Guitarist's tour a homage to dad
Q&A | DWEEZIL ZAPPA
By GARY BUDZAK
Published in the Columbus Dispatch - July 25, 2007
Guitarist Dweezil Zappa will perform "Zappa Plays Zappa," Thursday at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion. His show this year features as many as 26 of his legendary father's songs.
A son of one of the most unusual practitioners in rock 'n' roll is keeping the family tradition alive on tour.
Dweezil Zappa -- a guitarist like father Frank, who died in 1993 -- began his "Zappa Plays Zappa" shows last year.
His set this year features as many as 26 Frank Zappa songs in almost three hours.
The latest tour, which started July 14, will stop Thursday at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion.
Frank Zappa was known as a great satirist: Solo or with his band, the Mothers of Invention, he composed and recorded prolifically, with works ranging from doo-wop to classical. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Dweezil Zappa checked in by phone from a tour rehearsal.
Q: What prompted you to do "Zappa Plays Zappa"?
A: It's something I've been thinking about doing for a long time, but it's been difficult to bring it to fruition for a number of reasons.
The first obstacle was the emotional side of it, and I finally got to a place where I felt ready to take something like this on.
But then I also wanted to make sure that I was well-prepared and could do it properly, so I actually took two years to study the music before I even put the band together.
Q: I've read that your guitar playing was inspired by Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai. True?
A: I was certainly also inspired by my dad, but, at 12 years old and having seen him play guitar and run a band the way that he did, it always seemed so sophisticated and complex that I knew that there was more to it than just knowing how to play guitar.
At that time I wasn't on the path in terms of musical education, so it didn't seem like something I could do. It just seemed like way too much stuff to know, and, having gotten into it as far as I have now, certainly I wish I would have done this a lot sooner -- and even when Frank was around to help me understand some of the things that he was doing.
Q: Did he encourage you to play guitar?
A: Yes, he did. . . . He didn't want to be responsible for trying to mold me in a certain way. If I had an interest, he would certainly answer questions at the time, but it wasn't the kind of thing like "You have to do it this way, or you're not going to do it at all."
Q: How would you describe him as a parent?
A: He definitely set up boundaries and guidelines, but, because we all had respect for each other in our family and the kids having respect for the parents, we really never got in any of the kind of trouble you read about with other famous families.
I mean, none of us have ever had any problems with any substance abuse or any problems with the law of any kind.
I've never taken a drug in my life. I've never been drunk. I've never smoked a cigarette, never had any interest in it.
So that's kind of the last thing you'd expect from most people's impression of Frank. They always thought, "Oh, he must be this drug-crazed fiend who's named his children these crazy names, and how bad their lives will be as a result."
Q: How have folks reacted to "Zappa Plays Zappa"?
A: It's been very, very good.
I mean, the people I do get a chance to meet after shows and talk to, they pretty much repeatedly say: "Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this. I never had a chance to see Frank play in his era, and you guys played the music from that era, and it sounded just like being back in high school."