Interview with Scott Brazieal circa July 1995
by Peter Thelen
Editor's note: It's mid-1995 and keyboardist/composer Brazieal (ex of Cartoon and PFS) had just
returned from a trip to Europe touring with the 5UU's. This interview was intended to be quoted within a larger feature piece on Cartoon and PFS that ended up taking us seven years to complete, and in the end was very different than we originally envisioned it. The feature (which appeared in issue #22) ended up concentrating strictly on the music, and as a companion piece we ran a current interview with Scott's bandmate, drummer/percussionist Gary Parra. As a result, none of this interview with Brazieal was ever used in part or whole. Here it appears exactly as transcribed, warts and all. While it is 7 years old and certinly not current, it does offer another perspective and is a working snapshot of his activities at that point in time.
What’s the status of PFS right now?
We’re kind of on hold. Gary’s getting ready to move from san Francisco, and I’m living up in Portland and I’m working with Fred Chalner, he used to play with the Tone Dogs, and plays with Pigpen, Caveman Shoestore, and some other groups. They played at MIMI, that’s the big festival in France. I just don’t know what’s going to happen with PFS, we played together for so long, I’ve played with Gary since 1978, and I’ve played with Herb since ’81, and that’s a long time to play with people, so I could see us going different ways then coming back together, so it’s really entirely possible we’ll do something else. And then again maybe not. Right now it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards – we’re all going different ways. gary’s got his projects he’s working on [Trap, etc.], he’s hired musicians and I actually got to play on some of it. Herb’s looking around, I think he’ll probably land somewhere too, and I’m doing my own thing...
Do you have any material written?
Yeah, we have a little bit – I’m trying to think; the last show we played was when we opened for Richard Sinclair when he came to the city with Caravan of Dreams, and we played two new songs – I think we had two new songs at that point. We also, interestingly enough, did a cover of King Crimson’s “Starless”, with no guitar! (laughs) And actually people liked it a lot. I had to sing it, though, so I didn’t like it so much. I’m... nobody [in the band] can sing...
You guys don’t normally sing?
No.. uh-uh. So I had to sing this part and I was extremely uncomfortable. But the show was good and we played two new songs, so I know we have those, and we could very easily come up with more stuff. I just don’t know if it’ll happen.
You did something with the 5UUs?
Yeah, I was really excited to do the last 5UUs [tour], their music is really good and they’re all REALLY good musicians, in some ways maybe the best musicians I’ve ever played with.
[incidentally, Mike Johnson played guitar on that tour also, Jean-Luc covered the Grenoble show in Exposé]
So you’ve recorded some material with them?
I’ve recorded five or six for the new 5UUs which will be released probably later this year, Sanjay will do the other half; and yeah, we’ll see what happens – when Bob [Drake] is mixing, you never know. Some of it may end up on the floor, I just really don’t know. Sanjay is one of my favorite keyboardists in all of rock music, I love everything he does, and I love it even more now that I’ve had the experience of learning his parts, so there’s a part of me that says I don’t wanna see Sanjay not play for 5UUs, but at the same time Dave [Kerman] and Bob both live in France and it’s just a matter of Practicality, and he can’t make the tours and they work strictly out of their studio there at Bordebasse which is where they live in the south of France. [Ed: ultimately, Scott only appeared on one track]
This is Chris Cutler’s studio?
Yeah, Chris and Bob and Maggie and Dave. They’re making a studio there, and Bob of course has been recording and producing a lot of stuff for Chris recently. I’m pretty sure the idea is to set it up and get it going there, I think all the recording will be done there. As far as the 5UUs go, that’s where they live and that’s where they work. I know Dave recorded some of his drum tracks in the barn. Sanjay is supposed to be coming over in May to do some stuff. There’s a part of me that says I love working with these guys, but there’s another part of me that wants to see Sanjay doing it. I can’t quite make up my mind. And I think as far as practicality goes, I played these five or six songs live, and I was there, so we got them done – we had a one week break in between shows, and I just spent four days doing it.
So how many gigs did you do altogether?
Somewhere around thirty. We started in Italy, went to Slovenia, which is old Yugoslavia, back into Italy, up into Switzerland, then Grenoble in France, then into Czech Republic and Germany, and Austria – we played in Vienna, Belgium and Holland and probably a couple I forgot. It was great. It was long and hard and exhausting, but it was great.
What kind of preparation did you get?
I had two weeks to learn the music, and I got there, and I probably could have been better prepared, but for whatever reason I just... I knew the songs but hadn’t quite figured and worked stuff out – and a lot of “Hunger’s Teeth” is difficult to piece together...
..I can imagine...
..and so part of my idea was I’ll piece it together there and learn it. So a little bit of it I brought upon myself, but at the same time we were putting in ten hour days – I was learning about three songs a day, and then rehearsing the two or three I’d learned the day before. After two weeks I was set, and we did about fifteen or sixteen songs. It’s tough, but it makes it easy because the music is so great and the chemistry to me was so good, and I’m pretty sure that translated live, because most of the reviews of those shows that I’ve seen pointed that out. And you really get to know people when you travel with them – and so here I am in this van spending every waking moment with essentially three people that I really did not know. We got along great.
So it sounds like you’d like to work with them again.
Yeah, absolutely, I’d do it in a second. And according to Dave, there might be another tour and sanjay might not be able to make it. All I said to him was tell me and I’ll be there.
What were the influences in PFS? Maybe some van Der Graaf?
Maybe for gary, but no, I wouldn’t say van Der Graaf Generator. We really tried very hard – because with cartoon I think the influences were kind of apparent. And so with PFS... (long pause, then laughs all around...) Well, okay, back-up for a minute. With Cartoon, for me at least, it was always classical music, because I grew up playing classical piano – I started when I was five years old. Classical piano was just ingrained in my head, and I listened to it a lot – the music that influenced me, that changed my life – it wasn’t the Beatles, it wasn’t the Rolling Stones, it was Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. I heard that and thought ‘wow, this is really it!’ I listened to rock music, but nothing really affected me like classical music did. So I’d say once we got into cartoon, you have this pretty strong classical influence, and then other bands were coming out like Univers Zero and Art Zoyd and Samla, and of course I would hear that and think ‘hey, this is great’, but I think we kind of fit a little bit into that niche.
Is that what sort of took you into a rock direction?
Well, we were doing it before, but.. our guitar player in Cartoon, whon wasn’t around for PFS, was always into Robert Fripp and Coste [Apetrea] of Samla, so he was into that sort of stuff already; and then Gary – he was into every kind of music. He’d played country western, he played jazz, he played progressive rock, he played rock and roll, blues, whatever – Gary’s played it. So it was a nice mixture of musicians, but I was from more of a classical bent. We always got references to King Crimson, we always got references to Univers Zero, like that. So with PFS what we were trying to do... there were two things we were trying to accomplish. Number one was to be as improvisatory as we could be, and to create in the studio. That was a big important thing with PFS. We would have forms and sketches made out, and we would know how the song shape was to go. Maybe we’d have a melody, maybe we’d have a bass line, and that’s it. We would go in and make stuff up just right there. That was a big part of it, too.
Did you end up throwing a lot of tape away?
Yeah; not a lot, though. There were times when we had three versions of songs, and like sometimes one would really stand out. We kept working that way and then we started to get more composed and focused for 279, it’s like we wanted to be really clear on where we were going, you know, if that’s possible for PFS (laughs), because there’s such a random element in it. Some of it was really composed, like the “War” piece, it was a piece of mine at the conservatory when I was going to school. The very last piece was an orchestration I did of a Schumann piece that had been kind of buried throughout history, I saw it somewhere and played it, and it was gorgeous, and it was supposedly the last thing he wrote when he had already lost his mind, so musicologists just dismiss it. And then there’s stuff on it like “Live Faust, Die Jung”, which was completely improvised. Me, Gary and Herb had not played a note together in six months when we recorded that! We went into the studio, and that’s what came out. It’s kind of like a weird balance, and that’s the perfect way to describe PFS. It was a great band to be in, we always had really good gigs when we played live, we had a fourth member of PFS who just showed visuals, we used to show movies since we didn’t have lyrics. His name was Reed, we were really working with him quite a bit toward the end.
You did the Crimson cover tune. What other covers did you guys do?
We did a Cassiber cover – “Red Shadow”, and I remember for a while we were working on “Help” by The Beatles, but we never performed it. That was the problem in PFS, it was always that vocal thing. None of us could sing worth a damn, and so I was usually ‘elected’ to sing – and it was hard, unless I was screaming or something. The Crimson cover was quite something, doing Fripp’s parts on the piano is like - really strange, and we were a three-piece, so we’re talking about drums, sax and piano doing what was originally done on violin, bass, guitar and drums, it was like almost the furthest thing possible from it, so it was pretty interesting actually.
You played that at the Richard Sinclair show, right. I was just talking to a friend the other night who remembered that “Starless” cover. He assured me it was great!
Yeah, we played with them at... well, I always remember the address of the place, because it was 2779...
Club Commotion, right?
Yeah. Commotion, right. 2779 16th st., and of course 279 is the inversion of PFS, so we were real happy to play there, at Club PFFS (laughs all around). It was a good gig, it really went off well, and we hadn’t played in a while, and that was the last time we played together.
No [rehearsals] since then, even?
No. Sometimes we’d sit down and talk about doing it, but that was it.
Let’s talk a little about Cartoon.
Ah yeah, with cartoon we always have our... Well, Steve [Feigenbaum] has just...
You guys started out in Arizona, right?
Yeah, in Phoenix. Mark, the guitar player, and I went to high school together. We enlisted the help of Gary, who worked at a record store and had played in just about every conceivable type of band there was. We wrote “Apathy in America”, and “Shredded Wheat”, those were both done while we were in high school. And we used to like play it at our high school talent thing or whatever (laughs), and I can’t really remember, but I think we played some parties. We were pretty nutty back then, the other high school kids didn’t know what to think about what me and Mark were doing. I moved to San Francisco to go to school in 1980, and then they moved here, because when I got up here to san Francisco, it was like ‘we can play here’ – which is like totally the opposite of Phoenix. So they both moved up here and we started playing gigs, we played all the time.
But you actually cut the first album in Phoenix, right?
Yeah, we recorded it down there at Synkestra, and still to this day you’ll notice that all Cuneiform releases are pressed in Phoenix, it used to be called Wakefield, now it’s called SAE. It’s where they master everything. But yeah, we moved up there and we played a lot. A lot a lot a lot. We got invited to Europe, we went to Europe, played a few gigs. That’s where we played with Samla, played with Cassiber, played with Camberwell Now, played with John Greaves, Skeleton Crew, and a bunch of other people. Then we had everything stolen. Lost everything. Every bit of equipment was stolen. So, that was that. We never got over that. We came home and we just kind of all limped our own different ways, and that’s how PFS started out.
Just a subset of Cartoon...
Yeah, Mark now lives in Phoenix and has his own band Doctor Bombay, and I think they’re about to be signed or have been signed to Rykodisk or somebody like that. Its more jazz, but at the same time it’s got a nice little thump to it. It’s produced by the guy from the Rippingtons, so I think that’s the direction they’re going. Craig still lives up here [San Francisco], he plays with the Paul Dresher Ensemble, plays in the Berkeley Symphony, and plays with some Kletzmer bands. He’s one of the best violinists I’ve ever heard, working with Craig was always such a pleasure. He was always such a perfectionist, and sometimes I didn’t ubnderstand then why, he would say “no, it’s slightly out of tune”.. he recorded with PFS as well. He’d say “no, let me do that again” and I’d think ‘why?’. And it would be better. He’s such a great musician, I would work with him in a second. Since Steve [Feigenbaum] re-released the Cartoon albums again, we’ve gotten a lot of renewed interest. We’ve gotten some letters...
(long sigh) It’s kind of sad for me, no...
No, I can’t see it. Especially because that was then. I ran into somebody the other day, and this is a good way to explain it – who said “I’ll still never forget that Cartoon gig I saw in 1983”, he still remembers it, because we did have this grandiose way of performing stuff, some of our live shows were really something, and I just can’t see that being recaptured.
A friend of mine saw cartoon for free somewhere, and highly recommended checking you guys out. sadly I never got around to it before you were gone
Yeah, most people around here remember us because we were west coast. It was interesting, I was talking to Dave Kerman, he had this theory that people were always a little prejudiced against west coast bands – more critical, which might be true. All I know is that we played all the time, as much as we could, and whenever there was some sort of progressive event in town, we opened for it. Fred Frith was here, we opened. Allan Holdsworth, we opened. Renaissance, we opened. Jon Anderson and Animation, we opened. So we got to play for a lot of people, and we also got to play for a lot of people who were “progressive fans”, and I think in some cases cartoon was a little much for them, because it was like – to me, how I perceived it at the time was that it was the next step. A little beyond rock. It wasn’t completely gone – it wasn’t Art Bears, or... and I think PFS was the next step beyond Cartoon. Just a little further gone. It makes you wonder what the next thing we’re gonna do will be...(laughs) Completely unrecognizable improvisation (more laughs)
It comes down to the old ‘music for money’ or doing what you need to do to satisfy yourself musically
That’s right. And there’s never been a question in my mind, or in anybody’s mind in Cartoon what the answer to that question is.
I think that back in the early 80’s Cartoon might have been a little ahead of the progressive curve. Today, ten-plus years later, with the Cartoon re-release, I think more people are ready for music like that.
Yeah, absolutely. Which is why it’s an interesting question – could cartoon get back together and tour, because it might be even more successful, but that’s just not what kind of people we are. It would be so unnatural for that to happen, everybody would have to make big sacrafices, and that’s just not how Cartoon worked. Cartoon was a natural thing. We were kids...
...and it seems like it was a lot of fun.
It really was. We used to do covers - talk about a band that did covers – Cartoon did classical covers. We did Stravinsky’s string quartet, some Bartok stuff, we used to do a lot of funny quirky covers, and of course we did the cartoon covers: Rocky & Bullwinkle, Peabody and Sherman. Especially those, they would just kick people’s butt live, they would see this band up there and then, oh god, what are they doing? They’re playing Peabody & Sherman! (laughs all around). This big arrangement with the brass and Craig would play french horn, and it sounded really good. And they’re like one minute little segments – one minute songs. Yeah, Cartoon really was a gas, we really had a lot of fun. We were young and we really wanted to just blow people’s minds.
You were stretching...
Yeah, and at the same time we always wanted to do good shows and so it fell somewhere in between. Some people liked that, some people didn’t. I miss Cartoon and I miss PFS. But time marches forward.
There’s been a pretty good response on the CD re-release?
Yeah, it’s gone pretty quick. You know, being in Europe I was absolutely stunned at the people, especially at the first shows in Italy, who would absolutely mob me after the show, asking “oh, you’re from Cartoon”, and “What about this song” and like that. It really surprised me, because that was like ten or fifteen years ago. And then maybe a lot of it was because of the re-release, at least that’s my theory, because it’s been brought anew, fresh.
It sounds like it was recorded yesterday
Yeah, that’s amazing. Especially the second one. I was really shocked to see that people still cared about it, and in some cases in Europe because they didn’t know I was going to be there [the posters listed Sanjay], they would piece it together throughout the show, Bob would mention that I used to play with Cartoon, and I think that made them even more excited, they’d gone to the show and didn’t expect somebody from Cartoon to be there. I think that was all because of the re-release, but I really don’t know.
Will there be any more Cartoon re-releases. I know there’s the live album.
We had a really good gig in Nancy, and it was recorded, and we had always toyed with the idea of releasing it. But I think one of the reasons we called the last CD “Sortie”, in French that means “exit”, because that was it. We went to France, had everything stolen, and that was it. We got off the music freeway. And number two because it would be the last Cartoon release.
Were there any doubts when the band decided to call it quits, or were you guys all tired too...
No, I wasn’t so much tired. Craig was in school, and studying pretty hectically, and I knew he wasn’t going to have the time he would like to have to commit – we would practice every damn day, three hours a day, and he just couldn’t commit to that, so he was wavering. We knew when we got back from Europe that things would be different. When we were over in Europe doing gigs it was going so well, and we were selling so many records, it’s just hard to know [if our things hadn’t been stolen] what would have happened. I’m sure he would have stuck around, but once we lost everything it just seemed like the natural thing. Craig was busy with school, Mark was never really happy with the direction “Left Field” was in, he was more of a composed rock oriented musician. And me and Herb and Gary were going in this direction of ‘the more uncomposed, the better’, so that was a little bit of strife – and Mark actually hung around for the first couple months of PFS, he was actually in PFS, but it never took root.
Did you guys record something for Steve’s project [Unsettled Scores]?
Yes we did. We recorded a Miriodor tune, one called Piege.
Was Miriodor an influence for you guys?
No, they came after, like ’86. But I remember hearing Miriodor and thinking ‘this is interesting’, it made a lot of sense to me. What I liked about Miriodor was their balance, it wasn’t really far out, but it had come a long way from bands like Cartoon, and I really like them – although I think they might be influenced more by people like the Muffins and Univers Zero. So it’s very possible we had the same influences. We were going through Steve’s catalog, and we had three or four different possibilities we were going to do. Of course everybody wanted to do a Univers Zero song, so we dropped out of that. But I always liked the Miriodor because they’re a three piece, and so were Gary, Herb and I. It was like something between Cartoon and PFS. But we did it, and it sounds good. I can’t wait for that to come out. I think this year it’s finally going to happen.
Yeah, a lot of people are waiting for it...
It’s such a great idea. And I can’t remember when we recorded for it, do you remember? I think it was a couple years ago. And when we were in Europe, here we were in Geneva, and I ran into Dirk Bruinson from Blast, I get to meet some guy from across the sea who I’ve never met before - here’s a label mate, and immediately we’re great friends. That’s the great thing about Steve’s label, it’s all new music, it’s all kind of socialistic, especially with bands playing other bands – me and Dirk talked about that.
It’s good challenging music. I remember when I first started buying from Wayside, it was a time when you couldn’t find the basic progressive stuff like King Crimson in stores anymore, and here was all this stuff I’d never heard before, and I thought ‘let me try some of this stuff’. So I ordered about 20 records. I remember getting the first Univers Zero, at that time it was still on the old Cryonic label. I put it on, put on my headphones and - WHOA, what’s this stuff (laughs all around). Then I put on Doctor Nerve – WHOA! (more laughs), then I put on the second However album, which had just come out on Cuneiform and thought ‘now this is more my speed – it’s sort of normal’ (laughs). But going back and listening to all that stuff again sort of propels you forward.
I can state unequivocably that I think Steve is the most important person for new music in this country. I can tell you from an artist-on-his-label standpoint, he’s so quick with paying – as a businessman he is so together, and at the same time he’s so together in an artistic viewpoint or understanding of his artists. To me it’s incredible. And he’s always been this way, I mean we were buying from Wayside in 1978. He’s always been great about describing stuff in the catalog, and he made the switch to computers early on. He’s really with it, and all he cares about is promoting the music.
And I remember his vinyl releases were excellent quality...
Yep. He spent the money to do it right. It’s really amazing what that guy does
You know the best thing about playing with dave and those guys recently was just getting back into it, because I’d kind of been out of it for a while, and Dave really did a great job setting up the tour. I mean, we did play at some squats, and some clubs that were less than stellar, but then it seems like the next night we’d play at an art museum, and he dis all this from his house on his phone, his phone bill was like two thousand dollars! I got to meet a lot of people, and it was nice getting back into it.
So you really hadn’t played live much in a couple of years?
No, not at all, and I really missed it.
So you like playing live more than studio?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I would have to answer yes right now because I just finished doing it. And if you ask me for months from now when I’d just gotten out of the studio, I’d probably tell you I like doing the studio better. I like it all, as long as I’m doing something I enjoy.
The studio offers a lot more possibilities...
Yeah, but not only that, it’s detail. You really weed out the men from the boys. That’s probably contrary to what a lot of people think, that a lot of people can go to the studio and make something sound good, but they can’t play live because they’re not talented enough. At the same time it’s possible to go into the studio and really get technical, and I know that’s a great thing about bob, because he’s really a perfectionist, and I was doing takes again that I thought were fine. Bob would say “it’s really close but there was just that one thing...” and I’d do it again and get it right. I was so used to playing these songs a certain way live, but when you get to the studio it isn’t the same, you don’t approach it the same. A lot of PFS stuff was first take or second take, that’s just how we worked – and here I’m doing something for the thirteent or fourteenth time. And sometimes Dave’s even worse, with his metronome mind counting everything out “no that one note was off by just...”. It was good for me, though.
Did you do any splicing or like that?
No, Bob does all that, and I think Bob’s kind of like Dr.Frankenstein, once you turn him loose in the laboratory I have a feeling -I only got to watch the periphery of his work, and a lot of that had to do with recording me. From “Hunger’s Teeth” though, you can tell – man, once you turn Bob loose, look out! He’s a perfectionist: he works very hard at it, it’s very important to him, and he’s really good at it. That’s a great combination.
Yeah, you can tell on Hunger’s Teeth, it’s got perfectionist written all over it...
..but the surprising thing is that you guys were able to pull it off live
We heard that as a compliment constantly. People who were familiar with the CD, the first thing they would say is “I can’t believe you did this live”. I think it would be hard for Dave to write something that was just constructed in the studio. I think what Bob and Dave balance very well in each other is – well, first they play really well together as a drummer and a bassist, I’ve never played with two people that were so locked in, they were coming up with stuff right there in front of me, like for the end of “Truth Justice and The American Way”, they whipped something up in about a minute, they seemed to do it so effortlessly, it just sort of flowed. And at the same time Dave is really good at writing, and he writes lyrics, and I think all the forethought is there, and I think Bob is really good at finishing.
[The phone rings, then a long discussion on the relative worthlessness of neo-prog ensues... leading into...]
I know there’s a lot of bands that really emulate King Crimson now, and it used to annoy me to get references to King Crimson – essentially we would get those just because of the sound of the guitar, and I don’t really think Mark sounded that much like Fripp anyway. When PFS started getting King Crimson references it was really hard for me to understand, and I think a lot of it was some sort of quick disonnant tritone, and a reviewer would think that sounds like Larks’ Tongue or something. But to me it had nothing to do with King Crimson, nothing whatsoever. Now you have all these bands that are really trying to sound like King Crimson, and I don’t get it.
Did you see Anekdoten at Progfest?
No I didn’t.
They have a sound like somewhere between Crimson and Van Der Graaf, their material is original, there’s no blatant lifts, but they have that sound, you know. They even did a couple Crimson covers – Devils Triangle and Starless...
They did Starless too!? Those bastards! (laughs all around). Well, they didn’t do it on piano, sax and drums (more laughs)
That’s why asked before if Van Der Graaf was an influence. The piano, sax and drums lineup was a big part of what made them interesting...
Yeah, but I never really was into them much, but when you say Van der Graaf to me I think a lot of it means Peter Hammill, I was never really into them. I was more into Dave Stewart, of Hatfield, National Health and Egg. Dave Stewart is a great musician, definitely one of my all time favorite keyboardists. Everything about National Health, and Egg – I really loved Egg a lot.. and talk about a Cartoon influence, there you go. And then of course, Gentle Giant. Dave Stewart had a nice way of balancing things, and then he played with Bruford, and... he wrote most of that stuff for Bruford, you know, I mean Bill got a lot of credit, but I heard stuff in there that I’ve never heard Bill do that I’ve heard Dave Stewart do. And then I’d see Bill’s name next to the credits and I’d really have to wonder about it. He’s a great musician, and that was a great band.
But back to.. I heard Anekdoten for the first time in Wertzburg Germany, and I just did not like it at all, or maybe it was Anglagard. I can never remember, I get all these groups confused... It just lacked this creative spark for me. Something about it just didn’t make sense.
[conversation disintegrates into a fragmented discussion about the decline of big festivals in France, Samla, Ferdinand Richard and Etron Fou]
Was Zappa an influence for you?
I would like to say he was an influence, but I can’t really honestly say that. I like some of his orchestral stuff, and I know where he’s coming from, he was a Varese freak, and there was a point where I was a Varese freak. Unfortunately for me I love early Zappa...
Yeah... but it got to a point, probably in the seventies, it was just, I don’t know, Frank Zappa was so stupid. He’s be singing about pissing in snow, and to me it was just real juvenile stuff. Some of it was so sexist too. I think that was his way of being able to sell the stuff, but it just never did much for me. I even saw him a couple times, and he put on a good live show, and I’d think ‘yeah, I guess I kind of like that’, but I’ve never been a huge fan. But at the same time I respect what he does. I know he knew what he was doing. One of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life was this footage of him on the Steve Allen show, probably when he was in his early twenties back around ’63 or ’64, he was on there with a bicycle, and he was playing this bicycle with different instruments, and he was jamming with Steve Allen.
He was playing it? Were the wheels turning?
Yeah, I can’t describe it, you have to see it. It was great because it was so funny, but at the same time it was kind of serious. I think it was part of some BBC documentary. Steve Allen is funny as well, he’s just sort of stuck there with this future madman. Zappa was so creative, and he was so funny, and he did a lot politically. Thank god he was up there in the senate when they had those hearings about the lyrics. He was somebody they could respect as an artist. It wasn’t Jello Biafra, it wasn’t somebody that could just be construed as some kind of ‘shock-punk’. Here’s a guy who wrote great orchestral music, he wrote serious things, and if people have a problem with that, it’s sad that people couldn’t distinguish between Jello Biafra and Frank Zappa. But to me, I think Frank had a lot more artistic credibility... I mean Jello is great in his own way but it’s more emotional
I can’t say I’m that familiar with Jello. I’ve heard about the Dead Kennedy’s for years, and I know the song he did on the John Cage tribute, but that’s about it.
Jello’s actually an interesting guy, he does a lot, I’ve seen him here and I’ve seen him there. I think he’s equally determined as an artist, but I don’t see the technique, and, well, I mean Zappa had a lot of stupid and adolescent lyrics too, but overall it’s more understandable than Jello singing about fucking Jesus. I think Zappa was a better man to sit up there and make a point about lyrics. He’s one of the few that could.