May 1984—KCBS Newsmagazine


Part 1

Joy Brown: Frank Zappa, remember Frank Zappa.

Unknown male voice: Frank Zappa's gonna be here.

JB: Mothers Of Invention, we start of the program with Frank.... (faded)

music fragment: "Tink Walks Amok"

JB: Yes indeed, believe it or not you're listening to KCBS newsmagazine, my guest this afternoon is Frank Zappa and I have to tell you, we decided that we wanted to open the program this afternoon with a little bit of eh Zappaesque music, or the old Frank Zappa. We'll be making a distinction between the old and the new just like the old and the new Nixon, we'll tell you more about that in a few moments. But eh we had a real tough time going through his albums and finding something for whom eh... the lyrics, the lyrics would get a pg rating so we decided, discresion being the better part of my career, that we'd pick an instrumental. Mr. Zappa welcome.

FZ: Well hello there.

JB: Well eh, yes indeed. Listen, before we really start talking about what's going on in your life and why you're in San Francisco ah we have a really important problem that we thought perhaps you could help us with here in the Bay area.

JB: There's a San Jose couple who've offered a reward of a hundred dollars for naming their child. They keep calling it "it" or "the baby". And where you came up with such imaginative names for your children, we thought maybe you could come up with a name for this particular child and it's worth a hundred dollars. Five-day-old tyke.

FZ: The name is Mouldred.

JB: Mouldred? How would we spell that?

FZ: M-O-U-L-D-R-E-D.

JB: As in the virus? Mouldred? Does Mouldred have any particular meaning, or—?

FZ: It's a good name for a child of the '80s.

JB: Why?

FZ: Because of the things that will be going on as the child grows up. I think that particular kind of a name will be very much in phase with the future.

JB: Can you be more specific about that?

FZ: Well, as we enter the dark ages

JB: Dark ages!

FZ: and all beautiful things disappear from the face of the earth in the United States, a name like Mouldred should stand out.

JB: No doubt.

Is that why you named your children the rather unusual names that you gave them, so they'd stand out?

No, no I didn't give them those names because they would stand out.

JB: Why did you name... You've got four kids.

FZ: That's right.

JB: Right, what, why did you name each other what you named them we've got Moon Unit that is probably the most famous because of eh Valley Girl.

FZ: The ideas popped into my head just like Mouldred.

JB: That one just came here, Just came to you in a flash.

FZ: Well I gave my wife the choice, because eh Moon was born while I was on the road. I did my first European tour just while my wife was going to the hospital she said: What do I call the baby, I said if it's a boy call it Motorhead, if it's a girl call it Moon.

JB: Thank God it was a girl.

FZ: What's wrong with Motorhead? Well actually Motorhead is a nice name for a girl too. Because there's a lot of those in California 'Motorhead' type women.

JB: What is a motorhead type woman like?

FZ: That's a person... Well uh kind of a girl who likes a guy with black stuff under his fingernails and not less than 280 pounds.

JB: Well it never would have occured to me that thats what a motorhead was, but I'm eh glad to know that... Eh, you are sort of a phenomenon. You probably... Have you intended to be outrageous, I think if people said eh one word to describe Frank Zappa, I think outrageous'd probably pop to most peoples mind. Was that an intention...

FZ: Well eh that is a problem with their mind rather than with my behavior. For example you know anything about greek music?

JB: Not a whole lot.

FZ: Well most of it is not in four four and so therefore anything that would have a discobeat would tend to be exotic in that particular culture, and so Americans being as sheltered as they are from reality by radio stations like this that try to maintain that legendary pg rating and avoiding all things that deal with biological reality and the words that are most expressive in our language, when you have things like that...

JB: (aside) God I wished I'd said that.

FZ: the norm, then anybody who doesn't apply or conform to that sort of behavior tends to stick out like a sore thumb. We're not trying to be outrageous, we're trying to be different, but if you just don't like things that are as unreal as the way the media tries to (fore?) the stupidity to the american public. Then you gonna stick out, and you can't help it.

JB: Now, you are telling me that this is absolutely accidental, that there is no attempt on your part to, to thumb your nose at the establishment or to be outrageous, this just sort of happens...

FZ: If there was another guy in the next room and he felt the same way that I did and he was a person who worked here at the station and I doubt whether you have such a beast working at a station like this, but if there were a creature like that...

JB: sales department

FZ: really

JB: sure

FZ: Okay well then, if there was a person like that, they would stick out without even trying, that's what I'm trying to say. I'm not the only person in the United States who has these kinds of ideas or sais these kinds of things, it's just that I happen to been doing it for a long time and I said and done these things in front of cameras and on the radio and the newspapers and stuff and a lot of the things have been repeated over and over again so...

JB: But it ehm, it's absolutely unconscious on your part that this is eh, this is sort of good copy and that in fact you will be quoted for these kind of things, absolutely accidental

FZ: Actua... No eh that's totally accidental but as far as being quoted, I wish I was quoted usually I'm misquoted and I spend a lot of time doing interviews trying to unravel some of the things that people who do newspaper articles have written down too fast, or written in the the sloppiest possible way and then that goes into print and it goes into a morgue file and that's repeated and regurgetated by other reporters over a period of two decades...

JB: Well we'll give you a chance to unravel anything you want when we return. You're listening to KCBS my guest this afternoon is Frank Zappa who's gonna be at the Exploratorium and he'll tell you why when we return. If you have some questions 800 228 KCBS. You're listening to the KCBS newsmagazine, this is Joy Brown, back in a moment....

Fragment from Mo 'N Herbs Vacation

JB: You're listening to KCBS newsmagazine. That's music? True or false, what do you think Frank?

FZ: Now what a terrible thing to say about a composition that's going to be performed in Berkeley on the 15th and 16th of june entitled Mo 'n Herbs vacation, you just heard part of the first movement of Mo 'N Herbs vacation and you have the nerve to sit there and say 'is that music' of course it's music, it just doesn't happen to be the kind of music that radiostations like this ever play.

JB: Well radio stations like this seldom play music at all.

FZ: Well, see what I mean?

JB: See, there he's got me, certainly. Now, you apparently were writing, ah ehm the words escape me

FZ: I've been writing that stuff for thirty years.

JB: Exactly, long before you were known as a rock musician, right?

FZ: Long before I ever wrote a rock & roll song.

JB: Yeah. Do you hear it in your head, I mean what...?

FZ: Yeah.

JB: How does one translate, usually we think of music as having sort of oh a melody line and eh I think...

FZ: That had a melody line, it's just that it has intervals in it which are unfamiliar to your ears

JB: That is true But don't eh, just being serious...

FZ: That is serious

JB: ...for one tinsy(?) moment. Not about your music but eh...

FZ: About anything yeah.

JB: How does one person in a society hear something very different than what most people hear, how does that happen?

FZ: How does it happen that some people decide to be democrats, how does it happen that a person would allow themselves to be a republican, or a christian, or a muslim or a radio person...

JB: The mind boggles at the thought

FZ: ...why do these things happen (inaudible interjection by JB) it's fascinating the diversity of human nature.

JB: Now wait a minute Frank, but, but we're dealing with percentages right, I mean when you look at society at large...

FZ: Uhuh.

JB: ...there are certain sort of standards wouldn't you think? Rules if nothing else that means most people do them.

FZ: No, those aren't rules, those are standards actually what you're talking about is numbers and statistics.

JB: True.

FZ: Most people in the United States will choose to do what the guy next door does.

JB: Why?

FZ: Terror, sheer terror.

JB: Of what?

FZ: Of somebody finding out that they have an idea in their head. If there's one thing that scares the snot out of the American public it's a new idea the only things that will really succeed in the United States are regurgatations of old ideas, because unless somebody who is a media commentator can compare it to something that already happened, the thing can't possibly exist, because they're always afraid to talk about things that have never existed before, because those things tend to threathen jobs and the name of the game in America is economics.

JB: Now, in all fairness though, someone is paying you to come and conduct music here, people bought your records

FZ: That's not true. No, no, no, I'm not conducting here. You have bad information, and if they would have got your paper in here in time you would have known. I'm not conducting, Kent Nagano is conducting.

JB: But they're playing your music.

FZ: That's right.

JB: That's economics, they buy your record albums, that's economics. Aren't you being a little harsh on the system that basicly supported you and made you well known?

FZ: I have nothing against capitalism or economics what I'm saying is the way in which the business is conducted is kind of stupid because if you like the idea of economics and you like the idea of capitalism and democracy and all that stuff that we purport to exist under than you have to at least admit there is a possibillity that it could be done more efficiently and better.

JB: Is efficient better? It would seem to me in some ways that there's a contradiction in what you're saying.

FZ: If you wanna maximize the endproduct of what the system is supposed to do, I would say that efficient should be better, why would inefficient be better?

JB: I'm not sure that creativity has much to do with efficiency, would you?

FZ: Certainly.

JB: In what way. I think in some ways we think of 'm at almost opposite ends of the spectrum.

FZ: Only if you have this assemblyline mentality where if you do anything other than the three seperate moves that you're hired to do when you plug the little widget in as it goes by on the belt then you're gonna create problems further down the belt. But the real solution is, if there's a quicker, easier, cheaper way to do something that is going to save time, which along with real estate is one of the things that we can't replace around here, then I think that that is good for the economy, it's good for everybody who is concerned about their personal well being and it's.. it gives you more time to do other stuff that might be more fun, that's what I'm talking about being creative. And it's a creative mind that is going to discover those things which will make life easier for other people. But the other people, these.. the people that you're referring to as the norm and ehm the vast majority and so forth have this terror built in where they don't won't to admit to the possibillity of a new idea being able to save them time and that resistance works against them.

Part 2

JB: Why would that be... Why would it be thus though, if in fact new ideas give them more time. And I agree with you that that's probably the most valuable commodity any of us have. Why would it frighten people, it would seem that they would embrace it.

FZ: Because most people in the United States have been educated by the American educational system, which prepares them to be consumers not thinkers and doesn't give them any exposure to logic or reality. It's basically a wharehousing system that takes your children and sort of keeps them out of your hair for a few hours a day and eh teaches them how to use drugs. That's basically what American schools are for, and then after they come out of a school like that if they.. if they can in fact get a job, being unable to read and write and do arithmetic, then they wind up faking their way through a profession and (shrughs) since they're really not to good at what they're doing in that profession, since they weren't trained for it, and probably don't wanna do it anyway, but it's just the job. On the weekends they will go out and continue to do the same things they did in high school. They just sort of revert back to that level of experience, get the drugs and go for it.

JB: Kodachrome huh. I tell you what, when we come back. Why don't you tell me why you're so angry, awright? You're listening to KCBS. My guest is Frank Zappa, both of us'll be back in just a moment.

Fragment: Sad Jane 1st Movement (LSO)

JB: A little calmer, a little closer to what people are using... are used to hearing. Do you, does your music try to make people think or is it just what you hear in your head. Is there any particular purpose to your music?

FZ: No, I write because it amuses me, and eh if somebody else is oriented similar to the way I'm oriented then it'll amuse them and if they're not they'll listen to Boy George.

JB: Or watch. Would you see yourself as an angry man.

FZ: Uhm, sure.

JB: Why?

FZ: Well, if you're a rational person then you're confronted with what passes for civilisation today you could tend to become angry.

JB: Have you been angry your whole life? It seems like you have been.

FZ: I'm probably angrier now than I ever was before because I think that eh the.. what we have come to especially during this particular election year is, it's the lowest point in American history, I feel.

JB: Why?

FZ: Looking at the choices that will determine the future of eh.. the political future of the United States the four jerks that are available for you to chose from is made a mockery of the whole idea of having an election. It's preposterous. And the whole business being so tied to television merchandising. Vast quantities of money spend by behind the scenes individuals to pay for that advertising and everybody who is involved in politics litterary owing his life to some mysterious unknown force and these forces eventually one of them is going to win out and sit in the White House and eh take care of your business for you for the next four years, if there is another four years. And I can't be too enthusiactic about that. I take it as eh.. as a personal affront.

JB: You seem to take a lot as a personal affront.

FZ: Well I have a right to, because I'm a person, and things offend me. And I don't keep my mouth shut about it. And I'm happy to talk about it to anybody who asks me. You asked, that's the answer.

JB: I'm willing to listen. You mentioned before that you felt that part of the problem with the way people in the United States responded, was that they learn about drugs in school. You at least have always been associated ehm with drugs, whether it's true or not.

FZ: Only by ignorant people in the media. Maybe they look at me in the way I appear and they say: Well that guy is so ugly looking that he must have used so many drugs that he turned out that ugly. But I don't use drugs at all, never did, and eh as a matter of fact I'm very much against people using drugs I think that it's one of the worst things that happened to the United States, and that's what I feel about it.

JB: Do you.. is.. how did.. how did we get so confused. I think some of your music seems to.. to deal with eh.. with drugs.

FZ: No it doesn't. I tell.. I'll give you a very easy explanation of how such a stupid thing could occur because like you.. Maybe music isn't your field, probably isn't, you're in psychology or something like that. Okay, so you listen to something and you draw a conclusion about it it doesn't sound like your favorite record, so obviously it must be the work of a drug crazed mind. And...

JB: No, no, no, those are assumptions.

FZ: I'm not accusing you personally of that assumption...

JB: Oh, good

FZ: ...but that is sort of the way it would work for a music critic listening to something if what I make on a record doesn't sound like their favorite kind of music rather than try and understand that a different point of view is at work they would automatically ascribe it to something that they can understand which is drugs, since most of them are using drugs anyway.

JB: Do you think most people... Do your kids use drugs.

FZ: No they don't.

JB: What did you tell your kids about drugs?

FZ: I told them that they are very bad, and don't use them, and they don't.

JB: It's that simple?

FZ: Yeah.

JB: Would you like to take some calls from some listeners?

FZ: Not particularly.

JB: Well, we'll do it anyway, it's my program.

JB: Ron, you're on KCBS, good afternoon.

Ron: Hi, I had a three part question for Frank, I wanted to ask him how this stuff went with that he had Pierre Boulez conduct and if and when it was gonna be released for public consumption and also if he's gonna ever release any of his scores for eh people to check out and to purchase and study.

FZ: Okay, the three answers to your three part question are: The stuff that Boulez conducted was recorded for Angel, EMI in Europe, Angel in the United States. The tapes have been delivered to Angel and I'll expect that they will be releasing them within the next couple of months. And as far as the scores go they are available but since they're not published in the normal way they're not lithographed and printed, I still I have to do them of Ozalid if you know what that means. And eh it's..

JB: What does it mean?

FZ: It's a special type of page by page reproduction that they use for music before it's gone on to a printing press and that means the individual page cost is hight. You can get the orchestral scores, they're full scores and they're very expensive, they're around a 120 to 200 dollars a piece and they're available by mail order. From my mail order company which is called Barfko Swill.

FZ: And the adress...

JB: (sniggers) Catchy title.

FZ: The adress for Barfko Swill is on the albums.

JB: All right. We're gonna take a break, we'll be back with some more questions and some more of the life and times of Frank Zappa, when we return. You're listening to KCSB newsmagazine, it's 1:30

JB: KCEB newsmagazine my guest is Frank Zappa. You were talking about some t-shirts that you are going to put out.

FZ: Yeah, I think about putting out two. These'll be two classics, one of 'em has this large word that sais 'DOPE' all over your chest and then eh in small letters underneath of it sais: 'you are what you use'. And the other one sais in large letters 'OLYMPIC URINE TEST' and then in small letters: 'Should be given to doctors, lawyers, judges and politicians because when they use drugs, you can die'.

JB: Cheery thought. Have you ever thought of getting involved in politics

FZ: Eh no.

JB: Why Not.

FZ: Well I don't think that it would be the right thing for me to do.

JB: Because you seem so angry about the system and feeling that we have four people who are nincompoops running for president. Aren't you going to put it out there on the line?

FZ: I'm putting it on the line when I talk about it on the air. The fact of the matter is a person like myself could never even get into the electoral proces because the amount of brown lipstick that a person have to wear, you know what I'm talking about, just to get in there...

JB: TV Make Up I assume is what you're talking about.

FZ: Yes I'm sure you are. And eh I'm not about to wear the brown lipstick for anybody. And I, I just don't think I would fit in. I don't...

JB: You heard it first on KCBS he will not wear brown lipstick under any... Speaking about lipstick and eh eh... How do you feel about Michael Jackson, do you feel like he's a positive. You talk about MTV and the fact that there's no imagination involved and he seems somehow a product of that system. How do you feel about him as a performer?

FZ: Well eh guy asked me a question last night on a interview. And the question was. "You know, Are you a star, or what?" And I eh... and eh...

JB: Maybe the obvious answer is: or what

FZ: No, no no, he went on about eh... "You know what these people called up, and they called up all the time before your coming here and you're a pretty popular guy, and I said well I'm a popular guy because a star wears only one glove and has a tiny nose.

JB: And I can tell you right now he has no gloves and does not have a tiny nose. Len, you're on KCBS, good afternoon

Len: Hi, how you're doing Frank

FZ: Hi there.

Len: I've got a two part question for you. I was wonderin' what you're gonna be doin' between now and eh eh and eh I mean eh now meaning this weekends activities and the ballet next month and what are your musical plans in the near future right after that?

FZ: The rehearsals for my new band start on Monday and we're getting ready for a tour which will begin around july 15th.

JB: What's the name of the new band?

FZ: Just called Zappa.

JB: Catchy, well it's better than the record company. Randy you're on KCBS, good afternoon.

Randy: Hi, hi Frank I'd like a progress report on the Broadway musical that'd be staged I guess this fall, I haven't heard much about it and I'd like some information on it.

FZ: Okay what happened was, I wrote this thing, and I went round the country tryin to raise money for it I only got about 400.000 dollars out of 5 million and I gave up. But just before I came up here I got a phonecall from a guy who represents an organisation called Opera Today, and they're interested. They're funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and they asked me to write an opera, and I said, well I already did this thing so if you listen to it maybe you guys wanna stage this so I'm sending them the tapes of the show and maybe we will get some action there. And if not, it will be available as a three record box set through MCA on Barking Pumpkin Records within the next six weeks or so.

JB: You may want to stay around David Rockefeller will be here at three o clock this afternoon, you could sort of pitch him in person.

FZ: Awright.

JB: You're listening to KCBS, we will be back with Frank Zappa and your phonecalls in just a moment, it is currently 23 minutes before 2 my guest.

JB: KCBS newsmagazine my guest this afternoon for the first segment is Frank Zappa. Ted, you're on KCBS, good afternoon.

Hello. First my name is Frits and I was just wondering when can we expect Frank to be around here and who's gonna be in his rock band.

JB: Have we got good news for you.

FZ: Well I don't know when we're goin' to be booked into San Francisco but we're definitely gonna play it on this tour, because the tour will run until January the 1st and we'll be doing the entire country, and as far who's gonna be in the group there are three guys from the Bay Area who are in it: Scott Thunes on bass, Ray White on guitar and vocals and Napoleon Murphy Block eh Murphy Brock on sax and vocals. And the other guys in the band are Chad Wackerman on drums and Bobby Martin on keyboards and I'm still auditioning for one more position. We'll have auditions for the rest of this week for a second keyboard player who can also sing Rhythm and Blues falsetto.

JB: Are you gonna do auditions in this area?

FZ: No, we only audition in Los Angeles.

JB: Okay, so if people in this area are interested in auditioning (inaudible) they'll have to go to L.A. Awright, Leonard, you are on KCBS, good afternoon.

Leonard: Hello

FZ: Hi there

Leonard: Frank? How do you spell your name


Leonard: I'm sorry?


Oh Z A P P A


Frank, can I write you or can I contact you, talk to you. I very much like what you said and how you said and your viewpoint about being an individual and this is the problem with this country we don't have enough individuals and I've been preachin' this for forty years and I just recently retired and it's nice to hear somebody speak openly cause everybody is afraid to talk, because everybody is afraid to make waves, or rock the boat or something and eh....

JB: Okay eh, well Frank you've got yourself a groupie, that's terrific. Look if you get popular, what are you gonna do then. I mean if everybody agrees with you. You're gonna be in real trouble.

FZ: Actually, what I'd like to do I wish I could tell a adress where that man could contact me.

JB: Can you?

FZ: Well it's a post office box number that we've just got but I haven't memorised it. Let me say this: we have a mystery phone number in Los Angeles that if you want Zappa information or tour information you can call. The number is 818 Pumpkin, 818 Pumkin.

JB: I tell you, the other thing you can do Leonard if you'll send a note here to KCBS. Frank if you'll send me your adress I'll send it to Leonard, if he writes here, is that fair?

FZ: Wait a minute, someone here just actually handed me an adress, okay here it is: Post Office Box 5265 North Hollywood 91616.

There you go.

FZ: Okay.

JB: Listen there you know we've got a Democratic convention coming up What if you're drafted, would you serve?

FZ: Would I serve, come on, I thought this was a serious radio station.

JB: Semi, Quasi occasionally, it's Friday afternoon after all. Okay, Jim you're on KCSB, good afternoon.

Jim: Hey Frank, it's quite an honor to talk to you. I'm from near your stomping grounds (down in Arcadia?), right up there near El Monte I believe...

FZ: Lotta Pachuco's down there.

Jim: Pardon?

FZ: Lotta Pachuco's down there.

Jim: Listen, I thought up one brief question and I have this one here concerning 'Sleep Dirt'. Can you tell me, did you eh object to that being released and if so why I love that album I think it's fantastic. What do you say.

FZ: Well the thing about the Sleep Dirt album is, that and three other albums is were part of a law-suit against my former manager and Warner Brothers and the reason I objected to the release of that album is because they didn't pay me for it. And that's why I spend five years on this particular lawsuit. But I think there is nice music on that album and I'm glad you enjoy it.

JB: Tell us what you're gonna be doing at the Exploratorium and you can mention the Berkeley concert again if you'd like to.

FZ: Okay, on Sunday at eight o clock what is it the theatre of Fine Arts I don't where it is, Palace of Fine Arts...

JB: Palace of Fine Arts, next to the Exploratorium

FZ: ...I'm doing a lecture with tape about music, and giving examples of some of the most recent things that are unreleased, and we're having a special digital playback system there, so if you wanna hear some new music and hear me talk about music I'll be down there, there's still a few tickets available for it and on the 15th and 16th of June the Berkeley Symphony and the San Francisco Miniature Theatre will be putting on two evenings of my ballet compostitions at Zellerbach Hall and Berkeley and also the program will be repeated on June the 20th in San Jose.

JB: All right, got any statistics, our next segment is going to be concerning a man who's written several books called: 'How do you rate' eh compiling statistics.

FZ: Oh yeah. The most important statistic is most of the violent crime in the United States is committed by Christians.

JB: How.. how do you know that? Wha.. what research...

FZ: Well, if you ever catch anybody who commits a crime no matter what their religion is as soon as they go into a prison there is some kind of a chaplain that gets them born again and then they get out and they commit more crimes so the statistics just keep spiraling upwards. And also I think it is inherent in the Christian Religion especially in the fundamentalistic branches of it when they're preaching that fire and brimstone so much hate is developped that you take an unstable personality expose them to that kind of hate and that kind of rebble rousing and it causes peoples to go out and commit violent crimes in the name of Jesus or whatever and it's sort of like the way the muslim religion works where if you do it in the name of God even if you get caught you'll go to heaven. So I think that there.. these people are prone to violence and with proliferation of video religion in the United States and all these fundamentalists organisations gathering up millions of dollars having their own sattelites and everything you are looking at a whole nation full of potential mutants who could be very harmful. And now you have a president in there who's elected by these people and at least one of the democrats with fundamentalist backing behind him. This is pretty frightening situation.

JB: Are you religious at all?

FZ: I'm very religious and I take deep offense at video religion.

JB: Awright. That's Frank Zappa, he's going to be around in town for about the next month. He'll be at the Exploratorium next Sunday and Berkeley on the 15th and 16th.


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Transcription by Hanzo, with corrections by Michael Dawson and Charles Ulrich
This page updated: 2024-02-22