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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Dweezil Zappa On Dad's Music: We Treat It 'Like It's Classical Music'

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

When I first heard this song, it reminded me of Frank Zappa.

(SOUNDBITE OF DWEEZIL ZAPPA SONG, "FUNKY 15")

MCEVERS: That kind of weird, unpredictable prog rock the late musician is known for. The song is called "Funky 15," but it's not Frank Zappa. It's his son, Dweezil, on his new album. The album is a tribute to his dad and his own experiment where he tries out all kinds of genres. In some ways, Dweezil Zappa was born to play music. On his birth certificate, under religion, his dad wrote musician. I asked him if he ever felt like he had a choice to be anything else when he grew up.

DWEEZIL ZAPPA: Oh, sure. I mean, growing up, I was obsessed with Jacques Cousteau. So I was really interested in everything under the sea. But then I saw the movie "Jaws," and that ruined it.

MCEVERS: That was it.

ZAPPA: Yeah. I was like, I'm not going in there. That's not for me.

MCEVERS: Nope. Done.

ZAPPA: I really wasn't thinking about music up until I was 12. That's when I got interested in it. I mean, I liked what he did, but I definitely thought, wow, what my dad does is really hard. You know, you have to know a lot of stuff to play that music.

MCEVERS: Right, right.

ZAPPA: It was like training for the Olympics, you know?

MCEVERS: Yeah.

ZAPPA: Also, the thing that was interesting, though, was that I didn't really know anything about the rest of the world of music until I was about 12. I didn't hear the radio until then, you know? So I had only heard my dad's music, whatever he was writing or working on or what he was listening to recreationally, which was always something, you know, a little bit obscure - you know, Stravinski or Webern or some Bulgarian Women's Choir or something that just wasn't what you would hear on the radio. So when I actually heard the radio, my first thought was, where's the rest of it? Like, there wasn't enough other stuff in the music. It was missing all these different rhythms and instruments and...

MCEVERS: Is that why you wanted to do it, because you wanted to fill in the blanks?

ZAPPA: Well, in 1981, '82, hard rock was the most popular music in the world. And there were guitarists that were technically very, very skilled that were also being pretty creative in terms of the sound. And I was interested in learning how do that because my dad was a great guitarist, but he was playing stuff that seemed much harder to understand.

So this other music from Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads, even though it was hard to do, I wanted to learn that stuff note for note. That was my training ground, you know? And then I thought, well, one day, I'd like to play my dad's music and the hard melodies that are in that, but I just knew that that was going to really take a lot of effort.

MCEVERS: Yeah. I mean, for more than a decade now, you've been touring and playing your dad's music.


CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO:


Frank Zappa is considered to be one of the most influential rock musicians of the late twentieth century. Between the start of his career in the late fifties and his death in 1993 he recorded and rele..


On September 19, 1985, Frank Zappa testified before the United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the Parents Music Resource Center or PMRC, a music organizati..


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