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Frank Zappa
Zappa pounders the innocence of his cigarette. Photo: Steve Thirlwall/Fulcrum
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Fulcrum chatted with Zappa following a show at the Ottawa Civic Centre in late 1975

Content Warning: Some language may be seen as offensive.

This interview was recorded on Dec. 6, 1975. The transcript was published in the Fulcrum’s Jan. 15, 1976 issue. 

In December of 1975, the Fulcrum’s Dick Landau interviewed Frank Zappa following a show at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Here is the transcript of the interview.

The Fulcrum (F): What did you think of tonight’s audience? 

Frank Zappa (FZ): This is the third time I’ve been to Ottawa, and they’ve all been good!

TF: Is your act rehearsed?

FZ: Yeah, it’s rehearsed.

TF: After ten years are you better than the turtles? 

FZ: The who??? (Loud guffaws)

TF: All right. Have you got any more movies in the works? 

FZ: Yep.

TF: When will it be out? 

FZ: As soon as it’s done. 

TF: Have the Supremes had any influence on your music?

FZ: They did in 1967; we used to perform “Baby Love.”

TF: I saw in CREEM Magazine where you said that you’d had no experience, is that really true? 

FZ: No, I’ve had no experience … Let me say this about print media — FUCK THOSE GUYS!!! Fuck everyone of ‘em. They can’t write, they can’t think, they’re all liars, they’re all full of shit and they know what they’re doing — so fuck ’em. 

TF: Do you read?

FZ: No. 

TF: I thought not. Do you listen to the radio? 

FZ: No. 

TF: Are you living in L.A? 

FZ: Where? L.A.

TF: Which part of L.A.?

FZ: Downtown L.A. where the winos are … it’s great — ya, go in the soup kitchen there. 

TF: Where did you get the idea for “I’m the slime”?

FZ: Well it’s obviously true. I was just floatin’ around in the air. 

TF: Nothing in particular? 

FZ: Nothing in particular — did you ever watch television? 

TF: I was thinking of “Days of Our Lives”.

FZ: What’s that? 

TF: A soap opera serial. 

FZ: Nah, I don’t watch that shit. 

TF: You’re doing a double bill on New Year’s Eve at the L.A. Forum with Todd Rundgren. Do you like his music? 

FZ: Never heard it. 

TF: You should listen to him. 

FZ: Well I’ll hear him on New Year’s Eve, won’t I? 

TF: Do you think the States is getting worse? 

FZ: I don’t think it’s getting worse; I think it was always the pits … It was always fucked. It’s not any more fucked now than it was before. The whole thing is that only more of it’s getting in the newspaper. And since you can’t believe what you read and the writers are all assholes; what are you talking about?

TF: Well there’s always TV, eh? 

FZ: Well you can’t believe them either, they all work for the government.

TF: Well who do you believe? 

FZ: No one.

TF: Did [Bob] Dylan ask you to tour with him this time? 

FZ: Are you kidding me??? (laughs) He rented one of my buses.

TF: I figured so. Did he ask you to write the music for his next album? 

FZ: No. Why? Will he?

TF: I figure he will — he told me the other day he might do so.

FZ: That fucker must be desperate.

TF: Let’s talk about your TV show.

FZ: The U.S. isn’t ready for it. Canada, because it is so evolved, is actually ready for it. It will probably get on the air here before it gets on the air in the United States. 

TF: You said Canada is “so evolved.”

FZ: Yes.

TF: Why? 

FZ: Well because the broadcast standards that you have here are different than they have in the United States — I think — they’re superior. 

TF: Part of the broadcast is owned by the government.

FZ: The government is owned by somebody else. I can’t tell you who that is. 

TF: Mr. DuPont… Do you feel a change in your audiences, say, from ‘66 to now? 

FZ: The biggest change is the places where we’re playing, not the people. 

TF: You don’t feel that the people have changed at all?

FZ: I don’t think that much … they may be a bit more rational because in those days you had so many acid burn-outs and today the kids who’re coming to concerts are the younger brothers and sisters of the ones who were fired then. And they saw their older brothers and sisters making assholes of themselves and most of them didn’t follow along the acid pathway and I think that’s  good because there was a very bad — well, you stop and think about LSD. First of all, it’s manufactured by the C.I.A., and second of all, it’s probably distributed to the country through the F.B.I. and its agents because they were experimenting on people in the army and wouldn’t tell them they were experimenting on them and the rest of their experiments were done in the street you see? And I think that if it ever comes to light what the government actually did to the citizens of its country and the young ones by giving ‘em that shit … well: there’s a little scandal for you.

TF: So you don’t think your audience has changed except that they’re a little more rational? 

FZ: They’re a little bit more rational, but the thing that’s really different is that we’re working these huge halls whereas in 1967 we did halls of 300 seats.

TF: Do you find that playing a large hall makes much of a difference to your music as compared to a small hall?

FZ: Well, you have to play a different thing. 

TF: Does it change the direction you go in after?

FZ: Not really … ‘cause once the lights go on I can’t see anything anyway. In a large house, I’m aware that I have to move around on stage more so that those guys up there can see me. 

TF: Do you get a lot of Boogie Monsters standing at the front of the stage, screaming at you what to play? 

FZ: Yeah, one-third of the concerts have — well we call them “Managuas” out there in the front of the stage going “Dynamo Hum”, “Dynamo-Hum”!!!!! And they don’t ask for it, they DEMAND it!

TF: I’ve seen them around. Same people every show.

FZ: Well, that’s what happened to me the other two times I came here. Two jerk off out there in the audience. 

TF: Do your shows tire you? 

FZ: Yes, they do. 

TF: What do you eat on the road? 

FZ: Oh anything that’s tasty (laughs). I like to go back to the hotel and nibble on some beer nuts. It’s hard to keep the energy.

TF: [Mick] Jagger eats bean curd when he’s on tour. 

FZ: Really? Well, you know him, he’s a little weird anyway. 

TF: Did you like doing a guest spot on the Monkees show?

FZ: I never saw it. 

TF: You never saw it? Oh, you didn’t watch TV back then either? 

FZ: Right. I never saw it … Well, I’ve gotta go. 

TF: Thanks for the answers, and I’m looking forward to that Dylan album.

FZ: Yeah, I’m sure he is too. 

Fun facts about this article

  • Frank Zappa is a Grammy award-winning musician from Baltimore in the U.S. He was known for his satire of American culture, his musical experiments, and virtuosity, as well as his nonconformity. Zappa died in 1993 from prostate cancer at 52 years old.                                                             
  • In the early 1980’s Bob Dylan showed up to Zappa’s house asking him to produce his new album. Zappa declined.
  • According to Richard (Dick) Landau’s Linkedin, he became the Fulcrum’s Editor-in-Chief a couple of years later (1976-77 or 1977-78; we do not have those archives in our office). He is currently an educator and diversity specialist at Humber and Cambrian colleges, where he teaches media literacy and communications. 
  • This was a joint interview with Carleton’s CKCU FM.