How would you describe Frank Zappa's genius

Eat while alive

By Rolf Ulrich Kaiser

Concrete, September 23, 1968


The house, the dilapidated palace, should have belonged to Tom Mix. Thirty, forty years ago. Frank Zappa now lives in it. For half a year with at least a dozen other people, at least a dozen visitors every night, from around 1:00 a.m. when the house woke up. Before that, a wealthy hippie commune lived here. Parents still ask about their children. Now the inventor of the mother, Frank Zappa, who was the world pop spokesman at the time, is in residence, dictates the secretary from London, hears the first copies of the first records from his own record company, only needs to step into the 10 by 70 meter hall, and silence begins . The genius needs rest. Frank Zappa, one of the most serious musicians in pop music, made his group "Mothers of Invention" world famous. But he does not rest on the laurels of art, but tries to outsmart society by managing his music himself, doing his own advertising, and producing all of the new records himself.

Frank Zappa is with the “Mothers of Invention” at the “International Essen Song Days” at the end of September and at several subsequent concerts in Germany. Rolf Ulrich Kaiser visited him in Hollywood beforehand and asked him about his relationship to politics and society.

IN CONCRETE: Francis Vincent Zappa, you once said: “Our generation will be the most important electorate within the next few years. We want to rule this country. " Do you want to take power?

ZAPPA: Of course young people should take power, but they should also prepare for it. I believe that bloody street riots lead nowhere, especially not in the United States, where they are carefully prepared for any kind of riot. You have no chance in street fighting with the police or the army. And just burning down a few houses doesn't help to fix things.

IN CONCRETE: What helps?

ZAPPA: We have to get into the old people's positions and do their job. I think I can say that the things that could have been changed have not yet been changed. But one day they will be changed. The majority of the people will then decide. In the United States so far only people of an age and a class that are absolutely unrepresentative of the mass of the people have done so.

IN CONCRETE: Are the mothers an approach to take power?

ZAPPA: We would like to help people start thinking politically. Most young Americans don't think politically. They have so much free time and all they want to do with it is have a good time. If we could get them to think about the problems they are facing, maybe that would be something. It wouldn't work miracles, but at least it's better than nothing.

IN CONCRETE: So a secret revolution ...

ZAPPA: I think so. the revolution should not be hidden. I see no mistake in telling people that the only thing you should do is do the right thing. And when you see someone making a mistake, you have to correct the mistake. That goes for governments too.

IN CONCRETE: What was your experience with American radio and television?

ZAPPA: American radio generally refuses to broadcast our records. There are only a few stations that our records play, and then only very short roles. They only bring the songs they think are safe, which are pretty meaningless, which don't upset or upset people, or spread political ideas. And it's almost the same with television. We very rarely appear on TV.

CONCRETE: Why?

ZAPPA: I should tell you something about the structure of our radio and television stations: First of all, most of the stations in the USA belong to right-wing business people who do not think liberally at all. They don't like new ideas or ideas. that clash with their point of view. And they do everything on purpose. to keep the public from doing so.

IN CONCRETE: Even if everything is apolitical?

ZAPPA: Even then. No matter what - they're trying to keep it out of the way, they'd like to have everything under their control. And when we sing about a man in town hall in brown shoes who tried to get into bed with his thirteen-year-old, chocolate-smeared daughter, and when this man is responsible for laws governing the social behavior of other people and when we describe these situations, they definitely don't want to broadcast that on the radio. And when we then make a song about the dating practices of young runners, about young girls' relationships, if we speak of this relationship in a non-everyday way, then they don't want it to be heard.

IN CONCRETE: Why do you sing so much about sexual frustration with the mothers?

ZAPPA: Because I believe. that this is the root of the evil from which the United States is sick. You know, I think frustration and greed are the two main problems. Sex has been replaced by violence in American films, and every time someone is shot, beaten, mutilated, or tortured, I could well imagine that these people would probably sleep with a girl under different circumstances, if that were the censors allowed. But the violence is acceptable. But if you take off your clothes or if it comes to some kind of sexual problem in American films, then it is always seen as something disgusting, a kind of burlesque striptease excitement.

IN CONCRETE: Has your MGM record company censored you?

ZAPPA: Yes, from time to time. They removed certain lines from the songs without asking me first. One of the lines they took out was, "I remember Mama in her apron feeding all the boys and girls in Ed's Cafe." I don't know what they found dirty about it. But they took it out.

IN CONCRETE: Did you try to change the sound of the band so that the words were more difficult to understand?

ZAPPA: Yes. You made the recordings incomprehensible.

IN CONCRETE: Couldn't you do anything about it?

ZAPPA: No, because once you have the finished tape, it's out of my hands. Then they process it and make the plate out of it. And before that, of course, they can still manipulate.

IN CONCRETE: Finally. Francis Vincent Zappa, what world would you like to live in?

ZAPPA: I would like a society without a government. I think that would be ideal, but no one will be ready for it in the next 500 years. In the meantime, we should make the most of this society, which is based on a democratic form of government based on the will of the people.

IN CONCRETE: But you have a democracy, at least a formal one.

ZAPPA: That's a joke. Because the people who administer our democracy have lost touch with the people. You don't have the wisdom to give people what they need, much less what they sometimes want. The greatest influence is also felt by those who are not in government and yet know how to change things for their own benefit. We call this “lobby” in the USA, where people are only concerned with their own interests and not with those of the people. That should finally be abolished. We finally need a functioning government, not as huge, unproductive and dishonest as ours.

CONCRETE: By the way, do you want to be an anarchist?

ZAPPA: Yes, at home, in my free time, in my secret thoughts, yes. But I'm also practical, and I know it wouldn't work. Anarchy cannot work if the people are not fully cultivated and civilized. But many are still starving. If they are not starving for food, it is for some emotional help that they are not getting. You have to deal with a very unpleasant, unjust society by simply saying, "Here, you all have your freedom, you can do what you want, there will be no more government." You can't because people don't know what to do. They would eat each other alive, like animals.

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