We're about to start the next leg of the 08 ZPZ tour. We're looking forward to playing all the new material and visiting some new places and making new friends along the way.
We're particularly excited to have the opportunity to play a few more festivals. As you know, introducing Frank's music to a new generation of fans is one of my biggest goals. The fact that we have been invited to play at both Rock and Jazz festivals is unusual. I suspect there will be some interesting differences between audiences. We'll be playing a few of each in the US and Canada as well as in Europe. Speaking of Europe, it's worth mentioning that I have every intention of playing many more dates with ZPZ throughout Europe in the very near future. I expect to play some more shows there in the fall as well as the shows currently listed on our brief summer tour. The fall tour in general has a few cool surprises and fan incentives - more on that in a future blog.
To all the European fans vocalizing about feeling left out please consider this simple equation - touring comes down to promoters who are interested in bringing the show to your town. It obviously costs a lot of money to travel with a large group and a lot of gear, especially these days. I would love to do a more extensive European tour but we can only go to the places that have the motivation to bring us there in a financially viable way. Perhaps the blustering overbearing pessimists on certain fan forums should run some numbers in their spare time, (which they obviously have a lot of) on shipping over 20,000 lbs of equipment, air fares for 18 people + salaries, hotels, buses, trucks, fuel - just to name a few things - and then ask themselves how feasible it really is.
Remember to take into account that the fickle ticket buying fan base that enjoys the "World's Finest Optional Entertainment" is not an overflowing pool of tens of thousands in each territory like say, U2... it's a mere puddle in comparison. For argument's sake let's say it's a few thousand people. Are they all free for the night of the show? Will there be enough promotion to get the word out to all of them so they know about it? I have no control over that. That is the promoters' job. Will they do it well? One would hope... We will likely play in small venues - good for intimate shows but hard if not impossible to cover tour expenses. There are innumerable amounts of variables that go into the decision making process of routing a tour.
We're definitely motivated to come and play for you, we just need the right partners/promoters. Slowly but surely we are making those connections. Please have some patience and keep checking the tour dates on the site.
See you soon,
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-23 22:56:08
14 June 2008
Ignorance is bliss...
Someone forwarded an article to me the other day. I thought I might comment on it. First I must make sure the writer of the article gets credit. There is a point to this I promise.
He knows a lot of my Father's songs. He's even purchased many of the albums for his own personal enjoyment. He was unnerved by something though - I inadvertently "harshed his mellow" when I commented to the audience that I was distracted by someone blatantly taping the concert from a few feet away. Not with a cell phone but a full blown video camera. I also said that the fan with the camera was taping something he did not own.
Now this did not sit well with Tim. He went on to write:
ďYes, in fact, we (the fans) DO own this music.
Iím not proud Ė nor am I ashamed Ė of the amount of money Iíve invested in music during my lifetime. And yes, I consider it an 'investment.' Iíve long (and only half-jokingly) said music is my best friend, because itís always giving something to me and never asking anything in return.
So Iíve dropped thousands of dollars on Frank Zappaís music, between vinyl and CDs and DVDs and cassettes. I lot of that went to Zappa or his family, and some went to collectors who had managed to collect a fair amount of Frank Zappa concert tapes. Thatís where my ownership comes in."
My favorite part is the end when Tim writes:
"(Iíd estimate that I havenít gone a week on the last 25 years without listening to some Frank Zappa music, and I canít say that about any other act, not even my beloved Beatles.)
Just donít try to tell me that I donít have some ownership of it."
While I totally appreciate Tim's enthusiasm for Frank's music and the kind words he's had to say about Zappa Plays Zappa, let me apply Tim's logic to something other than music.
I really like oranges. I have enjoyed them my whole life. I buy them all the time, I even have orange juice in my fridge. I like them so much that at this point I feel pretty good about saying that I own a piece of them. The next time I go to the store and fill my shopping cart with them no-one should mind if I just walk out without paying for them. The store won't care, it's not like they spent any money to stock and supply them, the farmers won't care, they didn't have to do any work to grow them or protect them from frost and hordes of insects or anything like that, the police won't care, they'll totally understand and support my thievery because ... I love oranges... I own them.
Now perhaps I should remind you that there are laws that protect such things as music and oranges. Whether you like it or not.
Those of you who protest the protection of trademarks, copyrights and oranges and view it as pure greed might want to imagine yourself in the position of the copyright/trademark or farm owner for once. If you have something of value would you protect it? You protect your home and your car, don't you? You protect your family and your own money, don't you??? Why is that considered to be a bad thing? You'd be a fool if you didn't protect those things.
I guess some people like to view it negatively so they can convince themselves they're not being disrespectful to the things they "love" while they try to take advantage of the things they "love" because they are special... and they "love" them so much...
Oh by the way the fan with the video camera came up to me at the end of the show and offered a heartfelt apology. He said he didn't know he wasn't allowed to tape the show. I commend him for making the effort to apologize. Nice manners.
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-14 21:26:49
15 June 2008
We have completed the first leg of the tour. Bonnaroo is officially scratched off the to do list. It was fun to play for the crowd that gathered at our tent. I want to commend our brave and hard working road crew for getting our complicated set up in there... "in there" is essentially in the middle of a big muddy field.
I don't know how many people we played to. I will estimate on the low side and say 3,000. It's really hard to judge. The tent was full and there were people outside watching and listening as well. Someone said the tent capacity was 15,000, I'm not sure about that. As I said, it's hard to judge. Many of the people sang along to every word throughout the set.
There were likely a few folks out there who were mostly unfamiliar with the music. We hope they enjoyed themselves. It would seem as though they did since the crowd chanted, "one more song, one more song" for a few minutes after our alloted time was up.
Once we gained permission to do the extra song we hit the stage and served up "Cosmik Debris". We aim to please.
Once again, thanks to everyone for supporting us on this tour. We'll see more of you in a few weeks for round 2.
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-15 10:53:41
13 June 2008
It seems that Dweezil keeps beating me to the punch on the blogging. WHATEVER! He's a regular blogging fiend this time, but I'm sure you all love it. It's hard to believe that our first outing comes to a close tomorrow. I was just telling Joe that right about now is where I hit my stride out here on the road.
Pete caught me earlier this afternoon sitting on the bus with a goofy grin on my face, just kind of staring off. Later on as we prepared to go on stage, I just couldn't wipe that same grin off my face as I primped in the mirror one last time. In that moment I was somehow taken WAY back to when I was four years old, waiting backstage at the Anaheim High School auditorium getting ready to go on stage and do a ballet recital in my tutu and make up. I was suddenly filled with an overwhelming joy and gratitude for what I get to do. I hope you guys aren't getting sick of hearing this, but it's true. I LOVE EVERY PERSON IN THE ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA BAND AND CREW. Period. I am filled with such love for these wonderful people. It's a blessing to know them and a joy to make such amazing music with them night after night. Truly. I can't emphasize this enough. I thought for sure my heart would burst through my chest tonight or that I would just lose it on stage and start crying. Well, I'm crying now as I write this, but I just can't help it.
The outpouring of love and appreciation from the audience is overwhelming at times. It's incredible that Frank's music can bring us all together to have such an amazing time. I feel so happy to be a part of this. Every show--EVERY SHOW has been amazing. THANK YOU for being such an incredible and supportive audience. We feel each and every one of you and it means so much to play for people that truly appreciate the music, the musicians onstage and the hard work we've put in to learn and deliver it all back to you. It's really cyclical, you know? We give to you, you give back to us, we want to give more back to you and so on...and so on...and so on...SO, you should each go out and tell two friends and they'll tell two friends, and so on...and so on! :-)
There was something in the air tonight here in Raleigh. I felt it before we went on stage. This year's show is so much fun (I know Mary's havin' a good time!). The audiences are all reacting with such fervor. Believe me, it doesn't go unnoticed. The most interesting thing that was in the air tonight? Panties. Yes, that's right, you heard right. A pair of beautiful, lacy, panties graced the ZPZ stage. That cracked me up as most of our audiences are primarily male. It just goes to show that there ARE indeed some ladies in the crowd and bold ones at that! Keep on comin' out, girls and keep "showing your support!" ;-)
Bonnaroo tomorrow! Now THAT'S the way to finish off this first leg of the tour. We can't wait to play to a festival crowd especially since we were robbed of our performance at Wakarusa. It will be nice to have the opportunity to play to fans of the music as well as hopefully doing some "recruiting/converting".
Well, that's all I've got for now. Jamie's polishing off a PB & J sandwich, Dweezil's blogging away, Joe's figuring out what DVD to watch first, the rest of the guys are either sleeping or hanging in the back lounge and we're rolling on into the night. I'm settling into my spot here in the front lounge and soon we'll be listening to some of tonight's show and perhaps watching some DVD's, snacking, talking and surely laughing. Good times...
If we haven't seen you yet, we hope to see you soon!
Love to y'all and thank you again!
POSTED BY SCHEILA GONZALEZ AT 2008-06-13 23:28:24
13 June 2008
Carolina Hardcore Respect
As I suspected, no mother/daughter combos down front. I did see a Panda though. It requested "Eye Of The Tiger" because it sounds so triumphant. Pandas love that shit. The big surprise tonight was the amount of kids under twenty in the front row. Almost all of them had hearing protection. I strongly recommend having some on hand for any live music event.
The show was a lot of fun. We received our first set of freshly removed panties from a callipygian lady in a top hat. Joe seemed to be the most interested in the undergarments and sent down a stick for surgical retrieval. Ray carefully hoisted them on to the stick and carried them back to Joe.
He inspected them... gave his approval and fastened them to one of his rack toms. They endured several beatings as they remained on display.
The crowd was extremely energetic. The most remarkable thing occurred after the show was over. I met a lot of fans but one guy stood out. In a display of maximum respect I was given a set of dog tags from one Mr. Robert Robichaux. He said that Frank's music helped him through his tour of Iraq. I'm sure glad it did. That's too heavy for words... I'll hold on to 'em for now but you let me know if you ever want them back.
We're off to Bonnaroo but we will surely remember Raleigh.
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-13 21:58:24
13 June 2008
Like Mother Like Daughter...
A couple of hours ago we performed to a sold out crowd in Atlanta. I noticed a large number of "youngsters" in the audience. It's really satisfying to see that, and as I have said all along I hope to see it more and more as time goes on.
One thing I always find surprising is the make up of the first couple of rows. I usually expect to see a few "lifers" and some guitar aficionados but rarely do I see mother and daughter combos out for an evening of Zappa music. Statistically speaking, I would expect their numbers to be quite low. Kinda of like the Panda population, but even less. Tonight there was a young girl, maybe 21 or 22 with her mom jammed down in front. They were mixed in with several of the other types of individuals I mentioned earlier. The ladies held their ground all night. I kept wondering who brought who to the show. I met the dynamic duo after the show and found out that mom was the instigator.
Personally, I think it is amazing that this music can bring different generations together and especially parents and their children. Having 2 daughters myself, I look forward to moments in the future that approximate the scenario I just described.
We are on the bus headed to North Carolina. I'll keep you posted on mother daughter combo sightings...
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-13 00:08:32
10 June 2008
It's still early in the tour but we have already noticed a huge surge in energy from the fans this year. We've all commented on it after the shows.
Each year we have the pleasure of doing this the reaction seems to grow stronger. Multiple standing ovations, wild exuberance, and raw emotion occur on a nightly basis and we never take it for granted. It's phenomenal to behold and has certainly helped me fight through my unfortunate lingering cold. Ray had a bad cold and lost his voice right before the tour started, I was lucky enough to catch it... good times. But as I said the enthusiasm of the audiences has helped me stay focused and for that I thank you all.
We will be out on the road off and on throughout the year and will continue to add new things whenever we can. We just want you all to know how much we appreciate your support and we look forward to playing for all you each and every time we walk on the stage.
See you at the next concert,
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-10 15:11:32
8 June 2008
I woke up to the sound of rain slashing our bus at an acute angle. The sky was swirling an electric blanket of darkness overhead for several hours. A few furious bolts of lightning rudely pushed their way to the front of the bus an made us feel like we just got x-rayed. We've been in a holding pattern through most of the day waiting to find out if we would be able to perform. We most definitely had come to do just that. We have all been looking forward to the festival dates on this tour.
Unfortunately the word just came in that will not be able to play this year due to act of God/foul weather and related technical hazards. Some of our gear got quite wet - this = bad. We will have to come back next year and bring a different kind of storm, a much more melodic kind.
To all of the fans who were unable to see show this evening we do apologize, but it was out of our hands. We were all disappointed that we wouldn't have the opportunity to play for you. We will in due time.
See you next year.
POSTED BY DWEEZIL ZAPPA AT 2008-06-08 18:54:54
8 June 2008
Home is where the heart is...........on the bus....
The bus is also where the entire ZPZ band is currently taking refuge from a raging storm complete with thunder, lightning, wind, horizontal rain and hail here at the Wakarusa Festival in Lawrence, Kansas.
It has actually subsided at the moment and we're waiting to hear if we're going to be playing tonight or not. All of us were looking forward to playing for the festival crowd and it will be a real bummer if we don't get to.
Another dark cloud has just rolled over us and it is starting to rain again. The thunder and lightning is starting back up and it's not looking good. POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! Oh well, what can you do? The weather is going to do its thing and all we can do is watch and wait and hope we get to play!
So far the shows have been amazing. The crowd in Minneapolis was one of the best we've seen and a great way to begin the tour. We had a great crowd in Omaha as well, complete with a few dancers and from what we heard we rolled out of town just in time to miss a tornado. Yeeeeeee hawww! Those things freak me out. "I'm seriously, you guys". I can do earthquakes, but tornadoes? No thank you.
....Wait....hold on.....yeah, I just overheard Dweezil ask Glynn (FOH) if we're off and it is indeed off....but wait, it seems that some of the band's HIGHLY sensitive electronic equipment got drenched in water when the roof of the stage collapsed....oh wait, now it seems that they may try to move the band to another stage and have us do a short set since this event is rain or shine...AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!.....................whew.
The glamour of it all! :-)
Well, we will either play or it will be "movie night" on the bus. We've all been cooped up here for most of the day and although we've gotten some much needed rest, we were also geared up to put on a show. Hmmmmmm.....time will tell. I just really hope all of the gear survives.
Oh, by the way, Pete gave me the idea for the subject of this blog entry. I just had to recognize...
POSTED BY SCHEILA GONZALEZ AT 2008-06-08 17:38:44
6 June 2008
On the road again/Dyna Flangers
Yes that's right it's Zappa Plays Zappa time again here at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. Home of the vault, huh-huh. It's the charming Minneapolis up next in it's bid for the tour premiere semi-finals...
It's true we're back on the road. We're headed to Minneapolis to start the 08 tour with a bunch of new material. The same core band is with me along with our good friend and special guest Ray White.
A lot has transpired since the Japanese tour ended back in January. We've released the 06 DVD in wide distribution, I've started some preliminary work on the the Austin DVD, I've mixed about a dozen songs for a live ZPZ 07 record (Due out later this year) and I have completely rebuilt my guitar rig from the ground up in order to more accurately reproduce some of Frank's signature guitar tones. And on a personal note, 2 weeks ago my wife and I welcomed our second child into the outside world. Her name is Ceylon and her big sister Zola is very fond of her already.
Back to the tour - From the beginning of this ZPZ project I have endeavored to use sounds that reflect the era of the music we are performing. I kind of always figured that my equipment would have to change relative to the material. Going into the first tour, I had a guitar rig that had been put together for my own studio work. It took a lot of experimenting to create sounds that would work for ZPZ since it was originally designed for something else. After the success of the 06 tour we were able to make plans for a second tour. I made several modifications to my equipment on the 07 tour that were related to the new material we had learned. After that tour I knew that I needed to build a system that would work for all eras of Frank's music. As long as I was starting from scratch I might as well get real specific. Frank's tones are very hard to emulate because they are very gear specific. If you don't have the same gear you generally won't get the sound you're looking for. There are ways around that but the most authentic results come from using the same gear.
Speaking of that, I did a lot of research about what he used and how he used it. As we all know Frank's tonal palette was quite extensive, very unique and constantly evolving. Putting a rack together that would allow me to assimilate multiple eras of classic FZ tones was a tall order. My favorite period of live/studio guitar is 73 to 82. There are so many amazing sounds from that stage.
During that time frame, Frank had built a rack that was nicknamed "Ma Bell". It was enormous. 1 giant refrigerator sized rack that included a DBX 162 stereo compressor, an Eventide 949 Harmonizer, a Roland Space Echo, a Big Muff, some MXR rack mounted delays, and a whole slew of other devices. All major studio quality items for that time. Still highly coveted today. Let's not forget the heavily customized electronics built into the guitars themselves. Preamps with 17db more output than normal guitars, 3 band parametric equalizers, Green Ringers, the list goes on and on.
Where do you go to find highly modified specialized gear like Frank's? I looked on e-bay, I looked at websites for guitar gear enthusiasts but I had no luck finding the items I was looking for. Frank's "Ma Bell" rack had been disassembled and scavenged by him years earlier. Could there still be a few pieces lying around in storage? Would they still work? After months of investigation I had the answers to those questions. And I had some of the actual equipment Frank used to use in hand and ready to put into the rack. That was the good news. The bad news was the price tag and the weight of the new "Twin Towers" the gear now lives in.
My favorite units hands down are the Mic Mix Dyna Flangers. They are the primary tonal landscape for the entire "Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar" album as well for classic solos on the "Joe's Garage" album and "You Are What You Is". The sound they create is so cool and the stereo image is wild.
To get the sound Frank got on those records you need 2 Dyna Flangers and 2 Aphex Expressors. The Dyna Flangers have to be set a very specific way or they don't even sound close to the sources I mentioned. In stereo, one unit needs to be set for flange with maximum modulation, (which makes it sound out of tune - in a good way) and the other following the high frequency envelope, (almost like a phaser mixed with a formant filter), then they need to be squeezed with considerable compression from the Aphex units. Once you do that, you play with your wah pedal and it further tweezes the phase of the signal resulting in that unique sound we're all familiar with.
With That sound now at the touch of a button and many more being dialed in daily, playing guitar has never been more fun.
We have some great new material that we have learned for all of you. Some old stuff from the 60's and some stuff from the 80's with a few points in between for good measure. I'm sure most of it will be revealed and posted online after the first few shows. If you're brimming over with curiosity check out this MP3:
This clip is from last Saturday's open rehearsal in LA. It is just a stereo FOH reference but it gives you a hint of what the Dyna Flangers sound like as well as a clue to some of the material we have prepared for the tour. Oh, and yes I do know the correct words to the monologue...
Looking forward to seeing all of you at the shows throughout the year.