Zappa's Own Words, 20 Years Ago

Jan 9, 2003 12:00 PM, Dan Forte

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Zappa's Own Words, 20 Years Ago...
The following is an excerpt from a Mix interview with Frank Zappa originally 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, but when you transfer it to an analog medium you get a whole different sound.
You do get different stuff...But if you're going to plan for the future, I think ultimately records are going to be released on compact discs, little laser discs...I'll compensate to get it on a piece of vinyl and still have the right thing digitally.

ON WRITING ORCHESTRAL MUSIC:
How different are the creative processes for writing an orchestral piece as opposed to a tune for the band?
Six of one, half dozen of the other. some are so simple, you just hum them to everybody. Of course, for an orchestrated piece you don't have time to hum it to a hundred guys - and besides, they won't remember it anyway.

They're all composed different ways. I'll sketch some things out while I'm waiting in an airport, and come back from a tour with a briefcase full of sketches. they lyrics to "Dumb All Over" were written on a Lufthansa flight coming back from Europe. the march at the end of "Sad Jane" is an orchestral setting of the transcription of a guitar solo from the Shrine Auditorium in 1968, transcribed by Ian Underwood.


ON GETTING HIS PRIORITIES STRAIGHT:
You're one of the few artists who absorbs virtually all of the production costs for all of your projects, rather than being subsidized by a label or someone.
Well, it's for a worthy cause. It's for entertainment of a special type. Nobody else is going to invest in it, because they're too f---ing stupid and scared. Now, if I've got money to invest in something, would it be fun for me to invest in a goddamn condo someplace, like these other assholes do? I don't want to own a condo; I don't want to be a partner in a shopping center. If I make some money, I turn around and put 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've also got a wife with a great sense of humor [laughs]. I think it's a traditional American thing to do. If you have a small business, you invest in the business.

interviewed by Dan Forte






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