Zappa’s Own Words, 20 Years Ago…
The following is an excerpt from a Mix interview with Frank Zappaoriginally published in June 1983:
ON THE NEW FRONTIER, DIGITAL AUDIO:
Would you ever record your own band digitally?
If I could even afford one of those machines – they’re $150,000.
The complaint has been that the digital tape sounds great, butwhen you transfer it to an analog medium you get a whole differentsound.
You do get different stuff…But if you’re going to plan for thefuture, I think ultimately records are going to be released on compactdiscs, little laser discs…I’ll compensate to get it on a piece ofvinyl and still have the right thing digitally.
ON WRITING ORCHESTRAL MUSIC:
How different are the creative processes for writing an orchestralpiece as opposed to a tune for the band?
Six of one, half dozen of the other. some are so simple, you just humthem to everybody. Of course, for an orchestrated piece you don’t havetime to hum it to a hundred guys – and besides, they won’t remember itanyway.
They’re all composed different ways. I’ll sketch some things outwhile I’m waiting in an airport, and come back from a tour with abriefcase full of sketches. they lyrics to “Dumb All Over” were writtenon a Lufthansa flight coming back from Europe. the march at the end of”Sad Jane” is an orchestral setting of the transcription of a guitarsolo from the Shrine Auditorium in 1968, transcribed by IanUnderwood.
ON GETTING HIS PRIORITIES STRAIGHT:
You’re one of the few artists who absorbs virtually all of theproduction costs for all of your projects, rather than being subsidizedby a label or someone.
Well, it’s for a worthy cause. It’s for entertainment of a specialtype. Nobody else is going to invest in it, because they’re too f—ingstupid and scared. Now, if I’ve got money to invest in something, wouldit be fun for me to invest in a goddamn condo someplace, like theseother assholes do? I don’t want to own a condo; I don’t want to be apartner in a shopping center. If I make some money, I turn around andput it back into the work that I do. I’ve got no condos, no stocks -I’ve got unfinished projects all over the place is what I’ve got. I’vealso got a wife with a great sense of humor [laughs]. I think it’s atraditional American thing to do. If you have a small business, youinvest in the business.
interviewed by Dan Forte