I love your website! You will have to be patient with me, for I am computer challenged (is that politically correct or what?). Matthew Voss <email@example.com>
Well, your spelling is good, and I got your message, so you seem to have this computer thing dicked from my end. (Odd choice of phrasing there.)
Q: I have a few questions for you pertaining to the incredible '88 band. Actually, I have about a million questions, but I will only ask a couple. Here we go!
1. Why is the Theme from the Bartok Piano Concerto #3 cut in half on Make a Jazz Noise Here? What happens to the mellow piano lead that Bobby Martin plays right before the horn section comes in?
A: Bobby (sorry, Robert) never executed that passage to Frank's total satisfaction. It's too bad, 'cause the full-length version had a lot more impact. The first half of the horn section is missing also.
Q:2. Why did Frank decide not to include Packard Goose on any of the 3 '88 CD's or on the YCDTOSA series? From what I have read on other Zappa websites, he played it numerous times on the tour.
A: There's three possible reasons: 1) Technical or audio glitches on all the versions prevented them from being usable; 2) The tune never fit in thematically or musically with any of the running orders Frank prepared for the CDs; or 3) Frank thought all the versions sucked. The third option could well be the most likely.
Q:3. Do you know if any other '88 material will be released on audio or video. How about releasing the TV broadcast from Spain dedicated to Iberia airlines?
A: "Trance Fusion", the next guitar solo album, is mainly from '88. He once described the Barcelona video as a "low priority" for him. It wasn't one of our better performances, so I don't mind it not being available widely. A much better show, which was also filmed professionally, was in Madrid. All the tapes from all the camera angles are in the vault, but there are technical problems which, so far, have rendered it impossible to sync the film to tape. That may get fixed in the future, and I hope it does, because it really is a much better show and no one has seen it yet.
Q:4. Does Scott Thunes have his own website yet? What is he doing now?
A: No website to my knowledge (you might try searching "Thunes"), and he's currently playing with Lee Ving's band Fear. He's done work with Lee on and off for a few years, so I guess they've finally made their association official. Scott lives up in Marin County now, we've lost contact.
Q: I talked to Ike Willis and the rest of the Band From Utopia last October at a show. They said that he was still playing with Fear
A: . Well, I guess you already knew! Why'd you ask?
Q: What a waste of talent. That guy shreds.
A: Don't ever say that to his face! He likes Lee's music a lot.
Q: If you even get this, it will be a miracle.
A: Saints be praised!
What did you think of the album "Drama" by Yes? Colter McCorkindale <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It knocked me out when I first heard it, I listened to a lot for a long time and then that incarnation of Yes came to town. It was one of their revolving tower stage presentations, and Trevor Horn stood atop the tower straining miserably to hit the high notes and looking totally lost and pathetic (he shortly thereafter became a producer full-time, wisely). After that I couldn't listen to the album anymore because it just made me feel sorry for him. I heard some of it again not too long ago, after fifteen years away from it, and I wasn' t that crazy about it.
Q: Also, if you could be a particular type of fish, what would you be (keep in mind - dolphins and whales are mammals)?
You're probably sick to death of talking about your stint with FZ, but I'm sure that you understand how exciting it is for us common folk to have a chance to actually communicate with someone who has been "on the inside" . David Criswell <email@example.com >
Don't sweat it.
Q: In any event, I don't think that my questions have been asked before on your web page, so maybe some other curious people can benefit. Here goes:
Is that you playing the little solo guitar breaks on the tail end of "Zomby Woof" on TBBYNHIYL?
Q: There is a tremendous amount of apparently impromptu sample triggering on TBBYNHIYL, MAJNH, and BTHW. Did everyone in the band have the ability to trigger samples (like "The Sam Kinison Scream" or "It's Hot" or "Fire And Chains") whenever they felt the urge, or was just one person doing all that?
A: Frank had a switching system whereby he could allow one of three different guys to trigger Synclavier samples, either Ed, Chad or Bobby. Plus of course Frank himself had access to the keyboard at any time. Also Ed had a huge library of samples he'd compiled himself. I'd say Ed was responsible for about 65% of the injections, with Frank handling about 30%, Chad occasionally receving something and Bobby rarely.
Q: Did you do any work with FZ in the studio? If so, is any of that going to be released?
A: Unfortunately not.
Q: Is there any truth to the rumor that you were the original "Mikey" on the original LIFE cereal commercials ("He likes it! Hey Mikey!")?
A: How absurd! I was, of course, the "my bologna has a first name" kid.
Q: Again, thanks for all the great music. Your career to date has been inspirational, and I'm looking forward to much more!
P.S.: My wife said to say that she likes your purple hat.
A: And I like hers.
I really like the insight in to the inner-working of the FZ stuff provided by your page. I could go on forever, but I will spare you. :)
Anyway, down to the nitty gritty, I am very curious about how Hat and Shampoohorn were recorded. John Yonosh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A good portion of "hat" (the songs credited as being recorded at "Tar Central") was recorded on Tascam 8-channel cassette at home, then mixed at Double Time. At that time Double Time had a one-inch 24-track machine, and that's what the majority of "hat" was done on. Double Time was also, at that time, in Jeff and Suzanne Forrest's home (during the stop-time breaks in "Uglytown" you can hear the air conditioning on Toss's "click" track, which is him standing in the dining room banging on my iron keyboard stand with a steak knife); by the time of "Dust Speck" they'd upgraded to 2-inch tape and gotten a new building for the studio. "Shampoohorn"'s basic tracks were recorded live in a large rehearsal room at Joe's Garage, the Zappa's rehearsal facility. The drummer set up on the stage while Dweezil, Scott and I were positioned around the room. Our amps were in closets and other rooms, hallways and what have you. Vocals and instrumental overdubs were also done in the room. All of it was patched in to a control room several hundred yards away, where Marqueson kept an eye on us via a TV monitor.
Q: I am looking in to (maybe dreaming about) purchasing a homestudio (ADAT I think). I love the sound of shampoohorn in particular. It's pretty much gives that garage band feel, with the exception(sp?) of the vocal harmonies (which I very much like BTW), and proficiently played intruments. :) If you have time It would be cool to hear some of the methods employed in creating those projects.
A: Both albums were created completely in the analog realm. I just did a recording on a friend's ADAT for a Gentle Giant tribute CD and quite enjoyed the experience. I'll eventually get one for use at home.
I'm 36 yrs. old at the end of this month, & I'm wetting my pants 'cause I got an e-mail from the great Keneally. I haven't felt like this since '85 when I caught Geddy Lee at a Cubs/Expos baseball game in Chicago. Spencer Campea <email@example.com >
Did the guy at the plate hit Geddy foul, or put him over the back fence?
yo mike- thanks for rocking my world the way no other man could do before. my name's andy- or pigeon boy- i play a few musical instruments. i likes you on all that i've heard so keep them doggies rollin'. maybe you should write a song about assholes who try to give you ideas for song topics. ha! you can call me javissssssssssss if you like, or just don't call me at all. any way-- i just wanted you to know how much i care. enjoy. when might you sometime be in atlanta? andy fossett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
That was a great fucking message. Thanks. When I might sometime be in Atlanta is I don't know but maybe I hope soon. Space Ghost lives in Atlanta you know. Space Ghost. Atlanta. Yeah.
Hi Mike. This is Nanook and Arf, coming to you from London, England near the Hammersmith Apollo. Great work you and your team do on the net, very helpful and fun. Where/Why did the name "Obvious Moose" come from? Jean-Marc Cipullo <email@example.com>
A bit of whimsy which poured out of my compadre Scott Chatfield. To my knowledge it has no precise meaning.
Q: Could not find any of your albums in Virgin megastore or HMV or anywhere else for that matter.
A: That sucks.
Q: Anyway, ...SUBJECT... COME TO LONDON again.
A: I'd love to.
Q: We saw you the last two times with Dweezil, Ahmet and Scott and loved every minute of it. The medleys were mind blowing (and so was my underwear) [grin]
So, when are you coming?
A: I won't touch that one.
My sons are big fans of yours, for your VOCAL prowess, no less! The 4 year-old sings along with you on Brown Shoes (on the Universe video), reciting with glee "Only thirteen, etc"! Am I being a good father, or should I point them instead towards church-related activities? Laurie Fraser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I would consider becoming concerned when both children can sing along with all of "Jazz Discharge" in perfect unison. Don't be surprised if you hear from Bob Dole soon. Thanks for writing!
Hi Mike, you know I REALLY like the albums you did with FZ and I recently started listening to your solo stuff, and I like it even BETTER.
Q: You are an incredible guitarist, and I wish I could play half as good as you.
A: Geez...thank you!
Q: I've read your web pages, and ...geez! You sound like a really neat guy, too.
A: THANK YOU.
Q: What I'm wondering is, do I need to do any more brown-nosing to get this letter included in your sickeningly self-congratulatory home page, or do I still need to work a little harder at syncophancy? Jim Rothstein <email@example.com>
A: Brown-nosing is wonderful, but interesting questions are better. And true sycophants know how to spell "sycophancy", because they can't get into the meetings otherwise.
Aw, fuck, this letter will probably make it onto the page anyway.
If you could be a ride at Disney World, what ride would you be and why? charlie <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's not there anymore, but the old Monsanto ride where you traveled into a microscope and got shrunk. So I could shrink, and shrink and shrink.
I cannot find "Dust Speck" at ANY store-- they can't even order it. Is there a mail order thing I can get it from? Larry Martin <email@example.com>
Grumble. I hate hearing that. If you've checked out the Web site, you can find it there...if not, it's Immune Records, 9269 Mission Gorge Rd. #211 San Diego, CA 92071. It's $15 incl. postage. You can call Suzanne at Immune at 619-448-3062. You can also email her right now if you want at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell her that the loser record stores in your area won't order the album and she'll get on the distributors' asses. Thanks!
Is Ahmet really as looney-toons as he appeared to be on Conan O'Brien?
Q: And is that really Michael J. Fox I hear on Return of the Son of Shoogagoogagunga?
A: Nope! That's DZ and Nuno.
Q: What is Shoogagoogagunga? Vlad Tepes <email@example.com>
A: That's the sound of the F D F D D D riff which repeats throughout the song (at the very beginning of the song it's the part that the drums and bass come in for: Dunt in da Dunt in da Dunt in da Dunt in da Dunt in Shoogagoogagunga Dunt in da Dunt in da Dunt in da Dunt in da DAA DAA. Get it?). And "FWAK" is the sound of the snare drum on the down beat of that particular song.
Read your bio. One key piece of information is missing. Coasters. As anyone that has thrown them into a ceiling fan knows, they bring gobs of good bula. Paul Laskin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I don't know what I was thinking. At some point I will certainly find a way to introduce my legions of fans to the joys of ceiling fan coaster hockey. My apologies.
Advice please. One of my best friends recently sent me a tape of his recent works. It contains 11 songs, and I can't find a single redeeming thing on the entire tape. I recently sent him my tape and he called me to tell me how much he loves it. Now I'm dreading hearing from him. How do you tell your friends when something they've created absolutely blows? Maybe this could lead to a blossoming career in advice columns. Jeff Parsons <email@example.com>
Have you listened to the tape more than once? On second or third listening you may well encounter some sort of charming quality, or a nice passage that could've passed you by the first time or something. If you listen to it again knowing that it's miserable, maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised by some aspect of it. If you can find such a thing, begin by commenting on that. Then constructively inform him of what you consider the music's shortcomings while making it plain that it's, after all, just your opinion. If he becomes upset and says that you don't know what you're talking about, it's proper to lose your cool and inform him flat out that his music just bites hugely. Otherwise, though, politeness rules.
I heard a rumour that "Zappa's Universe", and specifically Steve Vai, won a grammy. I didn't believe it but recently saw Steve Vai mention it and during perusal of this fine Web Site read your mention of a destroyed window. If it's not too painful, could you fill us in on this a bit more? I read your column about Zappa's Universe in that guitar magazine and agree with everything I remember, by the way: from the packaging to the mixing, the record company sure could have done a better job. Your performances, however, AMAZE me. Everyone was great, but YOU, sir, kicked a whole lot of ass during that event. Wonderful stuff. Mike Lerch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Yes, it won a Grammy...specifically the song "Sofa" which won for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. At the time that the nominations were announced I was at the height of my disgust at Polygram and at my own involvement in a project which brought Frank far more pain than pleasure. I hated the fact that the only reason that the song was nominated was because Frank was dead, and that now Polygram could pump out their collective corporate chest with unctuous pride at how they were paying proper tribute to such a great man, and stick a shitty little Grammy sticker on the "ZU" cover to boot. It all just stunk to me. On the night of the Grammies, Z just happened to be in New York during a tour. Joe Travers and I were at Tower Records in NYC and the Grammies were being shown on the many television sets positioned around the store. I was already in a foul mood anticipating the coming victory, and because I'd been denied entry to a Grammy oriented press junket earlier that day, where I'd intended to spread as much poison about the event and about Polygram as I could muster. I was stalking an upper floor of the store when the victory was announced. I remember looking down a staircase and seeing Joe looking up at me disbelievingly as I screamed "no" at the top of my lungs, thrashed around pathetically, spit several times, then made a mad beeline for the Zappa section, grabbed all the copies of "ZU" and hid them in other artists' sections, then prominently displaying "Yellow Shark" in its place. This small act of defiance calmed me momentarily and Joe and I left the store, at which point the cool night air further assuaged my anger. As we walked along the side of the store, Joe made a tactical error: he made a joking reference to the fact that Steve Vai had re-recorded his guitar part for "Sofa" in the studio (this is supposed to be a big secret, by the way). Now, I have no moral compunction regarding adding studio tracks to live tapes, obviously; Frank did it incessantly, and the fact that Steve did the same is no cause for alarm in my book. But the fact that Steve's decision to get his track "just so" was supposed to be such a huge shameful secret always rubbed me the wrong way, and now that the piece had won a Grammy it suddenly just smelled like a mondo fucking deception. At that point I was simply filled with rage like I've never felt before or since, turned to the right and kicked in an outer window of Tower Books (Tower pretty much occupies that whole block of the city). I continued walking and was met by a large gentleman racing out of the front door, an employee of Tower. He asked if I'd just kicked in the window. I said yes, I'm sorry, I'm in a really bad mood and I fucked up. He looked me up and down and said yeah, you fucked up all right, and walked back into the store. He didn't say follow me, he didn't say wait here, he just went back in. Joe and I looked at each other for a couple of seconds. Joe then asked "how do you feel about leaving?" I said it seemed like a good idea and we walked quickly around the corner. Then I said "how do you feel about running?" and we ran like fucking maniacs for two blocks, hailed a cab and went to a strip joint to drink beer and cool off. I'm not proud of any of this.
The story's not over...three nights later Z played an in-store at the very same Tower Records. The place was packed and I kept looking over my shoulder for the employee, who never made his presence known. I started to feel pretty smug; Ahmet and Dweezil were late in arriving, and the store manager asked me to speak to the crowd and assure them that everything would go according to plan as soon as the boys arrived, and just hang tight. The crowd was glad to see me and I started seriously loosening up, culminating in my suggestion that they relax by shoplifting a few things until the show started. Even this brought no repercussions. The show and autograph session went splendidly and I scored about $40 worth of free stuff from the store.
I really don't know what the moral of this story is.
[Mike's original description of the ZU project and his participation can be read at Mike Keneally With Zappa's Universe. And Steve Vai takes Mike to task about his ZU 'tude at Mike's Expression Session.]
Presumably "1988 Was A Million Years Ago" is about your time on the road with FZ. Is this title a postive or negative title? Dave Smith <email@example.com >
Pretty much just "I can't believe how long ago it was". As well as "boy, a whole lot of shit has happened since then". As well as "it sucks that it can never happen again."
We know the stories of Adrian Belew and Vai, but what about your audition for Frank? What was your background at that time? Patrick Gaumond <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I called the Zappa office in late 1987 asking for a job, not expecting a reply. After a tortured series of events which I'm too tired to relate at the moment, Frank called me back a couple of days later, expressing some disbelief that I could really cut the gig. His exact words were "I don't believe you. Get your ass up here and prove it." My brother drove me from San Diego to L.A. while I played guitar in the back seat of the car. At the audition I played "Black Page", "Sinister Footwear II", "What's New in Baltimore", "Night School", "We're Turning Again", "Cheepnis" and "Studebacher Hoch" on guitar, harmonized with Frank on a couple of tunes and played "Strictly Genteel" on keyboard. At the end he shook my hand and said I was to return in two days so "the rest of the band can witness your particular splendor".
My background was strictly obscure- playing in bars in San Diego doing Huey Lewis and the News covers. I was completely unknown, but had spent a few years learning FZ tunes and writing weird songs of my own.
I've just got to ask if you have any tips for a young guitarist... like any books to check out, or practice tips. Andy MacMillan <email@example.com>
The only practice regimen I ever followed was to find records that I really wanted to learn, and work like hell until I figured them out. I have no formal musical training to speak of, so anything I know is from years of trial and error, and absorbing as much music as I could get my ears around. It's very simple: decide on something you want to play, then work and work until you can play it. Then think of something else to play, and work on that. Obviously, working on Frank's stuff will keep you busy for hours, and you'll have learned a lot if you can play it properly. Have fun!
Is there any way to get your articles without buying up each copy of Guitar Player at their outrageous back issue prices? Evan P Cordes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was attempting to obtain permission to run the columns on this here page, but the request was declined because Guitar Player is apparently constructing a site, and they want 'em. So hopefully they'll be accessible via the Web sometime this year, but not from me.
I am a composer of atypical music of a sort and in the near future I would like to release my music. I understand that no one in the right economic frame of mind would release this for me so I am looking into the possibilities of releasing this myself. If you could give me any advice it would be greatly appreciated. Anthony Cimino <@snybufaa.cs.snybuf.edu >
That's a tough one, innit? I lucked out, frankly, by getting the Zappa gig- it helps to have some sort of "hook" when you're trying to get attention. The biggest help for me has been the people at Immune Records, who are devoted to getting my music out to people without interfering in what I do musically. So my situation is a little unique. One thing I can recommend is that you do or say something so peculiar and controversial that the press will start paying attention to you for that, and then you can try to get some publicity for your music in the process. Paint yourself blue and break onto a live television program in the nude, or something like that. Nowadays it seems that infamy is a minimum requirement for fame.
Barring that, I firmly believe that excellence will always find an audience if one is persistent. Do what you can to befriend radio and television people in your area. Advertise in local music papers. If CDs are too expensive you can market your stuff on cassettes that you duplicate yourself. Above all, make sure that your music really is wonderful and deserving of attention. And don't forget the painting yourself blue option.
I've noticed that there are two (count 'em!!) Z releases on your newest discography. This is the first time I've heard 'bout the live album. When can I get "Live Beef" in my mailbox? It appears that the infamous medley will not be a part of this release. It seems such an incredible shame that this labor of utmost virtuosity will go unlistened to by future generations. I was also surprised to see the new DZ release -- what was your part in it? When is it expected? Is it possible to get a track listing for Music For Pets and Live Beef? Dave Smith <email@example.com >
"Live Beef" is not yet available. A truncated version is being offered in France as a limited edition thing, but the complete album will be available from Barking Pumpkin at some point in the hopefully near future. The medley will never see release because it's too much of a hassle to get clearance for all the little bits. I always contended that it needed to be witnessed live to be really effective. In any case, the medley has been retired from the Z repertoire, so it's a good thing you witnessed it. The DZ album is still in the works, we've been working on it for ages. It's a 75 minute instrumental piece. I play guitar and did a bunch of arranging on it. Hopefully we'll finish it this year and release the damn thing. There will shortly be a song listing for Music For Pets under "Mike's Records/Discography" as soon as I get around to typing it. I don't know the "Live Beef" songlist offhand so I won't be typing that in just yet.
Mike, have you ever considered...?
Jerry Fleisher <gpyf67a@Prodigy.com >
On occasion, but it's a rare and wonderful thing. Thanks so much for asking.
Q: I mean, have you ever considered trying out for the next MTV (empty V) Real World? You could have cameo appearances by The Baby Jesse and/or Viv and/or Scott!
A: I am, in fact, Puck. You'll notice you never see the two of us in the same room.
Q: Two more questions: 1) How convey a song like "Them Dolphins...." to whomever you have playing it? (With a tape? Or a transcription?)
A: I do demo tapes of most of the songs on the albums and distribute them to the musicians in question. In the case of "Dolphins", Toss wrote out his own chart from the tape I gave him, and Doug asked for a bass chart in addition to the tape, so I whipped one up. For both albums the only written music for the other musicians was maybe five or six bass charts that Doug asked for, and some of my parts were composed on paper ("Spoon Guy", the music in the background of "Here is Why", and the chamber piece which ends both "Bullys (sic)" and "In the Bone World" are some examples), but these are in the vast minority. I tend to compose on tape.
Q: 2) What kind of car do you drive?
A: A very fucked 1988 Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickup. I would like it out of my life.
Q: and 3) (okay, so I lied...three more questions) Does Jesse like Pez?
A: No, but she does like Puck.
1) On "Late Night with Conan," the Zappa boys said Music for Pets wasn't due until August (!). Then I read here it's out in April. Was that a slip o' the tongue? What's the poop? 2) I need a new "wacky" email name. ("Spaceboy" just ain't wacky.) Any suggestions? Thanks! Love yer geetar playin'! Dave "Spaceboy" Cornel <firstname.lastname@example.org >
1) It's due in April for Europe, August for the U.S. There's always a simple explanation.
2) Blenardo Enfericious Zonnzguender. If that's too long, just Eeeeexop. Thanks for writing, pal!
Was it your pipes that did the Johnny Cash bits in various places [during the '88 Zappa tour]? And, finally, do you consider Spam to be an actual food source? Mike Smith <email@example.com >
Hello, fellow Mike. My pipes were indeed responsible for the Johnny Cash moments, although I will always insist that I sounded more like Mr. Ed. Frank liked it, though, so there you go.
Spam is, in fact, a substance used for grouting; its food properties are entirely incidental, and (some contend) satanic in nature. May God save our heathen souls.
How do you go about acquiring enough American dollars to support your family while continuing to work creatively? What pays the bills? Do you have any suggestions for aspiring musicians who are forced to spend a lot of time running on the hamster wheel of "employment"? I'd like to find a way to get off that wheel in order to have more time to write, record, perform, etc. The problem is that those activities don't generate income at the onset, even though the potential is there for the future. Doug Sprei <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My situation is a little unique, in that, as a member of Z and intermittent advisor, I'm a salaried employee of the Zappa organization. I also have a gainfully employed wife. If I tried to support my family on my solo activities alone, we'd run out of pork 'n' beans in a hurry.
The best advice I can offer is to align yourself with some OTHER intelligent musical organization that actually pays something (and I understand that that's quite a goal in itself), and use your spare time wisely. While I sometimes wish I had more time for solo activities, I realize how fortunate I am to be part of an organization that nourishes me musically, and personally as well (the guys in Z are constantly entertaining, and the rest of the Zappa staff are great as well). In a perfect world I would support myself with my own music, but the world I find myself in is not so terribly flawed as it is.
Is it true that you are now Vaultmeister at UMRK? If so, I've got an infamous list of possible release suggestions that I'd like to send. Is this the place to do this? Stan Ivester <email@example.com>
There's a distinct problem with the terms "Vaultmeister" and/or "Vaultmaster"; both indicate a level of authority over Zappa projects that a non-Zappa family member would never be permitted to wield. It is true that I'm working over there (more than that I can't say), but my working situation within the organization will be a lot more comfy if people stop calling me "master". I will thank the world in advance for their compliance in this matter. The place to deposit your release suggestions is with 818-PUMPKIN. Thanks for writing! Rock on, Ivester!
I just want to thank you for the fantastic moment of Inca Roads on Zappa's Universe. This song gave us the best Frank soli (ref:Shut UP 'n...) but your version can now be added to the list.
Did the '88 band ever play Alien Orifice ? It's the best short solo that Frank gave us (ref: Vol. 5 or 6?). Sorry not to talk about your original stuff but here I never found it... Patrick Gaumond <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thank you very much for enjoying the "Inca" solo. I tend to prefer my solo on "Hot Plate Heaven" on that album, so I'm always a little surprised when someone compliments the "Inca" solo. But, of course, I'm glad you like it. I think I need to hear it again.
The 1988 version of "Alien Orifice" can be found on the album "Make A Jazz Noise Here"-I'm surprised you've never heard it! It's a great album.
And, just because you can't find my albums in stores where you live, that is no longer an excuse! See "Mike's Records" for details! Thanks for writing.
I love the "Hat" CD. It completely inspires me as a musician because it is so much like what I feel music should be like. Complicated (although accessible) music with humor (although the lyrics to uglytown were a little too close to home there for a while) balanced with dark rueful thoughts and the little vignettes which also was very nice. I also appreciated the clever segue into "Mayor of Simpleton", what next, the choral wash from "Season Cycle?" Nevermind.
Anyway, my illness compels me to ask you the following questions:
Oh yes. I figured out that Spearmint Pup song. It took a while. But it has to do with the class struggle and the caste system as it exists in America. It's true. I realize the "Cardboard Dog" refers to (of course) the Madison Avenue advertising clan. The "Spearmint" pup refers to the unnatainable dog of perfection that we, as humans, all seek. Perhaps not. I still haven't resolved the "Daddy Dog" with that "Big Brother" thing from 1984. ToddM <ToddM@laserm.lmt.com >
Hello there! Allow me to hastily respond!
Thanks for writing! Let me know what you think of Dust Speck, OK?
Just recently I found out that you have also played on one of Screaming Jay Hawkings' recent records and one record that was called 'Blue but not blues' or something like that. Could you include some info about this kind of sideprojects? And any kind of touring dates and other touring info would be greatly appreciated. I would very much like to know if you and/or Z are planning to tour Europe (or maybe even Scandinavia) sometime in the near future. You can bet i will be there if they do! Jukka Pietarinen <email@example.com>
Hello Jukka! I hope you're enjoying the page, it's a lot of fun for me to see what Scott gets up to behind my back. He's doing a wonderful job, I think. I've actually been on three Screamin' Jay records ("Black Music For White People", "Stone Crazy" and "Somethin' Funny Goin' On"), and the "Blue Not Blues" record was by a guy named Earl Thomas, whose new album contains a song I wrote ("I Am The Cool"). We have just posted a discography containing all the side-project stuff I've done, and soon I hope to supplement it with information on how to get all the albums on it (I've played on around thirty records). Z is touring Europe this year and you can be sure that any BFD tour information will show up here as well.
Did you run into Billy Joel in Japan? Seriously, I hope your Japan venture was not disrupted by the quake. Rob Sweet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Billy Joel, oddly enough, cleaned my room at the hotel where I was put up. He was dressed as a Romanian woman but I know him anywhere. I left the country two days before the earthquake. I was staying three and a half hours away from Kobe, so I would've felt it only slightly. But I was grateful to be not there, and very saddened by the disaster. And with that I bid you a dew.
You were Frank Zappa's "stunt guitarist" during the legendary 1988 tour. What's your perspective on why the band broke up before the tour was completed? Some Guy On The "alt.fan.frank_zappa" Newsgroup
The seeds of dissolution were sown during pre-tour rehearsals in L.A. When Frank was off in the early part of the day doing interviews or whatever, it would be [bassist Scott] Thunes' job to rehearse the band. Scott has a way of expressing dissatisfaction which is not particularly tactful. Simply put, if someone hadn't learned their part properly, Scott was a pain in the ass. But as I saw it, all he cared about was the band knowing their stuff, and he wasn't trying to make friends in the process, which I respected, and we became good friends during this phase.
Most of the other guys in the band (who were older than Scott, and jazz musicians to boot) didn't wish to have Scott in their face all the time, which I can respect in retrospect---Scott truly is a pain in the ass at times, which at least partly explains why he isn't in Z anymore (although that was more of a mutual decision---Scott wanted out as much anyone wanted him gone).
Ed Mann was the one who really had the problem with Scott at first, and during the course of the tour the other guys in the band started to see things his way. Somewhere in the East Coast there was a band meeting where everyone told Frank of the problems they were having with Scott. Scott himself was not warned beforehand---the first time he heard anything of the burgeoning anti- Scott movement was during this meeting. He resented the "ganging-up" taking place without anyone confronting him personally before calling a big old band meeting and bringing Frank into it.
Scott was pretty annoyed from that point on, and little acts of terrorism began to be perpetrated against him by anonymous disgruntled people---someone got his laminated pass and scratched his face off, and on a big cake that had been provided for us by some promoter, which featured the names of all the band members, someone destroyed Scott's little cake section. (That night on stage Frank referred to "Playground psychotics!" in connection to these futile acts of vandalism.)
Finally, during the European leg, Frank asked everyone in the band, separately, if they would consent to doing the remaining 10 or so weeks of the tour, which would have covered the West Coast and various points inward, if Scott was in the band. Everyone except me said no. Obviously they assumed that the result of this attempted hijack would be the hiring of a new bassist. Frank said fuck that and sacked everybody.
There is the magic story of the death of the best band you never heard in your life.
Hey, is Toss Panos from THIS planet, or another one? Chris Farley <email@example.com >
Toss, interestingly enough, is from the planet Panos.
I very much like your work with the large band and also Zappa's Universe. On "When Yuppies Go To Hell," the "Jazz Noise" vocal section sounds to me like a round-robin between alternating synthesizers. Is this correct, and if so, were you playing one of them? John Henley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'm pretty darned sure that the only synthesizer I play on "Yuppies" is on the opening composed section (the "head" as we say in the biz). There's three synths in that section, all played simultaneously- Robert on kind of a vocal timbre, Scott Thunes on Mini-Moog bass, and me on Yamaha DX-5 clavinet. Thanks for writing!
Dave Smith <email@example.com>
Is there any connection between your wife Viv and Steve Vai's song Viv Woman? <firstname.lastname@example.org >
Only of the most karmic and coincidental nature. Of course, Steve wrote that song before I married Viv...so I suppose there's the POSSIBILITY that they might've---no, no, too horrible to consider.
Are the songs 'Medley' and Dweezil's 'Guitar Opus' with 20 zillion guest guitarists going to be on Z's new CD? Jukka Pietarinen <email@example.com>
The medley will probably never be on a CD because of all the publishers which would have to be paid. The "Guitar Opus" is called "What The Hell Was I Thinking?" and is seventy-five minutes long, so that will be a CD release all by itself, someday.
If I get you to say "myxolodian" backwards, will you disappear into another dimension, or into a parallel universe? Just curious. Jim McInnes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
What? I can't hear you. I'm in a parallel universe. Yer pal, Naidoloxym.
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