#011 Dweezil  Zappa 1994 | The Tapes Archive podcast

#011 Dweezil Zappa 1994 | The Tapes Archive podcast

(upbeat music) – Welcome back to “The
Tapes Archive” podcast, where we release interviews that have never been heard before. Please listen to episode zero zero zero, an introduction for the full backstory about this podcast series. – On this episode, we have the artist who is named after his mother’s oddly curled pinky toe, Dweezil Zappa. At the time of this interview in 1994, Zappa was 24 years old, and out on tour with his brother Ahmet,
promoting their band, Z. In the interview, Dweezil
talks about his dad, Frank, and what the phrase “thespian
penitentiary” means to him. He also goes into great detail about his favorite Baywatch
episode of all time, featuring Mitch, and he also reminds us why Vanilla Ice’s movie “Cool as Ice” is one of the best worst movies ever. – Oh yeah, Cat. Words of wisdom. Drop that zero and give it to hero. – Excuse me? – On a side note, this episode is part one of our Zappa archive. Next week, in our season finale, we will have part two, with the iconic Frank Zappa from 1991. As always, we have music
critic Marc Allan at the helm, conducting the interview. Before we get to the interview, we have a couple of housekeeping items. If you would like to support the show, please go over to the website
at thetapesarchive.com, and click on the support button. On there, you’ll find many
ways to show your support for the show, and all of them are free. While on the website,
check out Marc’s blog for more context of this interview, and for some personal
insight from Marc himself. One last thing, “The
Tapes Archive” podcast is a proud member of the
Osiris Podcast Network, a global community
connecting passionate fans with podcasts and
experiences about artists and topics you love. Thanks for tuning in, and now
it’s time to open the vault. (phone ringing) DZ: Hello? Q: Trying to reach Dweezil. DZ: Yes? Q: Is this Dweezil? DZ: Mm-hmm. Q: Oh good. Hi, this is Marc Allan. DZ: How you doin’, man? Q: Good, how are you? DZ: I’m doin’ okay. Q: Kenmore Square Howard Johnson’s, huh? DZ: The beauty of it all. Q: Yeah, you’re living the high life. DZ: We really, really are. Q: Yeah (laughter). I bet you’re happy
that you’re out on the road now, huh? DZ: Oh yeah, nothing more
exciting than a Howard Johnson’s. Q: Yeah, and… DZ: It’s the kind of thing that, generally
we don’t even care, as long as the room
is clean, we’ll stay there, you know? Q: Mm-hmm. And is it clean? DZ: Hmm, not particularly. Q: No (laughter). DZ: This is not our
favorite one on the tour. I mean, we were staying at a
very nice hotel in New York, and this is a far cry
from where we just were, but we didn’t plan on really
being in the rooms too much. Q: I guess want to start
off by saying condolences about your dad. He was one of my heroes,
and I was very sorry to see him go. DZ: Yes, but better off that way than it
was the other way. But thank you. – Yeah. Q: Was he very sick? DZ: I’d say yes. Q: Well obviously, but I mean,
instead of taking direction that Z has, did you, being
the sons of a famous person, did you consider doing a
Wilson Phillips kinda thing? DZ: Well there’s no chance of that Wilson
Phillips happening, you know what I mean?
They pretty much had that ground covered,
you know, so maybe we’ll join Nelson as
well, and then (laughter) could exist. Q: Nelson, huh? DZ: Nelson could also be
probably just what the world needs right now. Q: Uh-huh, yeah, I forgot
about Nelson, you could’ve done a Nelson thing too. DZ: Yeah, it would be fantastic. I think we should all form a band, it would really be exciting. Q: The children of famous people? DZ: Oh, yeah. Don’t you think? I think people would just love that. Q: That would be good. Were you were in pictures in
Rolling Stone a while back with Donovan’s kid and people like that? DZ: No, no, no. Q: You weren’t in that, okay. I just remember that
spread, but I don’t remember who was in it, other than Donovan’s son. Any who… DZ: I try not to really get
lumped into that rock stars’ children thing that they do so frequently. Q: Yeah, so you won’t
be on like Sally Jessy or anything like that? DZ: No, no, I don’t believe
I will, unless it’s for something else, you know,
because Sally Jessy, see I don’t like Sally
Jessy as much now that she’s gone to a major network, she
used to be better when she was on the independent station. Q: Why do you think that is? DZ: Well, you know, I
think they go for the more mainstream stuff now. They used to get the real
twisted stuff on her show before. And she’s just getting too comfortable, you know what I mean? Q: Yeah. DZ: Too complacent, I don’t
like her as much anymore. Q: All right, well actually
the children of rock stars sounds more like a Vicki
Lawrence type thing, so maybe that would work. DZ: Or Bertice Berry. Q: I haven’t seen that
show, so I don’t know. DZ: Well it’s painful, so don’t worry. (laughter) Q: Well what has been
the reaction to Z so far? DZ: Gee, I believe it’s been
phenomenal, savory, you know, people just have been waiting
for down home country music like this, and it’s just
blowing their minds. Q: (laughter) Now, well that
duets thing that you did with the soul performers,
that’s really lovely. DZ: That was a surprise to
me that I did that, I did not know I did that until just the other day. Q: But have you been out
on the road for a while? DZ: Well, we just started this
tour, we did Conan O’Brien in New York the other day,
and now we’re doing Boston. We were trying to figure out
if going to be snowed in today, but it doesn’t look like it. We’re gonna do the show,
and then we’re gonna go back to New York, play New
York tomorrow, New Jersey, then Washington, Baltimore,
all that kind of stuff, until we make it down
towards Indianapolis. Q: And then you’ll really feel fortunate. DZ: Oh, yeah, that’s when
we’ll really feel like we’ve truly hit the big time. Q: So tonight’s actually
the first night of the tour? DZ: Tonight would be the first gig, yeah. Q: First gig, yeah, wow. And is this your first tour? DZ: No, it’s not
necessarily our first tour, I think it’s the first tour
that we’ve done under the name Z playing here in America. We played over the summer in Europe. We’ve played before, we just
don’t go out that often. Q: Because you end up in Howard
Johnsons that aren’t clean? DZ: Well, yeah, you know,
that and it’s the kinda thing that we enjoy playing and all
that stuff, but there’s a lot of hassles that go along
with it that we’ve been known to avoid. Q: Do you think this will be
a touring band for a while? Will you go out on the
road or can you do it– DZ: I would think that
we’ll probably end up doing a lot more touring than we expected to do. Q: Tell me about your take
on this whole business, because it seems to me, having
watched you over the years, that you seem to have a
completely good natured attitude toward things>You seem to
have the same sort of contempt that your dad did, but while
he always seemed like he was trying to hold back
the tide, you seem to be riding the wave with a big smile. DZ: Well, in my opinion,
there’s not much use for being negative 24 hours a day. I mean, I can spend a few
minutes of my day being negative, but ultimately I like to enjoy
things more than I like to promote my disdain for things,
and I think I used to be a little bit more on edge about
things, and used to complain about them more than I do now. Now I can’t really be bothered. Priorities have completely
changed in my life. But the thing is, in this
industry there’s too many people that take themselves too
fucking seriously, it’s like I don’t understand it, because
music is far more for the purpose of entertainment than
it is for art these days. There’s no bands out there
who are making art, you know? It’s like, if they’re making
money, then they should be so lucky, and they should shut up, basically, is my opinion. If you’re making money, you
have no right to complain. Q: Do you think there
was a time when this was an art related business? DZ: I think there was a time
when there was stuff that hadn’t been done before, and
it could’ve been perceived more of a creative, perhaps,
even art form, but I think those days have long since been over. Certainly with the advent
of people watching music instead of listening to music. Q: When would you say it ended? What was the last original stuff? DZ: I’m not sure, hold on. Hello? This is why I love when people just… Yes? They just walk into
your room for no reason. Q: Well, everybody has
a key to that hotel. DZ: I know, it’s a beauty. But I don’t know, I would
think that sometime in the 80s when it really became a
corporate situation that everything took a big nosedive. There’s always been problems
plaguing the industry, of course, but I just think
that the whole spark of music has gone out. Q: So when you look at that
stuff like Pearl Jam and Nirvana and the tortured Eddie Vedder
soul, and the horrible Kurt Cobain life, do you just laugh? DZ: Yeah I laugh, because they’re
making millions of dollars. It’s like,
so what if you want to live your life looking more like a derelict, fine, but quit your complaining when
you’re doing what you want to do and you’re making a ton of money. I just think that’s retarded. Q: Does country music have a better idea? DZ: Well, country music is
also something that has been completely destroyed by
corporate everything. I mean country music is beer
music, but there’s the sappy love tunes, too, that are
horrifying, but I can appreciate certain kinds of country
music, I mean there’s certain guitar players who are phenomenal. You know Ricky Skaggs is
an amazing guitar player. I’m not 100% into everything
that he does, but I can certainly appreciate his talent. Q: Actually, I meant the
country music mentality, that, it seems to me that country
music is a little bit more fan friendly, actually a
lot more friendly to fans, and the artists do a lot less complaining. DZ: Well yeah, you know what
it really is, is most of those people who play can actually play. They can actually play,
they can actually sing, and they’re not actually
doing something that is of remarkable musicianship, for
the most part, but they’re doing something that has got
a tune, and they do it well. And they’re happy to be
doing what they’re doing, they’re not sitting there
going, “God, the world is the worst place in the world.” And they generally have a
positive outlook, so I think perhaps that’s why for country
music and all that, people who like it, tend to feel
like everything’s pretty good. And then there’s the people
who like to hear just the really noisy non-musical, just
mess of what is considered cool in the 90s, and I just don’t get it. Q: What would you like people
to know about Shampoo Horn? My take on it is, I was
very pleasantly surprised. I thought it was a really terrific record. DZ: It’s like techno
country gospel, really. (laughter) Is what we’re really trying to do with it. The main thing about the
band is we take what we do seriously, we just don’t
take ourselves seriously. We have fun, we tried to
make a record that was good for repeat listening value. It had several different
styles of music on it, some people would say that’s
unfocused, but our take on that is for Christ’s sake,
God forbid you should give somebody a choice, you know? It’s basically a rock
record, with lots of guitars and some funny vocals, some funny lyrics, this is different things, I
think it’s an overall package that people can enjoy. Q: I found it very entertaining,
unfortunately, I guess, of course, it’s hard to
separate you from your father and from his legacy, but I kept thinking, this is the kind of record I
think he’d be pretty proud of. DZ: Yeah, he liked it, he
liked it a lot, he heard this record several times, because
it’s been done for a while. We had some trouble putting
it out here in America because we changed our distributor on
the record company, so we were sort of held up in some
red tape kinda situation for a lengthy period of time. Q: So Barking Pumpkin is not
the, I’ve read things and heard things that Barking Pumpkin
sort of took him out of having to deal with a lot of the
corporate nonsense, but I guess– DZ: Well, what you have to
do is you still have to be distributed by a major
distributor or your record won’t be in the store. The key to having people buy
your record is having it be in the store, and with all
the corruption that exists, there’s fewer and fewer
chances for independent labels to continue to even survive,
unless they have some sort of decent distribution, and
you have to be able to continually be able to
find alternative measures to make people aware of your product. We’re not generally played
a whole lot on radio or on MTV or any of that,
but in all actuality, there’s no fucking reason why we
shouldn’t be, you know? It’s just MTV, and the radio,
and all that is just so subjective, it’s all based
on leverage, who you know, blah blah blah, all that
stuff, how much money you’re willing to spend for advertising. It’s really quite ugly. Q: So if people knew how
music got into their hands these days, they’d be
disgusted, wouldn’t they? DZ: More than likely, yeah,
but the whole thing is anything can be popular
if you play it enough. It’s been proven time and time again. Nothing’s based on talent
anymore, it’s not based on whether anything’s good
or bad or anything, it’s more than likely people
decide to push one thing or another based on what it
looks like to people, not what it sounds like. Q: So are we gonna see
you on MTV, do you think? DZ: One would hope, but
I really don’t know. It’s not, if any of it
were up to me, then I’d say yeah you’ll see me on there,
but it’s not up to me, it’s up to a select group
of people who get everything for free and just decide
because, they got invited to this really cool party or something,
it’s really quite ugly. Q: Have you done videos? Are there videos ready for this? DZ: We did a few videos, we
did one for “In My Mind,” “Loser,” and “Mommy.” I’ll end up making a long
form video one of these days that will be kinda like a
movie in a way, just because we have lots of home video
stuff where we goof off, and we make little movies,
and we’ve got videos, we’ve got the making of the record,
we’ve got all kinds of stuff, so when I ultimately
make one of these things, it’ll be pretty funny. Q: Tell me about being a voice on Duckman. DZ: Well, I haven’t seen
how it turned out yet, but I had a good time doing
it, I think it’s gonna be really funny. The little bits of the
artwork that I’ve seen, they pay careful attention
to detail, and it’s sort of a skewed perspective kind of
thing, so it looks different, and I think that for people
who wrote it and the people who did the voices are all
talented, so it has every chance or it should, at least, have
every chance of being a very well-liked show. Q: And what happened to
the Normal Life sitcom? DZ: Well, that’s an entirely
different situation all together, there was another form of
just a complete nightmare. Do the words thespian
penitentiary mean anything to you? (laughter) Q: I’ve never heard them
used together, but– DZ: Let me put it to you this
way, we were meant to do a show that was something along the
lines of the Adams Family, but the network decided at
the last minute to make us do something along the
lines of Charles in Charge. We were not very fond of
that notion, but yet we were bound to this contract, and
we just rode it out like a really bad fucking ride
in an amusement park. And when it was time to promote
the thing, we pretty much told people that, because
we had such a miserable time doing it, we hated the writers,
we hated the producers, we didn’t like the
network, and it was like these people were just
torturing us, basically. We asked them, why did we
have to be part of this? Why didn’t they just recast people? But they just forced us to
participate in this thing, and we said, “Okay, when you
want us to promote it…” Q: That would be something if it was the worst show ever made. DZ: Well unfortunately, it really wasn’t the worst show ever made. (laughter) So we didn’t even have that
to aspire to at that point, it was just like somewhere in
between, and that’s like about the worst thing you can deal with. It’s like it’s not good, but
it’s not the worst, it’s just devoid of anything, but it’s
just shocking, you see things like fucking “Saved By the
Bell: The College Years,” and you’re wondering how people
watch that and think it’s really good, and yet it’s
one of the most popular shows in the world. And Baywatch, for Christ’s sakes. My favorite plausible episode
was the one where the fine David Hasselhoff character, who
I believe his name is Mitch, let’s just call him Mitch. Mitch is trying to save two
of his lifeguards from a serial killer who has them in
a tower, and he’s threatening to kill them, and of course
the FBI and SWAT teams are on the beach, but Mitch refuses
to let them take control. He says, “This is my beach.” As if a lifeguard is
going to have jurisdiction over the FBI. So that’s the first thing
that you’re having trouble believing, but then it all
becomes possible when he does this, he decides to get a
grid map of the sewage system underneath the beach, and he
knows somehow where all the lifeguard stations are above ground. So he is under the sand, and
decides to cut through a big pipe, and swim through the
sand, like a gopher would, under the ground, over to this
fucking lifeguard station. They actually had him
burrowing underground, they made this trail, it
looked like a gopher trail. And he had a little can
of air, just a little can, not like a scuba gear,
just a little can of air, some fins and this like periscope thing. Q: You make it sound so silly. DZ: I know, because it was
really well done on the show. (laughter) But I’m just shocked and amazed
that no one balked at that, they’re like, “Yeah,
okay, that could happen.” Q: Now somebody would
ask, and I will ask you, why did you watch it? DZ: Because I was fascinated. I mean, I’m more excited
by bad television and bad entertainment than I am by
what’s meant to be good. I would race out to see several bad movies before I would race to see
anything that was highly acclaimed or was meant
to win an Academy Award. Q: So give me some other
must see bad entertainment of any kind, not just movies. DZ: Did you see “Cool as Ice?” Q: No I never–. -Vanilla Ice’s movie? DZ: I actually own a copy. That’s how good this movie is. Now picture a place that
you’re meant to believe exists where you have the mountains,
the beach, and the desert within about a five-minute
ride on a motorcycle. Geographically, I’m
not sure where that is. (laughter) I think it’s meant to be in
America, but I’m just not sure. Then with dialog where,
here’s a situation that got so out of control, here’s a
guy who became a superstar for no apparent reason, and
they said yeah, let’s really cash in on this, and we’ll
even let him improv a couple of lines in the movie. And the best being, “Lose
the zero, get with the hero.” (laughter) And that’s pretty much the
way I live my life now. Q: That’s good. DZ: You gotta see that, let’s see. Probably one of the best
terrible movies that was ever made was made a long time
ago, and they always play it around Oscar time, I’m sure
you’ve probably seen it, it’s called “The Oscar.” Q: No, I can’t say I have. DZ: Tony Bennett, in his finest
performance, his acting debut. He’s basically the best
friend of this guy who his character’s name is Franky
Fame, and he is so over the top, this guy, not Tony, well
Tony’s over the top too, but this one guy, I’ve forgotten
his name for the moment, but he should be recognized
as the finest Hollywood actor of all time. This guy is so scary in this movie. But basically he wants an
Oscar so bad that he’s willing to kill for one. But in this movie, Tony Bennett,
he gets kicked out of his best friend’s house or something,
and he spends the night in an alley, and the next
time you see him, he’s going, “And I was lying there Franky, twitching. Twitching just like a spastic, Franky.” Okay, Tony. With that as your debut,
you’re pretty darn excited. (laughter) Q: I gotta find that, that’s on video? DZ: Yeah, you’ll easily be
able to find that on video, it’s called The Oscar,
you’ll want to see that, and especially the part in the movie where Jill St. John does the cat dance. Q: Okay. DZ: That’s probably the
finest family entertainment you can get. The movie is all around just spectacular. And they run it on
Turner Broadcasting like, Oscar night, usually. Come Oscar night, you’ll
probably be able to find it on TV, once or twice, just
check your local listings, I’m sure it’ll be there. Q: Let me see what else
I wanted to ask you. A question or two about
your dad, if you don’t mind. I’ve read a lot of things about
what you’ve said about him and all, but I’m wondering,
I’m sure creatively it must’ve been wonderful to grow up
around somebody like that, but it is also a little
intimidating because he was just so amazing? DZ: It was intimidating
sometimes to speak with him, because you felt like if
you weren’t talking about something that had some
sort of importance in some fashion that you were wasting his time. (laughter) Because he was one of
those people who had such a remarkable ability to store
information, that he was just a walking encyclopedia. And you really had to be on
your toes to talk to him. You didn’t want to just talk
to him, unless it was something goofy and was guaranteed
for a laugh, then you wanted to basically learn something
every time you talked to him. And he was great for that. Q: I interviewed him once,
and he said that basically all the guitar stuff that
he did just was stuff that came out of his head,
he couldn’t really re-create it so much as, he just heard
the sounds and he could play it, then teach himself
to play it on the guitar. Could you learn from him? I’ve read that you said that
Eddie Van Halen inspire you, but did you learn guitar from him? DZ: I’ve played with him on
several occasions, on stage, and just sitting around, and
certainly you could learn from him, but the thing is
he had such a unique style that was so completely
awkward in terms of the style of guitar played that sort of
evolved in the last 15 years, with a lot of people
achieving a certain amount of technique, his was a technique
that only he could really do, and that’s what made him
so peculiar, and he had a very strange picking style,
and he had weird fingerings for stuff, so you really
had to watch and listen, as opposed to some people you
can hear what they’re doing and you can play it, pick it
out pretty easily, him you would have to see how he did
it to make it make any sense, because it’s just unique to
him, and that’s what’s so cool about all of his music,
was it was unique to him. And there’s few people who
have that ability with their music, to make their music unique to them. A lot of people can write
a song, and then anybody can play it and cover
it and can sound good. But if you try to do some of
my dad’s music, unless you play it the way he intended,
it does not sound right. Q: And as far as the songs that he wrote,
“Black Napkins” was always my favorite. DZ: Yeah, I liked that one too. Q: Yeah, was there anything else that you always really admired? DZ: My favorite song when I
was little was “Peaches En Regalia,” whenever they
played that, I always think that, one of the greatest
melodies, it’s just really an excellent piece of
music, and we play that when we play live. Q: Oh really? Okay, so you’ll do that here? Well, you play it live, yeah. DZ: We play several other
songs, we play “Dirty Love,” and “Eat That Question,” and we
play a few little things. DZ: I appreciate all your
time, I’m looking forward to seeing the show.

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