Monday, May 28, 2018

A Rendezvous with the Grand Wazoo

Concert Magazine

John David Kalodner interviews Frank Zappa, October 1973

HOW DO THE IDEAS COME ABOUT FOR YOUR SONGS – DO THEY ALWAYS COME AS A LYRIC IDEA FIRST?

Not always. A lot of the time I write a complex melody, and then later, as much as two years in some cases, I sit down and say ''Can I write lyrics to this?"

CAN YOU WRITE SONGS ON DEMAND?

Yes, I can. Actually, that is the way I have to do it. If I know I have a job to do, like getting the songs ready to cut an album, I go out and do it.

WILL YOU WRITE A HIT?

It all depends on what you call a hit... Writing one and producing the song that gets on the AM radio are two different things.

YOUR PRODUCTIONS ARE SOME OF THE BEST AROUND. WHAT WOULD BE THE PROBLEM?

I'm not saying that I couldn't produce it; I'm saying that a record with my name on it as artist or producer, instead of just writing for someone else, wouldn't get on the AM radio.

IS THAT BECAUSE PEOPLE IN AM RADIO DON'T LIKE YOUR IMAGE?

That's correct.

YOU THINK THAT STILL EXISTS TODAY?

It's dwindling, but it is still there.

AT ONE TIME MOST RADIO PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY IN AM, WERE VIOLENTLY OPPOSED TO WHAT YOU WERE DOING, CORRECT?

Yes, violent would be the word.

DID YOU ENCOUNTER IT PERSONALLY?

Well, I never hung around with radio people, and let them heap abuse on me, but it is obvious now that when I go to an AM station the response is very weird. They really even hate to shake hands with me. There is nothing worse than a fake "AM handshake''. You know, from those guys with the peace medallions around their necks in 1974.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE AM RADIO TOP 40 FORMAT STILL HAS SUCH POWER?

They have power because, that's the business, that's the way it is.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS LISTENING TO THEM?

Millions of people, millions of people without FM radios. Now if they had FM radios all they would hear was an FM version of what the AM stations are doing. People who want pure entertainment!

INSTEAD OF?

They don't want anything but entertainment. They don't even consider the ''instead of''. They want entertainment "no hassles, get me off!''. I feel that the younger kids coming up now are in better shape than their older brothers and sisters.

WHY?

Because their older brothers and sisters were on the frontier of a new discovery, and there were a lot of casualties along the way, most was a result of the use of psychedelic drugs. The young ones today may be obliterated on downs, but there is still hope for them. I would not be so optimistic about some of their older brothers and sisters. Read the entire interview

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