Articles & Interviews

 

Frank Zappa interview by Frank Kofsky
By Frank Kofsky
from The Age of Rock, Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution, edited by Jonathan Eisen, A Vintage Book.

Kofsky: When I read into what you're trying to do in your music is not just play music, but also agitate and educate-

Zappa: And synthesize…

Kofsky: It strikes me as a kind of musical version of Berthold Brecht. Might that be a correct inference?

Zappa: Well, I'm not a Brecht fan because I don't know that much about what he does, but people keep saying that, so maybe it's true. I've read hardly any of his stuff. I've heard the "Three-Penny Opera"-like half of it one time-couldn't sit through the rest.

Kofsky: I don't necessarily mean that you were copying him. It just seems to me that his idea was that you could use art to galvanize people into some kind of action.

Zappa: Oh, I think we can definitely galvanize people into some kind of action. We galvanized somebody into singing "Louie, Louie" tonight, who was asleep. [In the Mothers' first show at the Garrick Theatre that evening, a young man who was apparently tripping out at the time had volunteered to come up from the audience and sing "Louie, Louie" accompanied by the Mothers.] From zero to "Louie, Louie" in ten seconds is not bad. We can generate that sort of wave, and I hope that once we get on a footing where we can reach more people at once, more mass-media exposure, then we'll be able to get more of that happening. Some of the stuff we get for fan mail, although it's not huge in quantity, what those letters are saying, no other group in the world is getting. We get fantastic letters from anarchists, nineteen years old: "Help me in my town," and all that stuff.

Kofsky: Are those the people you want to appeal to, or is that what you want people to do then-destroy the system?

Zappa: No, not exactly destroy it. I want it modified to the point where it works properly. A lot of people think that a new political movement, the ideal new political movement, is to bust it all up and start all over again with tribes and feathers in your hair and everybody loves everybody else. That's a lie. Those kids don't love each other; they're in that because it's like another club-it's like the modern-day equivalent of a street gang. It's clean pachucos, a little hairier perhaps. But it's not right. First of all, the idea of busting it all down and starting all over again is stupid. The best way to do it, and what I would like to see happen, what I'm working towards, is using the system against itself to purge itself, so that it can really work. I think politics is a valid concept, but what we have today is not really politics. It's the equivalent of the high school election. It's a popularity contest. It's got nothing to do with politics-what it is is mass merchandising.

Kofsky: Then your kind of politics is something that raises real alternatives: say, a thorough revamping of American foreign policy-doing away with the American Empire; really discussing the issues that exist and not simply running two television candidates.

Zappa: Right.

Kofsky: How do you envision the connection between what you're doing now and generating that kind of a movement?

Zappa: First of all, I would like to manufacture a thing called the Interested Party-I'm taking steps in that direction now-which would be a third party that lives up to its name.

Kofsky: Then it would be a second party, really.

Zappa: Actually, yes. The people that would be active in such a venture would have to be the ones… in every small town there's a little guy that lives there that knows what's happening and everybody thinks he's a creep, and he's the only one who's right, you know? We have a way of reaching these people, because they come to us, they find us, because they say, "Maybe there's a chance." So suppose we don't sell ten million albums. We've reached most of those kids in those towns. A lot of them have written to us, and the other ones have heard and at least been made aware that somebody is thinking in the direction that they're thinking. I think what we do is really constructive, although a lot of people are repelled superficially by the sound of it, the way we look, and some of the grotesque action on stage. But those are all therapeutic shockwaves.

Kofsky: Sometimes when you insult the audience, as in "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here," and in the notes to the first album-this is all part of the thing of stinging them into action, isn't it? You're trying to arouse them and make them angry instead of apathetic.

Zappa: Yes, yes, I think that it's easier to make somebody mad than to make somebody love. And seeing as how hate is the absolute negative of love, if you can evoke hate and it's really there, you can polarize it, and then you really could have love.

Kofsky: Don't you think that this emphasis on love that we see among hippies really reflects not so much their ability to love at the moment, but their desire to create the kind of society where it will be possible to love?

Zappa: No, I think that what they do is a definite indication of their inability to love, because the whole hippie scene is wishful thinking. They wish they could love but they're full of shit, and they're kidding themselves into saying, "I love! I love! I love!" And the more times they say it, the more times they think they love. But like it doesn't work, and most of them don't have the guts to admit to themselves that it's a lie.

Kofsky: Do you think that this is because it's an early phase of the thing?

Zappa: Oh yeah, I see it growing into something that really works. I'm glad the kids are pretending they're dropping out, because when they find out that that doesn't work they'll be ready for some sort of action.

Kofsky: Revolutionary action?

Zappa: Sure. I think a revolution-not the sloppy kind, but the kind that really works-you know, it's about time for that.

Kofsky: Do you want to distinguish between sloppy kind and-?

Zappa: The sloppy kind is blood-in-the-street and all that bullshit. Today, a revolution can be accomplished by means of mass media, with technical advances that Madison Avenue is using to sell you washing machines and a loaf of bread and everything else. This can be used to change the whole country around-painlessly.

Kofsky: How so?

Zappa: Because all those facilities are available, and facilities that the people are using now on Madison Avenue- there are techniques above and beyond that which they aren't aware of and which I think I've come into-things that they're not ready to believe exist yet. Because they have a tendency to get into a formula, like they get into their bag with their motivational researchers with their degrees, who have only scratched the surface of what the youth movement is about. They don't know youth from shit. And that's the market. You know they're still selling products to the youth on a glandular level. There are ways to move the youth to action through their brains and not through their glands. You have to start off part of the thing on the glandular level just to get their interest.

Kofsky: As you do now.

Zappa: But we're not nearly as glandular as most of the rock and roll bands, because we're not selling sex that much.

Kofsky: Well, you insult people too much to be really glandular. You challenge them.

Zappa: But we've got enough so they don't lose interest in us completely. If we tried to just be straight up there and sing our songs and go away, we wouldn't make it, because we're old men compared to rock-and-roll standards, and there's no sex appeal to an old man singing a straight song. So if we do something that makes us bizarre, we got that happening for us.

Kofsky: The thing that occurs to me at this point is, we know the powers that be in this country are pretty much opposed to people revolutionizing their society-witness the way Johnson deals with Vietnam when the Vietnamese try to do that. Do you think that those same powers would be any more lenient with you if it looked like you were trying to take everything they had away from them?

Zappa: First of all, it will never look to them like I'm going to take everything away from them, because I'm not taking it all away from them-I have no intention of taking it all away from them.

Kofsky: Well, taking their power. I didn't necessarily mean taking their personal possessions. But their power right now is the ability to command what the man on the street thinks through their control of the mass media and so on and so forth.

Zappa: That's where I have one basic human drive on my side that they can't defeat-greed. You see, they're so greedy, and the powers that be are not necessarily the government, but you're talking about big industry and the military and all, and that's greed-motivated activity. Industry wants to make money and I'm getting into a phase now where I'm being used by industry to move products. A lot of the industries now are aware of the fact that they're in a vicious cycle: in order to sell their goods to the youth market, which accounts for the major market of most of American products, that same market that buys most of the records, you have a weird situation where in effect record companies especially are helping to disseminate the information which will cause the kids to wake up and move and eventually destroy what they stand for, and they can't help it.

Kofsky: Ralph Gleason tells me that this is happening by kids in the Haight-Ashbury in particular, by simply turning their back on big-corporation society and going out and creating a parallel society of their own.

Zappa: That doesn't work. They can't survive. That's like saying, "We're going to secede from the union; we'll have our town secede from the union." That's stupid.

Kofsky: In a sense, I agree with you, but it also seems to me that there's a certain element of wishful thinking in what you propose, too. In my rigid Marxist bag, it does seem to me that the power Elite (or ruling class), when you get to that point where it looks as though you are somehow going to emancipate the population from taking orders from them, they simply aren't going to let you have it that easily. They are going to try to do the same thing they tried to do to Fidel Castro or to Ho Chi Minh…

Zappa: That's all a question of how you perceive what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to take power.

Kofsky: No, I'm not saying you're trying to take power, but you are trying to-

Zappa: You originally brought up the question of power. Now, power is a thing that bears on this case, but what we're really talking about is modifying the system just so it works. The present principles of democracy that were originally set up when they invented it aren't being applied today, and I think that with an educated population, democracy works. So what we need are things that would change the shape of education.

Kofsky: I didn't mean that you personally wanted to take power, but I do think that you meant that you wanted to undermine the power of those people who have it now-the power to control people's minds.

Zappa: It's like this. A person likes to feel useful in the society; people have certain things that they can do. I happen to have a knack for doing that sort of thing, and if I can apply it to good use, it gives me satisfaction just to know that I'm functioning. Where normally, you know, I wouldn't have a chance to use my trade, because what I can do is spread out over a broad range of activities. I like to do them all because it feels good to do that. If I can help at the same time, that's groovy. If it works, fine. If it doesn't work, at least I kept myself occupied for a while.

Kofsky: So in other words, this isn't some rigid prescription that you're trying to force on people?

Zappa: No! If I thought it was like that, I'd be wearing armbands or be out there with a costume on-the robe-and doing it with some showmanship. But we've taken our time about presenting our case and the scene itself has been developing at a rate-it seems like its developing slower than I wanted it to. But, I am not in a position of where I can govern the growth rate

Kofsky: No, isn't it a question of feedback from your audience to you, I would imagine?

Zappa: Yes and no. We keep track of what's going on out there, but what they do and what they say doesn't have a hell of a lot of bearing on what we're going to do for them. Except that I try to forecast certain social-political events. We have some material that's going into the next album about the concentration camps in California-you're seeing this before the world even knows what the tune is because I turned these out the other day. These are going on the album, The Mothers and Lenny Bruce, which is due for September release.

Kofsky: Well, how does that go? Is it going to be real Lenny Bruce on there?

Zappa: Yeah. I'm editing the tapes of Lenny's and interspersing these special tunes, so we come up with an oratorio thing, and the name of the album is Our Man in Nirvana.

Kofsky: I suspected that you and I had a lot in common, and one of the things we had in common was being turned on by Lenny Bruce.

Zappa: Yeah.

Kofsky: Besides growing up in Los Angeles, putting twin pipes on our car and reprimering the right front fender and going to drive-ins. I wonder if anybody understands all of that kind of thing?

Zappa: They don't.

Kofsky: That whole album [Freak Out!] is Southern California. Nobody else knows what a swimming pool is.

Zappa: No, this is a new type of lyric that I'm getting into. These are also social-political things. This is straight bizarre lyric, based on-I made research tapes of behavior of some seventeen-year-old kids in Ontario, California, and this is based on those tapes.

Kofsky: How long do you carry some of this stuff around in your head?

Zappa: Well, "Call Any Vegetable", for example, was written two weeks after we finished Freak Out!, when we were in Hawaii, and it took a year to learn how to play it. "Son of Suzy Creamcheese" took a year to learn how to play. Can you tell why? The time, the time-it's fantastic. It's four bars of 4/ 4, one bar 8/8, one bar of 9/8- O K? And then it goes 8/8, 9/8, 8/8, 9/8, 8/8, 9/8, then it goes 8/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, and back into 4/4 again. To get it together now, we just toss it off and it becomes a flop.

Kofsky: Are there a lot of splices on "Absolutely Free"? I thought I detected places where there were very abrupt changes, and it hadn't been like you paused and changed tempo. but that you'd spliced one part into another. Am I right about that?

Zappa: Oh, yeah. There was a lot of editing. Since that time, we've adjusted our playing so we can sound like we've been edited. I like that effect.

Kofsky: When I've heard jazz groups change tempos, they usually pause and make it quite apparent that the tempo is being changed.

Zappa: That's silly though.

Kofsky: Yes, it is silly.

Zappa: Because you lose the impact.

Kofsky: Yes. Why aren't the lyrics to "Absolutely Free"-

Zappa: More intelligible?

Kofsky: No. Let me back up. I've heard rumors-I know rumors are unreliable-that there was some censorship problem in making this album.

Zappa: Yes, there were.

Kofsky: And I wondered if you deliberately made the lyrics unintelligible.

Zappa: No. The censorship problem was not in the lyrics being unintelligible on the record. I wanted to print the libretto as the liner notes.

Kofsky: That was my next question. Why wouldn't they let you?

Zappa: There's a legal difference between what's on the record and what's on paper.

Kofsky: In other words, you can say it and not get-

Zappa: You can sing it, and that's part of a work of art; but the liner notes to an album are not-you can't defend that in court as a work of art.

Kofsky: Who's the genius who decided that?

Zappa: M-G-M legal department. And this is the one that'll really kill you. You see that copy [of the libretto to "Absolutely Free"] you've got in your hand? Look what they censored out of it-the word "thirteen"! "She's only thirteen and she knows how nasty" [from "Brown Shoes Don't Make It]. You know what they took out? The word "thirteen," not nasty. Yes, they wanted us to say that she was… Look: "Magnificent Instrumental, Ejaculation Number 1." They had to cross it out and change to "Climax." [Laughter] You dig? They wanted to change, "I'd like to make her do a nasty on the White House lawn," [from "Brown Shoes"…] they wanted to change it to-

Kofsky: White House bathroom?

Zappa: No, "I'd like to make her do the crossword puzzle on the back of TV Guide."

Kofsky: Are you kidding?

Zappa: Read it. You want to know something else? M-G-M says, "Now, we know-you and I both know-that you want to make her do nasty on the White House lawn can mean only one thing: you want to make her shit on the White House lawn."

Kofsky: Oh! Wow!

Zappa: That's what he said. "Now, look, there are some things that are in bad taste...."

Kofsky: Napalm, of course, is perfectly in good taste....

Zappa: Like dig the way these guys think, man. Also, "she's only 13 and I hear she gets loaded," ["Brown Shoes"… again] M-G-M says, "We might run into trouble, because in some states-"

Kofsky: You're not supposed to drink until you're eighteen. You know, in some states the legal drinking age is eighteen. I reviewed the record and I reviewed it without the libretto; and I admit I was very uptight by not having the libretto at hand; and I kind of thought that this might be some kind of publicity or money-making gimmick on your part.

Zappa: The whole logic behind that is, the only way you can teach an American is by example, because they've gone past the point where they'll believe what you tell them. That's the way it is. They have to get it from a different source. They have to be shown by example. So-in other words, the American advertising system, which is one of the main evils of contemporary society-the whole idea of making people buy things that they don't need is morally wrong. And the only way you're going to make 'em know is to do it, really overdo it-buy, sell, cram. Until they finally say, "What the f-- is this?" Now, the way the libretto is going to be handled is it's going to be printed in Evergreen Review, I believe, either Evergreen or Ramparts. The idea is to carry the whole liner notes; and it will also be available in booklet form, if they want to send for it.

Kofsky: It seems to me very coincidental that the Beatles' new record Sgt. Pepper's… came out the same time "Absolutely Free" did. I find a great similarity. The Beatles seem to be rejecting the idea that you have to be enslaved to commodities; and that when you're sixty-four years old, all you have is two weeks summer in the Isle of Wight.

Zappa: I think it's probably more subjective than that. It sounds to me like "what's going to happen when we're sixty-four? Are you still going to buy our shit?" It's a humorous treatment of what happens when a rock and roller gets old.

Kofsky: I didn't get that impression. I juxtaposed that track with the George Harrison thing in front of it ["Within You Without You"], which was talking about, "We could change the world with our love." It seems that what they're saying, "On the one hand you can go off and be free if you want. On the other hand, you can enslave yourself to buy, buy, buy, buy, buy."

Zappa: I believe in what George Harrison says that you can change the world with love-if you really got it. If you really care, you can do it.

Kofsky: Can you love in a society that only teaches hate?

Zappa: Why not? Just to be contrary, you can do it. If you really want to be a rebel, honestly try and love something. And if you really want to be gross about it, try and love the society that's shitty-try and love it enough to do something about it. If you can get enough zealots out there that believe in that sort of activity, you can't stop them, no matter what they look like and where they live, because those are the kind of people that move mountains and you can't do anything about it. They won't take no for an answer.

Kofsky: Let's put in a note here when this thing is edited for the magazine not to take the word "f--" out and the word "shit" out, and so forth, because that would be contrary to the spirit of the interview.

Zappa: Well, like if they're going to substitute any words substitute "do-do" for "shit," got that? And for "f--" we'll have "hunchy-punchy ." [Society has become very permissive in its acceptance of the use of four-letter words, especially in serious publications. We admit to being rather conservative but do permit the use of some four-letter words as this interview indicates. We recognize that in the future it will be difficult for a responsible periodical to omit the use of all four-letter words. Ed.]

Kofsky: California is clearly the center of the new popular music. I wonder how you relate the Mothers to some of the Northern California groups like the Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead, and though it's a Southern California group, Love. I'm curious as to how you see the relationship between you and your audience compared to the relationship between them and their audience.

Zappa: The whole San Francisco scene is promoting a love relationship between the audience and the group. The group is supposed to love the audience to death.

Kofsky: Do you think this exists in practice?

Zappa: No, I don't think so.

Kofsky: Have you seen this firsthand?

Zappa: Sure. Because I find it equally as nonexistent as- well, you go to the Avalon Ballroom and they pass out feathers and bells. That's it, man. That's phony. That's like if we were to pass out Molotov cocktails in the lobby, it'd be just as phony. It's childish, because it's like a club. The key club-you bring a feather and a bell.

Kofsky: What do you think is the relationship between, say, the Airplane and its following, then, if it isn't really love? Do you think it's just, as you suggested earlier, a street gang without fights?

Zappa: I can't really evaluate other band's followings, because I don't know that much about the inner workings of their promotion. All I can say is that people who like the Jefferson Airplane like 'em, and people who like the Grateful Dead, they like 'em. People have different tastes.

Kofsky: How about the relationship between the Mothers and their audience?

Zappa: It's a little bit different, because our initial appeal is to the outcasts, the weirdos.

Kofsky: Especially the L.A. weirdos. Your whole thing is steeped in the L.A. mystique.

Zappa: Well, we're definitely a product of our environment. That whole band grew up in L.A. I don't see how people can lump us in with the San Francisco bullshit scene, because it doesn't sound like San Francisco music to me, no matter how objective.... Anyway, the people that we hear about that like us-I could show you some of the fan letters. They're just unique, man. These are really the cream of the weirdos of each town, and they're coming from all over. We're getting letters from very strange places.

Kofsky: Do they think in political terms, or what?

Zappa: Some of them do. Some of them think just in terms of like, "I feel funny because people think I'm strange." And, "Say that you like me, please, Mothers of Invention, so that I'll keep on being strange and I'll stay alive in my small town."

Kofsky: What do you do with those letters?

Zappa: We haven't answered any of them yet. We're just now setting up our correspondence. We've got a total of about three hundred fan letters for the past year.

Kofsky: You take this pretty seriously, then?

Zappa: Sure. Why not? Those are live people out there. If you can think of it as somebody who paid four dollars for an album, that's one way to do it, and then you send him an autographed picture. But I'll show you the material we've been preparing for fan consumption.

Kofsky: [Quoting Mothers' first answer to fan mail:] "We could have sent you a cheesy form letter, all purple and mimeographed, something that would probably say, 'The Mothers of Invention want to thank you blah blah for writing such a nifty letter blah and they love their fans who are so loyal and thoughtful blah and blah. But they are so busy-busy-busy-busy that it would be virtually impossible for them to even begin to attempt to consider the possibility of any sort of warm personal reply, blah, blah, blaaahhh.' We could have sent you that sort of cheesy letter, instead we have sent you this cheesy letter, the text of which reads: " 'Dearest Wonderful and Perceptive Person: The Mothers of Invention want to thank you blah blah for writing us such a nifty letter, some of which you have written to us on toilet paper-how wonderfully original. Golly gee, we are so awful busy being thrown out of restaurants and hotels in Montreal, ignored by taxis in New York-have you had that trouble too- it's getting so you don't even have to be black not to be picked up-mugged by policemen in Los Angeles and scrutinized by the censors of all major U.S. media. Willikins! It takes so much time to do all that crap we hardly have any time to answer each of you in a warm, personal way. So: If you are a worried girl and you wrote to us because we turn you on and you want our bodies and/or you think we are cute, here is your own personal section of the letter. The answer to any and all questions is, yes, we love you even if you are fat, with pimples. If you are or are considering the possibility of becoming a boy and you think you are very hep and swinging and you wrote to us on a piece of toilet paper, this section is for you: Keep up the good work. We would like to encourage you to become even more nihilistic and destructive. Attaboy. Don't take any gas from your metal shop teacher or that creep with the flat top in physical education who wants to bust your head because you are different. Give them all the finger, just like we would give you the finger for writing to us on a piece of toilet paper ' "

Zappa: Solid! End letter. That's not all, I have to type up a few more sections. OK, that's the initial reply to a fan letter, which has to be modified, because I understand that there are legal complications to saying anything sexual in a form letter.

Kofsky: There are legal complications to everything Then follows: "Would you be interested in joining what's called a fan club for the Mothers? The official name of the organization is the United Mutations. We call it that because we are certain that only a few special people might be interested in active participation. It will cost you three dollars and you must fill in the accompanying questionnaire. Name, age, sex, height, weight, address, state, zip, father's name, profession, mother's name, profession. Answer these questions briefly: Who is God? ESP? Yes? No? Describe. Best way to describe my social environment is: If I had my way I would change it to: How will you change your social environment? When? What are you afraid of? What sort of help can the Mothers give you? "On another sheet of paper describe your favorite dream, or nightmare, in clinical detail. Send both sheets with three dollars to the address above and in return we will send you useful information about the Mothers, a small package with some other things you might be interested in. Thank you. Your signature in ink, please." This is the follow-up letter that accompanies the package: "Hello. Thank you for responding to our initial proposal. It is necessary to know a few more things about you. We hope you won't mind answering another form letter, but our files require it for continued membership. If you are interested in this worthwhile program of let's call it self-help, please be advised that our work can be continued only if your membership is kept paid yearly and we have periodic reports of your activities within the context of our program. You will be notified by mail for your next membership report. For now, please fill in this form and return it to us and read the enclosed material carefully. We are happy you took an interest in us. Answer these questions briefly. Please enclose a small photo of yourself. "Are you a mutation? What can you do to help us? People's minds: how many do you control? Why not more? How do you control your subjects? Do they know? Do other people know? How do you avoid problems? Do you group think? Is there another operator near you? Who? Does he/she belong to our association? If no, why not? Describe your relationship with your parents. How can the Mothers assist you? Your signature in ink, please. Date."

Kofsky: I take it you're mostly interested in young people, in particular high school students?

Zappa: Well, they seem to be the only ones left alive.

Kofsky: Perhaps this is a mis-estimate on my part, but so much of your thing seems to be directed towards the high school scene, for example, "I'm losing status at the high school" [from "Status Back Baby"]. For people who know what the public education system is, they're obviously going to be in sympathy with you. They won't be convinced because you've already reached your conclusions on their own. They don't need any more propagandizing. And the ones who aren't convinced, they're not going to be convinced by that, because they're not even going to listen to that record, or if they do, they won't listen to it a second time. So then, who is going to be-

Zappa: Influenced by "I'm losing status at the high school?"

Kofsky: Yeah, and that whole genre: "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here," and "Mr. America, walk on by" [from Hungry Freaks, Daddy].

Zappa: Unfortunately, that's the genre that brought these fan letters to us.

Kofsky: So there are, in small towns and so forth, all these people who really think that there's something wrong with them because they're losing status at the high school?

Zappa: That's right. Think about this for a minute: If you were to graphically analyze the different types of directions of all the songs in the Freak Out! album, there's a little something in there for everybody. At least one piece of material is slanted for every type of social orientation within our consumer group, which happens to be six to eighty. Because we got people that like what we do, from kids six years old screaming on us to play "Wowie Zowie." Like I meet executives doing this and that, and they say, "My kid's got the record, and 'Wowie Zowie's' their favorite song."

Kofsky: How did the kid get the record in the first place?

Zappa: They may have an older sister or brother who got hold of the thing and who played it at the house, but the young kids that hear it like "Wowie Zowie," and then there are other high school kids-they're all trying to find something on there that they can identify with. I've gotten a lot of replies that kids like the "Watts Riot song" (Trouble Comin' Every Day).

Kofsky: That's a beautiful song; I'm surprised you don't do that more.

Zappa: But the heaviest stuff on there is "It Can't Happen Here" and "Who Are the Brain Police?" Nobody's penetrated "Brain Police"-yet.

Kofsky: Who are the Brain Police?

Zappa: I can't tell you that-it's a religious song. But the ones who say they like "Brain Police" like it because it's got some screaming and they love it. The ones that like "Help I'm a Rock", you know that mumbling part at the end, haven't come to realize what the musical structure of that is. They'll perceive it because it's got some gag lines in it.

Kofsky: Who played the piano solo on it?

Zappa: I did.

Kofsky: That's what I thought. Hence, "If you want to become a piano player, go out and buy a Cecil Taylor record." [As Zappa stated in Hit Parader].

Zappa: That whole Freak Out! album is to be as accessible as possible to the people who wanted to take the time to make it accessible. That list of names in there, if anybody were to research it, it would probably help them a great deal.

Kofsky: The list of names preceded by, "We have been influenced by--, do not hold it against them?"

Zappa: Yeah.

Kofsky: There again you seem to be very conscious of packaging, promoting, that sort of thing.

Zappa: Of course. The Mothers were packaged two years before we actually put the band together, because I had been doing motivational research in the field, watching successes and failures of other people in the industry.

 

 
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