Scott Thunes on PlanetZappa

Another Scott Thunes interview, from planetzappa.com (2001):

PZ: Is there any question you’ve never been asked that you would like to answer?
ST: Probably. Actually, there is: Do you believe that it was a mistake to work with Frank Zappa instead of staying in San Francisco and continuing to attempt to get into the Conservatory of Music as a Conducting Major, also taking composition lessons with David Sheinfeld and playing in a band with your brother, Derek? Yes.

What I have now has very little to do with my previous musical endeavors. Without getting too metaphysical about it, I didn’t meet my wife through music or anybody having anything to do with my musical life. I might have a nice career teaching music somewhere, or playing piano in a nice piano trio. I have a good bass I like to play, I have a couple of bass amplifiers that I wouldn’t have otherwise. But I would trade all that for a steady classical gig. What I ended up with from my time with FZ was a hatred of professional rock music and most rock musicians. A despising of wasting my personal time with idiots who care nothing for me as a person. At least with a straight gig, I can come home to my lovely family. In ROCK, you have to stay away from all that you love for months at a time, and have people who you didn’t choose to be with (road managers, roadies, t-shirt people and truck drivers – both of the latter groups of people who are usually MUCH nicer to hang out with than the ‘standard’ rock associates).

I’ve been told by FZ tour managers that any of FZ’s musicians can be replaced easier than roadies. You want to spend your time with these types of people that shit on you whenever they want while you’re trying to play impossible bass parts and keep your head on straight while roadies are helping the other band members fuck with your head? IT IS NOT WORTH IT!

58 Responses to “Scott Thunes on PlanetZappa”

  1. Ken Duvall says:

    Wow ! That’s interesting !

  2. the crying bassguitar says:

    poor poor poor me poor poor pityfull meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
    i wonder sometimes if i would have liked to play or have a life like franks and sometimes i think there must a been a downside to all of this ………………there must be so much pretending going on in the music bussines that it stinks……………and then there is all the home dependents i cant be home but i make 2000 bucks a week on tour and all expenses payed………..but maybe all of that gets old after some time ……………and then i get to stay home for 6 month and can do what i want oh and the dang roadies and managers …………..its so simple you stay the out of the way of me and all is good . i guess its part ot your own ways of how you think about things in general.
    good would i be board if i be a racecar drive and have to come around the same curve for 70 times passing the budweiser girl again…..
    i toured once 2 gigs and i liked it lmao and the free beer and the girls
    on top of it . my ass again
    poor gail zappa wich stitts probaly on gazillions of dollars and poor diva she can do what she wants poor scott the book is called explore you possibilities in life …………………………….and dont tell me frank was such a dummy that he didnt know what was going on. the reflections on frank in what i get from him is that he hated more then that and i think it reflects in his music on some parts . but since you live again and again as you are a cosmic eternal celsetian being.
    you could try herb alpert nextime or ot the bavarian roundabouts mini singers………………..i choose gardening next tyime and talking to the bees …………………i love you dearley for you fun ways of being so exceptonal out spoken why other folks stick there dicks between there buns and make themselfs mutants ……………………………….cheers mr scott

  3. Slap says:

    Whoa. That’s some spewing, there!

    On a far less wordy note — I just heard that Mr. Thunes is stepping in, temporarily, for the Mother Hips’ regular bassist (who is taking a leave of absence). They’re actually a great band, but their music is somewhat less structurally challenging than some of Scott’s previous work….if their tour stops near you, they’re worth seeing, regardless of who’s on bass.

  4. Balint says:

    It makes me think where the always disappearing and always wonderful bassnotaton.com can be? Steve – are you here?…

  5. Steve says:

    A quote from Balint:

    Steve – are you here?…

    No, just boring Bob here with another last ditch attempt to sell this cruddy avatar.

  6. urbangraffito says:

    Oooooooo….poor Mr. Thunes. An exceptional musician, but each time he opens his mouth lately, he’s really showing his advanced years. I mean, chronologically, Don Preston is much older, but Don still tours, and hasn’t one one hundredth of the bitterness that Mr. Thunes regularly spews. I know countless musicians – university trained – that spend countless months of every year jammed inside of a van touring from one tiny Centerville town to another to play their music to people: rock, jazz, classical, rockabilly, you name it. My response to Mr. Thunes is either quit, or keep your bile to yourself, or take a lesson from Don Preston or Denny Walley.

  7. Matt says:

    Remember, though, that this interview is from 2001. I’m sure that he doesn’t feel exactly the same, especially given his recent musical activity.

  8. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Matt:

    Remember, though, that this interview is from 2001. I’m sure that he doesn’t feel exactly the same, especially given his recent musical activity.

    Given that he went out of his way to ask himself this particular question, Matt, I don’t think the date of the interview really matters (that would just make Mr. Thunes flighty on top of bitter) – it points out that it is probably a very deeply held belief of his. And given more recent outspoken interviews (think of the Frank Zappa festival at The Roundhouse) in which he spoke negatively about Ike Willis, I suspect he’s got more than enough bile to spare…

  9. Nowski says:

    Couldn’t we just all give Mr. Thunes the silence he deserves?

  10. Thinman says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    … My response to Mr. Thunes is either quit, or keep your bile to yourself, or take a lesson from Don Preston …

    Certainly not from Don Preston. He is playing Frank’s music and nothing else for years and is constantly talking shit about Frank in every interview.

    Th.

  11. Thinman says:

    And: I LOVE Mr. Thunes and his opinions.

  12. Stewart says:

    A quote from Balint:

    It makes me think where the always disappearing and always wonderful bassnotaton.com can be? Steve – are you here?…

    I did save most of Steve’s great work and I have it on pdf. I’ve spoken to him in the past on talk bass forum and tried to contact him again a while back about if it was Ok to pass on copies to others but never heard anything back. He seems to have disappeared from the internet completely – hope he’s OK. I think I’ve got all the MAJNH transcriptions and most of the BTH and TBBYNHIYL that he transcribed with the exception of Alien O, Zomby Woof and Inca Roads which I have paper copies only of. i can maybe try and get a scanner some day for them. The transcriptions are fantastic and I’ve played through it all a lot! (love playing from Let’s make the Water to Alien O along with the MAJNH cd, it’s a challenge but a great exercise and a lot of fun!) If anyone wants a copy let me know – I’d be quite happy sharing Steve’s work openly but I’d prefer it if he’d OK it first so ..Steve, if you’re out there, get in touch with Bean or Bear uh that is stick a hello on here or something.

  13. epistrophy says:

    I was at the Q&A session with Scott where he spoke about Ike Willis; although he did mention (in his own inimitable way) that Ike had a destructive personality, this has actually been dealt with in far more detail and far more unpleasantly on other forums by folks who are deemed to be very good friends with Ike – and in fact still make music with him.

    Scott also said that he loved being on stage with Ike, with every performance being fantastic. And coming from Scott, that is a real compliment, no?

  14. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from epistrophy:

    I was at the Q&A session with Scott where he spoke about Ike Willis; although he did mention (in his own inimitable way) that Ike had a destructive personality, this has actually been dealt with in far more detail and far more unpleasantly on other forums by folks who are deemed to be very good friends with Ike – and in fact still make music with him.

    Scott also said that he loved being on stage with Ike, with every performance being fantastic. And coming from Scott, that is a real compliment, no?

    In my own inimitable way, I think Thunes pointing out Ike Willis’ destructive personality is like the pot calling the kettle black. It really doesn’t matter how many folks on how many forums commented on Ike’s personality and lifestyle; by doing so himself, it reflects poorly on Thunes (in my opinion). It’s an odd juxtaposition that I’ve never heard Willis say anything even remotely negative in response publicly or in any interviews that I’ve read.

  15. the crying bassguitar says:

    i was rather making fun of what scott said i think scott is a great guy i got to meet him in london at the zappa roundhouse very very funny person. NICE GUY…………………
    i dont know what to think about his statements about willis.
    hey folks iam trying to figure out something maybe you all can help what about the entertainment programming in movies the covert programming and hidden signals and speach programming maybe some of you can help………………….

  16. P-Rip says:

    This discussion seems much ado over nothing. To distill it:
    1. A guy has seemingly contradictory opinions and ambivalent feelings about the music business and his experiences in it.
    2. He thinks some people are great and some are assholes and generally isn’t afraid to be specific.
    3. He is generally thought to have a “unique” or “strong” or “difficult” personality.
    4. He can be blunt, funny, impatient, brilliant, dismissive, profane or genuinely warm…sometimes within the same interview.

    Anyone else you know that fits that description? Maybe Frank liked him so much because he reminded him a bit of himself.

  17. urbangraffito says:

    Except for your first point, P-Rip, 2 to 4 fits me like a glove. Strange that. Now whose the kettle calling the pot black? lol

  18. Balint says:

    well, let me add just one more thing to all this discussion and the post – it’s (supposedly) not only the one quoted paragraph, but a whole interview, in which ST talks about plenty of other things, too: his joyful musical memories, the qualities of other bassplayers, hi wife and family… I’d really like to spend some time with this guy in a pub somewhere, maybe. It’s my fault to only quote the paragraph above, but I do suggest to read it all – it ends like:

    “We had no idea how much better our lives would become after the birth of Hazle. We love each other more than the day before, our child is a fantastic human being who we are constantly amazed by, and we are now pregnant with baby number two, so we think that our lives will then become even more beautiful. Complicated? Yes, but worth it.”

  19. Alex says:

    What did he have to say about Ike? Is there a link somewhere?

  20. Alex says:

    Sorry. Much better.

  21. Alex says:

    Better yet!!!

  22. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Balint:

    well, let me add just one more thing to all this discussion and the post – it’s (supposedly) not only the one quoted paragraph, but a whole interview, in which ST talks about plenty of other things, too: his joyful musical memories, the qualities of other bassplayers, hi wife and family… I’d really like to spend some time with this guy in a pub somewhere, maybe. It’s my fault to only quote the paragraph above, but I do suggest to read it all – it ends like:

    “We had no idea how much better our lives would become after the birth of Hazle. We love each other more than the day before, our child is a fantastic human being who we are constantly amazed by, and we are now pregnant with baby number two, so we think that our lives will then become even more beautiful. Complicated? Yes, but worth it.”

    Excellent point, Balint. Even one of my favourite alumni and interview subjects, the late Jimmy Carl Black, could and did come off as bitter quite often – especially if one only focused on particular excerpts of the interviews he gave. I suppose one should all grant ST the very same open-mindedness as the rest of the alumni, regardless of the blunt and sometimes dismissive nature of the man’s personality.

  23. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Alex:

    What did he have to say about Ike? Is there a link somewhere?

    Here is the link, Alex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7JrtIqKwyo

  24. Alex says:

    A quote from Alex:

    Better yet!!!

    I, for one, am offended. I haven’t trick-or-treated in years!

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Alex:

    What did he have to say about Ike? Is there a link somewhere?

    Here is the link, Alex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7JrtIqKwyo

    I fail to understand just what he’s getting at – he claims to like him, that Ike has done him no harm, he “doesn’t blame him” for being a certain way, and yet it is “smart” that Ike has not tried to friend him on Facebook? He’s scared of him? Whatever the real issue is, he’s dancing around it, all while sounding like he’s had three too many cups of coffee and looking like a disgruntled shoe salesman.

    Not my favorite bassist. I mean, I like very few bassists – Art Barrow, that’s about it.

  25. Jamez says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Oooooooo….poor Mr. Thunes. An exceptional musician, but each time he opens his mouth lately, he’s really showing his advanced years. I mean, chronologically, Don Preston is much older, but Don still tours, and hasn’t one one hundredth of the bitterness that Mr. Thunes regularly spews. I know countless musicians – university trained – that spend countless months of every year jammed inside of a van touring from one tiny Centerville town to another to play their music to people: rock, jazz, classical, rockabilly, you name it. My response to Mr. Thunes is either quit, or keep your bile to yourself, or take a lesson from Don Preston or Denny Walley.

    Mr Thunes was in a position many would have killed for. Working with the greatest musical genius of the 20th century and then griping about it is like becoming president and then complaining about wearing a tie!

  26. heini says:

    That Mr Thunes seems to be more active musically, lately, is something I see with affection (like all Zappa alumni’s musical endeavours), although I don’t expect him to deliver anything remotely as exciting as his stint with FZ.

    However, when he was kind of retired, what I liked about that was that he refused to shut up. The music industry is kind of radical in that it either wants stars that shine or at least musicians telling everybody how fantastic it all is, to romanticize it, or you’re a nobody without a voice. Thunes gave up bass playing for a while, but not his voice. While I don’t always agree with him, I always found his opinions stimulating.

    After all, what he’s saying is: some parts of his former job where great, some not so. That’s kind of normal, no?

    How he describes his gripe with Ike Willis is unnecessarily vague, though. Maybe that he said that at a quasi-official ZFT event has something to do with it.

  27. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from heini:

    After all, what he’s saying is: some parts of his former job where great, some not so. That’s kind of normal, no?

    How he describes his gripe with Ike Willis is unnecessarily vague, though. Maybe that he said that at a quasi-official ZFT event has something to do with it.

    You’ve definitely hit upon something here, heini.

    Thinking about it, I think ST’s comments were colored largely by the fact that the Roundhouse celebration was, as you say, “a quasi-official ZFT event” and that Ike Willis has long been on their shit list.

    That said, ST, the ZFT, are all part of that industry paradigm that is fast disappearing and being replaced by new modes of promotion, distribution, and touring.

  28. Alex says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from heini:

    After all, what he’s saying is: some parts of his former job where great, some not so. That’s kind of normal, no?

    How he describes his gripe with Ike Willis is unnecessarily vague, though. Maybe that he said that at a quasi-official ZFT event has something to do with it.

    You’ve definitely hit upon something here, heini.

    Thinking about it, I think ST’s comments were colored largely by the fact that the Roundhouse celebration was, as you say, “a quasi-official ZFT event” and that Ike Willis has long been on their shit list.

    That said, ST, the ZFT, are all part of that industry paradigm that is fast disappearing and being replaced by new modes of promotion, distribution, and touring.

    I dunno, Urbs…they’re a cottage industry with a foot in the big industry’s door. I don’t sense them going away anytime soon.

  29. ABOOK says:

    zappa said it where are only in it for the money ……………..and so is ike and scott and you and me and him and her grinn lets start a kur trading post ///////////////////////////////////////please

  30. Dark Clothes says:

    With all his strengths and weaknesses, Thunes seems to me to embody the spirit of Zappa’s Eighties bands.

  31. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Alex:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from heini:

    After all, what he’s saying is: some parts of his former job where great, some not so. That’s kind of normal, no?

    How he describes his gripe with Ike Willis is unnecessarily vague, though. Maybe that he said that at a quasi-official ZFT event has something to do with it.

    You’ve definitely hit upon something here, heini.

    Thinking about it, I think ST’s comments were colored largely by the fact that the Roundhouse celebration was, as you say, “a quasi-official ZFT event” and that Ike Willis has long been on their shit list.

    That said, ST, the ZFT, are all part of that industry paradigm that is fast disappearing and being replaced by new modes of promotion, distribution, and touring.

    I dunno, Urbs…they’re a cottage industry with a foot in the big industry’s door. I don’t sense them going away anytime soon.

    Even as a so called “cottage industry” the ZFT still shape their business using the traditional “recording industry” paradigm. Have you checked out their prices? I really see little difference between them and the current Warner Brothers, Sony, and Virgin companies in how they do business. The train of change has left the station and they’re not on board. With each over-priced release more fans are turning to torrents for their Zappa fix. The new paradigm has always been about creating a direct relationship between the artists and their fans. Even with posthumous artists, this direct relationship is just as important. Fan loyalty. Appreciation of ones fans, or fanbase. Unfortunately, the ZFT has spent too much of their energy pissing on those they should be working hard to have a partnership with. Yes, that’s right. Partners. You. Me. Them. KUR. Arf Society. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Too bad they cannot get their heads around such a paradigm. It would be fantastic for everyone concerned.

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    With all his strengths and weaknesses, Thunes seems to me to embody the spirit of Zappa’s Eighties bands.

    Exactly what spirit did Zappa’s Eighties bands embody that Zappa’s other bands did not, DC, besides that FZ spent much less time on guitar in comparison?

  32. Balint says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Exactly what spirit did Zappa’s Eighties bands embody that Zappa’s other bands did not, DC, besides that FZ spent much less time on guitar in comparison?

    Less time (“much less”?…) on guitar?… All the guitar albums are from the eighties (okay: more or less), and (my opinion:) FZ’s guitar work peaked in 81-82, some highlights even in 84. To me: yes, FZ was on the top in the eighties, and Thunes had a huge role in in. Of course this opinion doesn’t mean that any other time before or after was less worthwile, but the eighties did have is strengs, as well. What’s New in Baltimore, MNoggio – my all-time-favorites, just like Chalk Pie, a should-be-released album.

  33. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Balint:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Exactly what spirit did Zappa’s Eighties bands embody that Zappa’s other bands did not, DC, besides that FZ spent much less time on guitar in comparison?

    Less time (“much less”?…) on guitar?… All the guitar albums are from the eighties (okay: more or less), and (my opinion:) FZ’s guitar work peaked in 81-82, some highlights even in 84. To me: yes, FZ was on the top in the eighties, and Thunes had a huge role in in. Of course this opinion doesn’t mean that any other time before or after was less worthwile, but the eighties did have is strengs, as well. What’s New in Baltimore, MNoggio – my all-time-favorites, just like Chalk Pie, a should-be-released album.

    I’m speaking specifically of the 1984 and 1988 bands, Balint, and definitely not any of the albums released in the 80s. I’m speaking of how in comparison to his bands from the 70s, particularly live, Zappa was a monster, while in the 80s his interest in the guitar appeared to have waned somewhat, having hired stunt guitarists Steve Vai and Mike Keneally. I mean, even the quality of his solos changed in the 80s (there were still some fantastic solos, yes, yet hardly as many monster solos as from the 70s). Even the releases from 1984 (Does Humour Belong In Music) and 1988 (The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, and Make A Jazz Noise Here) have completely different tones and arrangements that, I suspect, have much to do with Zappa’s growing disinterest in electric guitar.

  34. Alex says:

    Yeah, not a fan of his guitar tone in ’88…that solo in “Hot Plate Heaven” on Broadway The Hard Way is a snooze-fest. Considering that this was the same guy who could make his guitar sound like it was coughing, wheezing, and snarling on earlier material, it’s a major letdown. Then again, that material is rectified by the brass and the potency of the lyrics. Maybe it was FZ’s love of the synclavier that prompted him to have such a clean tone…it could also explain Wackerman’s real regimented style of playing.

    I’m not passionate enough for the ’84 material to ever really sit down and listen to “Does Humor Belong In Music?” or anything, but if the mood strikes me I’ll be able to weigh in more on that one.

    And they are definitely over-charging. That’s all I can really say. It’s really unfortunate.

  35. Balint says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    I’m speaking specifically of the 1984 and 1988 bands

    Okay, now I see – before that we were talking about the 80′s tone in general… ;-) .

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    have much to do with Zappa’s growing disinterest in electric guitar.

    Well, it can be an everlasting (and interesting) debate whether it’s the seventies or the eighties (or the sixties, as Ed Palermo said) are the more interesting/valuable, but to say that FZ himself had lost interest in playing solos is a bit surprising to me (of course the stunt-guitarists were not there to play solos – only rarely did that). I don’t have a statistics of course, but I do feel that he played/released more solos in the 80s then before (my personal view is that I like them better but that’s another thing). It’s also the eighties when he published the FZ Guitar Book, and when he made yet-another guitar collection (TF, though it was released later).

    Okay, we might never know the exact fact, so it might be risky to tell other people’s opinions, to speak in their names. Speaking about their music, about their improvisations, whatever – it can always be interesting, of course.

  36. heini says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    With all his strengths and weaknesses, Thunes seems to me to embody the spirit of Zappa’s Eighties bands.

    Of course, using decades to measure it is arbitrary (better use a chicken), but in tendency in the 60s FZ’s music lived in the myth of the MOI as a “real” band, but the moniker “MOTHERS” wasn’t given up until the mid-70s. By the 80s, Zappa was essentially marketed as a one-man show. The reality of musical production was more complex; Thunes’s inventive bass playing is indeed an instructive example here, but so are (as Dark Clothes says) his “weaknesses.”

  37. Dark Clothes says:

    I follow Heini’s analysis, UG. Strenghts of Thunes and Zappa in the Eighties: Stellar musicianship, musical creativity. Weaknesses: Antisocial tendencies beyond mere anality, lack of generosity.

  38. Harry Barris says:

    Zappa definitely played less guitar once he got a hold of the synclavier. He started to compose on it’s (the) keyboard (for the *serious* instrumental works especially) pretty much exclusively after that. All his most well-known guitar instrumentals stem from the 1970′s: Black Napkins, Zoot Allures, Watermelon In Easter Hay, etc. He even spoke about losing his calouses (sp?) on his fingertips so that he “couldn’t play (the guitar) like he did in the seventies.” (That being said, i never used to like his ‘smooth’ clean guitar sound in ’88 but after being exposed to some good sounding concert tapes (ones without too much Swaggart, Robertson & Jim Baker side-tracks) i’ve changed my mind a bit about that–i do agree that the live material chosen to be released by FZ from the last tour didn’t feature very interesting guitar solos (the solo on Cruising For Burgers is nice)–or even probably the best performances in general.

    The Shut Up And Play… (and Trance-Fusion) albums feature so much material from the 80′s I believe because by 1982 Zappa had a decent digital multitrack recorder with which he could get good sounding recordings of every single concert from then on, unlike the analog “hit or miss” adventures of earlier decades. And i’ve always felt that–obviously don’t know if FZ felt this way too–that the Shut Up and Play… series came about because he had these cool guitar solos from live versions of Inca Roads, etc., but didn’t want to release more live versions of the full songs, or maybe it was too painful to hear Ike struggle to hit Napi’s high notes on the OSFA material with his baritone voice, for instance! So let’s just release the guitar solos by themselves! ;)

    I also think the 1988 band was at their best doing songs starting from the Joe’s Garage period (songs that Ike sang lead on originally), fun & unexpected covers (Stairway To Heaven, Bolero, Stolen Moments, Bonanza, Bartok, The Beatles, etc., etc.), and other instrumental arrangements that showcased the horn section (Alien Orifice, Strictly Genteel, etc.) rather than the earlier Mothers Of Invention 60′s & mid-70′s songs which were better with their original more stripped-down “rockin’ teenage combo” line-ups, even though Bobby Martin could sing the shit out of Advance Romance, as just one example. :)

    Unlike many FZ fans around here(??), the 1982-84 live period is my least favorite Zappa era (never cared for Vai’s technical style, too much fake reggae backings, Chad’s electronic drum sounds, and the un-funky Thunes/Wackerman rhythm section in general). The horn section in 1988 added a lot of *character* live, imo–though of course, Zappa’s guitar tone was probably at its most brutal and nastiest sounding in the early-80′s (which i didn’t care for that much either–sorry!) The digital era gave birth to easier and better sounding recordings, but i’m not so sure about the digital era of instrumental tones and signal processing (an on-going debate to this day)!

    Apologies for this long rant–hope some of this made a semblance of sense!

  39. Dark Clothes says:

    Rant’s good, Harry! Just a correction the shut up series has only a few tracks from 1980, otherwise mostly from 1976-1979, with emphasis on 79. Canard du jour is probably from around 73. I always liked the 1988 tone better than most fans, although I admit that Trance-Fusion gets a bit monotonous sound-wise. Torture Never stops from BBYNHIYL is fantastic, Any Kind of Pain also, I could go on. The thing I don’t like about the 88 band is the lacking connection between the different sections of the band. Often Wackerman is just whacking away (pardon the pun) at a steady pulse, while everybody is doing their own thing. Check out Mr. Green Genes as an example. The ensembles on Shut Up etc. have a wholly different sense of interplay – it’s positively jazzy! So there’s another weakness in the Eighties bands there – a sense of unconnectedness between the musicians under Zappa’s (and in 88 Thunes’) baton.

  40. Harry Barris says:

    Thanks for the corrections, Dark Clothes! It must be Trance-Fusion that has more solos from the 80′s. But maybe my theory about Ike not singing the earlier material as good(?) holds up since he was doing the majority of the lead vocals in the late-70′s, right? (I should have remembered that the Shut Up… series is largely from the late-70′s since it has so much of Vinnie C.’s *fussy* drumming on it! :)

    (and obviously, George sang lead vocal on Inca Roads, don’t want to imply in my “rant” that it was Napi, even though he was the ‘lead vocalist’ for the OSFA band, of course. Don’t think though, that Ike could hit the high notes from either one of them!) ;)

  41. Balint says:

    What a rich oeuvre, when someone can feel the opposite of one’s sentence to be true, too:

    A quote from Harry Barris:

    All his most well-known guitar instrumentals stem from the 1970′s: Black Napkins, Zoot Allures, Watermelon In Easter Hay, etc.

    variation:
    All his most well-known guitar instrumentals stem from the 1980′s: Sexual Harrasment, Things that Look Like Meat, Chunga’s Revenge (Buffalo), What’s New in Baltimore?, Soup ‘N Old Clothes, St Etienne, etc.

    :-)

  42. Harry Barris says:

    oh yeah, ‘Guitar’ is the album that had all those early & mid-80′s guitar solos on it. That was the record that used the early digital recorder i was referring too–I never liked that one. (i couldn’t even remember it ;) –sorry– but i’m glad Balint likes it! :) )

  43. Alex says:

    Barris, you’re far from alone…the mid 80′s live stuff does nothing for me, and you nailed it with the rhythm section being too stale/clinical. It’s like the band is too good for its own good.

    Still, love the ’88 band, barring FZ’s guitar solos.

  44. Alex says:

    Also, I was under the impression – as if FZ fans all across the board can agree on anything other than the first three albums – that the ’84 band was largely reviled…..?

  45. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I follow Heini’s analysis, UG. Strenghts of Thunes and Zappa in the Eighties: Stellar musicianship, musical creativity. Weaknesses: Antisocial tendencies beyond mere anality, lack of generosity.

    That analysis is a bit weak, don’t you think, DC? I mean, that can be said of any of Zappa’s bands. I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a description of this “spirit” that embodied Zappa’s 80s bands beyond the obvious – Stellar musicianship, musical creativity, Antisocial tendencies, and lack of generosity – that is distinct from incarnations of Zappa’s earlier bands.

    Don’t let it be thought that I love Zappa’s 80s oeuvre any less, I just note in comparison to earlier eras (particularly Zappa’s golden 70s era), the unity of his albums, especially those in the 80s, gave way to individual brilliance from song to song. Myself, when I think of Zappa’s 80s oeuvre, I think of particular compositions and songs instead of entire albums as I do when I think of Zappa’s 60s and 70s oeuvre. Was this a rush to release product? Perhaps. Am I unhappy he did so? Not on your life!

  46. Matt says:

    I like the ’84 band, probably because the two times I saw them in Cleveland were the first times I saw FZ. I have fond memories of Zavod doing the volcano while wearing a rubber dick on his head. Ike and Ray were flirting with two black women in the audience. Thunes put his water bottle between his legs during the encore and “pissed” on his bandmates one by one, to their and Frank’s amusement.

    This was a fun band to watch and listen to, in spite of the cheesy DX7′s and electronic drums.

  47. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    I follow Heini’s analysis, UG. Strenghts of Thunes and Zappa in the Eighties: Stellar musicianship, musical creativity. Weaknesses: Antisocial tendencies beyond mere anality, lack of generosity.

    That analysis is a bit weak, don’t you think, DC? I mean, that can be said of any of Zappa’s bands. I’m still waiting for someone to come up with a description of this “spirit” that embodied Zappa’s 80s bands beyond the obvious – Stellar musicianship, musical creativity, Antisocial tendencies, and lack of generosity – that is distinct from incarnations of Zappa’s earlier bands.

    Don’t let it be thought that I love Zappa’s 80s oeuvre any less, I just note in comparison to earlier eras (particularly Zappa’s golden 70s era), the unity of his albums, especially those in the 80s, gave way to individual brilliance from song to song. Myself, when I think of Zappa’s 80s oeuvre, I think of particular compositions and songs instead of entire albums as I do when I think of Zappa’s 60s and 70s oeuvre. Was this a rush to release product? Perhaps. Am I unhappy he did so? Not on your life!

    Fair comments, UG – I just feel that Frank was a little more pissed off at the rest of the world in the Eighties than before (and after), and that his perceptions and expressions sometimes suffered from exceeding misocosmism…

  48. Nowski says:

    A quote from Matt:

    This was a fun band to watch and listen to, in spite of the cheesy DX7′s and electronic drums.

    Cheesy DX7′s (if that’s what it is) and electronic drums is exactly the reason why I don’t like to listen to that particular band very much.

  49. jonnybutter2 says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    Cheesy DX7′s (if that’s what it is) and electronic drums is exactly the reason why I don’t like to listen to that particular band very much.

    My least favorite band too. Both the bad early digital synths (prob. a DX-7) and the Yamaha CP-70 sound very tinny; I own a CP-70, and although it feels lovely to play, it sounds crappy unless you treat it heavily, and even then… And – sorry – I always found Chad W.’s playing to be very mechanical; also didn’t really care for the sound of his drums, electronic and acoustic.

    As far as ‘Guitar’ and ‘Shut up’ are concerned, the former is much harder to get into for me. You don’t have the incredible interplay between the drums and guitar you do on the latter.

  50. ABOOK says:

    wow way off the subject however what about a a zappa trading post or a section on kur where we can trade zappa collectibles pls so we can get some zappa goodies ………………….and i can sell the acumulated zappa collection ………………..

  51. Alex says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    And – sorry – I always found Chad W.’s playing to be very mechanical; also didn’t really care for the sound of his drums, electronic and acoustic.

    Word.

  52. Alex says:

    A quote from jonnybutter2:

    And – sorry – I always found Chad W.’s playing to be very mechanical; also didn’t really care for the sound of his drums, electronic and acoustic.

    No need to apologize – I feel the exact same way.

  53. Stewart says:

    Just for the record I find Zappa’s solo’s from 88 much more musically interesting compared to earlier stuff. Heavy Duty Judy just kicks ass and I can understand the tone on Inca Roads not being to everyones taste but that solo on BBYNHIYL is peak Zappa for me in terms of melodic and rythmical exploration. Then you’ve got stuff like the Oh No solo in 5/4 that cooks and City of TL + the simply awesome solo on Florentine segueing into Andy. Don’t get me wrong I love the earlier stuff too, but I find them a bit more stadium rock cliche’d (relatively speaking of course, FZ is the least cliched rock guitarist out there) than the later stuff. Each to their own obviously but I think the suggestion that you can hear FZ is less interested in guitar by listening to the 88 solos is a bit harsh

  54. Stewart says:

    PS & I fucking love Chad’s drumming. The ’84 sound is horrid of course but I would love to hear the complete MAJNH with drum tracks only!

  55. Stratoblogster says:

    I recall an interview in which FZ refers to Thunes having difficulties with certain personalities in the band. He actually sided with ST, in that he thought the bassist was an excellent musician, and the others involved were being immature jerks. Sorry I can’t reference or link to this specific interview, though someone around here must also be familiar with it. Reading ST’s comments here instantly reminded me of this. Otherwise I wouldn’t have much empathy or sympathy for ST.

  56. Matt says:

    http://wiki.killuglyradio.com/wiki/Poetic_Justice

    FZ talks about Thunes and the ’88 tour near end of interview.

  57. profusion says:

    In this interview, Thunes comes off like a good guy who was scarred by his experiences in the music biz. Not exactly a unique story.

    Looking back with the perspective of several decades, it’s absolutely remarkable that FZ was able to get so much amazing music through the industry sausage grinder intact. It took an amazing person to make that happen, but he was still just a human, after all.

    As such, it’s understandable how FZ’s music after about 1980 or ’81 acquired a bitter and nasty edge to it, which hasn’t worn well for me. The bands became less funky and ‘musical’, and more of a background platform for FZ’s jeremiads about Republicans, sexual hypocrisy, misogyny, government & business stupidity, etc.

    I think his fights with the music biz finally wore FZ down, and he became much happier with his head in the Synclavier cloud than dealing with all of that.

    His ’80s musicians all were probably better technicians than the guys and dolls in the Roxy band, but to me they didn’t brought nearly as much to the table. The ZFT might deny it to the end of the time, but the Roxy band was a real *band*. The songwriting credits don’t show it, but that band was its own entity above and beyond FZ. Heck, George’s solo albums show that quite clearly. His late ’70s albums where Napi was involved are personal favorites of mine, and give a strong Roxy vibe, despite the more mainstream R&B setting.

  58. metafunj says:

    I think some of the 80s musicians were better than the Roxy ones. Vai over Simmons, and maybe Mars had more techinical chops than Duke, but I can’t say for sure whether Thunes, Whackerman, or Mann had more talent than Fowler, Thomspon, and Underwood. Certainly pieces like Andy, Inca Roads, Approximate, and the Bebop tango were just as difficult as any of the pieces from the 80s, Probably more so than most of them. Maybe the 74 band could have even performed “Drowning Witch” correctly. :)

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