From Rolling Stone, November 6th, 1986:
   
FRANK TALK

   
   
   Zappa speaks out on CDs, the PMRC, his son Dweezil and other modern
   topics
   
   by David Fricke
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   Frank Zappa has been unusually ubiquitous of late. The controversial
   singer, guitarist and composer hasn't toured in two years, and his
   last hit was 1982's "Valley Girl," his "gag me with a spoon" duet with
   teenage daughter Moon Unit. But his acid wit and familiar Dutch
   Masters goatee and mustache have been much in evidence over the past
   year and a half - on radio and television, in print and, most
   dramatically, in federal and state congressional hearings, where he
   has pressed his counter-offensive against the PMRC drive for pop-music
   censorship.
   
   Somehow, Zappa, who's forty-five, has also found time to oversee the
   burgeoning careers of his offspring (the latest to acheive success is
   his son Dweezil, who has a part-time job as a VJ on MTV and has just
   released his first LP). And he's continued to write and record new
   music at an astonishingly prolific rate. Night School, his upcoming
   album, was performed entirely on a Synclavier computer synthesizer.
   Three albums of his classical pieces are also in the works, along with
   a fourth alvum, London Symphony Orchestra Volume II, which will
   consist of previously unreleased material from the recording sessions
   for his 1983 collection of original compositions performed by the LSO.
   
   
   For many Zappa fans, however, the big news is the recent release of
   ten titles from the Zappa catalog, including vintage Mothers of
   Invention albums, on eight compact discs. The albums range from the
   1967 classics We're Only In It For The Money and Lumpy Gravy to such
   recordings as the 1972 big-band record The Grand Wazoo, Zappa's 1984
   Off-Off-Off-Broadway-style opera, Thing-Fish, and the 1986 Frank Zappa
   Meets The Mothers Of Prevention. The CDs were issued by Rykodisc, a
   Massachusetts-based firm whose agreement with Zappa calls for the
   release on CD of two dozen Zappa albums over the next three years.
   
   Prerelease response to the first set of Zappa CDs has been
   extraordinary; according to Rykodisc, initial orders quadrupled in two
   months. "I always believed there was truly a market for this
   material," Zappa says bluntly. "I think sales figures will bear that
   out."
   
   David Fricke
   Your album catalog totals over fifty titles. How did you and Rykodisc
   decide which LPs to reissue on CD?
   
   Frank Zappa:
   There was actually quite a bit of arguing about what this initial
   release would consist of, because Don [Don Rose, president of
   Rykodisc] was adamant about certain albums being a part of it, like
   The Grand Wazoo. He wanted something from each of the eras, kind of a
   retrospective exhibition.
   
   What I pitched him on was releasing material that was digital in
   origin or archival stuff that had never been released. The problem
   with CDs now, as I see it, is that people on the manufacturing end
   don't want to take a chance on brand-new digital product. Most CDs are
   repackages of old stuff. I'm happy that those old albums are available
   in digitized form for those people who want to hear them minus the
   scratches. But it's difficult to get interest in digital projects that
   start from scratch. And until you have things that are digital all the
   way through, the true possibilities of sound on CD won't come out.
   Most of the people who have CDs now are listening to analog material
   that has been digitized. The interesting part about this Rykodisc
   package is that there are a few selections in there that are
   completely digital, right from the original recordings. That includes
   London Symphony Orchestra, Them Or Us and Thing-Fish.
   
   David Fricke
   What kind of digital repair did you do to master tapes of the older
   records? We're Only In It For The Money, for example, has new digital
   bass and drum tracks.
   
   Frank Zappa:
   The original two-track masters - they're almost twenty years old now -
   didn't survive the storage at MGM. They were stored so badly that the
   oxide had flaked off the tape. You couldn't listen to it anymore. So
   the thing had to be remixed. I had to go back and find all the
   original elements. You listen to We're Only In It For The Money and
   go, "My God, there's a million edits in this thing." And they all had
   to be redone.
   
   David Fricke
   The London Symphony Orchestra CD includes a previously unreleased
   twenty-five-minute composition called "Bogus Pomp." Is it from the
   original sessions?
   
   Frank Zappa:
   Yeah. "Bogus Pomp" is like a symphonic suite of themes from 200
   Motels. It's also a parody. There's a whole story that goes along with
   it. I should have stuck it in the liner notes, but I was too lazy to
   type it up.
   
   David Fricke
   Do you have other unreleased material you plan to issue on CD?
   
   Frank Zappa:
   What's coming out in the next release is a double CD called You Can't
   Do That On Stage Anymore that takes live performances going back as
   far as 1968. The basic idea of that album is that today in live
   performance there are very few bands that are actually playing
   anything. They go onstage with a freeze-dried show, and in many cases
   at least fifty percent of the show is coming out of a sequencer or is
   lip-synced. Audiences have missed out on the golden age, when people
   went onstage and took a chance, which was probably the main forte of
   the bands that I had.
   
   One of the great recordings on that CD is from London in 1978. We were
   playing a matinee, doing "St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast" and "Don't
   Eat The Yellow Snow," and there was this guy in the audience,
   completely out of his mind, who wanted to recite poetry. He came up to
   the stage and kept interrupting the songs. So we worked him into the
   set, and the result is very strange - mass-audience poetry reading.
   
   David Fricke
   You've been very active counterattacking the rock-censorship drive
   over the past year and a half. Are you still sending out packages of
   information and press clippings from your Barking Pumpkin Records
   office?
   
   Frank Zappa:
   I've spent up to $70,000 of my own money that I've put into a
   combination of my travel, preinting costs and phone bills just to keep
   pressure on the other side. I've done maybe 300 talk shows and
   interviews. And those Z-pacs are still going out the door. I will
   continue to do it as long as people call up. [Call 818-PUM-PKIN for
   information on how to get one.]
   
   David Fricke
   How do you feel about your son Dweezil's success as an MTV VJ?
   
   Frank Zappa:
   If his fan mail is any indication, they got the right guy for the job.
   The thing that's cool about Dweezil is he's just turned seventeen. He
   IS a kid. He's not a guy pretending to be a kid. He's the age of the
   audience, and he's a genuine music fan. He knows something about the
   groups he's putting on. And he also knows them as individuals. The
   little stories he tells don't come off like showbiz stories. I'd like
   to see him do some specials.
   
   Actually, Ahmet [Zappa's youngest son] auditioned for a television
   series yesterday, to play a character named Stinky in a Showtime
   sitcom. He's twelve years old, and he's not afraid to say anything to
   anybody. He was reading in this room for the producers, and there were
   these howls of laughter. Ahmet came out, and my wife asked what
   happened. "well," he said, "they liked me. They said they were going
   to bring me back to read again. I told them, 'I hope to God it's not
   written by the guy who wrote this crap.'"
   
   
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   %%%%%%%%%%%%% Transcribed By Evil Bob 3.31.95 %%%%%%%%%%%%%
   
   evilbob@tbag.tscs.com
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