Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


The Complete Mark Pinske Interview – Day Three – Part Two

Mix: How much did it cost? Pinske: $880,000 we put into the studio. It has a Sony digital 24-track, of course. A lot of the stuff that I had used with Frank and all that. Mix: Going back to Frank, how do you spend $3.5 million? Pinske: That was a number that came out of the air that I was told that the studio cost. I think the bulk of the cost was Rudy Brewer, who designed the studio, he'd ju

Mix: How much did it cost?
Pinske: $880,000 we put into the studio. It has aSony digital 24-track, of course. A lot of the stuff that I had usedwith Frank and all that.

Mix: Going back to Frank, how do you spend $3.5million?
Pinske: That was a number that came out of the airthat I was told that the studio cost. I think the bulk of the cost wasRudy Brewer, who designed the studio, he’d just done a studio forCaptain and Tennille, or somebody like that. That was a real popularthing. And then George Augspurger also got hired to do some redesign init. But he had all the most expensive mics, the most expensiveequipment, the most expensive foundation, a floating piston underneaththe control room. The whole building was done “spare no expense.” So itwas really quite elaborate. In fact, the studio was unbelievablyelaborate for a privately owned studio. It was more like something youwould see at the brand-new opening commercial studio.

Mix: It’s kind of puzzling, because he’d had thatStudio Z in Cucamonga that he got from Paul Buff, and then he lostthat–
Pinske: Down on Cucamonga Boulevard? That wasn’treally his studio. Paul Buff and Les Paul, I think, were in that. Frankdid a lot of recording, and was directly involved with that.

Mix: It would seem the last thing he wanted to dowas be a studio owner again. But at some point he must have figuredthat rather than paying Village Recorders and KenDun all thismoney–
Pinske: That was a lot of it. The bills wereenormous. I see what you’re getting at. Basically, he wanted to havecomplete control, and he wanted to have freedom of how much time ittook for him to do something the way he wanted to do it, and do itright. Instead of always having to do it under the gun because he’sgetting the charge of this enormous amount of money, on a per-hourbasis. Like when we remixed the “Baby Snakes” album, we did that atComplete Post Productions out there, on Burbank. We were paying 430bucks an hour. And I basically told those guys, I engineered that wholething by myself, while a lot of these guys played ping-pong. And I justtold them, “It isn’t that I don’t think you have a really greatfacility here, it’s just no place is worth 430 bucks an hour becauseyou can’t get that much done in one hour.” And that’s really a lot ofwhat it was. The bills turned out to be enormous from that endeavor.But it wasn’t as though Frank wasn’t making money now. Like I said, theroyalties that he got on an album were far above what anybody else got.And he cut some very good deals, and his manager did a good job onthese tours. We played a lot of small places in America, but when wewent overseas, they were all huge venues. Really very large venues.

Mix: One of the musicians on a Web site said thaton one of the European tours they were basically going around the samecircuit as the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead and outsellingthem.
Pinske: Absolutely. We would play an 18,000-seatplace and it’d be sold out. When I first went over there, on the firstEuropean trip, I think it was before we got the truck, in the fall of1980, I think we did one European leg, when I got over there, it waslike opening up a door. It really was strange, for me, because we hadcome from America, where we had done these little Tower Theaters, theselittle 3,000-seat places. And then all of a sudden we’re over thereplaying these huge venues. As a matter of fact, the first time I walkedup the plane–this is no kidding, I think YAWYI had just come out then,I think–and I walked up the plane and somebody came up to me and askedme for my autograph, and I told the person, “No, I’m not in the band, Ijust travel with the band.” And the guy said, “Well, you’re MarkPinske, right?” And I said, “Well, yeah, I’m Mark Pinske.” And he said,”Well, what kind of mic did you use on the third cut of YAWYI on RayWhite’s guitar?” Which happened to be “Doreen.” And I thought, what theheck is this? These people had listened to the album, and they knewwhat they were talking about. It was kind of scary. I think that wasthe first time I ever signed an autograph on my life. I told him hecould probably get a burger at McDonald’s for it. I told him it reallywasn’t worth anything. But nonetheless, it was a shocker for me,because what had happened is, I realized I was in a different room allof a sudden. It’s like opening up these doors and watching all thesepeople freak out, and then when you get back to America, it was likeclosing the doors again. So Frank, worldwide, or in Europe inparticular, was a whole other experience. The fans knew what they weretalking about. They knew what they were listening to. In a lot of wayit inspired me. I can’t even tell you how much it inspired me, becauseif somebody knew the work you did, and then heard some of the stuff youdid, and knew the difference, it gave you the feeling, you get thisenormous feeling that it was all worth it. Every little thing you coulddo was worth it.

Mix: When you went to Europe, did you take your ownP.A. equipment over, or did you rent it all there?
Pinske: No, no. We took our own P.A. with us. Webought lights. Frank usually didn’t rent anything. We bought LSDlighting. Simon, over there in London, with LSD Lighting, we’d buy alighting system from him, use it for the tour, and then sell it back tohim at the end of the tour. So we’d buy light sets, but we took our ownP.A. system.

Mix: Which was the Meyer system?
Pinske: Yeah. We bought the very first Meyer system,and took it all around Europe, I think, gee whiz, on two or three toursaround Europe.

Mix: How many cabinets? These are the MSL3s,right?
Pinske: MSL3s, and four subs a side. We’d usually flyabout, depending on the size of the venue–the bigger venues we woulduse backup, so we’d travel like 18 MSL3s per side, normally, with aboutfour of the dual 18 subs. Then we had a center cluster as well. And wehad racks and racks and racks of A and B amplifiers. But what we woulddo in big venues–even in the States, when we’d do something likeMadison Square Garden, we would hire somebody like Clair Bros. to giveus a backup, where we’d put delay towers. And then we would sync up thedelay towers along with it. Now, over there, I think the first year wedid Santana did a couple shows with us, we did I think Turbosound weused as backup. And they would come in, we’d have our Meyer P.A., andthen we would delay lock in some backup systems on the real, real bigplaces.

Mix: Did you have any problems getting 18 cabinetsa side to combine properly? Sounds like a lot.
Pinske: No. We usually had two or three tiers. Like Isaid, it would vary, depending on how much backup we would use, howmany we would hang. We had a special hanging grid. It is a lot. Butnormally we would try to arc three layers of six, or something likethat. Sometimes we would just hang maybe 12 of them, depending on howwide the venue was. Sometimes we’d play in a tent, or something,obviously we wouldn’t fly then, we would just stack. So it would changefrom venue to venue sometimes. But normally we had an elaborate flyinggrid that was really nice. And the Meyer stuff dispersed really well.The general setup, I think, over average, would be two banks, on bankaiming out and another bank aimed somewhat down, in a full arc, which Ithink was six a bank, normally, arched six at a time. And thensometimes we would hang three more off to the side, aiming sideways,depending on how far the seats would wrap around the venue. We alwaystried to keep it so it would screw up the stage.

Mix: What console were you using in about ’81,’82.
Pinske: On the front of house? We continued to usethe Midas consoles. We had a good thing going with Midas. We used theMidas consoles in the house. We even had a custom Midas, and gee whiz,there was another one we had made up for the monitors now, I’m tryingto remember. It had 18 outs on it. And I had one custom Midas that wasin that dumb Polaroid that I sent you. You couldn’t see it very well, Iapologize for those pictures, they’re just Polaroids, but they made ussome real nice, custom stuff, that had LEDs right next to the faders,so you could see the signal path coming in. We used a lot of Midasconsoles for the house.

Mix: How was the monitor setup? Was thereconventional wedges and sidefills?
Pinske: Monitoring got to be somewhat elaborate.Pretty much conventional wedges and sidefills, but Frank, like I said,would use 2 MSL3s on each side for his sidefills. [Laughs.] Not manypeople were using Meyers just for sidefills. But normally, wedges, andthen what we did with–we got smarter as we went along. We took a lotof the system that used to be what we called the original dinosaursystem that Frank owned, which is the JBL stuff, like your typical two15s and a cabinet with a horn and a bullet tweeter, and we would laythem underneath the stage. Like for the keyboard players, they mighthave two of those cabinets, and they would actually have a metal gridthat they stood on, and the cabinets would be underneath them, so itwould fire straight up on them. And that way it wasn’t always deafeningeverybody else that was walking around in front of them. Or the old tryto [end of side.]

Mix: How did you cope with the vocal mics? Because ifyou had three or four of them on the front line, that must have beenhard to keep the drums out of them.
Pinske: Especially with as loud as Frank liked hissidefills. It was not a picnic. The guys were real good, Ray and Ikeand everybody was real good at staying on their mic. We gated them, ofcourse, as much as we could. I used the Quad-Eight NS120 noise gates,which is film gate, by the way. And the reason I used those was becauseI could go down 110 dB dynamically, but they didn’t work like aconventional gate, like a Valley gate, like a Keypex 2. What they didwas they had an FET transistor that just turned on. So they turned oninstantly at full volume. And this way they didn’t ramp up. You didn’thave the rise time of the ramp. You had variable capacitors, so you hadkind of a curvature to the slope, so you would have a release time anda curvature, a little bit like what a Drawmer would do, but better thana Drawmer, because say you had a tom-tom, and you were gating it, therewould be a contour by a selection of five different types ofcapacitors, and the contour would follow the decay of the sound of thedrum, for instance. So you would have a release time, and even afterthe release time was up, the contour would follow the decay. Because ofthis, the leakage of something like cymbals would decay with the sound.So say you’d have a hit on the drum it goes “doooooom.” Well, the gatewould follow the “doom” perfectly, and the leakage would go down withit. And it would sound like there was basically no leakage there atall. And there were no gates, really, in the world that would do that.Most gates would just hold for a release, and then they would either bea steep slope that would cut off, you know like on a kick drum orsomething, or they would stay open too long and you would get a lot ofleakage. So what I did is I bought five racks of these Quad-Eightgates, because you had the FET transistor, which gave you instant fullon, and you had variable decay that was really–really catered to theinstrument, or the voice, in the case of–especially, the voice couldsay something, it wouldn’t miss the enunciation of the vowel sounds ofany of the–on the microphone like you might on certain types of gates.So this was a lot of the trick to how we got such good, isolated livemics.

Mix: Were you using 57s on the front line,mainly?
Pinske: Frank would use a 57, but we ended up usingsome AKG mics as well, because we had an AKG endorsement. As a matterof fact, I don’t know if you read about this or not, but we actuallyput an SM57 cartridge inside one of the AKG condenser mics. Because wetried all these condenser mics out on Frank, and then the batterieswould start dead, and he didn’t like the way they sounded. He said,”Man, can’t I just use a 57? My voice sounds good on a 57.” So we kindof stuck a 57 capsule inside of an AKG mic, so there was a couple ofpictures that were in some of the magazines where he’s holding the AKGmic, but he actually had a 57 element inside.

Mix: What about Ray and Ike, and whoever else wassinging? They were on the AKGs?
Pinske: We using on AKGs. AKG had made a lot ofreally good microphones, and it wasn’t hard for us to find a family ofthem that worked very well. With Ray and Ike, it was quite easy,because normally they didn’t–they didn’t usually take the mics off thestand. Like Frank was always walking around with his mic. Those guys,the mics would stay pretty stationary. We had them going on their owntrack of the multitrack, anyway. So when it came right down to it,later on, you could just mute the track.

Mix: There’s a fairly significant different betweenthe mix of the band on the guitar album, say, and the live albums wherethere’s people singing all the time, not surprisingly. There’s muchmore isolation.
Pinske: Yeah. That whole guitar album that they puttogether, that I did all the live recordings on, that guitar releasewas put together after I left. That was kind of a diff–it’s kind ofstrange for me to listen to some of these things that were put togetherafter I left, off of recordings that I made.

Mix: Because they’re mixed very differently fromhow you heard them at time?
Pinske: Yeah, mixed differently, plus you don’t knowhow much anything might have deteriorated. We still had a lot of liveanalog tapes. We didn’t get the digital machine into the truck, Ithink, until the ’84 tour. And the ’84 tour, by the way, that’s one ofthe reasons why the recordings from that album were significantlybetter than anything else we did, ever, ever in history. So if you goto–you know that one link I gave you that says, “Venues?” If you checkthe ’84 tour on that, you’ll find some interesting stuff. There’sactually a link in there, too, that talks about that song I told youabout that was written about me called, “Carrie, You Fool.” A notationon there about when Frank was telling the audience about–I think itwas August in ’84, when he was telling the audience about what the songwas about. He was giving them the story. It was kind of funny. Heexplains that the song was about Mark Pinske in there. I found thatkind of funny.

Mix: It’s about a girl who wants to follow the bandto the next gig, and Frank sings, “You’ll find another engineer?”
Pinske: Yeah. “You’ll find another engineer someday.”Actually, the girl named Carrie Mellon in Pittsburg. Carol Mellon washer name, and Frank introduced me to her–actually, we were at thishotel in Pittsburgh, and Frank called me down to have a drink with him,and I went down there and he was talking to the manager. So we couldn’tgo up to Frank’s suite because the manager working the hotel couldn’tgo there, so he asked the girl if there might be somebody that she knewthat we could just go out and have a drink with her, have a date with,you know. So she called up Carrie and said, “Oh, yeah, Frank Zappa andme and his sound man are coming over to pick you up,” and Carrie justsaid, “Oh, yeah, sure, right. Frank Zappa, right.” So we pulled up infront of her house with a limo. [Laughing.] Which was pretty funny. Andwe just went out and did a few things, and then Frank kind of wrote asong about this girl. [Laughs.] And the events that happened thatnight. Later on, she bought me a cashmere sweater. And she wanted tosteal some money from this Mexican guy. She got to be kind of a littleproblem, later. Nonetheless–I realized then for the first time in mylife that a lot of Frank’s songs were actually true stories about–

Mix: Seems that way. I was going to ask you about”Luigi and the Wise Guys,” which sounds like a really quite viciousattack on somebody in the crew that nobody particularly liked.
Pinske: It was, actually. He had this little–well,Tony was his name. They liked him, but the wise guys was kind of–theguys that hung around got to be known and “the wise guys,” Luigi andthe wise guys at the table. And Frank was always–and the same thing,he did the same thing with “Marque-son’s Chicken,” because he used tofly a rubber chicken over the monitor mixer. So he wrote this songcalled “Marque-son’s Chicken.” You know, when you go through all thisstuff and you realize that a lot of it–to me one of the mostinteresting things he wrote was when he did “The Mudd Club,” or theConeheads, from “Saturday Night Live.” He would write these songs aboutthese skits, and he would get into this unbelievable descriptions ofthe people that were there that night or something. We even went backand played the Mudd Club. [Laughs.] There was no way to record it, itwas just a little three-foot stage.

Mix: I think he’s actually got some sort of 2-trackrecording on one of the live tracks from one of the live albums fromthe Mud Club.
Pinske: I remember running something through acassette, or something. But it was just a little mixer in a bar thatyou had no control of. Pretty much just a live mic hanging in the room.But it wasn’t anything you could do to get quality. [Laughs.] Butnonetheless it wasn’t always about quality. It was about the incident,right?
Mix: Mike Kenneally relates an incident in whichsomebody managed to pour a glass of beer from a balcony onto thefront-of-house console. This is in New York, on the ’88 tour. Anythinglike happen to you?
Pinske: I think in that article he talks aboutsomebody yelling, “Bring back Pinske.”

Mix: It does. That’s exactly what he says.
Pinske: I know which one you’re talking. On theoriginal Halloween tours, there was a group of people that hung aroundme. I had some really good live mixes going on, in those days, withthose shows. I was really dedicated, and we really had it down to ascience. So there were some people that really were spoiled as far asgetting some really top-quality shows as far as our sound quality wasat these shows. Frank was real picky about them. That was one of thebenefits of working with him so long. When you know the song so well,for instance, there was one show we did in New York, I think it was atMadison Square Garden, where we decided to not use the recording truck.Because they wanted to charge us–they wanted us to pay $5,000 pershow–the union wanted us to pay $5,000 per show for the privilege ofrecording our own material. That was the term they used. And Frank wastotally mad about it. He said, “Mark,” he said, “you’re going to mixthe house tonight, because no way am I going to give these guys themoney just because of the principle of it.” He said we record everyminute that he’s onstage, every show that we did. We didn’t necessarilyneed to have that show on tape, because we had plenty of other shows ontape, so he decided “you’re going to mix the house” that night. And ofcourse, for me, when I would have a chance to go back out and mix thehouse, it was really a gas, because I was in the truck all the time,after that. So I would get the chance to go out and mix on the Meyersystem, which was like heaven on Earth for me, because originally whenI started, we had this dinosaur system that really sucked. So when Ihad a chance to go out and do a mix on the Meyer system, I would justgo out there and jazz it all up. I might do a little more pizzazz-ymix, with more effects and stuff, because I just knew where everylittle nuance of the songs were. And I must admit, probably the best–Ihad the best mixing chops in those days than I had in my whole career.So those shows were a treat, got to be kind of a treat with some of theaudiences, and little local reviews would come out about them and stufflike that. So what had happened is, these people started this littlething about wanted Pinske to mix all the shows. And Frank was gettingkind of tired of this whole routine, and I think Kenneally was justkind of referring back to the fact that some of those guys were stillaround. Get a gun and shoot ’em, or something. [Laughs.]

Mix: You didn’t have any disasters like that? Younever lost a mixing console in the middle of a show?
Pinske: No. We had one guy fall out of a balcony onetime, but he was OK. And I also did have some disasters in therecording truck, power supply went out right before we were going to goon live on satellite one time. Or the power supply blow up on one ofthe multitrack machines. I had things like that happen in the recordingtruck, but live-wise, the biggest problem we usually had there wasjust–people keeping away from the console. People would set drinks onit and stuff like that. But I didn’t have one actually pour into theconsole. That must have been Harry–was Harry doing that show?
Mix: I don’t know. Was he a mixer who wasdoing–
Pinske: He was a friend of Marque Coy’s. I think hebrought him on board to do that ’88 tour, because I wasn’t availablethen. I was tied up then, at that time. I didn’t go back becauseactually I was just–you get into moving on.

Mix: We were talking about that. After you went offwith New Edition, you struck out on your own as a front-of-house guy?No, you went back to Florida and built a studio.
Pinske: Yeah. I built a studio, but I still did somefront-of-house–I did all those front-of-house shows. I’ve alwaysenjoyed front-of-house mixing. That’s originally where I started in thefirst place. We had talked about that briefly the first time I talkedto you. And I always enjoyed front-of-house because there’s nothinglike the excitement of the front of the house, especially when youthink you can make a difference. So, I always felt I was a goodfront-of-house mixer, and it was a lot of fun for me to do, so everyonce in a while–it’s like a musician trying to stop playing, Iguess.

Mix: You play something, right?
Pinske: I played bass guitar, and a little drums. Iplayed when I was going to college, I played in bands.

Mix: And out of that, you wound up as the guy doingthe P.A. and the recording and the mixing?
Pinske: Right. Kind of the guy around town that didthe recording and mixing. To put it quite bluntly, I just happened tobe a lot better engineer than I ever was a musician. [Laughs.] I thinksomebody told me that at one time. “You really ought to just stickto–” you know how Frank put it me? I don’t know if I told you this,but you know how if you’re a musician, and you feel like you’re gettingtoo old to be a musician or you give it up and you feel like you’regiving up some creative essence or something, you know, you’ve heardthis a lot. And then Frank told me, he said, “Mark, look at it thisway. There are far less creative engineers than there are creativemusicians.” So he kind of looked at me as a creative engineer, is theway he put it. I asked him if he was just trying to make me feelbetter. [Laughs.] But it was a kind of interesting way of putting it.He was really true. It’s really true. And engineering in itself is kindof–you have a chance to be very creative, as well, if you really applyyourself. And that’s what I was trying to do.

Mix: Can you read music?
Pinske: Yes. I can read. I’m not a fast reader.

Mix: But you can follow a score?
Pinske: Yeah. And I had to. You had to withFrank.

Mix: It’s been reported fairly widely that “ShipArriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch” was supposedly made up of15 different performances.
Pinske: As a matter of fact, he did that a lot, on alot of stuff. We would have the actual sheet music out, especially withSteve Vai and a lot of those guys, and Tommy Mars, and we would go bybars, and he would say, “At Bar 128, bring in some reverb effects,” orsomething like that. So I had to pay attention. But I’m not a–healways said that there were two best readers that ever worked for him,was Vinnie Colaiuta and Tommy Mars. Tommy Mars was pretty much known as”Hawkeye,” and Vinnie, he said, could read anything you put in front ofhim. He would just chicken scratch something on a piece of paper, andVinnie could just play it immediately. When he tried musiciansout–there’s no way I could keep up with any of those kind of guys, butI knew where we were in the pieces, and I could tell what the melodylines were, and the bass lines. Enough to know what I needed to know.Especially when we started doing a lot of the orchestration stuff,because we would go back and cut certain sections.

Mix: I was going to ask you about the assembly ofthe LSO sessions from the multitracks. You came back to Los Angeleswith your multitracks from the LSO, right? And you recorded 24-trackdigital, or was it 32-track?
Pinske: No, no. We did 24-track digital. There weretwo 24-track digital machines waiting for us over there. And there wastwo analog machines, as well. They were 3M 79 machines. And what I did,is, I had them, the guys–we rented the Island mobile truck, and I hadthe crew put together an extra snake so we could run both the machines,in a little room, simultaneously with the digital machines, because Ihad never used the digital machines before, and I wasn’t totallytrusting them. So the deal was, we recorded on both mediumssimultaneously. In other words, we rolled both tapes all the time. Andin a way I kind of liked doing the two, because I had an automaticbackup, in case something went wrong. So when we got back to theStates, machine number 3 that Sony made–those were machines 1 and 2,and machine number 3 we rented from Sony, I think for like a grand aday or something, so we could evaluate the tapes. And after about amonth or two of working with machine, we bought one. We just bought onebecause we fell in love with it. And that’s when–up until that point,we didn’t have a lot of good experiences with a lot of the digitalstuff. A lot of the first digital stuff was really bad.

Mix: You had been recording some digital stuffbefore that?
Pinske: Oh, sure. Mick Glossop, as a matter offact–you talked about him before–he had done a live digital recordingfor us, off of one of those–I forget where it was–Hammersmith, orsomewhere–you see notes to of Mick Glossop’s live recordings? We didsome digital recording and when he came back it was on a 1510 system,which later became 1520, and then 1530, Sony. The first ones had somereally–they had American converters in there. But you listen to 10 or15 minutes of them, and Frank made the comment, saying, “It’s like 8kdarts in your forehead.” It just had this real brittle sound, that yourears felt very fatigued after a very short time of listening to it. Sowe were very let down by it, so to speak. It just didn’t have thewarmth that most of the analog recordings had. So we had a number ofexperiences along the way that didn’t convince us that digital was theway to go.

Mix: But this new generation of Sony machines madeit?
Pinske: Yeah. The new generation Dr. Doi, they spent$2.5 million developing their own converter. The way Dr. Doi put it mewas it was 400 times the resolution in these converters that they hadpreviously in any converters. And the Sony 3324 was the introduction ofthose converters. Later, they took those converters and put them intothe 1630 systems, and the better mastering systems that Bernie Grundmanand everybody else started using. But at that point, the 3324 was thefirst machine they were in. And I asked Dr. Doi, who invented pulsecode modulation, by the way, I asked him, I said, “If I’m looking at aTV picture,”–I was looking at a screen–I said, “how much better isthis picture?” In these converters than say the converters they hadpreviously. And he looked at me and he pointed at the TV screen, and hesaid, “See blade of grass growing,” he said. I said, “See blade ofgrass growing?” He said, “Yeah, see blade of grass growing.” He wasjust trying to tell me that there would be so much better focus, and somuch better definition, that you could actually see the blade of grassgrowing. And I thought to myself, “If you put it that way, it’s got tobe a lot better.” And then I realized, honestly, I realized that forthe first time in my life I was dealing with a converter that basicallyhad no side effects. You could record up to +24 dB on those machines,you know. It wasn’t like a 0 dB, like the Mitsubishis. It had all theheadroom in the world. You could track your drums at +18 on an average.And then you could pad down your console, and it was just unbelievable.I actually even remember telling them that at point, they should callit something other than digital, because digital already had a badname. [Laughs.] It really is the most analog-sounding machine, digitalmachine, even to this day, I think. Of course a lot of people like BobClearmountain and everybody else are all using the 48-track now. AndBarbra Streisand even. But originally, there wasn’t very many peoplethat were on board. But it really was a phenomenal breakthrough in thedigital medium.

Mix: So when you came back with LSO tapes, first ofall, you decided which ones you were going to mix, or did you just mixeverything and see which ones were usable?
Pinske: Oh, no. We didn’t mix anything. The firstthing we needed to do was listen and edit. First we listened to thedigital tapes, then we pulled out some of the analog tapes to comparethem. It didn’t take us very long, just a matter of hours, to where wejust decided to put the analog tapes back in the vault because the tapehiss was driving us nuts. When you didn’t have the tape hiss, there wasno way that we wanted to hear some real light violin, or harp orsomething playing, and listen to the noise that we didn’t need tolisten to. And it accumulated over all 24 tracks. So then what we did,is I made a digital backup of all the tapes, like I talked to you aboutthat I did later on as a regular, and then we took the digital backupand we razor-blade edited it. And Frank would go through the movements,and we might have 12 takes of one section, and he was looking for whichpiece they performed the best. And when they performed it the best, wewould edit out that piece, and then tape it together to the oneprevious to it. And sometimes we’d go bar by bar, and sometimes we’dgot movement by movement. There was a lot of edits. And we basicallyjust assembled what Frank thought was the closest to the bestperformance of what he had in his head, as far as when he wrote it. Butof course, you know as well as I do the nightmare there is, a truecomposer can almost not ever have it perfect. There’s always somebodynot playing. But what Frank got into is the character of the people,too. He let a viola player take a solo, for instance, and rather thanplay it like he wrote it, he told him to come up with his own solo, andhe let him ad lib. And he loved it. That’s the way Frank was. He wouldalways use the talents of the musicians around him, and kind of somehowmake them fit into the picture. That’s where his true genius was, wasbeing able to assemble things from not only the talents of the people,but the talents of the musicians and everything that was involved. Hewas able to assemble pieces out of the people that were all part of thepuzzle. And I think that’s what made some of his stuff so collectivelyunique.

Mix: I’ve got a release date here that says thefirst LSO album came out in June of ’83. What was the reception like?Do you remember whether it got good reviews?
Pinske: It was a sad thing, because we couldn’t sellit in the United States.

Mix: Why not?
Pinske: We had the contract with CBS Records. WithCBS National Account–International Account–we had two differentcontracts with CBS, with CBS internationally and CBS domestically. AndCBS International was suing CBS domestic, believe it or not. The twocompanies were suing each other. And they were the same company. AndFrank’s contract was one of them that was affected by it. So wecouldn’t release that album in the States when it came out. We onlycould release it overseas. Which dramatically affected the release ofit. However, the reception of it was good. So, getting back to that,that’s where Pierre Boulez heard the record, and liked it, andcontacted Frank and asked him to do a piece for him or something. Andthat was I think one of Frank’s happiest moments. We had Kent Naganoconducting that thing. The darn thing turned out pretty good. All inall. But as you know, Frank’s classical taste was somewhat strange.[Laughs.] If you could have heard him explain what “Mo ‘n’ Herb’sVacation” was about, you would have died laughing. When he told thestory–there’s nobody like him telling the story. When he was trying toexplain it to the orchestra that he was mad at both of them, so he dida gay scene where they’re walking down the beach with one of them hadtheir hand on the other guy’s rear and stuff, and he was really tryingto rub it in, so they did this kind of island feel. But it was like himexplaining a cartoon. And he was trying to make it really out there,right? And when he explained it, and then you listen to the way theyplayed it, it all kind of made sense to you. But the average personlistening to it wouldn’t have any idea what the hell they’re doingthere, you know. He just got into characterizations like that. He wouldcharacterize something. He would always go for a little bit off theleft wing. You know from just the way he is. But on the other hand, hewas dead serious about it. There was a difference in his–there was awhole difference in his attitude about the classical stuff, so tospeak, than there was about his normal stuff. And I found that was kindof a–it’s like Chapter 300, or whatever. The whole time I was with himwas just fascinating. It was absolutely fascinating.

Mix: You mentioned Pierre Boulez. A year later, inJanuary ’84, the Boulez pieces were recorded. Did you have anything todo with them?
Pinske: No. There was an engineer that worked withBoulez that he wanted to do those recordings. There was no reason tofight that. It was the kind of thing where Frank was just overwhelmedto be able to do some work with him. So it wasn’t something that wewere going to get involved with from the technical aspects like wewould normally, and make a big deal about it. So they pretty much wentwith what they knew.

Mix: But the album that came out had fourSynclavier pieces on it, which were presumably recorded at UMRK.
Pinske: Right. Most all of the Synclavier stuff Iwould have recorded. I’m not so sure that wasn’t a mistake.

Mix: Mixing the Synclavier–
Pinske: Mixing–yeah. You know what I mean. If youlook at a lot of those albums, Frank would do that. He would throwstuff in on an album that he didn’t need to throw in on an album, andit would make the album a total different kludge of things.

Mix: I actually like the Boulez album a lot. But Isee your point.
Pinske: The Synclavier stuff–like “Francesco Zappa,”I must admit, was fun doing. Because it was interesting. First off, itwas a minstrel that played kind of happy, what do you call it? In themedieval-century type, 100 years before Frank, happy minstrel musicthat was totally unlike Frank’s music completely. But it was kind ofunique, and it was kind of fun to do, when we programmed all that stuffin the Synclavier. And then when we played it, we all had fun doing it.Even Frank got a joy out of it. But I don’t think a lot of peoplereally understood why he did it. And in fact, David Ocker, I think,brought us a piece one day on that. He said, “I got this piece from aguy named Francesco Zappa.” And we thought he was pulling our leg, youknow? He got it from–I think it was, the what? The Mormon library orsomething. They were revering it in college, and then we noticed thatit wasn’t copyrighted. There was no–none of it was published. It wasan unpublished piece. So Frank said, “Go fine out about this guy andsee what else they had.” Well, they found a whole bunch of stuff in theMormon records, but there was a lot of pieces by this guy, and none ofthem were published. So Frank decided that he would publish them. So wehad the publishing rights on them. Well, once we had the publishingrights on them, it only made sense to try to do something with it. Andthen it was kind of ironic that there was this musician that lived 100years before Frank that had a traveling group in minstrels thattraveled around Italy and Germany playing music. [Laughs.] It was justtoo ironic, or too much of a coincidence, so we decided that we wouldtake these pieces and program them into the Synclavier and try to dothe instrumentation as true as we could to what we thought we saw therethat was written.

Mix: In Frank’s lifetime, a Synclavier was stillviable, but it’s a white elephant now, isn’t it? In that NED has goneaway.
Pinske: I don’t know if it’s a white elephant. Ithing Dweezil still screws around with the one they had a little bit.But it probably is a white elephant now. It was archaic as far as howefficient sampling is now. But we really did take it to the extremeonce we moved it up to the 100kHz sampling rate. We sampled every noteof the Bosendorfer into the thing. And I think the low note was like 8seconds long. Just so we could have the real piano sound on it. And wedid some kind of elaborate things like that with it, that kind of madeit more useful for us. Because you’re right, the converters andeverything else are far outdated now. It’s just like talking about anold Fairlight or something.

Mix: I was just making the point that the parentcompany’s disappeared, so there’s no–
Pinske: New England Digital? Yeah, that’s who it was.Yeah.

Mix: But he didn’t take that on tour in the ’84tour, did he?
Pinske: No. As a matter of fact, he always thoughtthat we could program everything into that and it would just makeeverything on tour a lot easier, but . . .

Mix: It didn’t work out that way.
Pinske: Not really. I tried to do that with JermaineJackson. I went and did some sampling for Jermaine Jackson–I sampledall Jermaine Jackson’s album after I left Frank, and we tried to puttogether all these Emulator 2s that were going to use live of all theseparts of the album that somebody is supposed to be playing, but youjust hold down one note. And we had this main data bank of stuff, and Idid this elaborate sampling. It just–it didn’t seem real. It seemedlike a bunch of fake junk. Somebody just holding down a bunch ofsamples. So that was a short-lived thing, too, but nonetheless, theidea–the idea’s been used. Let’s face it. People have used samples todeath since then. But Frank always wanted to stay ahead–he always hadthese ideas–when we originally had a semi-Broadway play put togetherfor this “Thing-Fish,” he wanted to have all the scenery done on ahologram, so the set changes would all be done with holograms. Ofcourse, we couldn’t do it. [Laughs.] In his mind, that’s what hewanted.

Mix: It’s interesting that he kept trying to dothings that, I won’t say failed, but had not really come to fruition inthe past. Like he wrote several musicals “Hunchentoot” and”Thing-Fish.” And he also made several films, or started. And for everyone of them he must have started at least two others.
Pinske: You’re right.

Mix: He didn’t give up, did he?
Pinske: No, and I’m telling you, it was amazing whenyou were a part of that at all, if he would sit down and write somelyrics, and then 10 minutes, he would write a whole–he could writealmost a whole song. It would just flow out of him. And that was one ofthe most genius amazing parts about it. When it came to being creative,he was never short of ideas. He always just had so many ideas. And hereally was pretty much a pioneer from every way. Every aspect of it,from the way we recorded to the way he wrote songs, to the way hewanted to display something. Or the way he might want to do something,like you said, whether it’s doing a musical. He always wanted to try todo something new and different and innovative. That was really the partthat didn’t sink in ’til a number of years later. I knew I was in themiddle of all this, but I didn’t know that I would look back later inmy life and go, “Man. You’re a really lucky person to have even been apart of this.” There’s very few situations in the world where you couldbe around somebody that has pretty much all the money he needs, and hespends all his money experimenting. And doing new things every day. Andjust trying things. Isn’t that kind of like the ultimate? Especiallyfor like an engineer, or a musician, to where you can just kind ofexperiment and write and do things, just try new things all the time.Like an artists being able to paint what he wants to paint, and write abook that he wants to write. It’s kind of the ultimate from theengineering aspect. The down side of it is, of course, we had 10 racksof effects on both sides of the control room, so you had all theequipment there was in the world, you had every microphone that’s evermade, the whole collection of mics from RCA DX-77s on up, so the downside of it was, if you didn’t get the right sound, you’d be gone.[Laughs.] It was a little bit of pressure there. I felt like I wasdancing on ice the first three years. I always felt like, gee, I got toearn my rank. You were never really totally comfortable with the factthat you could always be replaced. But somehow, I felt there was alittle angel on my shoulders in some ways, because of little thingsthat happened. Like that little incident I told you about when I wasauditioning. With the noise in the mic preamp. It’s ridiculous. I hadsome lucky breaks. Like somebody was watching over me. I made some gooddecisions, and fortunately, Frank tolerated me enough as a person towhere we got to be good friends, and was able to last in there longenough to feel that I made a significant difference to what it was hewas doing. You can’t replace that. It’s not like those things areavailable every day of your life. And I realize now how unique and howspecial that was. And basically, how unique and how special he was.Because it took him to make it happen. If you get in an environmentlike that, and you have a guy that can totally control the environment,to where you’re not interrupted, you could finish your train ofthought, right in the middle of creating a whole masterpiece, andnobody’s going to interrupt you. The phone isn’t going to ring. Nobodycan get to you. You have your environment controlled. I always enviedFrank for that. He was able to control the environment so that we wereable to finish what it was we were doing. And there’s very few artiststhat can do that. Right there tells you the reason why he built thatstudio. So he would have that controlled environment, to where he couldgo in there, and for the first time in his life, finish his train ofthought. Go in and just not come out ’til he’s damn well done with it.And once you’ve worked with him like that on a daily basis, yourealize, gee, isn’t this really a necessity for anybody that’screative? Doesn’t anybody really need to have the chance to be able tobe uninterrupted, and be able to be funded? And all of that. I’m afraidthat the average artist doesn’t really have the pleasure of that. Likeyou were talking about how he went and recorded at different studios.This is the exact reason why you don’t. Because you run out of money,you’re on a schedule. You gotta be in at 10 o’clock in the morning eventhough you may be sick that day. There’s all these things that can makefor a bad project. And all those things kind of go away when you havetotal–when you have the luxury, I guess, is what it is.

Mix: You recorded vocals for Johnny Guitar Watson,right?
Pinske: He did the “In France” song. And he came up acouple of times. Him and his gold teeth. He had gold plating on thedashboard of this ’55 Chevy. [Laughs.] But Johnny Guitar Watson, Frankintroduced me to him originally, said–he would bring this kind ofpeople up, and he just totally admired these people, because hedeveloped–according to Frank he developed a certain style of guitarplaying, that Johnny did. And I don’t know if you’ve ever hear anyrecordings or anything about when he came in and sat in live when weplayed down in Hollywood, at one of the theaters down there. Trying toremember the name of that theater. Johnny Guitar Watson came in, andGeorge Duke came in. Everybody kind of came in and did a little–sat inand played some songs with the band. And Johnny just leaned over thetop of the front of the stage and did this guitar, and basically stolethe show. But he came up to the studio, and we recorded him. And he didthese really ridiculously strange vocals on “In France” and a couple ofother things.

Mix: He did “I Don’t Even Care,” on “Frank ZappaMeets the Mothers of Prevention.”
Pinske: Yeah. We put him down on a couple of things.Frank had the habit of that, too. When we had somebody like that there,we would record him on one or two or maybe three pieces. This is a lotof what happened with some of the stuff like “Sleep Dirt” and”Hunchentoot” and things like that, too. We would take these artistsand put them on a number of tapes, and maybe only one of the songs werecorded him on would get on an album. And then later on, Frank wouldpeel this other tape off and use it somewhere else. And that’s kind ofwhat happened with Johnny. Johnny actually came up for a number ofsessions, and the also Frank had a big listening party when we did”Thing-Fish.” He invited up everybody that was on it to come and listento the album. And we played back out into the studio, and had a littleget together. Which was kind of unique, because we had everybody fromTerry and Dale Bozzio, to–that album was loaded with all kinds of starcollections. Unfortunately, I really wish we still had an originalversion of that, because it was cleaner, it had less swear words in it,and just moved along a lot nicer. There’s always those kinds of things,right? I do have a whole set of lacquers, different lacquers oforiginal mixes we did, by the way. I got some original mixes we did ofthe London Symphony Orchestra, even that were never released. We musthave mixed that album two or three times. I have one version of I mixedthe whole thing on. And there are unique mixes like that. I always feltsomehow would always get out that never did. It’s almost too late, now.I appreciate your taking the time and doing this interview with me, andbeing so patient with my rambling.

Mix: It’s a thrill for me, honestly.
Pinske: Some of the best people I had, I think I gaveyou a link to Bob Harris, or if you type “Mark Pinske” in at Alta Vistain quotations you’ll get some interesting articles. Sometimes you do,sometimes you don’t. Some of them fall off. If I put my name in atYahoo, or at Hotbox, I get totally different links than I do if I putit in–all the search links are different. It’s kind of nuts. You’llget different links, and you’ll find somebody talking in articles aboutsome of the stuff that we had done. But a lot of my good friends thatI’ve know like that, the musicians over the years, Tommy Mars, some ofthose guys, they keep telling me I really need to write a book. Ialmost don’t know where to start or where to finish.

Mix: I’ve been reading some of the books. There’sdefinitely a need for a good one.
Pinske: That’s the thing. The reason why I never didis because I thought, “You don’t need anymore half-assed books aboutZappa.” You would need to nail it down to the incidents that werereally unique, that made a difference. I think the behind-the-scenethings that happened when certain artists came in and recorded, maybesome of the methods we used, things that were talked about, and some ofthe real creative genius that Frank did. There was always things thatwe were experimenting on a daily basis, and when you ask me, forinstance, about like say “Ya Hozna,” my mind goes back and startsthinking about the session, and I would have never thought of that.

Mix: While you’re thinking about it, a large partof the vocal is from some version of “Sofa–“
Pinske: “Sofa,” uh-huh. 16-track. Right–

Mix: with George Duke singing. Did you take that16-track and copy certain tracks off it, and then have the drums dubbedforward, or did you just fly it into some pre-existing rhythmtrack?
Pinske: No, no, no. We took the 16-trackrecording–actually, I think we bounced the whole thing over on a24-track, and then turned it over. So we wouldn’t ruin the originalmaster. And like I said, we did that a lot. When we experimented, wewould just take a backup tape. And we turned it over, and then weactually flew other vocals in. I thought about that later, after Italked to you about it. We did take some other vocals from some othersongs, and put them backwards. And flew some of them in on some othertracks. And then did all kinds of different instrumentation aroundit.

Mix: The reason I ask is because “Sofa” is a waltztime, so that’s 3/4, but the forward track that was dubbed on, is it5/4?
Pinske: There was a totally ridiculous thing. That’swhy a lot of the stuff–we probably worked with two or three differentmultitracks at different times, and 2-tracks. And we may just takebackward vocals off something, and lay it in. [Sings.] “YaaaaaHooooznaaa,” the stuff that came in backwards. And it had nothing to dowith the rhythm so much as the way it sounded. And then we would flystuff in.

Mix: I got the impression that the tempo for theforward track was derived from the backward track.
Pinske: No, no. Not the tempo of the track. Everyother vocal, or every other chorus, or every other–the sections of thevocals that we used, were laid out. And when we tracked somethingforward over to it, we kind of stumbled across something, much like theway we did on “Tink Walks Amok.”

Mix: That has triple-tracked basses on it.
Pinske: That was a Hofner bass by the way. It waspretty interesting how we–unique sound on that thing, too. I think itwas–we did this kind of stuff all the time. And the rhythm would comeout as almost some kind of a mistake. And this is where Chad Wackermancame in. Chad told us, this is a statement that Chad made to me onetime, he said, “You know if you make the same mistake twice, you have agroove.” [Laughs.] You don’t think about it. He’s right. So some ofthis stuff would just kind of happen, and Frank would build off of amistake that happened. And then we would try to make it make sense. Youkind of derived a rhythm based off a lot of the things that you piecedtogether. And the things that were pieced together, which wasn’tnecessarily just that vocal, but it was other vocals as well. Like wemight have used the first chorus of “Ya Hozna,” of “Mein Sofa,” andthen nothing in between. And then another chorus later. Then we’d put aforward beat on there, and then drop some other vocals in there, andsomething forward, some things backwards, and it was kind of like we’rejust sitting there putting together a collage.

Mix: I was just trying to figure out whether thetempo for “Ya Hozna,” which is not in 4/4, it’s in 7/8 or 5/4 orsomething.
Pinske: I could tell you–I tell you, if I sat downand listened to it, it was the second piece we did, “Won Ton On” wasactually the first experiment, and it all derived from this “No NotNow” thing. And then we kind of got carried away with it for a while,we spent a couple of days doing it, then we got away from it, then wecame back to it again. And then, when we got into doing “Ya Hozna,” itwas a whole different thing than “Won Ton On,” but if I sat down andlistened to it, because we were doing two–I started wondering if wewere going to live the rest of our life doing backwards pieces therefor a while, because for a couple of weeks you’re working in thisbackwards mode, you’re mind kind of gets weirded out, and I got alittle bit confused on “Won Ton On,” and “Ya Hozna.” As a matter offact, I probably have rough mixes of it that have different pieces thatgot erased and got taken out. Because we would try something, and maybenot like it, and remove it and put something else in there. But if Isat down and listened to–is that on one of the YCDTOSA albums, whichone is “Ya Hozna” on?
Mix: It’s on “Them Or Us.” It’s the third track on”Them Or Us.” It’s right after “In France.” It goes “Closer You Are,””In France,” “Ya Hozna,” “Sharleena,” “Sinister Footwear 2,” “TruckDriver Divorce,” “Stevie’s Spanking,” “Baby Take Your Teeth Out,””Marque-son’s Chicken.”
Pinske: Those were, originally, now that you mentionit, it was George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock that did the original”Sofa” piece on there. But there was something else off of those samerecordings. I think they were from the Baltimore tape [end of side]

. . .since then, she just kind of started treating me different, andthen things king of got sour. What was originally quite friendly turnedinto just an uncomfortable situation. But there was no major, hugefallout, so to speak. Except that she didn’t like that. She pretty muchdidn’t like a lot of people around Frank, and always thought thateverybody was trying to rip Frank off. She had a pretty deep paranoiaover a lot to things. That’s why Marque’s so paranoid. If you talk toMarque Coy. He can’t do anything with her approval. Well, I don’t needher approval. I have my own life. That’s one of the reasons why I left,to tell you the truth. It was just uncomfortable. And not creative atall. Honestly. I got along with her, and I love Dweezil and Ahmet andMoon, and all of them. But I think since I left, she soured the grapes,quite a bit. She put the–she kind of stained . . . what she believed Iwas doing and what I wasn’t doing. But when it comes right down to it,there was Frank and me in the control room. For 13 hours a day. And Bobwould come in and then there was Bob and Frank. None of those peoplewere there. They weren’t there. So how can they know anything aboutwhat went on? They don’t. They don’t know anything. How can you explainthat? You can’t explain that. Or what would that have to do with any ofthem? It has nothing to do with any of them. They weren’t a part of thecreative process. All she did is try to control the marketing, try tocontrol the sales, try to get in and take over everything, and try tobe–I’ve heard all kinds of things about her screwing up a lot ofDweezil’s stuff that Dweezil was trying to do. But Marque still worksfor her. And Marque and I go way back. I’m sure he told you thatpart.

Mix: No, he didn’t. Well, he gave me the name ofyour band. What was is, Helix. He did say you went way back. Did hecome into the picture through you, or the other way around?
Pinske: Marque-son? No, I hired him for Frank. He wasa roadie in the band I played in, in Colorado. Then when I got the jobfor Frank, I brought him in from Colorado, and I brought Tom Ehle in,and I brought George Douglas in. They were all people that I knew frombefore. And I got them guys all a job. Now, George only lasted a yearand left. Tom Ehle stayed with us for a long time, and Marque-son’sstill there, Marque Coy is still there. I brought him in to mixmonitors, originally, because we needed a monitor mixer. And I thoughthe could handle it because he had done some road work in the past. He’squite a good engineer, Marque is. He got to be pretty good. He went outand did Cheap Trick, and some other people there for a while, but he’sjust kind of stayed close to the womb. He kind of had his own littleworld out there at Joe’s Garage.

Mix: That’s why I called him, and he said, “Yep.This is what I do.”
Pinske: But if you want him to say anything aboutFrank, Gail’s got him so scared, he won’t–he’s not going to give you awhole lot of useful stuff because he’s going to have to bring her in,and if he brings her in, she’ll want to control the whole article. Likeshe does with everything else she does. I don’t know why she does that.It’s stupid. It’s kind of a sad thing, because in my opinion, the morepublicity she–anything good that could be said at all about Frank, themore would help the archives and everything else. I don’t know why shegot that way, at all. I really don’t. I honestly don’t understand, evenwhy she got so upset over that one little incident that we had, becausethere really wasn’t much more to it than that. I wasn’t directlyinvolved with her on a daily basis. She was up in the house, and I wasin studio. I’d lock up the studio and go home, and I’d come back andFrank and I would record. Outside of the fact that, let’s face it, thestudio took Frank pretty much away from the family, and so did all thetouring. Which I imagine all the family members have probably have someregret for that, a little bit. Because he was doing what he wanted todo all the time. But if you built a $3.5 million studio, you’d probablyuse it, too. And I was just one of the engineers he had to have inorder to keep it cranking all day long. And on the road, of course, shewasn’t with us, ever. She never went on the road with us. So I don’tknow why she still wants to go back–like Jimmy Carl Black, I talked tohim, and I talked to Denny Walley, the guys that did The Grandmothers?They were going to go out doing some tours, and they said that Gail hadpretty much stopped them from performing and using that name, TheGrandmothers. I don’t know how she could even stop them from using thatname, ’cause it’s not the same name as the Mothers of Invention. Or whywould you bother? Because anything that would help keep the legendalive, in my opinion, would be a good thing, wouldn’t you think?
Mix: I think so. There’s actually a band coming toSan Francisco next month called “Project Object,” which has, I thinkIke Willis is in it, and Don Preston and some other–not that they’rein it full time, but I think they’re appearing with this ProjectObject. As you know, there’s a bunch of bands out there that do Zappamaterial.
Pinske: Sure. I talked to Ike a couple times sincethen. None of us were able to find Ray White. I have a little folder Ikeep called the “Ex-Zappa People,” and I talked to Craig, I got thenote from Craig “Twister” Steward out of the blue, too. But everybody’sall doing different things, now.

Mix: Yeah. It’s almost ten years.
Pinske: Yeah. It’s a long time done.

Mix: You said earlier that by the time you left,Frank was getting ill. But I thought his cancer wasn’t diagnosed until1990.
Pinske: No, but he did go through a case of shinglesbefore that. I don’t know if you knew about that.

Mix: I didn’t, no.
Pinske: He had a case of shingles, and he got kind ofill and slowed down a little bit there. But he was going still fullstrong when I went and did Men at Work.

Mix: I know he smoked all his adult life. Did thatshow up in the equipment, or did you just have powerful fil–
Pinske: That was kind of a pain. We had a specialfilter system in the control room. At the back of the control room,there was three filter systems in the air conditioning that we prettymuch left running all the time. And he sat back–he had a grey chair inthe back, and he smoked continuously. Two-and-a-half, three packs aday. Pretty much all the time, cigarettes and coffee. He’s pretty muchanti drugs, but–

Mix: Made an exception for nicotine.
Pinske: [Laughs.] For nicotine and caffeine. Caffeinekept us going.

Mix: And I guess back then in the early ’80s itwasn’t a problem traveling on commercial flights, because you couldstill smoke on that. That became an issue later on.
Pinske: Yeah, I guess it did. We did most of ourtraveling in the States on commercial, and then we’d do Lear jetsoverseas, or private jets sometimes overseas. On one of our tours wedid that. I’m curious, though, if you got a hold of Marque. Was he justnot receptive?
Mix: No, he was cheerful, but he said he’d have totalk to Gail. So I sent him an email saying, “Here’s what I want totalk about.” But he hasn’t got back to me.
Pinske: Maybe I shouldn’t have given you that number.That might be a bad thing.

Mix: I’m sure Joe’s Garage is in the book.
Pinske: I don’t mean that. I just mean, I shouldprobably call Marque and talk to him about it. And see if I couldloosen that up a little bit. I know that it’s strange that–because hestayed on board. See, I was there, and then they brought him in. I wasprobably with Frank a year and a half before we brought Marque aboard.But he’s now set the record, I think, for the longest employee, Ithink, of the whole family.

Mix: Did you ever have a situation where somebodyfrom the crew was sent home because they weren’t cutting it on tour,because their personal habits weren’t in line with the corporatepolicy?
Pinske: Well, yeah. Ike Willis was sent home.Yeah.

Mix: Right at the beginning of a tour, right?
Pinske: That was when we were in Berkeley, I think.He wasn’t even allowed to perform that night, as a matter of fact.Frank was real upset about that. He didn’t like anybody doing anything,and if he caught ’em, they were gone. Pretty much immediately. Butthen, obviously, he was able to bury the hatchet with Ike, because heworked with Ike later. Ike went back out on an ’88 tour, didn’t he?

Mix: Yeah, I think he did.
Pinske: There was a time when he was never going tolet Ike Willis in, or Roy Estrada. There was all those kind of times,but then again, when they got back together, they were glad as hell tosee each other. So that’s just nothing more than old guys workingtogether, I guess. Pretty much what that’s all about. But I saw–therewasn’t too much happening as far as the crew’s concerned. If somebodyin the crew got fired, they’re just pretty much, “window or aisle.” Hewould just make the jokes on stage. And that would happen that way.Fortunately, I was able to take another gig, myself. But most of thepeople, some of the people didn’t have any choice in the matter. Andthere was kind of a sad situation, with Thomas Nordegg, for instance.He was probably the most loyal person to Frank of all time, and Gailmade Frank fire him. That was probably the saddest day of Frank’slife.

Mix: For what infraction?
Pinske: She couldn’t find some receipts on somegrocery bills, and she was sure that he had ripped him off orsomething. And I remember him being very upset about it. I remember himasking, “Are you happy now?” or something. It really upset Frank. Hewas probably the most trustworthy person you’d ever known in your life.Anybody who knew him, if you knew him like I knew him, or anybody else,he would never do anything like that. ‘Course, three months later, theyfound all the receipts anyway. But there was never an apology oranything.

Mix: What was his position?
Pinske: He buried Frank’s parrot. He was the liaison.He did everything for Frank. For eight or ten years, he was the one whounpacked his clothes, and took care of the family, and went out and gotpizzas, and kept us all going. One of the most trustworthy people you’dever know.

Pinski Interview Day One, Two, Three