THE BASIC TRACKS for INCA ROADS and FLORENTINE POGEN were recorded live at KCET TV Los Angeles during the production of our TV special. The guitar solo in INCA ROADS was recorded live during our 1974 concert in Helsinki, Finland.
This album was produced between December 1974 and April 1975 simultaneously with our next album (coming soon). I hereby pronounce myself ready to go back on the road.
Easter Sunday [April 14] 1975, 11:30 PM
THOSE WHO PLAY THIS:
Frank Zappa—all guitars, lead vocals on Po-Jama People, Evelyn and Sofa No. 2, bg vocals on other tunes.
George Duke—all keyboards & synthesizers, lead vocals on Inca Roads, Andy and Sofa No. 2, bg vocals on other tunes.
Napoleon Murphy Brock—flute and tenor sax, lead vocals on Florentine Pogen and Andy, bg vocals on other tunes.
Chester Thompson—drums: gorilla victim.
Tom Fowler—bass (when left hand is not broken).
Ruth Underwood—vibes, marimba, other percussion.
James "Bird Legs" Youman—bass (on Can't Afford No Shoes).
Johnny "Guitar" Watson*—flambe vocals on the out-choruses of San Ber'dino and Andy.
Bloodshot Rollin' Red—harmonica when present.
*courtesy of Fantasy Records
Engineers—Kerry McNab; Gary O; Jukka
Studios—The Record Plant L.A.; Caribou; Paramount; KCET TV; Finnlevy Studiot, Helsinki; Wally Heider Remote Truck
Assistance—Paul Hof; Richard "Tex" Abel; Dick Barber; Coy Featherstone; Bill Romero; Unity; Matti Laipio
Abuse (unwarranted)—Marty Perellis
Special Electronics—Musitronics; 360 Systems
German Translation—Lu Paschotta
Design & Fresco—Cal Schenkel
Sofa Upholstery—Lynn Lascaro
Archaic Typography—Composition Arts; Vernon Simpson
"It's a very good title when you consider that the front cover shows a picture of a sofa and the back cover is references to the Universe in general. I think that it's applicable."
One Size Fits All was basically an illustration based on a story, with some input from Frank as to what he wanted to see in it. Then there's interplay, too, where I would have ideas beyond that preliminary state. On One Size Fits All, the back is pretty much my concept.
Cal explained to me briefly how one of his favorite Zappa album covers was done.
—Frank gave him a call saying it was time to start work on another album.
—The concept is established for how Zappa would like the album, entitled One Size Fits All to come out.
—The main concept came from a song on the album called Sofa
—Starts work on a rough drawing, through various thumbnail sketches
—Zappa & Schenkel exchange a few more ideas.
—More elaborate sketches are drawn, but not full scale... but more detailed visualizations then the thumbnail sketches were.
—The main piece on the front of One Size Fits All is a giant red sofa, which Cal used photo of his own sofa to draw from.
—Cal got the ideas for the back of the album, which is a twisted and deranged astrological kind of looking star map from old National Geographic sky charts, but everything is changed.
—A color rough was done called a study to show how the colors were to work
—Then the final piece was done... for the covers, and painted on panels.
—Then he did the type-setting, deciding fonts and sizes etc. and all was well.
That's one of my favorites. Basically, I drew the sofa and had the whole thing worked out. I was working with Lynn Lascaro on some other projects, book covers, that sort of thing. His specialty was working with pastels on velour paper, so I thought it would be a great job for Lynn to do the sofa. So he gets the credit for the velour pastel sofa, which is glued down on the background painting.
We'd just be hanging out and goofing on star maps, you know, like National Geographic star maps, coming up with names for these alternative constellations and stars. There were one or two that Frank suggested when I showed him what I was doing.
CITY OF INDUSTRY
ROUND THINGS ARE BORING
URSULA MINOR "The Little Dip" [0-8 / 75º-90º]
ZIRCON (The Nose Star)
CANCER [23-2 / 60º-75º]
AIRIES [3-5 / 60º-75º]
[4-6 / 30º-75º]
THORAX "The Bull" [5-8 / 30º-60º]
DRANO [5-9 / 0º-60º]
[5-7 / 15º-30º]
JIM & I "The Siamese Twins" [6-8 / (-15º)-30º]
O'BRION [6-12 / 45º-75º]
COMA BERNICE "The Plumber" [8-9 / 30º-60º]
LEO LIMON [8-10 / 0º-30º]
CUNARD [9-8 / 0º-(-15º)]
VIRGIL [8-10 / 15º-(-30º)]
Spring Garden St.
Charing Cross (c)
CORONA BEGONIA [9-11 / 0º-30º]
*DWEEZIL (auriga Ra6b 46m145d47º6')*
REX BEGONIA [10-11 / 0º-15º]
PIXIES [10-12 / 15º-60º]
DAVID BOÖTES [11-13 / 30º-60º]
AQUARIUM [11-15 / 0º-30º]
BUFO BOREALIS [12-16 / 30º-75º]
[13-14 / 15º-45º]
Dar Al Zanuck
CAPRICORN "Gus Goat" [14-16 / 0º-45º]
MUSCA [15-17 / 30º-60º]
OFIE YUCAS [15-18 / (-30º)-45º]
Yed On Prior
AGITTARIUS [16-18 / (-30º)-30º]
CRUX "The Western Cross" [16-17 / (-15º)-0º]
SILVERFISH [17-19 / 15º-45º]
URSALA MAJOR "The Big Dip" [16-22 / 60º-90º]
LIBRA [19-22 / 45º-60º]
"O'Brion", incidentally, refers to Brian Krokus, the Tycobrahe sound mixer who worked on the 1974 tour and who was romantically involved with my friend Ruth Underwood.
James Guercio first saw the Rocky Mountains in the '60s, while touring as a guitarist for Chad & Jeremy, when disc jockey Hal Moore took him to Central City. ("I walked the streets of Central City and looked at the trees and the mountains. I said someday this would be where to live.") Later, as a producer in New York and Los Angeles, confining union rules about what he could and couldn't do behind the mixing desk frustrated him.
James Guercio: They'd unionized the studios. I couldn't touch a button. They heard I was cueing stuff so they put a union steward in and threatened to fine me. I was 19 and I just said, this is not the creative process.
[...] Guercio became close with Texas entrepreneur Layton Humphrey, who helped search for a ranch. The pair were stranded at the old Stapleton airport in '69 when they missed a connection.
Guercio: He says, 'You know, right outside of Boulder my uncle owned the prettiest ranch when I was a kid, but he sold it a long time ago.' . . . We drove in here, and there were people everywhere. A quick-draw contest. A barbecue. Horses. Tents. Five hundred to 1,000 people, cars everywhere. And everything was painted turquoise. It was going to be (a subdivision) called the Caribou Ranch Country Club Estates.
Layton said, 'That's the right place. It's got a college. They're not going to cut your hair with a chainsaw . . . and you're an hour from Stapleton.'
It took Guercio two years to purchase the main ranch.
[...] Guercio: I was at a point in my life with huge success and I said, 'You know, people are going to conform to my environment. I'm not going to conform to theirs.' They all refused—Chicago, all these guys. 'We're not going up to the mountains.' They eventually did, but when I first started I had a lot of resistance.
Guercio: I said, 'Tom, I'll give you carte blanche.' He just did the hayloft—the control room and the monitors. He was the top designer in the country.
Plans for his next recording sessions are a bit more upfront though. From December 5th through the 26th Frank will be at Caribou Studios in Colorado laying down the basic tracks for the next Mothers album ("hopefully a double Lp to be released in the Spring") plus the next Frank Zappa album. To clarify matters, a Mothers album consists of the orchestration that the group is at the time and a Frank Zappa album may include anyone Zappa has a desire to record with at the time.
One of the attractions Caribou has as a studio is the house piano—a Steinway that came from Columbia Records. "It's one of the best pianos in the world," Zappa notes, "and it used to be used for all the classical recordings. To me, that's what a piano is supposed to sound like.
"But I wouldn't go there just for the piano," he adds. "It has other advantages: You buy the studio for twenty-four hours a day and you go in whenever you want, you know. You just live at the place, stay there for a while and you get your work done."
"Greggery Peccary," the composition Frank was scoring at the outset of our interview is one piece slated for Caribou to be included on the next Mothers album. Started two years ago, Frank explains, "it's written for an orchestra. This band will play it but it's for all kinds of other instruments too." As for performing it, "It'd be very difficult because it's for a non-standard orchestra. It's for instruments that orchestras don't usually have—exotic woodwinds and things. It'd be expensive to do live. And it ain't gonna be cheap to record it either."
"Dawn" [from The Aura Will Prevail (1975)] was written at The Caribou Ranch Recording Studio, in my room, after a session with Zappa. We recorded there for a week or so, and I guess the snow and altitude had an affect on my creativity.
MR: Do you have any favorite studio at the moment?
FZ: I like Caribou, except for the fact it is 8000 feet up. If it was at sea level it would be a fantastic studio for my purposes, but so many funny things have happened to people and musical instruments when the air is so thin. The distance between the air molecules affects the sound of the instruments and the acoustics, and also creates other problems for monitoring.
Further recording for the album took place during December at Jim Guercio's Caribou studio in Colorado, where basic tracks for songs from Hunchentoot were also laid down.
The 1974 band was really loose—we could [play] anything we goddamn wanted. It was really unfortunate that I broke my hand because that was like the beginning of the end. Frank was really impatient. I could play three weeks after the accident; that's when we did One Size Fits All. Right at the end of the tour, he had booked a studio in Colorado and ended up with virtually nothing. Then we came back to LA and did that album which is a good one. They did "Sofa" in Colorado, I know that. They did one other song and I had to overdub the bass part which was really awkward and the feel wasn't right. I think this was "Can't Afford No Shoes."
Then In December we went to Caribou Studios in Colorado to record for, seems like it was a week or so. I don't know who owns it now or if it is still in use or not, but what a neat place. [...] They had taken an old ghost town and rebuilt the log cabins and put a grand piano in each where the musicians stayed two to a cabin and the cabins were two bed room. Up close to the timberline. The snow was incredible. I can see how you could write a whole album there. Coffee over a grand piano each morning looking out on miles of unbroken snow with the occasional pine. I'll never forget it. [...]
Frank Zappa relaxing at Caribou Ranch.
Photo: Courtesy of the Guercio family
Are their other photos with Frank Zappa wearing snow boots?
Tell me about recording One Size Fits All.
That was amazing. We did most of the tracking up at Caribou Ranch in Colorado. It was interesting because Tom Fowler, our bass player, had broken his hand on tour. [...]
We basically tracked it with no bass. [Birdlegs] had a great feel, but he wasn't a real reader. That wasn't going to work. I did most of my tracks like "Inca Roads" with George on piano. And Caribou Ranch was magical. We were like 9,000 feet above sea level in Colorado. I had to use oxygen tanks after every take. I was totally gasping for air. The studio had tanks in the studio since they dealt with it all the time.
This is the same time that Chicago and Elton John are recording there.
Exactly. The manager of Chicago [Jim Guercio] supposedly bought it as a tax write-off. Unfortunately, it really took off, so I don't think it worked as a tax write-off. It was pretty profitable.
It looks like a busy beginning for the Record Plants in Los Angeles and San Francisco this year. [...] Frank Zappa cutting his next, producing himself with Bob Hughes engineering.
01/03/75 (9PM-12midnight) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—The New Brown Clouds (a section of "Greggary Peccary")
MUSICIANS: FZ, Mike Altschul, Johnny Rotella, Raymond Reed, JoAnn Caldwell, Earle D. Dumler, Victor Morosco, Malcolm McNab, Graham Young, Bruce L. Fowler, Jonathan C. Ellis, Dana Hughes, Donald G. Waldrop
01/06/75 (10AM-1:30PM & 2:30-6PM) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—Greggary Peccary Part I; Greggary Peccary Part III
MUSICIANS: FZ, Mike Altschul, Johnny Rotella, Raymond Reed, JoAnn Caldwell, Earle D. Dumler, Victor Morosco, Malcolm McNab, Jay J. Daversa, Bruce L. Fowler, Jonathan C. Ellis, Dana Hughes, Donald G. Waldrop, Murray Adler, Sheldon Sanov, Pamela Goldsmith, Jerry Kessler, Edward F. Meares Jr., George Mac Duke, Thomas W. Fowler, Chester C. Thompson
01/08/75 (8:30-11:30PM) & 01/09/75 (12midnight-3AM) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—San Ber'dino; Cucamonga; Is There Anything Good Inside Of You (final title: "Andy")
MUSICIANS: FZ, George Duke, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Tom Fowler, Chester Thompson
01/09/75 (8:30-11:30PM) & 01/10/75 (12midnight-3AM) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—San Ber'dino; Can't Afford No Shoes; Greggery Peccary Parts I-III
MUSICIANS: FZ, George Duke, Napoleon Brock, Tom Fowler, Chester Thompson
01/10/75 (8:30PM-midnight) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—The New Brown Clouds (a section of "Greggery Peccary"); Greggery Peccary Part I; Greggery Peccary Part II
MUSICIANS: FZ, Emil R. Radocchia (aka Emil Richards), Alan C. Estes, John D. Berkman, Mike Altschul, Michael Zearott
01/13/75 (7:30PM-midnight) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—The New Brown Clouds (a section of "Greggery Peccary"); Greggery Peccary Part I; Greggery Peccary Part II
MUSICIANS: FZ, Emil R. Radocchia (aka Emil Richards), Alan C. Estes, John D. Berkman, Mike Altschul, Michael Zearott
01/14/75 (6:30PM-midnight) The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—The New Brown Clouds (a section of "Greggery Peccary"); Greggery Peccary Part I; Greggery Peccary Part II
MUSICIANS: FZ, Emil R. Radocchia (aka Emil Richards), Alan C. Estes, John D. Berkman, Mike Altschul, Michael Zearott
I began working as Frank's recording engineer on January 3, 1975, when Kerry McNab (arguably the best engineer Frank ever had) began his slow withdrawal from the scene and subsequently from engineering entirely. Because of a contractual obligation to Kerry, Marty Perellis (Frank's then-manager) insisted on listing me as "recordist" on the One Size Fits All LP, though I did much of the actual engineering. I went on to engineer all or part of six or so albums with Frank.
I started with Frank on Jan. 3, 1975 (coincidentally, Stephen Stills' birthday) sitting as Kerry McNabb's second engineer until Kerry retired from FZ a few sessions later. I was an eager beaver. The first night, I set up 12 mics for a guitar solo overdub in Studio C. Some of them, AKG 414s, were on Star Booms raised to within six inches of the ceiling in each corner of the huge Studio C room. I think Kerry and Frank indulged me—until they heard how cool each mic sounded. "Po-Jama People" on the One Size Fits All album. Stayed working for FZ through Bongo Fury, Zoot Allures and Studio Tan and Joe's Garage etc. up until about mid-1977. Lots of growth during that time. Lots of stories, too.
While he's here [in the UK] Zappa is also getting in some plugs for his forthcoming album One Size Fits All, the release of which is being held up due to some contractual matters. [...]
One Size Fits All is to be released by Warner Brothers and not through the Discreet label, as were his two previous records, Over-nite Sensation and Apostrophe ('). Frank was careful to explain the situation.
"Basically Discreet is a company that in the past has released my records and as far as me producing things for it is concerned, I've avoided it very carefully. I figured my time was better spent working on things for the Mothers, and my efforts on behalf of other artists, producing their records, are seldom appreciated."
When you said at last year's Milwaukee press conference that in a nation which can afford two cars in every garage people who are really into music should all go out and get four channel stereos, I wasn't sympathetic to your cause.
Well, as a matter of fact, One Size Fits All is not available in quad, and The Roxy and Elsewhere, which was mixed in quad, was never released in quad. The only two albums available in quad are Apostrophe and Overnight Sensation.
In other words, you're not really pushing anymore for quad.
No. I figure if people are having trouble getting something to eat, they're possibly not going to go out and get two extra speakers and another stereo amplifier.
In "Inca Roads" were you making fun of (author of Chariot of the Gods) Von Däniken?
Of course, of course. No seriously, I'll tell you what "Inca Roads" was about. It was an instrumental melody which existed for three years before I tried to write words to it. The melody covers more than two octaves. It's very difficult to sing, and I wrote words to it one day. That's what the actual history of that song is all about. I thought it was quite an accomplishment. And it was written before Von Däniken.
I didn't know that, but unfortunately it didn't come out until after the Von Däniken book.
Yes, but it had already been corrupted by the time that it came out. It was totally corrupted from the words which had originally been written which was way before all this stuff was considered commercial.
Sometimes I start with a complicated instrumental line and just for the hell of it see whether I can write words to it. "Inca Roads" is one of the songs that came out that way. It was originally done as a kind of fusion instrumental. I said, "If somebody has to sing this, and it is fiendishly hard to sing, what would be the words that fit on it as it came out?"
I also do some stuff where I use the pick on the fingerboard, pressing down and hitting the string at the same time. It gets kind of a Bulgarian bagpipe sound. An example of that is on the end of the solo in "Inca Roads" and also on "Po-Jama People."
And of course everyone knows that part of Approx is in Inca Roads "Why don't you sharpen it..." section, for example.
"Inca Roads" contains a quote from "Strictly Genteel."
In the first part of the song, when the instrumental interlude appears around at 1:45 of the song, the musical intented to be very Peruvian oriented, the sound of the synthesizer like a fluted they used called QUENA and the rhythm section is something similar to the rhythm they've made called CARNAVALITO.
En un tramo de Inca Roads, FZ cita directamente el motivo principal de la canción "El Humahuaqueño", un carnavalito (género musical de la región andina de Argentina).
In a section of Inca Roads, FZ directly quotes the main motif of the song "El Humahuaqueño", a carnival (musical genre of the Andean region of Argentina).
Why don't you sharpen it then?
[...] Mother Mary and Jozuf!
RS: How 'bout "Why don't you sharpen it, then?"
FZ: We used to have a carpenter that worked around here. He talked to himself. He would argue with himself, (laughter) and you'd see him out in the yard, and he'd be sayin' things like, "Where's that screwdriver? Screwdriver don't work. Why don't you sharpen it, then?" (laughter) And he also used to hit his thumb every once in a while, and scream, "Mother Mary 'n Jozuf!" (laughter)
At the Armadillo in Austin Texas, her aura
Did a booger-bear
Come from somewhere out there
FZ: A Booger Bear is an extremely ugly anything, and a Booger is short for Booger Bear, in the parlance of that '73 band.
Somewhere along the line—I don't know whether Frank talked about it—we instituted what what's called eventually The Booger Bear Award. Now, the way that developed is— I don't know if I should do this. No, I shouldn't. No. Ok. We'll do that in private. Well, there's respectable people here, you know.
Well, anyway, what it meant, the Booger Bear meant, it was a kind of a homely woman. Homely, not, you know, not a good looking girl, in a word. And so there used to be these groupies, you know, at the show. Some of the guys were, you know, involved with that kind of thing. And they made up this mask that kind of look like a cross between a gorilla and—you know those shrunken heads they have in Africa, they look like—with hair, and the whole bit, you know. And they put one of these on the door, so whoever had the Booger Bear they had that on their door. It became a topic of conversation on the bus because everybody would come out and look and see who had the Booger Bear Award, you know?
And that went off for a while and everybody laughed, Frank laughed, everybody was having fun with it, until Frank got it. That was the end of the Booger Bear Award. 'Cause Frank said, "Why did I get it? Who put that on my door?" Everybody was like mute, the whole band was giggling. You know, Frank was serious, he was pissed.
It's as simple as that.
James "Bird Legs" Youman—bass (on Can't Afford No Shoes).
They did "Sofa" in Colorado, I know that.
I once had a group with technically superb musicians only, but it was the most boring tour I ever had. Although they were pretty good musicians, I had no fun hanging around with them. The only thing they wanted to do was to play chess (laugh).
I have had bands where everyone has been a reader. The most boring band I had was like that and ultimately led to the song "[Po-Jama] People" which is written about that particular band which had people like Ruth (Underwood), George (Duke) and Ponty. You go on the road and you have these people living their life to play [Yahtzee] on the bus, and chess and engaging in intellectual juiceless pursuits. I like to have guys in the band who want to go out there and want to get laid.
She go oink
She go quack
She go moo
You saw the gorilla that came up behind Chester? [...] When Chester was playing, you saw the gorilla that came up with the clock and a comb? Well that was Marty Perellis in the gorilla outfit. And no one knew—even Frank—that he was gonna do that. He would do that impromptu to blow our minds. And as you saw, Chester was quite surprised—and the rest of us were too . . . I looked back, "A gorilla?" . . . but I got to the point were I was learning to expect just about anything from this organisation.
JM: And Chester's gorilla . . . explanation please?
CT: (Laughs) It's just one of those inside fluke things that happened in the middle of rehearsal. The lyric was, "She's a gorilla, she goes . . .," and then Ruth Underwood would always play the duck call. No matter what animal it was, she would play the duck call. One day in rehearsal it came out as "Chester's gorilla" instead of "She's a gorilla," and it stuck.
One day we rented a TV studio and we taped what eventually became Dub Room Special. Our tour manager, Marty Perellis, put on a gorilla suit and then sneaked up behind me while we were doing that song. This was back in the days of the big afro, and I had my comb in my back pocket. He pulled out my comb and started playing with my hair. I turned around and saw this gorilla, but I had to keep playing. And there's this one moment on the video when I'm in sheer terror. But you can't stop playing . . . so I didn't stop.
The same combination [as "A Little Green Rosetta"] also recorded "Evelyn, A Modified Dog," the latest instance of canine conceptual continuity.
Well the thing about dogs is, it's happening on a very rarefied conceptual level, as you'll see there's references to dog throughout the work, and the reference to the dog has nothing to do with the dog, or the concept of a dog is just like, you can think of it as a, you know when Rembrandt did those paintings to make them all look the same he'd mix brown with every colour, you know, to get that thing, so I said, "That's a funny idea, I'll stick a little piece of a dog in every record." And so on the next album, the concept of the dog has been brought down to the word "Arf" in two songs, and another song called "Evelyn, A Modified Dog," which is included in there, and you know, it's just a little bit all the way along.
They give him thirty days in San Ber'dino
Well there's forty-four men
Stashed away in Tank "C"
An' there's only one shower
What jail were you in?
San Bernardino County Jail.
Were you in your own cell?
Oh no, I was in there with three other guys. It's four guys to a cell, Tank C.
What were they in for?
One guy was awaiting extradition on a jaywalking ticket from Beverly Hills, if you can believe that. He'd been in jail for two weeks, waiting to be extradited from San Bernardino to Beverly Hills on a jaywalking ticket, swear to God.
America with a K. Who else?
Well there was a guy in there they called Slick, who was an enormous black guy who was in jail for stealing copper.
Yeah. Let me tell you how he was going to steal the copper. See, out in San Bernardino they have this place that is a used metal place, like they buy any kind of metal, they smelt it down. It's like a junk dealer. And what a lot of the hobos out there would do, is go to a box car with a screwdriver and they would unscrew the brake shoes from the box car, which happened to be pure copper, and they would go and sell copper brake shoes to this place and pick up a couple of bucks and go buy some wine.
So apparently the guy had already done that a couple of times. But he figures, well, what do they make wire out of? Why, it's copper! And where is the biggest wire that you can find? Why the phone company's got it—a whole big roll of this shit. And he and a guy had broken into this compound where they store those huge rolls of copper wire, and the idea was—there was a chain link fence around this place, and they were gonna put an axle through the roll, and tie-some rope to that, and pull it, and roll the roll over the chain link fence and roll it away, burn the insulation off the wire, and then sell the wire. That was the plan. The guy got over the fence and got caught by a dog and his buddy ran away. And so he was in there for stealing copper.
But what about those brake shoes? That means that the brakes don't work . . .
Does that lead to trouble?
Um hmm, that leads to a major train wreck.
He doesn't know of any train wrecks that he personally caused?
Well, he certainly wasn't talking about 'em. There was a couple of other guys whose names I don't remember. But these guys would eat anything. And I'm telling you, you've gotta have a cast iron stomach to survive the food in the San Bernardino County Jail. When in jail, and when someone says tonight we're having chop suey, run the other way! That is some dangerous shit. And these guys would eat everyone's chop suey. I sat there and watched them. People would take their trays over and just pile—you only had a certain amount of time to eat this stuff—and they would just dump their trays in these guys' trays. They must have had tapeworm or something. And they would just wheel and deal on this chop suey.
One morning they gave me a bowl of Cream Of Wheat, and in handing it through the cell, the bowl dropped. It was like a little aluminum bowl and the Cream Of Wheat had hardened into the bowl and it flopped over. And I saw the bottom of the Cream Of Wheat, and there was a cockroach about as big as my thumb embedded in the Cream Of Wheat. So I pulled it out—I didn't eat the Cream Of Wheat—but I pulled it out and I wrote a letter and included the roach in it, you know, with a little review of the food in the jail. The jail censor caught the letter, and brought it back and threatened me with solitary confinement for the rest of my stay if I ever tried anything else like that. They just didn't want the rest of the world to know how good the cuisine was.
The ten days I spent in Tank C at the San Bernardino County Jail were very educational. Unless you've been to jail, you can't imagine what it's actually like. This wasn't like the jail in Lancaster where they gave you pancakes in the morning. This was ugly jail.
There was an enormous black guy in there called "Slicks" (because his lips looked like those big smooth racing tires called 'cheater slicks'). He was in for stealing copper. Copper?
Vagrants used to go to the San Bernardino rail yards and pry the copper brake shoes off boxcars and sell them as scrap metal at a junkyard down the street. Slicks figured that if the junk dealers would pay pretty good for little lumps of copper, they'd pay real good for a really big hunk. So he planned to break into the local telephone company compound, where huge rolls of telephone cable were stored.
The place had a chain-link fence around it. Slicks planned to climb over the fence, put a pole through one of the rolls—like an axle—throw a rope over the fence, hook it up to the 'axle,' pull on the rope and let the giant roll crush down the fence. Then, he was going to take it out into the desert, burn the insulation off the wire and sell the copper.
He got as far as climbing over the fence and into the compound before the dogs got him. Is this The Crime Of The Century, or what?
There was a Mexican kid in there, about nineteen years old, who had been locked up for three weeks, awaiting extradition to Beverly Hills on a jaywalking ticket.
The guards left the lights on all night to keep us from sleeping. It was about 104 degrees in there during the day.
We were supplied with one razor blade per day, and one small shower stall at the end of the cell block for forty-four men. The scum on the shower basin was about four inches thick. I didn't shave or take a shower the whole time I was there.
The food was not terrific. One morning I found a giant cockroach in the bottom of my cream o' wheat. I put it in an envelope with a letter to Motorhead's mother. The jail censor found it, and the warden threatened me with solitary if I ever tried anything like that again.
There were two guys they called the Chow Hounds who would literally eat anything. They would wait until everybody took the first bite of food and found it repulsive, then they would hold their trays out while the other inmates dumped their 'chop suey' onto them, forming miniature haystacks of . . . who the fuck knew what it was.
We were given one half hour to eat before the trays were recollected. The Chow Hounds's trays were always clean.
This gave me a real good whiff of California law, California lawyers, and an inside look at the California penal industry in action. I haven't seen anything since then to change my opinion of how poorly the system works.
ZULCH is the auto works
I'm tellin' you
That's where they take
All the cars that they hurt
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German Translation—Lu Paschotta
We learned it phonetically. The translation was done by a girl who used to be our babysitter. She was from Munich, and apparently not a very good translator. People look at what it means in English, and then listen to the German words, and they've told me that the translation is laughable. And then they tell me what it really should be in German, and it's unsingable.
[...] That particular tour, I tried to convince Mark and Howard that it was a good idea to learn these things phonetically, because most American groups, if they go and play in another country, make no attempt to communicate in the native language, and I thought it would be a worthwhile gesture and probably a groundbreaking thing to do. In fact, in Germany, it was groundbreaking, because I had reports afterward that people in Germany who were musicians who wanted to do rock and roll had never considered that their language would work for rock. I didn't realize that they weren't doing rock stuff in German. If they did rock, they would be doing bad phonetic English rock lyrics.
Would you condescend to explain the thing, or is that asking too much?
No, certainly. First of all, the cover is what that song is all about, and its part of the conceptual continuity of the story of "Billy the Mountain." But you had no way of knowing that.
No, I didn't, and neither did anyone else.
But these things are revealed later.
See, that's the way continuity runs. Well, say three albums from now you'll find out that all that stuff fits together, and while you're sitting there in your little room going "Wow, this one's for shit!" you'll suddenly say "Hey, wait a minute." But that's only for people who actually go back and listen.
[...] Now whether it had anything to do with the cover art or with "Billy the Mountain," I think that that particular song is a wonderful song. Let me tell you the story of that song.
First of all, it was written in English. Then it was translated into German. I got a transcript of the phonetic pronunciation of the German lyrics, and the music was written around the German pronunciation. It's the first time I've ever tried to do that. It was considered to be quite an achievement in the German press, because many German groups won't sing in German because they don't think they can do rock and roll in German. We went over there on a tour with Mark and Howard and went on performing that as part of our show. They were surprised that an American group would want to make up a song—and we actually had a whole section of our show that was done in—German.
Is that the part that you did on the Dick Cavett Show? It was never on a record as far as I know.
That's right. And that is it.
Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos