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!
What do you think about the late Frank Zappa’s criticism of your work as simply “operating a guitar like a machine gun?” Do you think that Zappa was right when he said that the whole trend in the music business was that faster is better?
I think he was just jealous! I toured with Frank, and while I’ve always enjoyed his recordings, on tour he would take very, very long guitar solos, and he just didn’t have what it takes to play long guitar solos. That said, he has every right to his opinions, and in earlier days, I’m sure he had some validity in his criticisms of my playing.
I met John. I think he’s a great guitar player and I think that he’s probably done a lot to educate American audiences to some aspects of Eastern music that they wouldn’t have come into contact with before. We did a tour with McLaughlin and old Mahavishnu, we did 11 concerts with them.
update: here’s the original quote FZ said in an interview called “One Size Fits All” (1977):
Steve Rosen: What about the contemporary heavies, like Jeff Beck or John McLaughlin? Frank Zappa: I like Jeff, yeah. I’ve listened to “Wired” [Epic], and there are a couple of solos on there that I like. And I like some of his stuff on “Rough and Ready” [Epic]. A person woud be a moron not to appreciate McLaughlin’s technique. The guy has certainly found out how to operate a guitar as if it were a machine gun. But I’m not always enthusiastic about the lines I hear or the ways in which they’re used. I don’t think you can fault him, though, for the amount of time and effort it must have taken to play an instrument that fast. I think anybody who can play that fast is just wonderful. And I’m sure 90% of teenage America would agree, since the whole trend in the business has been “faster is better.”
In this interview clip, Frank Zappa makes an appearance as a guest on the short-lived talk show, Thicke Of The Night, hosted by Alan Thicke, on May 30th, 1984, promoting his upcoming tour, as well as a never filmed satirical video.
It didn’t surprise me that so much of middle America took to Thicke‘s wholesome image. We Canadians had been tuning out his afternoon talk show, The Alan Thicke Show, since it aired in 1980.
If they’ll swallow Alan Thicke (some network executive must have thought), they’ll swallow anything!
Frank Zappa stops by for an after gig radio interview at WBCN-FM, Boston, MA, on October 26th, 1978. Zappa apologizes for his lateness by producing a tape from the mixing board of the start of the prior night’s show of “Persona Non Grata” from North Shore Coliseum, Danvers, MA, followed by an interview. Another piece of fantastic Zappa history.
On two separate appearances on the “Rock ‘n Roll Evening News” – one on October 11th, 1986 (clip above), and another on November 29th, 1986 (clip below), Frank Zappa explains why most aspects of popular culture (in their case, the 1980s) sucks a rat’s dick, and why nothing new is seldom ever heard or performed on television or radio (AM or FM), as well as speaks his views on drugs, politics, and concerning movements generally. Continue reading ““Rock ‘n Roll Evening News” with Frank Zappa”