in Zappa´s Universe
The rehearsal time that we got for Zappa´s Universe was one
week (5 days) in Joe´s Garage, L.A. with "The Rocking
Teenage Combo" - which was Scott Thunes, Mike Keneally, me
and Mats. Then in New York, we got another 5 days with the full
Orchestra of Our Time, all the guests; Persuations, Denny Walley,
Dale Bozzio a.o.
Here are a couple of things I particularily remember :
First day in Joe´s Garage me and Mats got there first. We
set up our equipment and were ready to go maybe 30 min before the
actual rehearsal, so we decided to go out and wait for the other
ones to come. We bought something to drink and sat down on the sidewalk.
A car went by, somebody stepped out, big guy with long hair, sideburns,
sunglasses etc. He opened the trunk and picked out what looked like
a bass, and I realized it was Scott Thunes !
I guess you all have heard a million stories about the man, about
his personality, him breaking up the 88 tour etc. etc. I had never
met Scott before. We had been on stage together May 1st 1988, when
we guested Franks last tour, but we never met after the show. Anyhow,
I guess we would soon know more about him. Scott locked his car
and marched up to Mats and me. I told Mats that Scott was there,
and Mats totally lightened up! ( Mats is blind, in case you didn’t
When Scott was facing us, he says - " greetings ! ", and
we shock hands. Mats says: - " nice to be here ! " Scott
- " well, I’m not sure about that, that we gonna find
out later… It´s to hot outside, I got to go inside,
I looked at Mats with my mouth open, as we started to imagine the
attitude of the next two weeks.
Mike arrived, and when they were ready to play, Mike says "first
side on You are what you is " and the next second he counts
we´re off ! And it sounded GREAT ! We just ripped it , loud
I could see that Scott liked the way it sounded .
-" But if we wouldn´t have known how to execute all of
the 45 songs on the list,...it wouldn´t have been nice to
be there" as Mats said on the sidewalk I guess that was Scott´s
point… But after the three songs Society Pages, I’m
a Beautiful Guy & Beauty Knows No Pain in segue, Scott put down
his bass on the floor, threw his pick up in the air and said: "GREAT,
this is good,- now we won´t have to rehearse this shit for
the whole week, we can go down to the beach and enjoy ourselfs instead
Suddenly everything was just great, It WAS nice to be there, even
for Scott! So, my first impression of Scott Thunes was him being
an entertaining character, that turned very sweat to Mats and me.
His mood did swings sometimes, but I liked him a lot, and we came
along very well I have to say. I have not seen Scott since –93,
but I actually sent him an e-mail recently, which he replied, and
I wish I could see him soon again.
He was very funny too. One time when we rehearsed with the Orchestra
Of Our Time in N.Y., Mats pedal to his electric grand piano broke
and fell apart. Scott saw that, put down his bass and walked over
to Mats and was standing on all four under the piano fixing the
pedal. Conductor Joel Thome started to conduct as he noticed Scott
was gone. And when Joel found Scott under Mats piano, fixing the
pedal with some tape, he said: " what are you doing ?"
And Scott said (in a loud voice) : " I´m taping Mats
penis to his leg! "
The people in the orchestra started to laugh off course; the whole
situation was really hillarious, with the proper dressed violinplayers
and all ! It just wasn’t what most people expected to hear
in that situation I think, but it was very funny. Very Scott .
He could say things when you expected it the least. Another time
while rehearsing at Joe’s Garage, a pretty young girl walked
in to listen to our rehearsal, and when Scott saw her, he just said
(in a loud voice again)
" You can´t have him, he’s
married !" Meaning ME ! (-was married at the time) I don´t
even know if Scott knew the girl, not necessarily I guess.
I miss Scott, AND the girl… - just kidding !
Frank came down the second day!
We were just having a break, and I saw a car coming with Dweezil
behind the wheel and… yes, Frank was sitting next to him.
They both came in and Frank said hello, how are you etc. and continued
with a big smile: "so let me see what you can do now…"
We went into the rehearsal room, Frank sat down on a couch, lightened
a cigarette, legs crossed and said "can you play Marqueeson´s
Chicken ? ", wich got me confused, because that song wasn’t
on the list as far as I remember, but Frank wanted to hear it, so
we’d better give it a try !
Next song Frank wanted to hear wasn’t on the list either…
as well as the next and next and next.... He just wanted to see
what we really knew from his repertoire. We did really fine though.
Mats knows more material than anyone on the planet, believe me.
Mike knows a lot too for sure, as well as Scott. So, we basically
played everything he wanted. Then Frank said:
" What about
Tink Walks Amok ?… lets hear it with just
Mats & Morgan ! " That one worked fine as well (Mats played
the bassline on the keyboards). Everything went just great, lucky
Later the same day, when we went to Franks house. Me and Mats sat
down on a couch, Frank came in and sat down too, and said: "This
was one of the nicest afternoons I had in a long time ! " We
were in Nirvana.
Later that night Mats completely amazed everyone even more. We went
down in Franks studio and Mats got to play the Bösendorfer
grand. Frank asked Mats to play another 10 songs, amongst others
Sleep Dirt (which is mosty a guitar solo !) but Mats just played
it, and Frank said: "well, I didn’t know you could do
that that one." He was really impressed. Then Mats overdubbed
a piece on the Synclavier. Frank loaded something that sounded like
Civilization phase lll, and then he wanted Mats to improvise on
top. Frank stored the improvisation in the Synclavier entitled Mats.
After that Frank started to sing Evelyn as Mats backed him up on
the Synclavier with a Gamelan Orchestra sound ! It was so nice,
and Frank was in such a good mood, as well as we of course.
How we managed to destroy the Black Page
A less exciting thing happened when our conductor Joel Thoume showed
up at the rehearsal with Frank. We tried a couple of things. Frank
wanted to hear Black Page #1, but just before we started to play
"play it with conducting ".
Now, Joel did not have the score, and didn´t really remember
the song I think, because his stick went all over the place and
it was just impossible to follow him, or for him to follow us. It
sounded incredible horrible. We played it the day before and it
sounded just fine, but now after finishing our horrible version
the room went dead silence. Frank was not too impressed, believe
But the worst thing was that neither Mike or Scott said anything
I mean we played it the day before, why didn’t they say something?
It was just a conducting problem, but - just silence. I didn’t
feel that I had the position to stand up behind the drums and bla
bla bla, when Scott is not even talking. Scott had played the song
with Frank for some ten years, and Mike on one tour so, it was obviously
to me that me and Mats would take the rap for it.. I wasn´t
gonna take that, so I just said: " It was because of the conducting
Another five seconds of silence, then Frank finally said: "
okay, play it without conducting " So we did, and we nailed
it, so that was a big relief ! A nice happening was when we played
Ya Hozna. Frank had heard about Mats abillity to sing and talk backwards.
Mats did the backwars parts and Frank laughed his ass off ! When
the rehearsal was over Frank got to hear Mats imitate WildMan Fisher
as well and Frank said to Mats:
- " you´re wasting your time in Sweden..."
My time with Frank Zappa
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