I recently got together with SOFA and Magic Fingers, two members of theBIGnote that I hold in very high esteem. For those not in the know: SOFA is the driving force behind TBN’s website as well as a genius audio-tweaker, and Magic Fingers, in his capacity of Musibrarium Curator has built up a firm reputation with his series of FZ guitar solo variations known as “The Variation Variations”. If you’re a Zappa List member, you’ve probably witnessed the eagerness with which these collections are currently being traded.
Anyway, enough of me talking, here’s the interview I had with them, where they announce their latest project entitled “EyebrowTweezer Productions”. Read it, and then download a taste of what they’re up to…
KUR: We’re with two members from theBIGnote: Magic Fingers and SOFA, here to announce to the FZ Community a new “project” called “EyebrowTweezer Productions” that promises the availability of some “new music” by the master.
KUR: Uh, Guys? “New” music? I think I need to hear more…
MF: Yes, we should clarify; this all depends on your definition of “new”. With Frank gone, “new” music in the strictest sense is not possible.
SOFA: The best that the fans can hope for is an unreleased song from the past.
MF: Right; which exist, as we know. But for the most part, what constitutes “new” to the Zappa fan is something with which they’re familiar, done in a setting or manner that is unfamiliar.
SOFA: Yeah, like the latest releases from Vaulternative and the Trust – most of those songs are familiar to the fans out there, certainly the hard-core ones; they’re simply done in a manner new to the listener.
MF: And that’s where we’re coming from. The stuff we put together is possibly something the listener has heard, but presented in such a way as to be considered “new”.
KUR: You’re re-assembling stuff that has already been released?
SOFA: Whoa! No, sir! Not that we haven’t for our own enjoyment, but no; EyebrowTweezer focuses on unreleased live material, of which quite a bit exists.
MF: Our purpose is to showcase some of the best of this material, and do so in an unconventional manner…
SOFA: For the record, we encourage everyone out there that enjoys FZ’s music to purchase legitimately every single release; exhaust what exists in that realm before you start digging into the “what ifs?” Support the ZFT folks.
MF: …an unsolicited testimonial – where was I? Oh yes, we look for performances we perceive as exemplary in some way, and present them in a way different than the “accepted”. Hence, we’re creating “new” FZ music.
KUR: Who got the idea to make this “new” FZ music?
SOFA: I don’t know where the idea came from; it’s stupid, really…
KUR: How did the two of you start collaborating on this idea?
SOFA: I met Magic Fingers via an auction on eBay some years ago; I contacted him to warn him about an item he was bidding on – I had suspicions about the seller, and it turned out I was right. Although MF eventually received the goods he had bid on, they were not exactly in the condition he had hoped for.
MF: Ever the Good Samaritan, SOFA naturally offered his technical expertise to “clean up” the offending articles…
SOFA: I had music editing software, ya see.
MF: …and thus began a fairly serious and fairly frequent collaboration with regard to FZ’s music.
KUR: Like theBIGnote.com’s Musibrarium?
SOFA: Right. After a couple of years of private collaborating, it came to pass that Magic Fingers and I took over the reins of the Musibrarium at theBIGnote.com. A short time later, Magic whipped out the first “Variation Variations” project for one of our bi-monthly updates. At first, I questioned why we would want to present the same song over and over, but then Magic’s “theory of [a shit-hot solo] evolution” became clear to me.
MF: Well, the idea for that came about one evening when I found myself listening to various different versions of Yo Mama, and once again marveling at Frank’s ability to turn out shit-hot solos that nonetheless differed hugely from one show to the next. True air sculptures, as Frank himself used to say. So I figured why not choose the ten best solos, put them together chronologically to highlight how a song evolved as Frank and the band became more confident with it, and present them as a complete work? After all, if they hit all the right “G-spots” with me, then they would surely do likewise for other FZ aficionados out there in cyber space. Thus was born the Variation Variations – and, credit where credit is due, it was none other than KUR‘s Barry who came up with the double-Variation title. Since then, three more Variation Variations projects have been created and you better believe there will be more in the future.
KUR: Where did the name “EyebrowTweezer” Productions come from?
SOFA: He’s the Eyebrows – I’m the Tweezers – in EyebrowTweezer Productions.
MF: A mutual friend and TBN member, FZ biographer David Walley, made the comment to me in an email that I had “great eyebrows” on my ears…
SOFA: I’m not completely sure I know what that means, but it sounds cool, don’t it?
MF: …meaning that I seemingly had an ear for a good Zappa performance.
SOFA: And, I can’t disagree with the statement. I can tell a good sounding concert, like any schmuck; Magic Fingers can tell a good *performance*, regardless of the overall sound quality of the concert. I’ve always admired that ability.
KUR: You have a sample of your latest project here; you’re calling it “Gesprochenen Lite”. Would you care to elaborate?
SOFA: That’s the title I gave to the project itself, to separate it from the Variations project. It’s all “new”, but the focus is different. The actual title of the track we’re presenting is “This is My Bizarre Story”.
KUR: Tell us how the “Gesprochenen Lite” project came about?
SOFA: One night, after far too many beers, while musing that it sure would be nice to have some new FZ to listen to, and whilst editing the “Variations” version of Yo’ Mama – MF, sensible chap that he is, had requested my help in mastering his Variation choices, I was struck by the thought that this was indeed new Zappa; new to me, at least.
: The solos were songs almost on their own…
MF: Something FZ used to his advantage with the Shut Up Box, for example.
SOFA: But of course to create a new FZ “song”, what they would need would be some lyrics.
KUR: Sofa, what is it with you Americans and your desire to have words plopped on top of every musical composition?
MF: Often wondered that myself… Do tell?
SOFA: I dunno. Genetic? Probably the Fluorinated water…
: Anyway, another project was emerging in my twisted mind; I figured that I could glean “fresh” lyrical content from recorded interviews of Frank. This was an idea that I had tried out on TBN’s membership a couple of years earlier with a disk set called “The Talking Frank Zappa Blues”, which was essentially Interview footage with FZ music as a “background”. I figured with this project, we’d let the music be in the foreground, and let the words compliment it – sort of invert the concept.
: Around this time, I heard the “Zappa on Censorship” interview posted at zappa.com, via the link at KUR. I decided to try to mine that interview for ‘lyrical motifs’, which would fit with some bitchin solos. Barry helped me secure a recording of the interview (Thanks, Bro!).
: Once I’d put together the nifty little anti-Bush diatribe for the coming election – featured on KUR, I contacted Magic Fingers to present him with the concept of creating this “new” FZ music, and solicit his help in finding some solos that would carry the “lyrics” I was creating. It didn’t take long to sell him the idea.
MF: Take various FZ solos from different songs and different eras and add these “lyrics” that SOFA was making? It sounded like fun to me…
SOFA: The title of the project, “Gesprochenen Lite”, reflects that the “lyrics” are spoken – not sung – and that the lyrical content is not to be taken too seriously, as it is often out of context, or just plain “made up” from words spoken in completely different contexts. Fortunately, I had just received a couple of fabulous recordings from which to select some solos to get me started that bought Magic some time as he began his research. Once the project started to really roll, we soon discovered that we had more than a disk worth of material, so our first “Gesprochenen Lite” project became a double disk.
KUR: No irony in that
MF: Maintains a certain Conceptual Continuity, don’t you think?
SOFA: It actually happened because I was seeking a specific recording for a “song”, and was having trouble locating said recording. While I was looking, we kept developing new material; the new material helped shape the project.
: And I want to just give a quick shout-out to Peter at United Mutations for his assistance. I just love the Zappa Community.
KUR: Let’s talk about this “Big Hit Single” you’re touting to launch your EyebrowTweezer Productions.
MF: EyebrowTweezer Productions has already launched – with the Variation Variations series.
SOFA: Yes, the Big Hit Single is intended to test the reaction of folks with regards to the “Gesprochenen Lite” project – to see whether or not Zappa fans will accept the idea.
KUR: So the single, “This is My Bizarre Story”, is featured on the new double-disk release?
SOFA: Of course not…
MF: Absolutely not. Frank wouldn’t have done it that way…
SOFA: Heck no. “This is My Bizarre Story” is a harmless bit of fluff conceptually, compared to most of what is on the double-disk. I guess we might include it on a future ETPro “Gesprochenen Lite” release – if it appears that folks want to listen to stuff like this. Consider this track our “Big Leg Emma”.
KUR: And the title of this “much anticipated” double-disk set you’re promoting?
MF: “Intellectual Machinery” (Does This Sort of Life Sound Interesting to You?)
SOFA: The title comes from theBIGnote Group. Once the tracks for the project had all been laid, I couldn’t come up with a name for the set – one that I was happy with, anyway. So I asked the Group to help out. Members submitted their ideas and we voted on the ones we liked best.
MF: I think the title does the concept justice.
KUR: And when might we hear these recordings?
MF: Keep an eye on TBN’s Musibrarium.
SOFA: But in the meantime, a big ‘Thank You’ to Kill Ugly Radio for allowing us to feature our new, Big Hit Single, “This is My Bizarre Story“.
MF: Hear! Hear! And be warned. Our collaboration continues…