TOPIC - Miscellaneous

I value the little bits of Frank's time and energy that he gave me. I learned a hell of a lot from him - more than from anyone else I can think of. I realize that, even though I didn't play in the band, I saw things, heard things, know things, that contribute to a clearer understanding of who Frank the Composer was. I don't know the name of the guy who fetched his cigarettes - sorry - but he explained his ideas about how the "tuplets" in his pieces should be played - "Like odd meters, but without the underlying (big) pulse changing" (which explains why the beams are divided the way they are; is it a 2+2+3 seven or a 3+2+2?) - and that was interesting and important to me as a musician, not just as a copyist. So maybe I should say this stuff for other musicians to hear. I think it bears on more than Frank's music alone. David Harrington was quoted in an interview as saying something like "More musicians should play Zappa. It will improve their Haydn".

As for names:

John Bergamo was Ed Mann's percussion teacher at Cal Arts. Still teaches there. He played on The Black Page, and other FZ tracks. You'd have to ask him what all he was on, but he was responsible for opening the door for Ed to audition, and the rest is history. John's bio always includes that he played in the Abnuceals Emuukha etc (I'm not going to look up the spelling right now), so he might have some info about personnel on various projects.

The Antenna Repairmen is a percussion trio that I started while a student at CalArts in 1978. We still exist, but we hardly ever play anywhere. We have a CD that was released in 1997, called Ghatam, on the M.A Recordings label. The other two guys are M.B. Gordy, who is a freelance percussionist here in L.A. (and tours with John Tesh!), and Bob Fernandez, also a freelancer, who put in 3 years on the road with Barry Manilow! Bob did a solo concert in Buffalo once, on which he played the Theme from the 3rd Movement of Sinister Footwear. Coincidentally, FZ was playing in Buffalo at the same time.

Here's another tidbit, of no particular relevance, but just something I remember. I went to the studio for something, and a guy was there demo-ing Simmons Electronic Drums. This was when all this kind of stuff (i.e. electronic percussion) that's common-place now was just becoming sort of realistic. I thought Simmons drums sucked (still do). This poor guy was trying so hard to get the snare drum component to sound like anything other than a total piece of shit. It just wasn't working right. He was explaining strenuously that it was actually really good, and could do all this great stuff. The problem was that he wasn't really the tech guy, just a salesman, and didn't know all the details about how to work it. I had to wonder why the Simmons people would send a technically unqualified salesman to demo their product to Frank Zappa, of all people. But he was being very patient. He knew I was a drummer, so he had me play for a while. He said "What do you think?" I said "Real futuristic. I dig the fins." I don't think he ever bought a set of Simmons. But he was definitely interested in that kind of stuff, and the possibilities. He showed me his Linn Drum machine when he first got it, and he was like a kid, bubbling with enthusiasm. He had me punch is some tracks, too. I remember telling him that I thought his audience came to hear him and his band PLAY, and that most people don't want to pay 15 bucks a ticket to hear drum machines. He said "I think they do".