboard player who's
   supplying the harmonic climate is going to mess up what you're playing
   by sticking in his favorite Jazz Chord right there. These are all the
   dangers a person faces when improvising a guitar solo.
   There are some guitar players who will practise their guitar solos and
   they will always be perfect and they will be the same every night - I
   don't do that. When it's time to play, I don't know what I'm going to
   play until I start doing it; and then an idea will pop up and I'll
   just develop it in the same way I'd develop an idea on a piece paper
   except that I don't have to wait to hear it - I get to hear it as it's
   coming out.
   And the last question on this section is: What would be the future of
   guitar - or rather, how do you see the future of guitar in the
   increasingly synth and keyboard orientation to music?
   Frank Zappa:
   There will always be a market for people who want to hear guitars
   squealing and oinking and bending and twanging and making sounds like
   guitars are supposed to make. There is a market of people who are
   interested in fashion and they will begin hating all those other old
   guitar sounds in favor of guitar sounds which are not like guitar
   sounds but are played in guitar position but sound like synthesizers -
   there's a market for that, there are people who want to hear it - but
   I don't think that will be the ultimate future of the guitar.
   I would like to ask you 2 questions: one is... on "Sometime In New
   York City", the John Lennon and Yoko Ono?
   Frank Zappa:
   What about it?
   What was it? How did it come about and all that?
   Frank Zappa:
   The day before the show, a journalist in New York City woke me up -
   knocked on the door and is standing there with a tape recorder and
   goes: "Frank, I'd like to introduce you to John Lennon," you know,
   waiting for me to gasp and fall on the floor and I said "Well, ok.
   Come on in." And we sat around and talked, and I think the first thing
   he said to me was "You're not as ugly as I thought you would be." So
   anyway, I thought he had a pretty good sense of humor so I invited him
   to come down and jam with us at the Fillmore East.
   We had already booked in a recording truck because we were making the
   "Live at the Fillmore" album at the time. After they had sat in with
   us, an arrangement was made that we would both have access to the
   tapes. He wanted to release it with his mix and I had the right to
   release it with my mix - so that's how that one section came about.
   The bad part is, there's a song that I wrote called "King Kong" which
   we played that night, and I don't know whether it was Yoko's idea or
   John's idea but they changed the name of the song to "Jam Rag", gave
   themselves writing and publishing credit on it, stuck it on an album
   and never paid me. It was obviously not a jam session song - its got a
   melody, its got a bass line, it's obviously an organized song - little
   bit disappointing. I've never released my version of the mixes of that
   Do you ever intend to?
   Frank Zappa:
   One day yeah - but it would be drastically different because there
   were things that were edited out of their version and certain words
   that were being sung that were removed because of the editorial slant
   that they wanted to apply to the material and I have a slightly
   different viewpoint on it.
   And the last question is: You've been promising a 10-volume set of The
   Frank Zappa:
   Never of The Soots, no. The Soots don't have 10 volumes worth of
   material but what will come out is, now that I own all the masters for
   my stuff - the first box that has the first seven... all the early
   Mothers stuff plus the Mystery Disc which has some Soots material on
   it. That is now ready for release in the United States. The 10-record
   set that you referred to was live recordings of the early Mothers Of
   Invention. I can release that but I'm not going to until after I've
   re-released the whole catalog of the basic albums that I just got back
   from this lawsuit and that's coming out. Seven records per year with
   one box about every five years.
   I'd like to listen to them. Thank you very much.
   Frank Zappa:
   Another gift to YOU from - MORE deviltry to
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