ZpZ’s New Lead Singer

… is a chap by the name of Ben Thomas. Of all those who auditioned, he was apparently the only one who was able to carry the entire vocal of Inca Roads right to the end.

31 Responses to “ZpZ’s New Lead Singer”

  1. Jamez says:

    Anyone know what he sounds like..or looks like?

  2. Robert says:

    No idea. Maybe it’s this guy: http://www.myspace.com/benthomasonline

  3. urbangraffito says:

    Let me ask, why would Dweezil hire someone based on their recordings of somebody else’s material and not an in-person audition (which this Ben Thomas obviously did)? I’ve listened to enough FZ alumni interviews to garner that each and every musician (to varying degrees) was put through their paces in order to reveal what they were fully capable of doing.

  4. Reuben F. Tourettes says:

    It’s a little disappointing to learn that there’ll be no Frank Zappa alumni, when I go to watch Zappa Plays Zappa, this time round — (last time I was treated to the guest appearance of the scintillating Ray White) — but if this Ben Thomas, can, purportedly, pull off the vocal gymnastics present in ‘Inca Roads,’ then I entirely condone his interpolation into the band.

  5. glad to have a singer guy says:

    super cool DZ singers are hard to get and find i wish i could have sang for you but my yodeling talent would have not reached you requirements
    hope to see you soon in europe with your new singer ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Kevin Hoover says:

    So who was the well-known singer that didn’t do his homework?

  7. Roscoe Bledsoe says:

    Ben Thomas is great! I love that duet he did with Santana. big hit!

  8. Matt says:

    Who was the well-known singer? Going by DZ’s taste in rock, I’d say Gary Cherone or Scott Weiland. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Andre/Project Object says:

    I wish them luck of course and the best vibes to continue to do this music justice (amazingly tight & competent band)

    But — it’s sad to watch GZDZ bend over backwards to NOT hire these living legends who ACTUALLY PLAYED with Frank— most of them right there in LA, really it’s a shame and an insult.

    I will always pointout how fucked up their decisions continue to be — like doing an “anniversary” show for Roxy & Elsewhere …yet NOT EVEN inviting the principals to SEE THE SHOW, much less what SHOULD have happened — which would have been having them sit in. George Duke, Ralph Humphrey Don Preston & Ruth Underwood live right in LA, The Fowlers in LA and Las Vegas, Napoleon STILL in San Jose like he says on the record… Jeff Simmons up in Seattle..Chester is the furthest away I guess (Nashville)…yet —after months of looking into this- I haven’t found that ANY of them were even told about the show.

    What’s up with that vibe?? What’s up with that PURPOSEFUL, spiteful sort of “Well the alumni are not important — IT’s THE MUSIC”

    that’s a fucking red herring. OF COURSE IT”s THE MUSIC…but to go OUT OF YOUR WAY to not pay tribute to the absolutely mind blowing talents that your dad plucked from obscurity over and over with his MAGICAL SIXTH SENSE… is just amazing to me.

    Whatever. There are plenty of us worldwide paying tribute to the PLAYERS who MADE THAT MUSIC COME ALIVE like no one else could, did or has. And all of you know the deal, so it’s all cool

    IMHO : Support ZPZ, and anyone playing the music legally, support it just ‘cos it’s ZAPPA MUSIC, support ANYONE playing it because it’s MUSIC and that belongs to the human race…

    But also let’s continue to acknowledge, whether or not the ZPZ and DZGZ does, that the majority of people Frank hired, throughout his career, were and are absolute groundbreakers in their field and continue to kick ass.

    Now go hear a real, actual Zappa band lead singer onstage somewhere. This summer Ike Willis & Ray White will play at a festival near Pittsburgh, Ike will tour with Project/Object in the USA as well as EU, Ike, Bobby Martin, Napoleon, Don Preston, Denny Walley, Roy Estrada and others will sing and play at Zappanale, Bozzio headlines there as well…right now Ike is singing and playing in Brazil…

    So– all is good!!!!

  10. Sullivan says:

    I think the Ben Thomas guy is the one who played Joe in the Open Fist production of “Joe’s Garage.”

    http://www.entertainmenttoday.net/content/view/710/28/

  11. peter says:

    A quote from Sullivan:

    I think the Ben Thomas guy is the one who played Joe in the Open Fist production of “Joe’s Garage.”

    http://www.entertainmenttoday.net/content/view/710/28/

    No, he didn’t play Joe but yes he was in the play (featured singer on CREW SLUT)…which I would guess is the very same Ben.

  12. Kevin Hoover says:

    It is odd that ZPZ would have to settle for some journeyman singer, skilled though he may be, when there are so many enthusiasts who are deeply imbued with Zappaism and really get it. Guess not enough of them sing majestically.

    I do wonder what the first guy, the singer they were counting on, could have been thinking. Maybe he was just an undisciplined person. Surely he knew he was joining a Zappa band, which would require strenuous preparation. I wonder if he was one of those people who perceives Zappa as some kind of bullshit novelty act, a Ronald McDonald of the Nouveau Abstruse vaudeville presentation he could goof his way through.

    I understand Dweezil having to be diplomatic, but inquiring minds always want to know details.

  13. Chuck says:

    You just got to ask yourself “Who would be a terrific singer for ZPZ”.. the answer Ike Willis… knows it all and is fantastic at it. So what’s the problem with it as Ike knows all the material alread, enjoys performing it and is exceptionally good at it.

    His crime is he kept singing and playing the music he loved for fans when the ZFT sat on their hands and did nothing. Bad Ike, very evil Ike!!!!

    So thanks to ZFT having this view everyone loses out.

  14. urbangraffito says:

    Chuck, it seems to me that ZPZ is following the current Hollywood Trendmongers in their efforts to re-invent everything while putting a youthful face on it (which isn’t always a bad thing). Every generation re-invents the wheel, so to speak. Ike Willis and the rest of the alumni not only “MADE THAT MUSIC COME ALIVE like no one else could” as Andre states, in many respects, they were the MUSIC, since they added so much to it’s initial creation. Yet as I’ve stated many times before, I do not believe this is the aim of ZPZ (to celebrate Frank’s past achievements, and by proxy, the alumni), rather to create a “new brand” which they can continue to market to the young folk once we “old dinosaurs” have joined Frank in the great beyond.

  15. Bรกlint says:

    Here’s Ben Thomas – found the info at z.com’s forum.

  16. Chuck says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Yet as I’ve stated many times before, I do not believe this is the aim of ZPZ (to celebrate Frank’s past achievements, and by proxy, the alumni), rather to create a “new brand” which they can continue to market to the young folk once we “old dinosaurs” have joined Frank in the great beyond.

    I agree that they probably think that and that is their aim. However they also have used alumni to try and achieve this aim, which compromises what they are trying to achieve.

    In this case Ray wasn’t removed and Dweezil wanted that alumni link and seems tense about going it alone. He knows ZPZ isn’t the biggest seller and they have financial difficulties (not that this implies they are crap, it just is pretty much a reality for a large number of acts of that size) and that he needs this link to the past to fund his future.

    So he is in a Catch-22, though now going without alumni he will either sink or swim.

  17. Hugh says:

    To come into a band on short notice takes balls. Especially with Zappa music. So I’m guessing Ben is very confident of his abilities or he is out of his Fuckin’ mind. I wish him the best. And if he is well recieved, I’ll check out the lastest version of ZPZ. Time will tell.
    Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing Ed Palmero & His Big Band next month here in NYC. And I can’t wait for Project/Object to come around as well. As Andre wrote, if you’re in Europe this August you can check out Zappanale. Plenty of Zappa music to be heard, while ZPZ gets their shit together.
    Good luck to Ballsy Ben!

  18. xorg says:

    Without any alumni in the line up, ZPZ is nothing more than a well-rehearsed tribute band. At least the current touring line up of The Beach Boys still has one original member!

    That doesn’t mean to say they are no good, but ZPZ should abandon their claim to be the only true and faithful source of Zappa music.

  19. urbangraffito says:

    Yes, Chuck, it’s sink or swim time for Dweezil and gang. I think there is certainly enough of an audience for any number of bands performing Zappa’s music to be successful. The sheer success of Zappanale is clear evidence of this, IMO. Personally, I believe it is bloody fantastic that many bands can perform FZ’s music simultaneously the same year — one of original Mothers, another of various alumni, and still another of new young musicians. Never before has being a Zappa freak felt so fine (not since FZ was alive, that is). Have a ball, ballsy Ben!

  20. glad to have a singer guy says:

    well they have a singer-that is good-lets encourage the new singer-bands change- next zappa generation-i loved to hear bob martin or ike
    they are busy if you look at there websites (ike) love to hear ike and ray playing ikes music for a change. Maybe all of this hasnt anything to do with GZ OR DZ.

  21. Reuben F. Tourettes says:

    Here’s a link to Ben Thomas performing the second verse and latter ad lib section of Lucille Has Messed My Mind up if anybody’s interested:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt7Xp1Fvt-o

  22. Hugh says:

    A quote from Reuben F. Tourettes:

    Here’s a link to Ben Thomas performing

    The guy has a great set of pipes. I don’t think he’s nailing the songs perfectly but he’s impressive from this and other clips I’ve seen.
    He’s diffinitely capable of hitting those soulful notes, first sung by guys like Ike & Nappy. But . . . (sigh) most of us white guys, just don’t have the actual chops to sing as soulfully as let’s say, Otis Redding. There are some, Van Morrison comes to mind.
    I think Ben is doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. It’s just that I get an “American (can I get a ‘Soul Patrol!’)Idol” kinda of feel from the talented Mr. Thomas. And for me this kills the tone of Frank’s music. Still ZPZ is a tight band. I’ll give Ben some time to get comfortable with the complex music. Maybe seeing him live would be different. I’ll give him a chance. And if I still get that “AI” feel, then I WANT A BROTHER!
    Can I get a hallaleuyah!?

  23. Julius Henry says:

    The truth be told that Harpo Speaks.

    I see no reason that the vocal chair of ZPZ be a phone call in vote em up remnant of FZs Soul Patrol. No knock on the brother elements
    but in checking all things it’s as if some need Adolf turned Arthur to not only to blow and whislte but divulge the many hidden props hidden inside his rench coat.

    Oh let’s just keep things simple.
    It’s time to play You Bet Your Life
    Say the secret word you and your partener share a hundred dollars.

    Zappa White Singers for $100.

  24. Thinman says:

    The difference between F. Zappa and ZpZ is like between ‘art’ and ‘arts & crafts’. And the new singer seems to stress this impression.

    I agree to the ‘American Idol kinda feel’ observation. But that is probably their goal: to get those kind of audiences.

    Th.

  25. Andre/Project Object says:

    Who’s this “Julius Henry”

    Anyone know independently??

    Seems VERY trendmonger-ish if you ask me. The dispensation with proper spelling and the tortured syntax is an astounding coincidence if it;s NOT you, Gary. Nice try.

  26. Julius Henry says:

    A quote from Andre/Project Object:

    Who’s this “Julius Henry”

    Anyone know independently??

    Seems VERY trendmonger-ish if you ask me. The dispensation with proper spelling and the tortured syntax is an astounding coincidence if it;s NOT you, Gary. Nice try.

    I don’t think Groucho needs to come back from the dead
    potting forth with African Explorer results of the Zappa White Singers for $100 question for anyone , be it a fan of segregated or desegregated alumni soul to figure out those Tredmongerean analogies.

    Regardless what the ZPZ progression led to bringing Ben Thomas
    into that spot, which he now respectfully fulfills, so long as ZPZ
    is out there doing there thing the positive vibes of the mission
    is something I blow my horn to.

    This band has been out there since 2006. If they keep at it for as long as FZ toured the possibilities are limitless. Now I never expected that the core group would survive but I am pleased that regardless of changes the band and it’s mission continues to deliver what I have called since day 1 Unexpected Perfection.

    You see for me Unexpected Perfection is not defined by performing the compositions 100% perfect each and every time. Oh I am sure they try their best but even the 81’/82 Band could not get Drowning Witch performed anywhere near FZs stabdards of perfection night in and night out.

    What is clear is that this band gets unexpected perfection no different than a conductor would get out of a well rehearsed orchestra. They just really do there best not only getting the notes and rhythms down but getting the tone colors as close as possible. IF the lead singer was
    blue and came from Venus I’d expect a certain set of skills that supersede the black/white soul quotient.

    Groucho Marx- Capt Spalding’s Adventures in Africa
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbyzTI0M8eo&NR=1

  27. Matt says:

    The torture never stops.

  28. Hugh says:

    A quote from Julius Henry:

    IF the lead singer was
    blue and came from VENUS

    Blue’s okay, but you have to be from L.A.

    “Did someone call me snorer? Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!”

    Yes, I know it’s really “schnorrer”, but when you post in riddles “Groucho” you make me sleepy. So, it’s nice to see some clarity in your last post.

  29. Thinman says:

    A quote from Julius Henry:

    What is clear is that this band gets unexpected perfection no different than a conductor would get out of a well rehearsed orchestra.

    A conductor would care about dynamics, feel and expression โ€“ which they don’t. Just doing the correct pitches, rhythms and sounds is not making any music. Anyone with ears would hear that โ€“ you don’t. I can’t help you.

    Th.

  30. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Julius Henry:

    A quote from Andre/Project Object:

    Who’s this “Julius Henry”

    Anyone know independently??

    Seems VERY trendmonger-ish if you ask me. The dispensation with proper spelling and the tortured syntax is an astounding coincidence if it;s NOT you, Gary. Nice try.

    I don’t think Groucho needs to come back from the dead
    potting forth with African Explorer results of the Zappa White Singers for $100 question for anyone , be it a fan of segregated or desegregated alumni soul to figure out those Tredmongerean analogies.

    Regardless what the ZPZ progression led to bringing Ben Thomas
    into that spot, which he now respectfully fulfills, so long as ZPZ
    is out there doing there thing the positive vibes of the mission
    is something I blow my horn to.

    This band has been out there since 2006. If they keep at it for as long as FZ toured the possibilities are limitless. Now I never expected that the core group would survive but I am pleased that regardless of changes the band and it’s mission continues to deliver what I have called since day 1 Unexpected Perfection.

    You see for me Unexpected Perfection is not defined by performing the compositions 100% perfect each and every time. Oh I am sure they try their best but even the 81’/82 Band could not get Drowning Witch performed anywhere near FZs stabdards of perfection night in and night out.

    What is clear is that this band gets unexpected perfection no different than a conductor would get out of a well rehearsed orchestra. They just really do there best not only getting the notes and rhythms down but getting the tone colors as close as possible. IF the lead singer was
    blue and came from Venus I’d expect a certain set of skills that supersede the black/white soul quotient.

    Groucho Marx- Capt Spalding’s Adventures in Africa
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbyzTI0M8eo&NR=1

    If you listen closely to some of the Zappa interviews I have posted recently, “perfection” was never the goal of FZ, especially when performing essentially the same set night in and night out. This whole idea of performing Zappa’s compositions nightly to perfection comes from Dweezil, and not from field recordings as evidenced by Zappa’s bands themselves. Thus, only Dweezil can answer to why he chooses who he has chosen, just as Frank chose his bands for his own reasons. As for vocal talents of Ben Thomas, only time will tell whether he’s actually got what it takes to pull off Zappa’s lyrical labyrinth or not. Right now, all I can say is, Best of luck!

  31. barryF says:

    Just been to the zpz gig in Dublin – it was excellent! The new singer Ben Thomas was excellent. The crowd loved him, he can sing the ‘roxy’ stuff very well and he did a very moving rendition of Lucille has messed my mind up. Initially i was disappointed not to see any ‘alumni’, but to be honest i enjoyed this gig more than the 2006 one. The saxophone player was brilliant and went down a storm , Dweezil played his ass off, the whole band were fantastic. Dweezil stayed around and signed autographs after the show. There was a magic vibe at the end of the show , i left on a high (natural:) )
    So yeah, i would recommend going! Long live zappa music.

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