interiew don paulsen 1966

1966 12 22, with Don Paulsen:

By Punknaynowned (original transcript at the inside of the messageboard)

Part 1 Introduction
Part 2 The making of Freaked Out!
Part 3 Top 40 Radio Is Unethical
Part 4 Frank grew up on, Freak Out! cover
Part 5 Doing the lay-out
Part 6 The equipment
Part 7 Sunset Boulevard
Part 8 Anything Else
Part 9 Collection of reviews
Part 10 The Eric Burdon sessions
Don Paulsen:  
I've never really seen anywhere this any kinda how the whole group as a whole got together. How did all that come about? 
Frank Zappa: 
Well, the group got together. We were working in Pomona at a place called the Broadside which is a dismal bar and Jim had just 
come out from Kansas the, our drummer. There's two Jim's in the band now. Jim Black had just come out from Kansas and got together 
with Roy the bass player and they'd been working terrible jobs in orange county, which is a terrible place to live unless you belong 
to the John Birch party, and then, uhh, they got a band together with ahh, couple other people, a guy named Ray Hunt on guitar, 
Dave Coronado on sax and Ray Collins as lead vocalist and they called themselves the Soul Giants. 
Don Paulsen: 
What kinda music were they doing?

Frank Zappa: 
They were doing straight commercial R&B, Gloria, Louie Louie 
Don Paulsen: 
Right the old classics. 
Frank Zappa: 
You got it, the classics. Then, ah Ray Hunt, uh decided he didn't like Ray Collins and started playing the wrong changes behind him 
when he was singing. So I uh, think a fight ensued where Ray Hunt was permanently mutilated and decided to quit the band. Leaving four 
and they needed a guitar player so they called me up. So I joined the band and started working with them at the Broadside and I thought 
it sounded pretty good. and I said 'ok guys, I got this plan, we're gonna go, we're gonna get rich and we're gonna do this thing. and 
uh You probably won't believe this when I tell you now but if you just bear with me, y'know we'll go out and do it'. Well now, 
Davy Coronado said, uhh, 'Oh I don't want to do it, I , I think uh, we'd never be able to get any work if we play that kinda music, 
y'know and I got this job in a bowling alley in La Fueni [sic sp?] and I think I'm gonna split'. So he did. and he put together, 
I think he's got a band called Davy Coronado and the Sage Brush Ramblers or something like that. So there was four original mothers, 
Me, Ray, Jim Black and Roy Estrada and we starved for about ohh ten months. Cuz we, we were playing a type of music which was grossly 
unpopular in that area. Just ahh, they couldn't identify with it. So we got into the habit of telling the audience to get fucked, 
and uh, made a big reputation THAT way. Nobody came to hear us play, they came in to see just how much -- they were very masochistic 
Don Paulsen: 
See how much abuse they could take. 
Frank Zappa:
Yeah, well we'd abuse 'em to death, and they'd love it y'know, so we'd managed to get jobs just on that basis but of course, it wouldn't 
last very long, because eventually we'd end up abusing the owner of the club. 
Don Paulsen: 
LeRoi Jones used to do that too. He used to have those talk sessions in the Village and he'd wind up attacking all the white people in 
the audience and they loved it, y'know? 
Frank Zappa: 
Yeah, it's good, it's cathartic. 
Don Paulsen: 

Frank Zappa: 
So then, we decided we were gonna go to LA. which is a distance of about thirty miles. The Big City.
and we went in, and uh, oh yeah, we'd added a girl to the group. Her name was Alice Stewart. She played very well, y'know and 
she sang very well, guitar and I thought, well, now, y'know I have an idea for combining certain modal influences into our
-- basically ahh country-blues cuz we were playing a lot of Muddy Waters, ahh, Howlin' Wolf type stuff. So, she played good 
figure-style guitar, but she couldn't play Louie Louie. Don Paulsen: She couldn't? Frank Zappa: She couldn't go 'DAT-DAT-DAA' -- 
she couldn't do that 
Don Paulsen: 
Finger picking? 
Frank Zappa: 
Fired her. Then, we got a hold of Henry Vestine who was one of the ahh, most outstanding blues guitarists on any coast, he's really 
a monster and uhh, he was part of the group for quite some time. and he decided he didn't want to be a part of the group because we 
were doing things that were stranger, things kept getting progressively stranger and he couldn't identify with what we were doing 
and he wanted his freedom so we said goodbye Henry and he split. Then there was four mothers again. Then we hired, uhh, then Ray quit, 
the lead vocalist. He quit and then there were three mothers. Then we hired uhh, Jim Guercio, he's now managing Chad & Jeremy. 
Don Paulsen: 
I think I've heard of them 
Frank Zappa: 
Yeah, he was part of the group for a while. Then we had also hired Steve Mann who is another top blues guitarist on the west coast 
and ahh, he couldn't make it. He wanted to do it but he couldn't make the changes so we got rid of him. Then we hired Eliot Ingber 
and then Ray came back in the band. Now we had me and Ray and Roy and Jim and Eliot and there was five Mothers and we cut the first 
album with those five.
Don Paulsen: 
Frank Zappa: 
--right after the album-- 
and we worked over there. We came back and worked ahh, with Andy Warhol at the Trip. The show that closed the Trip, as they say. 
And then we went to San Francisco and played around there and finally ahh, Eliot had to be fired. Then there were four again. 
Then we hired oh, Billy Mundi, we had two drummers then, just before we fired Eliot. So we had a real six piece band. 
Ok, then we had five, there was two drummers, bass guitar and a vocalist. Then we hired Don Preston who plays keyboard instruments, 
electric keyboard, electric clavichord.  
Don Paulsen:
um-hmm and gong. 
Frank Zappa: 
and gongs and springs. Then we hired Bunk Gardner. Now, I had known Bunk Gardner and Don Preston like three years before I had put the
 other guys together. 
Frank Zappa: 
See, I had known them for a long time. We hired Jim Fielder right after we hired Billy Mundi and after we hired Don Preston. So now we 
have eight. But I had worked with Preston and Gardner playing experimental music a long time ago. Y'know we had got together in our 
garages and went thru these very abstract charts, and just entertained ourselves that way. Then we had a workable ensemble. The second 
album was recorded with all those eight guys. 
Don Paulsen: 
Hasn't been released yet, eh? 
Frank Zappa: 
NO and providing everybody at MGM goes along with the gag, they will release it. But there seems to be certain parts of the album 
that brings grave concern to the minds there at MGM. track 2: The Making of Freak Out! 
Don Paulsen: 
Yeh? How did the first album ever get recorded? . . . 
Back to index

The Making of Freak Out!

Frank Zappa:
Well, I'll tell ya the complete story of freak out album. First of all ya gotta understand this project -- While the whole 
band's been together about    nineteen months, the project was carefully planned about three years ago. 
I'd been looking for people to get together and do this number.
I was in advertizing before I got into ahhh . . . show business <laugh>    
and I'd done a little motivational research and checked around. It's one of the laws of economics if there is a demand, 
somebody ought to supply that demand and yer gonna get rich.
Ok, so I pieced together a composite gap-filling product. Our product fills most of the gaps between so called serious music 
and the mass public. In other    words the really good music has been kept from the public by a filtering system    
consisting of little old ladies who select the music played by community orchetras, radio stations
Don Paulsen: 
What would you consider good music?

Frank Zappa: ahem -- I would say contemporary music of advanced tendencies has been kept from the public at large.
Don Paulsen: 
ahh in all areas, classical as well as popular.

Frank Zappa: Yes, because it seems that a person --once they can get to the position where they own a club or -- or control 
the going's-on in a concert hall or something like that then they become a critic

Don Paulsen: a tastemaker

Frank Zappa: 
yeah, and they're fucked and they know -- they hate music and they love business.
You have to know that up front before you even go into the business because you're going to be dealing with these people. 
I know whenever I talk to them, to the people on that level, I tell them, first of all I hate music and that 
I'm only in it for the money and then they slap me on the back and we get along fine.
I grumble as much as I can: "I hate that shit. Loud! God!"
"Wish I could drive a cab but I can't get a license". and so, y'know, then we get along. The public knows nothing 
of what's really going on in music today. Music as it exists, I mean, you take the outer limits of music, wham,    
the most advanced work done in the field today and the bulk of the population doesn't even know what's happened yet. 
Because, there are kids that are piddling along, writing their shit saying, 'I just made up the most fantastic thing',
and if they knew that the BEST that they could write today was already written and performed in 1912.
I mean, a piece like Ameriques by Edgar Varese written in 1912 would scare the average teenager to death. 
And I mean really scare 'em to death. Vanguard just released a recording of it.First it was a Rockefeller grant 
that put it together, it was a large orchestra, a large percussion battery, it uses two different sirens and it's just astonishing.

Don Paulsen: 
Is it even more ** than Carmina Burana?
Frank Zappa: 
Much. Have you heard any of the music of Varese? Well, let's see, he lived and died in New York. He died last February, 
his birthday is today as a matter of fact, the 22nd. He was born in the 1800's in Paris. He lived at 188 Sullivan Street a
nd a lot of the people in the Village knew him. He was really an outrageous guy. and the stuff that he wrote . . . .    
the average American doen't even know he was alive. Let alone that what he wrote, has virtually changed the shape of 
all the music of all the composers that have heard it. Because of the way he dealt with percussion instruments.

Don Paulsen:
How do you spell the composition that I don't remember

Frank Zappa: 
Ameriques, <spells it> AMERIQUES, conducted by David Abravonelv, Utah Symphony Orchestra, Vanguard. 
It's the best recording of a symphony orchestra that I've ever heard. I got a stereo version of it and you can hear the flute    
player breathing on the goddamn thing. and it's such a big orchestra and it    
doesn't give the engineer credit on the album.

Don Paulsen: 
Well, they're an unsung hero in other cases.
Frank Zappa: 
Well, this is a masterpiece. But anyway, the kids don't know what the fuck is happening in music and they have a right to know 
because all the music that lives today is being written by the young people.All, most of the -- I won't say most, but a great 
quantity of the serious music written in America today by the older cats is very sterile, it just doen't happen y'know? 
and the reason it doesn't happen is because yer never gonna get a chance to hear it. How are you gonna get to hear your mistakes. 
What you write down on paper is a mere indication in most cases of what it will actually sound like. You can only guess so far. 
Until you get that into an actual acoustic environment will you hear what actually it's gonna sound like. These guys never get a 
chance to see where their missin out on.

Don Paulsen: 
Hm. Ahh, in the beginning, sort of, how did you start getting away from more traditional forms and get to your own thing. 
I got yer, uhh, Well actually how I wanted to get started uhh will you go -- you remember about like yer first piece of music 
that really impressed you and then sort of take it from there just the music that you were listening to and got you into 
producing and as you went along.

Frank Zappa: 
I just remembered something, before I get into that, I never told you how the freak out album got started.
I'll tell ya, Wilson, came to the Whiskey A-Go-Go while we were five pieces with Henry and heard us sing the Watts Riot song
and he stayed for five minutes and said 'yeahyeahyeah', sclepped me on the back and shook my hand, 'Wonderful, 
we're gonna make a record of yuh, GOODBYE! and didn't see him again for like four months . . .
Sure, so he thought we were a rythm & blues band and he went back <in voice of Tom Wilson> "AHH I signed me up another 
rythm & blues band -- on the coast and they got this song and it's ohhh, got a couple of niggers in it and he says nigger in 
there, I don't know what all, but it's a protest song and we got 'em, they'll be okay, maybe a couple singles out of 'em and    
maybe it'll die out'. Alright, so then, he came back to town, just before we were gonna set up the first session.
And we had a little chat in his room. That's when he first discovered that that wasn't the only thing that we played, y'know
and things started changing y'know. In terms of what we were gonna do. We decided not to make a single we decided to make an 
album. So he wouldn't give    me an idea what the budget on the album was gonna be, but the average rock-n-roll album is gonna 
cost about $5000 to put together. I think the start to finish costs on Freak Out was somewhere around $21,000.
What happened was from the first day we went into the studio, the first tune we cut was Anyway The Wind Blows.
and it's unfortunately a bad mix because the track was really good on that and when he heard the track played back on 
that thing he just went . . . and then we recorded who are the brain police and he got on the phone to New York and said, 
'I got this thing, I dunno what the fuck is going on here, but uhh . . .'. Alright, So then, I got more or less an unlimited 
budget to do this monstrosity. So the next day I had whipped up these arrangements for a 22 piece orchestra and they were 
wheeled out the following day and we cranked out the four large orchestra pieces. Which is not just a straight orchestra 
accompanying the singers it was like    the mothers five piece band plus seventeen pieces. Y'know we're all working    
on this thing together here. And then the editing took a long time which drove the cost up and meanwhile Wilson's sticking 
his neck out on this thing, laying his job on the line trying to produce the fucking thing. And I think we would have sold 
250,000 albums by now if MGM would have 1) not moved offices <ahem> and slowed down in its hype of what the album was and 2) 
simply distributed the advertising material that was paid for out of our account, y'know to hype the record. 
Well, they got buttons and stickers and stuff sitting up in the office now that never got sent to the stores.
Don Paulsen: 
What about that map of Los Angeles?
Frank Zappa: 
Ah, well, that's my fault. Y'see I've got in my room, right now. I've got it all, See, I've got the first side finished . . . 
I made the map <aherm> and then all these things started happening, disaster A, disaster B and now I'm redoing the thing 
there about Pandora's box cuz I want to get that thing on there. and we've got people who've sent for it that are 
screaming for their bread so it's gonna go out, I'm gonna finish the thing off this week. It's just a question of redoing 
that and putting some other pictures on the other side of the map. But it'll be really groovy. So that's how the first 
Freak Out album got together.
Don Paulsen: 
How is it been selling by the way?
Frank Zappa: 
It's selling Very well. In fact MGM thought that they'd spent too much money on it already and were gonna let it die. 
But it started selling again and it kept on selling and now they don't know what it is. I went down there the other day 
and I went into the sales cheese office saying 'You guys are fucked, you don't know what you're doing, you've got the 
Beatles on your hands and you're sitting there with your thumb up yer ass and you don't know what you're doing, man' and 
he looked at me like I was crazy and I said y'know, 'You sold 'em like this after one week,' I said 'when we first came 
to New York, there was no extra hype, there was 5000 sales all over the country and forty of 'em in a town the size of a 
pumpkin in Wyoming!' It was really unbelievable. Cuz they been just letting it alone.
Don Paulsen: 
How have people been finding out about the album?
Frank Zappa: 
Word of mouth.
Don Paulsen: 
What do you know of your following?
Frank Zappa: 
We have quite a . . . strong following and uhh . . . it's pretty big. There was this one kid who drove all the way from 
New Jersey on a motorcycle in the rain to see one of the shows at the Balloon Farm man, and he was practically eating my 
shoes.<laughing> I said, 'What is this?' I -- y'know, we made a record, we put it out there, I didn't think anybody knew, 
we come from California y'know and we come out here and there's this guy from New Jersey, goin out of his mind. 
He says 'All the kids from over there really dig you man.' So we're being surprised everyplace we go. We went to University, 
We went to Michigan State and went across the street to do a little hype like we have done in the past, and 400 kids come 
blasting in there for autographs man in a store about as big as this office and the guy had the albums all over the store. 
This is, was . . . blowing my mind. They're out there, though.
Don Paulsen: 
I hope it grows more. I hope you get above ground to the point that the radio stations answer to the public demand.
Frank Zappa: 
NO. Our aim is to kill top forty radio within the next six months if possible and if you hear that second album you'll see 
where that might happen. We've decided -- certain concessions have to be made before a record is air-playable. Right? 
Now I'm not in the business to compete with the makers of hankypanky y'know That record is gotta be air-playable man, 
that can't hurt nobody and    it ain't gonna move you either. and that's not why I'm writing music , y'know.    
The only reason I put this whole thing together man is -- I'm a composer and nobody wanted to hear any of my music ok? 
It pissed me off. So I said, 'They don't want to hear it? I'm gonna put me a band together and I'll make you listen    
to it motherfucker'. And we did y'know, it's working and people are listening to that stuff. They're wondering why it's 
there, and why it sounds like that but I make 'em hear it and sometimes they like it.
Back to index

Top 40 Radio Is Unethical

Don Paulsen: 
"I think that Stan Freberg had a concept with 'Fave Radio'. He came up with a program like one of the early radio shows. 
I guess he was with Regan the governor if I remember and he called it Fave Radio. Said you can't get a program like 
that on the radio anymore with FAT TIRE and if FAT TIRE doesn't go on network radio anymore so, uh . . . so it's that 
concept and people don't buy records to listen it in their homes because you can't hear it on the radio.

Frank Zappa: 
I think that WOR is doing a lot to kill top 40 radio in it's standard type.
Don Paulsen: 
Yeh, we play a lot of records nobody else will.
Frank Zappa: 
I think if people all over the country knew more about the situation here in town. I understand that the FM transistor 
sales are like 600% above AM transistor sales in New York City, -- get that in your sheet.
Don Paulsen: 
Well another fact, another thing, we're thinking of doing is having like, we're gonna try to have listeners petition 
the radio station about exposing records that haven't been playing. Which, y'know, might go somewhere.
Frank Zappa: 
I think somebody should make a statement to the effect that top 40 radio is unethical.
Don Paulsen: 
Would you like to make a statement to that effect?
Frank Zappa: <into the microphone>: I think that Top 40 Radio is unethical, unmusical and it SUCKS! and something ought to be 
done about it, preferably on a grass roots level.
Don Paulsen: 
To go back to the original, not the original, the previous question about music and the first piece of music that 
really grabbed you and what you were listening to along the way. Y'know what it was doing to you and what came out of it.
Frank Zappa: 
My folks would never let me have music when I was young. My father wanted me to be a scientist.
Don Paulsen: 
A deprived childhood eh?
Frank Zappa: 
Yeah, I had a deprived childhood. Well . . . it's ok, they're alright. So anyways . . . they didn't like music, 
well, I -- 'Music, I can take it or leave it. We don't need a record player, what's that? Y'know we got a radio 
and we got a tv-set, what are we gonna need a record player for?' So I was gonna be a scientist and uhh, 
I was gonna be a chemist as a matter of fact. When I was six-years old I was already manufacturing some very 
effective explosives in the house, but by the time I was 12 or 13 I had nearly taken one of my legs off with a 
home-made bomb. So then I decided well, maybe it was time that I talked them into getting me a record player. 
So I got this record player and my mother automatically decided 'well we got this record player maybe I'll get    
some of the records that I like'. So she got the record called "The Little Shoemaker", remember that thing? and 
"Raffy Taffy Toons"
Don Paulsen: 
Oh, The Payne's Brothers with DeForest?
Frank Zappa: 
Yeh, the schmuck of a . . . well anyway, meanwhile I was, uhh, the first single I bought was ahh, "Work With Me Annie" 
by the Midnighter's and then I got "Loop De Loop Mambo" and "Riot in Cell Block 9" by the Robins who later became the 
Coasters and then, I kept trying, my folks would always bash my hand, but I kept listening to Hunter Hancock on the radio, 
in LA. He was the first R&B Disc Jockey out there about 11 or 12 years ago.
Don Paulsen: 
What's his name again?
Frank Zappa: 
Hunter, old HH. Well anyway he would play things like "I" by the Velvets. Do you remember that record? It's a 
slow ooo-wah song?
Don Paulsen: 
Frank Zappa: 
I used to listen to THAT stuff . . .and I grew up with all R&B music. Billy Mae Thornton and Johnny Otis on the Peacock 
label . . .
Back to index

Frank grew up on, Freak Out! cover

Frank Zappa: 
I grew up with all R&B music. Billy Mae Thornton and Johnny Otis on the Peacock label before he had his own label and then 
he went to Capitol and went to pieces and shaved his thing off . . . and uh . . . uhh Howlin Wolfand uhhh, <aherm> all 
the groups, I really dug the groups, y'know a lot of wheezing falsetto stuff,and Joe Houston, remember Joe Houston? 
Played the tenor sax and laid flat on his back and squeaked the octave? Yeah. Ok, simultaneously though I became aware    
of the presence of real music --- uhh, got ahold of an album that I read about in Look magazine I believe. It was a big 
article they did on Sam Goody's Record shop. Said 'Sam Goody sells records that nobody else would buy, these people in 
New York are really crazy', y'know 'They'll buy anything. There's this record that's ALL noise. It's so ugly nobody wants 
to listen to it. The name of it is 'Ionisations' by Edgar Varese and I'm tellin ya this thing is really ugly'. And I says 
'that's the record for me' and I looked all over town. I was livin in San Diego -- which is a little schmuck town and I 
couldn't y'know. I went to all the big stores and I couldn't find it. Well, I gave up. One day I went into this -- it was 
a hi-fi shop in a place called La Mesa which is a town about this big and grows avacados. 
I went in there to find a Joe Houston record, see, to dance to, cuz I wanted to learn how to do the bop and there on the 
shelf is    a grey album. Got a picture of a guy on it with hair like this! He looked like a mad scientist. 
And it's 'Ionisations' The Complete Works of Edgar Varese, Volume 1. It was all yellowed. It was recorded in 1950 that record.
So, I says 'Wow! will ya play that for me on one of your hi-fi's?' Cuz I had a little record player like this at the house 
and he says 'No man, do you want this thing? uhh, uhhh' y'know he was really happy to get rid of it y'know?They wanted six 
dollars for it. I said, 'I got four dollars, can I uhh, give ya some now and give ya some more later y'know?'. And he says, 
'No! here, gimme yer money, take it' and I left the Joe Houston record and split with THAT and took it home and put it on 
and y'know it was so mysterious, I didn't know what was gonna come out of it, I thought it was gonna eat me ALIVE . 
So I put it on and it was really groovy, it really was. Ionisations is almost a sonata allegro for ahh, 13 percussionists 
playing 32 different percussion instruments, 2 sirens, ahhh, different sizedbass drums, different sized and shaped snare drums, 
piano, everything man. It's just beautiful. These woodwind things are all on there, it's all very dissonant stuff.
All these things were written in the '20's and '30's. The early '20's and '30's. And it just blew my mind. 
So then I said, 'Wow! That's classical music. Never heard any of that before, y'know. I didn't start with Beethoven, 
I didn't even know what Beethoven was, in fact, I didn't even like Beethoven. Y'know I got onto the heavy stuff right away. 
So I went out and got a cheapy record of the Rite of Spring on the Camden label by the Worldwide Symphony Orchestra that turned 
out to be a pretty good version of that cuz I've had about five records of that .
So I had those two albums. I couldn't afford any more for like about two years and I wore 'em out ? That and my R&B records, 
y'know I got about a thousand R&B records now and uhhh, I don't have the whole Rite Of Spring but I've still got the first riff. 
Now I've got all the available recordings of this music, so I went out and bought the scores to his music or what I could get 
my hands on. Y'know and really made a study of what he was doing. Then I heard about 12 tone music, and bought the complete works 
of Anton Webern and some Schoenberg, and, finally got a couple things by Al Von Berg [sp?] and a big pile of Bartok.
Got his music for piano, percussion. So I just lost my mind. The more dissonant it was, the better I dug it, y'know?
I was tryin to find . . . well I said, if THIS sounds like THIS and this really knocks me out, what could be weirder than that, 
there couldn't be anything weirder than that.<ahem>. I kept looking for albums with electronic music, y'know? Of which there is 
not enough on the market. The only real selection you can get is on European recordings which are not widely distributed. So I    
made this whole collection of contemporary music. I don't uhhh . . . the only piece of music that I own people might be considered 
consonant in the normal sense is this thing ahhh Suite in F# minor by Ernst Von Donanyi [sp?] and I only got that because somebody 
gave that to me. It's one of those old Columbia 10 inch lps. But everything else, uhh, tends to uhhh, raise the hairs on the back 
of yer neck.

Don Paulsen: 
ahh, oh, FM radio is also, is not as much ahhh, I think FM radio in relation to that kind of classical music is the same way the 
pop stations are in relation to your music. You don't find, y'know, too much of playing of that kind of . . .
Frank Zappa: 
Absolutely, yeh, I mean, their still stuck in the romantic
Don Paulsen: 
y'know you hear Beethoven comin out of your ears.
Frank Zappa: Well see, it's like, everything in America tends to give a warped impression of where it's really at.
Don Paulsen: yeh, in fact, I dunno if there's any on the coast or if you've heard any of it, but there's a station in Connecticut 
that has the top 100 in classical music. They play a hundred pieces over and over again. They began with 40, the top 40 classical 
favorites and just play these forty things in a row and as soon as they were finished they'd start over in the same sequence 
over and over again. Now they got listed as the top 100 playin the same thing one after the other.It's easy on the programmers 
I know
Frank Zappa: 
So after you've been through the list three times, you sound really like 'Well, oh . . '
Don Paulsen: Yeah. They probably have these gigantic reels of tape.So that fellow over there has to rewind it all to starts 
the thing all over again.
Frank Zappa: 
Yeh it's on one of those spools like telephone wire.
Don Paulsen: 
Oh, I hope this, well, it happened with the regulations of the FCC. Y'know the man at the station both FM and AM outlets had 
different programming at the time.So that's how WOR-FM got started. Hopefully tho, y'know it'll make them go more for your 
kinda music.
Frank Zappa: 
Y'know another thing that's disgusting is the R&B stations, especially the one's in LA, man. Y'know they're so saturated with 
plastic motown, y'know ahh, falsetto, rocking, big band bullshit man. It makes ya cry. It doesn't even sound colored anymore.
They don't play ANY country-blues, y'know, you'll hear -- they'll play ONE John Lee Hooker record every six weeks y'know. 
'Ah, here he is, yah! the blues favorite, yessir, now to get that fucker offa there and stick the Impressions back on or somethin'.
And that's getting really sterile too. The jazz stations are just sick. They had a top 40 thing too.Well that's one of the 
interesting aspects of what we do because ahhh, it's also one of the things that people didn't notice about the FREAK OUT! album.    
Is that it was distilled and packaged very purposely. It sold on sight. Now, when can you remember in the history of teenage bullshit 
music has an unknown group come out with a two-album package that looked like that? There was a lot  of grease behind that and ummm, 
that was partly due to the company taking a risk putting out a full-color thing like that.But the packaging is part of the gag.
Don Paulsen: 
Would you care to run thru some of this--? When I . . . . I asked for some material on you, and that's all I could get from MGM.
Frank Zappa: 
This is all they'd give you?
Don Paulsen: 
Plus a couple of photos
Frank Zappa: pshhh. Well, anyway, THIS terrible, bullshit layout, is so disgusting, this is the ugliest layout I've ever seen on 
the inside an album and I'm not responsible for any of it except the words. These pictures over here, just . . .
Don Paulsen: 
Who do you think would have had it cropped in that way?
Frank Zappa: 
Well, here's the way it works. See they have an agency and the artist rotates ya know. 'Ah! I got a job for ya Fred!' 'What is 
it today?' 'Well, we got this album, it's ahhh, freak ahhh, well, I dunno, some of the teenage weird stuff, y'know? Give us 
something a bit different here. Use your pinking shears and uhhh, make it CUTE and SPIFFY fer the kids'. Look this is so irrelevant
man, PF Sloane, who hates him? and Les McCann and Paul Butterfield and some of the enemies, they called 'em -- the enemies of MGM 
sign it and just
Don Paulsen: 
Who put the . . .
Frank Zappa: 
I didn't, that was their -- the only thing I'm responsible for is the text. Cover design: Jack Anesh . We got your number, eh?
Back to index

Doing The Layout

Frank Zappa: 
I tell ya, I am doing the complete layout on the album cover this time.
Don Paulsen: If you can get that, y'know. For some reason there's the people in the record company that feels 'what does he know about packaging it? It's only your music. What do you know about packaging it?'
Frank Zappa: Well, I wish that we could have done the interview up there in the room in AC. I went out and charged $130 worth of art supplies to MGM which gives me like a complete studio up there in this dingy little hotel room that I'm staying at. Yesterday I sat in my chair for 13and a half hours. I'm doing the mechanicals, the whole bullshit
For putting this thing together. It's really gonna be a mind-warper. Anyway. The packaging in its relationship to the music, ahhh, we produce a product that is designed to become obsolete within ahhhh four years. In keeping with the great American tradition of planned obsolescence.
I could probably plot our success curve for you but I don't think that it would be wise to reveal those inside dealies to the kids. I have a very good idea of exactly what's going to happen with this group and a pretty good idea of what the emotional impact of certain ahh, y'know it's just like Pavlovian reactions, y'know, lemmings on television and all of the baloney.
The packaging is the equivalent of that sort of thing, at it's best.
Don Paulsen: We work by the way on a two-month advance and we turn copy in to get printed and is in the stands two months later. Would you care to project the group two-months hence?
Frank Zappa: Project the group two months ahead?
Don Paulsen: Plus even three or four cuz I even have enough now for a couple of articles.
One on the history of the group and the Freak Out album y'know. Could you project maybe a couple of months?

Frank Zappa: I think that ahhh, by the time three months has rolled around that we will be known as something other than 'Here's this weird group from the coast and I think It was Bob Sheldon made the terrible mistake of calling us the West Coast version of The Fugs, which he apologized for the other day, Thank God and I that we will become known as a Guiding Force in pop music today within about, ohhh, three months. We will not actually be the guiding force but that'll be the word going around.
and you'll see like ahh, Seeing how everything IS delayed so much by publication and things like that, yer seeing a lot of Freak Out ! this and Freak Out that appearing in magazines now, ok, but now our second album will be released in February
Well, the next album is called Absolutely Free . . . and uhh . . . what it is, it's not a rock-n-roll album. It's an oratorio with rockandroll music, but it's an oratorio. And we include in the album the complete libretto to the oratorio. See, each of the members are taking kinda character parts as they sing the songs and what it is is maybe eight songs that are edited together wham! like that, like one continuous piece of music. . . . and what it is is a panorama of American life today including a section about ten minutes long about a man in city hall who has a fetish for balling 13 year old girls covered in chocolate syrup. Preferably his daughter. The result of this is HE WRITES BAD LAWS because he's always horny, he's never satisfied, he just can never get enough of them little girls. And uhhh, it ranges from that to a song about vegetables and people don't talk to vegetables enough. The version on the album is just about as long as the way we do it with the big instrumental thing we do, ok. But the idea is it's all packaged to be more like what the music really is and less like a hype. Y'know the initial packaging on this was 'HEYYYYY LOOK AT THIS SHIT!'
'Three dollars and twelve cents at the Mayfair market?, I'll take it.' That's what it's going for in LA now,
K? Now, the packaging comes a bit closer to where the music is with a more tasteful interior, there is going to be a little less garish. The cover is, it opens like this <unfolds drawing book>. It's gonna say at the top, The Mothers. A black and white picture of me, from here like this, which bleeds into another picture of all the guys in the group, just all distorted, the picture makes 'em all look like they're genetically deformed. This will all be processed in straight black and white, no half-tone. and a line thing. This'll be the color up here and there the black and white. Down at the bottom we have a picture of a distorted, ugly, American city, hand-drawn in Marvy Markers. With a big lettering thing here, kinda like Pop Art Ben-Hur and it goes 'Absolutely Freeeee' and the Free is falling off the side of the page and it'll look like a terrible calendar when you open it up.
But, y'know, on the rack you'll see it like this and it'll look fairly straight. It'll look like the music from a motion picture, cuz the picture of me on the front is very stark and dramatic and it looks something like Zorba the Greek.
Like I just lost my three pennies that I was going to get to shave it.
On the inside is a couple more collages put together with pieces from a Due Common Nut & Bolt catalog. Ever seen one of those?
Don Paulsen: No and neither do I -- what's a nut &bolt catalog
Frank Zappa: All the illustrations are hand-engraved -- this is from about 1920.
They're really beautiful. And so this side over here will be like a black rectangle with these things. The nuts and bolts will appear in white and the people all in there. On this side we have another collage of the Mothers growing out of my hair.
Don Paulsen: Hydra?
Frank Zappa: Yeah, a medusa type thing. It'll say here in very ornate Florentine letters 'For your convenience, The clean American version straight and simple Libretto
Parts 1 and 2 . With all the words including all the ad lib bullshit that we did on the side. And y'know, it's really gonna look like a classic item. Then when they put the record in the grooves they're DONE for. Cuz this, we really, we took a giant step forward by adding more guys to the band. The only instruments that are added for this album are one trumpet, a string quartet and a contrabass clarinet on one song and all the rest of the stuff are the guys in the group.
Don Paulsen: That's quite a full sound with what you have now. Is that a fairly permanent lineup of the band?
Frank Zappa: Ahh, we must emphasize in the article, seeing as how the guys join and quit at will because I would never force anybody to play my music, they only stay if they want to, these are today's Mothers. I'll give ya a list of their names which might change in the next 15 or 20 minutes.
Don Paulsen: Are there -- Is there any basic instrumentation of it that you would like to adhere to?
Frank Zappa: uhhh, you want to know the basic instrumentation of my ideal Mothers rocknroll band? Oh Boy.
Don Paulsen: I think it's a great instrumentation as it is . .
Frank Zappa: Well I won't be happy until the band consists of two piccolos, two flutes, two bass flutes, two oboes, English horn, three bassoons, contrabassoon, four clarinets, fourth doubling alto clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass sax. four trumpets, four french horns, three trombones, bass trombone, one tuba, one contrabass tuba, two harps, two keyboard men playing piano, electric piano, electric harpsichord, electric clavichord, Hammond organ, celeste, piano bass. Ten first violins, ten second violins, eight violas, six cellos, four string bass. Four percussion . . . four percussion just have to play, ten tympani, pardon me, twelve tympani, chimes, gongs, field drums, bass drums, snare drums, wood blocks.
Don Paulsen: What is a field drum?
Frank Zappa: A field drum is the same as a snare drum only it's very deep and
Don Paulsen: The kind they use in parades?
Frank Zappa: Yes, parade drum. Ahhh, lion's roar, vibes, xylophone, marimba.
Then we have, three electric guitars, one electric twelve-string guitar, electric bass and electric bass guitar which is a an octave lower than a guitar with six strings, ahh and two drummers at sets plus vocalists, that also plays tambourine
I think that's somewhere around 84 pieces
Don Paulsen: wow. Either that or get four guys to play all these instruments with recording just overdubs
Frank Zappa: I want to do it live. I think people are entitled to hear that kind of music live. I think that kids would go to concerts if they could hear music that knocked 'em out. I think that if concert halls would change over to ahh more modern type of programming they would find the place would be crawling with kids. It's be the new in thing to do to make it to, ahhh y'know to go hear somebody play. We're making some headway in this that department because we find that a lot of people pretend that they can't dance to our music. Which is total bullshit. You CAN dance to it. I mean, I'm nearly uhhh, umm, an epileptic and I can make it, y'know. They just, -- a lot of people choose not to dance to it.
They'll -- they will sit and listen to it. Now that's not because they enjoy the music, yet. I got them wired. The only reason they will sit and listen, is cuz they're waitin to find OUT if they like the music. Cuz it doesn't sound like what they've been used to hearing and they want, y'know to get their ears accustomed to it and that -- that's the reason why a lot of times you'll see one of our audience -- they're like this . . .
Sometimes they won't even clap y'know
Don Paulsen: I know, I noticed when the night I was there that y'know the response wasn't as enthusiastic as I'd expected it to be.
Frank Zappa: We don't have fans in that sense, y'know where there gonna come there -- A FAN
Don Paulsen: Well, not even that, just to say, just as far as showing the appreciation for I think, y'know the fantastic sound that you got out of the group. I think, y'know even with the instrumentation that you have now, yer really getting a sound that is really like no-one else's sound and it has a full sound and I like it very much y'know.

Back to index

The Equipment

Frank Zappa: 
We're doing the best we can with what we got. It's still not what I really wanna hear out of those players. I believe that 
the potential for the instrumentation which we have is very great. But it's not ahh used well enough. For one thing our equipment 
is bad. So far I haven't found any equipment outside of the . . . It just isn't the right kind of equipment, yet.
Don Paulsen: Y'mean the manufacturers still aren't making it.
Frank Zappa: Yeah, they aren't making the kind of stuff to make the kind of noises that I wanna make on a bandstand. The tone . . . the sound of the amplifiers tends to break up at high volumes too quickly. To induce hypnosis in an audience you have to have two things. One, at sustained volume you have to have uhhh -- certain keys tend to be more hypnotic than other keys.
You need to uhh limit the amount of uhhh harmonic movement.
Don Paulsen: Like a lot of psychedelic and a lot of that?
Frank Zappa: Psychedelic? that's bullshit. Yeah.
I asked Joe Romero [sp?] from the Night Owls what psychedelic music was and he says, 'Y'know it's LOUD and out of TUNE, it's CRAZY music, ya can't understand it'. Y'know, that's a little different from what we do. Our music is fairly, ahhh logical. Our spontaneous outbursts are fairly logical in terms of what they accomplish.
Don Paulsen: I noticed in the way -- you have a very firm hand in directing the band as far as giving them signals thru different passages.
Frank Zappa: Well, you take an eight-piece band and not direct them and you'll have psychedelic music. We rehearse on average about twelve hours per song and the songs are learned in sections. Thre'll be the front part, the recognisable, y'know like the girl on the front of the ship, that part. Then we'll have interlude A, interlude B and certain cues that they'll have to remember for each part of the song.
Don Paulsen: I think of them like movementsin classical pieces.
Frank Zappa: We try and make each set that we do there one continuous piece of music and that would include the dialog in between the songs. We like to think we get up there and play an opera for the people if they would perceive it that way.Somewhere it says it'd be an hour and a half if we gets carried away. And y'know that's about an opera length.
Don Paulsen: Even opera is kind of an outdated term, because it's describing one form of music and you're doing something completely new. I mean You're using an old term because you have no other basis of reference.
Frank Zappa: It's like people saying psychedelic music
Don Paulsen: Right, that's what I mean. It's just a handle that they can grab hold of to describe it. In reality it really doesn't fit in the strict confines of opera . . .
Frank Zappa: It's theater. It really is. We have a plan underway to open a show here this summer, a musical that no one has ever seen, based on the Lenny Bruce trials. It's gonna be a musical science fiction horror story. If y'know anything about the life of Lenny Bruce who just happened to be a friend of mine and our manager's
Don Paulsen: Pardon me, I got the album 'Who killed Lenny Bruce' On Capitol. On a subsidiary called Probe. I just heard bits of it. I don't know why but before you came out I was thinking of asking you about Lenny Bruce. I don't know, y'know WHY, but...
Frank Zappa: Lenny, man. He was a SAINT! That guy really was. You know what he had been doing for maybe five years or so? He was researching Don Paulsen: His book, it's a beautiful book
Frank Zappa: I haven't read the book. Does it tell about his researches into the law and all that? He lived up the hill from us in Hollywood with this guy that's helping us put together our PA system.. Like John found him when he was zonked. He'd sit up in his room for 14 hours typing up briefs for cases and researching constitutional law trying to find out what y'know what the facts really were and what you were entitled to do within the law. And I think that for anybody to devote 14 hours a day to ANYthing man, he should get a medal just for that, y'know. He really loved the law, y'know and wanted to see it work. I mean what the big machine did to Lenny Bruce is pretty disgusting and uh I think it ranks with civil rights as one of the big pimples on the face of American uhh, culture. But nobody'll ever find anything out about it, I guess so 'FUCK him'.
Don Paulsen: Well, y'know. AAhhh, To get back to the one thing about the different movements or sections in the songs that you do, how did the medleys and songs from the fifties and that all come about.
Frank Zappa: What the ooh-wah and members of El Monte --?
Don Paulsen: Yeah and as a matter of fact what you were saying about fulfilling. I think that really there has been no other group that has sort of catered to the oldies thing. That would be giving them anything to listen to. I remember I especially got a big kick out of that cuz I remember a lot of that music when I was a child and uhh...
Frank Zappa: Ahhh Let me tell you. To me, that is the only real folk music that Americans can look to. I mean, What they hear now as folk music, outside of field recordings, I mean, holdin yor note . . . [tape cut?] folk singers and stuff, that's not folk music, that's somebody's interpretation of a song that they heard, that's baloney. You can still BUY some of those records. Those records were songs I mean, at their best, not the one's that were manufactured in some offfice here in town --'I got a song, get these kids -- get these pukers, make 'em record it. [tape cut?]. OK Bernie, Bernie's got a girlfriend and her name is Wanda. Wanda is not going to go to the dance with him because his face broke out but he loves Wanda and he's gonna write a song about it. And he and his buddies from the street get together and rehearse for six months
Don Paulsen: They harmonize in the boy's room at recess when they're at school
Frank Zappa: A-herm, Absolutely that's folk music
Don Paulsen: and the concrete jungle
Frank Zappa: and those WORDS! and don't give a fuck how simple people --y'know those WORDS, THEIR TERRRIBLE!
Don Paulsen: but they're real
Frank Zappa: but that's -- that's SOUL man
Don Paulsen: That's right, they're saying it the only way they know how man, and uhh, that's what got me about it, was just the simple honesty that's in there. It's sort of amusing for some of em to sort of laugh at the naivete and the way you smile at it. But these guys -- it's how they're really feelin it.
Frank Zappa: Here's another way to perceive it. There's so much TRAGedy in that music when you SEE that that IS naive, man. That, the way that those people were singing about their social-sexual realtionships , with their idol, their girl thing, their ahh, STRAP GESTALT, it's perverted, that, you are seeing . . . all the music that was on those records in the fifties til 1957 or '58, it's just a , it's a phenomenon man, that is like a mirror held up to society, that had perverted that youth, y'know, and all the parents which in turn had preverted that youth, to produce a folk product like that, that music tells where those kids were really at and that's tragic, man. and if you want to do some motivational research I mean a lot of the things I know about an audience and what's gonna happen in their heads and what's gonna happen to their glands, you can learn from just listening to those records, man. Just go to any of those places where they sell old junk records and grab a fistful of em and listen to em til your ears bleed and you'll see. They tell you exactly where they're at. People will always tell you where they are at. They'll always tell you where they want to be at, if you listen for that. If you can find someway to get them from where they are to where they want to be, you're fulfilling a need, a desperate need in this society. Those songs were all in reality just an outcry, 'HELP ME, Oh No, I Don't really dig Wanda, she's a pig but it's the best I can do and I can't help it that I got pimples', y'know.
Don Paulsen: Yeah. There was one thing, either Jim said you'd discussed with him or with Paul, was you'd sorta traced the evolution ahh like of the male fashion from the khakis to the bell bottoms.
Frank Zappa: Let's see, Well, You have to understand this differs . . .
Don Paulsen: Again, I think it's reflecting, I think some of the other songs there were other songs about Bermuda shorts and sunglasses, sittin on the -- Cool on the coast with the most, wearin sunglasses.
Frank Zappa: Fan shoes with painted shoelaces.
Don Paulsen: Right, they're reflecting a teenage fashion which even if the teenagers are the most fashion conscious, they don't seem to be fashion hounds anymore.
Frank Zappa: I'll tell ya, it's harder to make up songs about dirty Levi's and ummm y'know. Well, I'll tell ya why they're not fashion songs. I'm sure, wll, maybe they are, they just don't play em on the radio.Well, that's true I don't think the public ever really wanted those fashion songs EXCEPT during that period -- y'know ten, twelve years ago, when you wanted to go out on a date you had to punch out your father: "I need the keys to the car pop." "Whaddya need the car for ya sumuna ?' and he's drinkin beer and he's still watchin television, y'know -- it was a hassle, y'know . They didn't want to let you out of the house. The teenagers were still trying to break away from their parental environment. Now, today in California, often y'need the keys to the car and it's 'Pa I need the keys to the car', 'Which one son, how much money do ya need?', y'know, it's like that.
Don Paulsen: Happened on the east coast too
Frank Zappa: Well, it's -- That's what it's gotten to man, the kids have gotten out of the house and now -- the fools -- they got their freedom they don't know what the fuck to do with it. they just don't realize that their parents never really had control of anything. The parents didn't have control of their own emotions or their own, ahhh their own destiny to say the least. Their parents didn't have ANYthing and the kid have got it by the balls, man and they could cripple this fucking country if they wanted to by not buying COCA-Cola for six months. If they ever found out they could rule the world! I tell ya, you want to put your magazine on the map? You do an article that would tell the teenager - ahhh I'm gonna write ya a little story here -- this is, maybe you could think this is just a fairy tale: you want to give them the actual things, the facts, This is how Madison Avenue regards you, you are, this valuable in terms of the market. OK. Here is what you could do if you really wanted to take over. If you could show 'em that. Listen a step by step article on how to conquer the United States. Be the first kid on your block to rule the country. You could suggest that they stop drinking soft drinks. You could suggest that if, if everybody in their particular town decided to walk more and drive less gasoline sales are gonna down. Multiply that by nationwide. You know what that would do? It would force major concerns to lobby in to get the eightteen yr old to vote.
Don Paulsen: Teen Power.
Frank Zappa: Teen Power would be an insane thing as a magazine to itself. Just, y'know like one of those one shot magazines deals? like on Teen Power? I think you'd have people screaming for the second issue. 'HOW TO TAKE OVER THE UNITED STATES', man with a bottle of soda pop would be unbelievable with common household appliances you could rule the world!
Don Paulsen: Well, One of the things there was a gag in MAD magazine or one of the take-off ones where there was one of the villain's plots in trying to destroy the world economy was to make Comical [or Hannukah?] coke bottles and turn them in for deposit
Frank Zappa: They could have coke bottle breaking protest marches.
Don Paulsen: I wonder if there could be enough of em to get together to ahh
Frank Zappa: You wonder. I tell ya what. I wondered if anybody outside of Los Angelos would buy our record, without being made to buy it by promotional hype and I sure was wrong. Because there are kids all over the country and like in the small towns -- do you know what it's like to have a brain anything larger than a raisin and live in a small town? AGONY man, those kids are WAITin to do somethin!
Don Paulsen: Eric {Derek?]Anderson has a song about that, about you know what it's like to be unhip in a small town, y'know you don't know all the people crowding in around you. It's a really good song.
Frank Zappa: It's real man, those people aren't just popping, fiddling around, hanging out saying 'well, listen it's five o'clock' -- That's the thing that really hangs me up about New York, man. Everything quits at five o'clock. In LA, if I want to work 36 hours a day I know that I'm at least if I want to get somethin to eat I know there's gonna be somewhere that's open, nearby.
Don Paulsen: Well, there are a lot of places in this town that are open
Frank Zappa: Yeah? I mean not opposite. I mean the business seems to stop. It's not like everybody really wants to make it from 8 to 5. Even showbusiness is eight to five. We get down to the hall where we were working and the guy in there is like 'I don't get down here til after 4:30'. Well I can't get in. We'll want to rehearse at 5 o'clock, and we can't do it. Back to index

Sunset Boulevard


Frank Zappa:
There is definitely a revolutionary tendency ... I mean among the people who are alive and well and thinking in the United States 
today of all ages. They're getting to the point where they're fed up enough with the things are and the way things have been and 
also can see just a glimmer of hope that they could change it – Now, it's possible at this point in history to change things.
Don Paulsen: That's true. Do you think that the west coast riots for example are an example of teens just starting to realise that somebody is trying to, the real estate people are just trying to put them down and they're rebelling against it?
Frank Zappa: Absolutely. But the thing is, the type of leadership that rises out of that – that was kind of a spontaneous thing,so you got this CALF, which is an organisation to help the kids. Well I think it's a hype. I don't think they're really gonna help the kids. They have raised some money for bail bonds. Do you know about the organisation and who's in it? Derek Taylor, Bob Denver, James Lark, ahhh,
Don Paulsen: I have read about some of those people
Frank Zappa: some millionaire, ahhh, Desert Lowe [sp?]
Don Paulsen: I have heard about Desert Lowe [sp?]
Frank Zappa: yeh, and it was y'know written up in the underground press in LA that it was gonna happen but I've yet to see anything really revolutionary come out of it. What it is , is kind of a defense mechanism, it's not a leadership device. It's something to help the kids if they get in trouble. But that doesn't
Don Paulsen: It's sort of a – a cure but it's not a preventative
Frank Zappa: <aherm> well, you don't want a cure –
Don Paulsen: It's sort of a cure after the disease has already struck.
Frank Zappa: Well see, it's not a disease
Don Paulsen: Well, whatever the
Frank Zappa: The kids are the cure.
Don Paulsen: Well, I mean the organization, in other words is taking care of things after something happens rather than trying to prevent it from happening in the first place. Or getting around it somehow or letting it go on.
Frank Zappa: It Shouldn't have prevented it from happening. It shoud have MADE it happen.
Don Paulsen: Yeh, well fine. yeah

Frank Zappa: I'm saying The KIDS are what's right.
As far as I'm concerned. and I mean the real estate owners are here and there
Don Paulsen: What I mean by preventive, when I say preventive what I should say is to somehow try to prevent the real estate people from making the situation.
Frank Zappa: That's right. They should have. Cuz do you know what Sunset Boulevard is like, ever been there?
Don Paulsen: No I haven't.
Frank Zappa: Sunset Boulevard is one story mostly, all the way down the line. I mean ... The strip which lasts maybe about a mile. And it used to be really groovy with this one club called the Trip which is about the middle of the strip. and then there was a lot of police harassment and they changed the type of music that they played at the Trip and then the kids went to the Whisky. There are maybe three or four long hair, new music dance places in the whole of metropolitan hippieville there. And they're spread out.
Don Paulsen: What do they know?
Frank Zappa: Let's see, you got the Whisky a Go-Go, you got the Brave New World, you got Bido Lido's and you've got Pandora's Box which is still open part of the time and you've got the Seawitch. Except for the Whisky, all the rest of them if you put them together, you'd probabaly equal the Whisky a Go-Go, cuz they're this big. The Whisky books name acts and the other places have local acts in them. Oh there's one other place out on Colenga [sp?] the Maid or something like that ... but they're all DYING cuz the police department is stamping out dance clubs. Now they know ... remember how strong this appeal is to the primitive mind, which is the motivation ahhh level of most of these kids, that ahh dancing in the animal sense, and the west coast is different than – they don't dance rigid, in stereotype routines. They just get out there and dance what's inside of 'em. They'll dance by themselves, they'll dance six or seven at a time and scare you to watch and if you're a policeman and you see those kids dancing ... <aherm> We played this one show called the GUAMBO which stands for Great Underground Artist Orgy and Masked Ball, Masked Ball and Orgy or something like that. Anyway, they expected 500 kids to show up at this place that's called the Aerospace Hall. The cops came over there and said, 'We don't want 500 kids dancing man, in one place! You kidding? in LA with all these freaks dancing?' There's no place in LA that holds 500 kids right? The police went down there to the Aerospace Hall, said we're gonna take your liquor license and your health permit, ditdada, we're gonna take it all away if you let the kids in this door'. The day before it was supposed to happen, with three weeks of advertising out, see? OK. So the free press, the LA free press, the underground free press there which was sponsoring the event, says, 'oh no, what are we gonna do, we've got all this bread sunk into it' and it would almost y'know be a financial disaster for the paper and the police just fucked 'em up and they had a contract with the hall and everything.So, on Monday's notice they moved it, completely out of Hollywood to a reasonably unsavory part of town at 6th and Western, which is not hip at all, to a place called the Danish Community Center, which holds 900 kids, on the third floor. And in One day they moved all their stuff down there and put the word-of-mouth out and had a couple people waiting at the Aerospace Hall to say 'It's down there' and 3000 kids turned up just from under the rocks. All these weird looking people standing in the street and they're saying Who Are The Brain Police? and It Can't Happen Here, and all of a sudden like about 300 policemen, that's like ten kids for every cop show up to try and control it. It was twenty kids across up the steps going into the place. It was like this, I couldn't even hardly get into the place to play for like, up two flights of stairs. And the people were just – It was insane, like the building was gonna collapse. And the cops were just panic stricken, they stood around like this, real nice, y'know and didn't give anybody any trouble. It was just unbelievable.So, after that they said, 'look, there's 3000 freaks, we no idea there were that many here in town'. Then we started putting on these Freak Outs at the Shrine Exposition Hall which is an even LESS savory part of town, down near next to Watts. And I think the most we had down there was about 5000 kids and the cops started to stamp out dancing. You can't get a dance license hardly. You want to open up a dance place, they won't license a place to dance in. And you can't make any bread unless people can dance there.They aren't listening to the ahhh, listening rooms, y'know the go-go's, the Nite-Owls
Don Paulsen: At the Go-Go you dance, oh you mean
Frank Zappa:[garbled] at the go-go
They don't have that kind of thing there, nobody goes there to listen, they go there to dance. They don't give a shit what it is. They will dance to our music there. We play y'know, the way the rhythm changes and everything, that doesn't make any difference to them. They just wanna go out there and really get it on y'know.So our music was designed around that sort of police brutality y'know, a social pressure environment. Like I announced before we got here to town, before we even played a note, I said 'I don't know if you people are gonna dig what we do or not cuz the cops aren't as bad here and the – pressure and everything and it seems a lot more groovier here'. And I was surprised they liked us.
Don Paulsen: Are they getting better, the reactions?
Frank Zappa: Yeah. We like the east coast we're getting a good response here.
Don Paulsen: Do you plan to sort of station yourselves here in the east for a short time before you go back home.
Frank Zappa: Uhhh, we'll be here til after the first of the year and then making concerts in Berkeley and different places around California. And then summer time be back to the east coast.
Don Paulsen: mm-hmmm, is the show definitely gonna be uhhh, y'know has it been produced <garbled>
Frank Zappa: No we haven't a partnership or committed to that yet, it's still in the planing stages. I really want, Well, film, y'know if something happens and it doesn't happen this summer it's something I know that will eventually happen. but I think someone will miss a good chance if they don't set the Lenny Bruce Trials to music. Back to index

Anything Else

Don Paulsen: anything else you - ahh - care to say about any subject?
Frank Zappa: well,
Don Paulsen: no?
Frank Zappa: yeah, I think that ah, if kids were to go out and investigate the bins other than the rock and roll bins at their local record store and look for these names, and buy them sight unseen, that they would be unbelievably delighted. Ok? First of all, you go to your local record store and you force the man because he probably won't have it in stock, but you force the man to order a large quantity of the two available recordings of The Music of Edgar Varese [spells it]... with a little dealie on the last 'e'. There are two albums of his music on Columbia and there is one album of his music on Vanguard. Look it up in the catalog and go out and buy all of 'em.
Don Paulsen: I'll look up the numbers-
Frank Zappa: Ok groovy.
Don Paulsen: Have to get the [garbled] contact...
Frank Zappa: In fact, the one Columbia album is called A Sound Spectacular. Talk about packaging, man. It says, A Sound Spectacular, and ah, -- the other one is called The Music of Edgar Varese. Now they also ought to seek out and purchase the Columbia Princeton Electronic Music album. The Electronic Music Center album and uhh, if you want to learn how to play guitar, listen to Wes Montgomery. You also ought to go out and see if you can get a record by Cecil Taylor [clears throat] if you want to learn how to play the piano. You ought to look into the complete works of Anton Webern on Columbia. Conducted by Robert Kraft. That's four records, Robert Kraft is not always an excellent conductor and his performances are not always absolutely accurate. But they probably didn't give him a very good budget because it was modern music and they wanted to get the job over with and he was probably under pressure so don't mind the mistakes that are on there if you're following it with a score. Also, Pierre Boulez, ahhh, has conducted, yeah, has conducted his own composition Le marteau sans maître [spells it] and I don't know what label that's on but ahem, it's the one with Boulez conducting. The one with Robert Kraft has got too many mistakes on it.
Don Paulsen: How did you- did you read them?
Frank Zappa: Yeah.
Don Paulsen: How did you learn that?
Frank Zappa: In the public library. Listening to those records.
Don Paulsen: How 'bout guitar playing?
Frank Zappa: The same.
Don Paulsen: Who were some of the people that you heard that you could learn that?
Frank Zappa: To learn how to play guitar? The famous guitar players are Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, Wes Montgomery. Can't really think of anybody else that really knocks me out. Also get the Bartok first, second and third piano concertos which are all very groovy and good to dance to.
Don Paulsen: yeh-heh, is there anything with a particular version?
Frank Zappa: Ah, let's see. I have the version with -- on Westminster by ah Edith Grenati(sp) with the Vienna Philharmonic or something like that and I've never heard any other version of the second and third piano concerto. So I don't know whether or not that's the best recording. But that's the one I've got and it might not even be available anymore. And I know, the first -- the first one is recorded on an album someplace else that I heard over at Andy Coberg's house and the Blues Project has an excellent collection of modern music. Also, buy everything you can by Igor Stravinsky and dance to it. Especially L'Historie du Soldat which means the Story of the Soldier and is spelled [spells it] and ahh, it doesn't mean the story of the soldier, it means the Soldier's Tale. Ah, that... oh and the Agon Ballet is just the most beautiful thing. Agon Ballet by Stravinsky.
Don Paulsen: Is that 'A' apostrophe...?
Frank Zappa: No it's just A-g-o-n. There's a record by Karl Heinz Stockhausen. It's on the Deutsche Grammophone label [spells it] blahblahblahblahblah label -- called Gesang de Yunglinga, or something like that. [starts to spell it]
Don Paulsen: I'll have to get ... y'know, I'll have them look it up.
Frank Zappa: Yeah, well, anyway It's The Song of the Youths and Kontact is on the other side[tries to spell it] I don't know, I get so crazy trying to spell all that crap.
Don Paulsen: Yeah I know
Frank Zappa:But it looks so crappy if that stuff isn't right and if any of those guys read the Hit Parader magazine they're gonna be pissed off at ya. Back to index

Collection of reviews

Frank Zappa: 
I have a red collection of our reviews. We got two or three reviews from the LA Times that were terrible from the band that said 
we were just the shits.And the reviewer wasn't even there to see the show! He didn't even see the show and we almost sued him. 
Until, we were working the Whiskey A-Go-Go and the head of the music critic [speaks loudly into mic] MUSIC CRITIC of the LA TIMES 
came down to the Whiskey A-Go-Go with his sixteen year old son and sat through one of our shows and went just out of his mind. 
Which was really a magnificent gesture and then he wrote a rave review.
Don Paulsen: Ohh, why didn't he think to begin with?
Frank Zappa: He didn't, he sent these other pukers down to see the show and they didn't, y'know they come in
Don Paulsen: They didn't like it -
Frank Zappa: Well, they didn't even see the show. They didn't even see our band! Y'know we go on with two or three other acts and they're so dumb, like ahh,
Don Paulsen: They thought you were the different group
Frank Zappa: We've got such a big band, we have so much stuff to put on the stage that we combine equipment with the other bands. -- so we -- only, we use two drumsets up there. Well, it says Mothers on the drumset and you got another band and 'the drummer's sitting on the drumset it says Mothers - that's the Mothers'. Y'know he had us written up in this one thing it said ahh, 'They played a version of 'A Hard Day's Night' that was dismal and ah it wasn't any good'. Y'know? Hard Day's Night? And said we were a four-piece band. That particular night we were at the Shrine Auditorium, five Mothers and sixteen union men. We had a symphony orchestra on that stage, man, and here's all these other music stands. We had a bass sax, we had like six or eight woodwinds and a couple of french horns. Really insane man. And he must have wondered why there wasn't anybody else sitting there. Y'know, so he wrote this show, this thing about the show. So this happened twice, the reviewer split before they saw it. So we had these things that were really funny and then we had a couple reviews from the midwest and some of our earliest fan letters--
Don Paulsen: Is this the kind of thing, do you have any sort of fan following that this magazine might be started as a fan journal?
Frank Zappa: Well-
Don Paulsen: And sort of go from there ...
Frank Zappa: What we want to do -- we don't want to have a fan club, we want a cult and I think that, ahh, a cult means more, I think that fan clubs are just bullshit, because actually it's just a money-making proposition they're only there to get your money. [loudly] Paul Revere & The Raiders take the dollar bills and they jackoff onto 'em. I know they do. That one guy with the teeth pro'ly he does something else perverted I can't tell ya about it. But anyway. Don't print that it's nasty.
Don Paulsen: ok
Frank Zappa: And-uh ... we're gonna have the Mothers, at least the guys in the band go out and interview somebody else! We'll have all the guys in the band writing the articles for the book make them go out and interview the Byrds.

Don Paulsen: That's a good idea. We've had that idea and ummm haven't done too much with it. Cuz it's hard to get enough people that you want, all of 'em in town all at the same time, at least here in New York. But supposedly over at [?]'s John Sebastian interviewed Chris Richmond[?] at the hippy drug dance and uhh
Frank Zappa: Oh yeah?
Don Paulsen: But umm,
Frank Zappa: Was it any good?
Don Paulsen: Not bad. ahm, had me fooled[?]
Frank Zappa: Can I take a few of these things?
Don Paulsen: Sure, yeah.
Frank Zappa: Groovy. But the whole idea of the Mothers' home journal if you would imagine the cover. You see how ugly the guys in the band are, picture them each with aprons holding a handful of mashed potatoes in the world's smallest Greenwich Village Kitchen. [Louder into the mic] We have a new routine that we're going to unveil shortly that deals with American blues bands. Now let's get this straight. It is not necessarily logical that if you learn all your favorite guitar solos off a bunch of old records and play them yourself under the influence of a vast quantity of drugs that you have soul. Now I may be wrong about this, but I just kinda feel that it's really stupid to pretend like that. Ah, there's something basically aberrated about this sort of american blues band. You get a bunch of little white boys who want to play a type of Negro music with which they might identify but ahh, I don't feel they are competent to ahh, to -- they shouldn't play that shit, man. It's not their bag, really, and they're kidding themselves and they're doing a disservice to the music scene in general and to the colored people who they -- you know what it's like? The guy says, 'Oh MAN, I'm gonna play SO funky and we're gonna go down there-' and these colored guys are gonna come in there and say 'Hey, you guys do pretty good for white boys,' and they wait for that. I've seen 'em, man and it's disgusting. They wait for some old man, they wait for the janitor to come up and say, 'Yeah, I remember when I was back down on the levee and you guys err really sound, yessir!' and I don't know who's putting who on. But I bet the janitor will wait around for a group like that to come around so he can put 'em on and then go away some place and listen to Archie Shepp.
Don Paulsen: ha! and then go on and laugh at the white boys.
Frank Zappa: Yeah well I think it's gonna -- it's aberrated and well then maybe one of these days they'll get wise to themselves.
Back to index

The Eric Burdon sessions

Frank Zappa:
OK! the Eric Burdon Recording Sessions. AHA! On July 4 1966 on what you might describe as a moment's notice, I was asked to 
manufacture on behalf of Tom Wilson for The Animals, a musical organization from England, a set of arrangements. I was told just 
to go in there and tell 'em what ya want and ah they'll play it. ok. Well, I got to the studio at eleven o'clock and I'm the only 
one there. Then Tom Wilson comes in and he's 'Uh, Where are the animals?' and I said, "Gee, I don't know Tom."
Don Paulsen: What is this a ten o'clock?
Frank Zappa: An Eleven o'clock session. What happened was I called the union and I brought down a girl who plays bass and twelve string guitar who's a monster and named ahh, I'll remember her name. But she's really good. One of the top studio players in LA.
Don Paulsen: Carol Kaye?
Frank Zappa: Carol Kaye, yeah. Don Randy, on piano, Johnny Guerin on drums, I was playing guitar on one tune and I was playing the bass on 'The Other side of This Life'. And ah, what else'd we have? We had a guy on harmonica. I can't remember the name- He was the one who wrote Hey Joe. The one who actually wrote it.
Don Paulsen: I can't remember the songwriter.
Frank Zappa: So, anyway, we made this -- Eric showed up with the drummer about one-thirty or so, because they had been to a monster party the night before and been out strapping, doping it up and really getting it on all over town and being spectacular and celebrities and having a wonderful time in show business and paying little to no attention to who's been minding the store and they come walking in and everybody starts playing demos for them trying to figure out -- cuz they didn't even know what they were going to record. And we had all these union people sitting around at triple time because it was a holiday and ahh, they're waiting to find out what to do y'know? Sitting there. So ahh, finally they decide on what they are going to cut. We made these two tracks with the union guys and ahh the Animals showed up around four o'clock in the afternoon and they ran through about four or five old r'n'b songs. I don't know how many of 'em actually appeared on the Animalism album. Long Tall Sally and ahh, Hit The Road Jack.
Don Paulsen: I haven't heard the album but Jim said it's not a very good album. He didn't like it.
Frank Zappa: I didn't think it was very spectacular. I know that the two songs that the union cats played on, the tracks are good, they really sounded tight. They sound a lot better -- they sound different than the Animals. Different mix and rhythm.
Don Paulsen: That Hey Joe, by the way, there's not a songwriting credit. I have the Ken Rose record on Columbia it says Arranged and Adapted by Ken Rose. So he probably just stole the songwriting credit. It happens a lot.
Frank Zappa: Well, it's published by Third Story Music which is the publishing firm that administers my stuff. Herbie probably knows the name of that and if he's interested. So anyway, we did the session and then got to talking with Eric ... 'Show business is wonderful, yessir Frank'; 'Yes indeed, Eric'. Anyway then they came over to my house that night and I'd never entertained anybody in my new house and -- Oh, except that I live in this house with about six broads and ahhh ... they entertain me but I hadn't had any groups over. And, some of them y'know have boyfriends on the outside and this one guy that had been coming over was from a group called Them, it was Ray Elliott, the sax player and the organ player from Them. He'd been over there quite frequently. He was a really groovy cat, I really dug him but he was always drunk on his ass. Just, he would just drink vodka and just go whiiittt like that . Just go blotto and fall over the furniture y'know and make a disaster. Well, ok, the Animals are there, and they're all just sitting around in a dimly lit room drinking and y'know getting wasted out of their minds and having merry fun and grabbing the tits and asses as they walk by, so I set up my projector and my screen and proceeded to show them my home movies of an experimental nature. Accompanying the movies was a collection of electronic music and y'know, -- just the same albums I told the kids to go out and buy. alright? So, meanwhile, Eric is sitting over there going through my collection of r&b records and jacking off over it, y'know: 'Here's the original record of -- Oh No!'[chuckles] and he started playing it. So you know, got through that phase of the party and then put this other stuff on and then everybody sat there like this, looking at the spots on the leg and all and things like that. and ahh [aherm] evetually some of them got very paranoid. Y'know they wanted to leave and it just ahh, made them very tense -- Eric dug it, he stayed til I guess about four o'clock in the morning he split. Then without notice, they all came back the next night and proceeded to almost demolish my house. Y'know? In the middle of that, Ray elliott from Them comes walking in and he DID demolish my house. Walked over a coffee table, just -- ploosh. We put him in a cab and wheeled him out. And so, I didn't know that it had effected Eric that much but I started reading all of these things that it must have really blown his mind [laughs].
Don Paulsen: Ah, oh! one other thing uhh Barry, you're friends with Barry Goldberg, in here the other day and who says that you and Mike Bloomfield and a few other people were on Sunday the other day.
Frank Zappa: mm-hmm, yeah it's a
Don Paulsen: How did that all come about?
Frank Zappa: Tom Wilson said, 'I got a session for ya and be at such-and-such a place' and I was there. And there was Barry Goldberg and there was Michael Bloomfield and there was these other people there and uhh, it took them a real long time to decide how it was gonna go and so wait til they figure out how it was gonna go and I played the chords and Bloomfield played the screechers and then they made this rhythm & blues record which had a lot of words in it 'and like Baby'. But I'm sure it's very excellent. Maybe it doesnt even have the words 'and like baby'. Maybe they got something psychedelic in it, like 'momma'.
Don Paulsen: Oh. Barry said it was a commercial record.
Frank Zappa: Yeah,well it's
Don Paulsen: As opposed to being an authentic kind of
Frank Zappa: Why do people always, y'know? 'Well, it may not be this but it's COMMERCIAL'.? Who gives a fuck, man? If people would stop trying to be commercial, you know what happens to the whole spectrum of american music? It would just go whoosh, the whole quality would go up. Then the best stuff would be the most commercial.
Don Paulsen: Right. I think the best groups now do that. I mean, they do their own music, like a lot of the groups record a whole album and then they decide what's the best song what will be our single, not just which is commercial but what sounds the best. I know the Stones [?] they usually do it that way,
Frank Zappa: Well, we did it that way, we've had two singles out and the radio wouldn't touch 'em,
Don Paulsen: well,
Frank Zappa: haha. We put out Brain Police and uhh, and the Watts Riot Song and It Can't Happen Here and How Could I Be Such A Fool. That's all the sides that have been out. Do you know that just before we left to come to New York, the Byrds were driving up here also. Our neighbors on the street and wanted to use our drummer and bass and rhythm guitar player to play bass on their next session. And it leads me to believe that they don't play their own tracks. Do you know whether or not that's true?
Don Paulsen: That I hadn't heard anything about.
Frank Zappa: Well, they had stopped right in front of the house cuz the guys were just walking out to load the car and wanted to know whether they were going cuz they wanted to use them on the set. And I also had word that Good Vibrations was arranged by Van Dyke Parks.
Don Paulsen: Van Dyke Parks and Wilson have ben working very closely together. And I've been really trying to get a story from Brian Wilson on it and he ahhh, is a very tough guy to get a hold of.
Frank Zappa: Van Dyke's not. ya oughta give him a call. I'll give ya his number.
Don Paulsen: Fine.
Frank Zappa: Suzy Creamcheese was a correctly planned hype. You'll see in the Absolutely Free album some illustrations which are the visual equivalent of the advertising phrase, 'Suzy Creamcheese', which has little or no meaning on ANY level. It's one of those kinda things, it's like uhhh, nutty puttty. You can make anything you want out of it, I don't think any people, y'know, 'Crotch-cheese', 'Toe-jam'. They can associate it with anything they want. They can make it as bland or as nasty as they like. We have, it's like this illustration I told you about with the nuts and bolts and things like that is the equivalent of that. People will try and say, y'know 'Now who is that? Why are those things in there? I can't understand that.' But the REASON the nuts and bolts are gonna be in that picture is because when you're pasting these pictures together, sometimes there are seams which you want to cover up and so I pasted these things in there and held it all together. It just happened to work out good. But Creamcheese has been -- we have girls coming up and introducing themselves to us as 'I'm Suzy Creamcheese'. And I say, "I know you are".
Don Paulsen: ha
Frank Zappa: That's it on the Creamcheese.[In the background, a baby cries 'mama']
Frank Zappa: I think you're probably ready to go home and have merry teenage fun.
Don Paulsen: Yeah.
Back to index
Site maintained by bbp 2010