Mats/Morgan Interview made in October 2000
by Magnus Höglund and Peder Andersson at PlanetZappa

PZ: First of all we must say that we really enjoy your music! It's nice to experience your own music and we're really impressed of what you have accomplished so far.
-Thank you very much.

PZ: What projects are you working on at the moment (releases, tours...)?
Morgan: No tours at the moment, but I hope we will get to tour a lot more in 2001, as Mats and me will be celebrating our 20 year anniversary next year!!! I really look forward to that! Our next release will be the “Mats & Morgan Live” CD! Most people I have played it for just goes 'must be your best album so far...' And in a lot of ways I agree, even if it’s hard to compare with the other albums we have made, they are so different from each other. But I can say that it is a lot more "playing" on this new live one, the live energy is really there and gives something that is very good. It is an amazing album, if you ask me... The sound came out super good as well. The live album will be released in Febrary/March 2001
Right at this moment I am recording a new thing that I will call “LE BATTERIE”. It will be an album with a lot of drums, maybe not too much "regular compositions" in this one, it is more of a drum groove thing, with bass lines that will hypnotize you, hopefully! It is even likely that Le Batterie will make you wanna dance! I had to dance myself a little bit while recording it (-laughs!). Some people might call Le Batterie a kind of drum&bass album, which is okay in a way. But in the same time not... Because it doesn't sound like that, it’s different. I would not call it drum & bass just because that it is more grooves than themes. To me, the way the drums use to sound in the so called drum & bass music is pretty close to the kind of drumming I have always listened to while growing up, but with real humans playing, like Billy Cobham or Lenny White. They could sometimes sound like the stuff people program today which are often pitched up! Or the drummers of James Brown, pitched up. Anyway, nothing like that for me, Le Batterie will have no machines, samples or triggering on the drums, - I will play it.

PZ: Can you tell us something about the big event "200 Motels" in Holland last summer?
Morgan: It was pretty amazing! The orchestra, the percussion section, the choir, the whole organization of the festival including the actual venue "Carre" itself… all of it was just great. And the performance too! The stage was really impressive. An extra 2nd floor was built for the percussion with the choir underneath. 174 microphones on stage! 10 meter long mixer console etc., and a lot of nice people; Ali Askin, Todd Yvega, Harry Adronis, Gail and Diva Zappa, - even Rutger Hauer was there! Some of the repertoire that we played wasn't in the original movie or album. Ali Askin found stuff in Franks vault that was written for 200 Motels but never ended up in the movie/recording. The Amsterdam concerts were recorded for the radio and should sound pretty good. It is planned to go on air in December 2000.

PZ: We think that we can here a lot of Frank in your music, do you agree?
Morgan: Frank who? Yes sure, that is sometimes true, I think more in Mats compositions than in mine though. But since there is a lot of other influences as well, I feel we should be compared with them as well, just for a change (if people must compare). It can be pretty tedious to get that Zappa comparison all the time. Honestly, no matter how much I have enjoyed Frank's music, and still do, I don't enjoy listening to Zappa-alike projects too much. If I get a CD from somebody that sound like Frank I usually get bored in 2 seconds. It is such a fine line between being creative with your influences and being a tiny boring “sound – alike”. You often hear if the composer has been “on his own journey” or not, that is important I think. It is nothing bad about doing music that shows your influences; Frank did that with Varese. I think that can be a really beautiful thing, it is a matter of taste too. But anyway, to me it has always been about an attitude more than “try to sound like...” As a drummer too, I have never transcribed anyone that much. I have just been very inspired by the attitudes of lets say Christian Vander or Gary Husband, and you might hear that, but to get inspired by someone’s attitude does not mean that you have to sound like them… I mean John Bonham did not sound like Buddy Rich just because that he played those fast things on the snare that Buddy use to do. People have a tendency to compare a lot of music with Frank’s music that has nothing to do with Zappa. How can Mike Keneally's music and Mats Öberg’s music both sound “just like Zappa's music" (as reviewers can put it) when they are so different from each other? Or what about the guys who think DreamTheater sounds like Frank…

PZ: We know that you already have told the story about when you met Frank, but is there anything you can tell us that we haven't heard before?
Morgan: One thing I actually remember at this very moment, is a funny one! When I had stayed at Frank's house in 1990 and was about to leave for Sweden, I wanted to give Frank something. I used to paint T-shirts in those days and had made a couple at Gerald Fialka's house just a couple of days before, that I had in my luggage. So before I left Frank’s house I told him 'Here is a couple of T-shirts that I have made myself, and I wanted him to pick one!' Frank looked at the T-shirts for a few seconds and took one, and then he said ' - Well, what do I know about art ?”… That was actually what he said... (laughs!) I could not believe those worlds came from HIS mouth!... Frank put the T-shirt on and walked around in his kitchen looking for coffee or something... That was some sight! I actually gave a T-shirt to Moon as well, which had "Farbror Kött" written on it, which means Uncle Meat on Swedish, how krejsy of me huh?

Mats: Just before we should do the Zappa's Universe I've got problems with my eyes (I was born blind), and they have to be removed. Frank called me and we spooked for about 40 minutes. Frank told me about his illness and I told him about mine. At the end of the conversation I asked him what "Moah" mean and I guess my pronunciation was a bit strange because Frank started to laugh his pants off, finally he came down and said - It could mean anything! I also asked him if he know about Monica Zetterlund (a Swedish singer) and her version of "Toads Of the Short Forest" and Frank said - Yeah her name is Monica, right? They turned it into Zapowaltzen or something...
A couple of days before Zappa's Universe 2 in 1993, I was a little bit worried because I should perform "Ruth is Sleeping" and had only get half way through. I called Frank for some advise. Frank answered - You can do it anyway you want. I'm sure your version will be a lot better than Jeffrey Burn's!
Frank was not confident with the Ensemble Modern version as he felt - didn't have the groove. He was forced to cut it to be pleased with it.

PZ: Was Frank recording any of your music when you were visiting his studio UMRK in LA?
Morgan: No recordings unfortunately. To me, being there was off course unreal, but it wouldn't have been more unreal to record something with him since I now was there. I was a little bit surprised he didn't get something on his mind worth doing. I mean it wouldn't have been unlike him... He was working with other stuff for sure, but we didn´t record anything… I was there for 4-5 days.

PZ: In what way has Frank and his music affected you?
Morgan: In many ways, not only musically. He felt like the last one… I mean, he really did stuff that he liked without compromising and got away with it. That will not happen again the way that the record business looks today… Thousands of people are creative with music for sure, but very very few has a chance to get their records in the stores… I remember the liner notes of the Drowning Witch album, which I thought was strange, cause Frank sort of makes fun of how miserable his commercial situation was, like ‘who would care for another Zappa album anyway’ etc. You know, no matter if I think Frank deserves to sell more records than East Seventeen (which I guess he doesn’t…) but still, Frank got a lot of his records out there, his situation was unique. I mean, who will ever perform a piece like Manx Needs Women again for an audience of 10 000 people? I think Frank was fortunate in that way, he had the power to broaden a lot of people’s minds in a way I that don’t think will happen again… I know Frank said something about this too, that if he had come around today, nothing would have happened… Today music is only about business.

PZ: When did you first come in contact with Frank's music?
Morgan: When I met Mats in 1981, except from dancing to Bobby Brown in school a couple of years before.

Mats: When I was 8 years old and had a chance to listen to Sheik Yerbouti.

PZ: What was it about Frank’s music that got you hooked?
Morgan: Hard to explain, I just liked what I heard. It made me feel good, still does.
Mats: I have to agree with Morgan. And of course it was the improvisation combined with humour. Before I heard Frank I listened a lot to Spike Jones and Weather Report and I thought Frank sounded like a combination of the two.

PZ: What was your first Zappa album?
Morgan: Can’t remember exactly. I know I bought Tinsel Town early, on sale.

Mats: Sheik Yerbouti.

PZ: What is your favorite FZ song/tune?
Morgan: Impossible question, what do you ask from me? But okay, top 5 without being too serious about it, could be: Inca Roads, Purple Lagoon, Strictly Genteel, Amnerica, Zoot Allures or something.
Mats: Greggery Peccary, Aerobics In Bondage, Lucy´s Seduction Of a Bored Violinist, Music For Low Budget Orchestra, Project X.

PZ: Morgan, what (FZ) drummer is your favorite?
Morgan: Terry Bozzio.

PZ: Mats, what (FZ) keyboard player is your favorite?
Mats: George Duke.

PZ: Do you have any Zappa-band or tour you think was the best?
Morgan: Very hard to say. I like a lot from the 70’s, but also early 80’s.
Mats: 1973 around the time around “Roxy...”.

PZ: Thank you very much and good luck in the future!
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Morgan Ågren free drumsolo, France July 2010 (part 1)
Morgan Ågren free drumsolo, France July 2010 (part 2)