captain beefheart electricity

history - interviewflits


from usa 15 march 1971 CHANGES vol.2 #23
by 'king leer'
is 27 january 1971 interview

* except cover picture reprinted in england 1 june 1972 ZIG ZAG #24
* text reprinted as untitled 'beefheart alphabet' in england book THE LIVES AND TIMES OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
* pictures by jim anderson

THIS is part 1 - part 2


'i think that if everybody cut out all cleverness there would be no anxiety.' beefheart.

A is for

ambition: i wish you'd put a rhinestone chain on my neck and lead me up and down the street.

and auto too: i have a hudson at home, a hudson hornet '50. i dig that car, i never drive it. i have an ivy display growing in it back home. it's like a barbecue brass type of color, a futuristic '58 barbecue color. i have a faded red '65 volvo with a big bump in the back - bulbous - that my wife wrecked before we got married. it looks like it's smiling to itself.

B is for

beefheart, of course: i'm not a poet, i'm a situation comic.

and breather apparatus, that is: his soprano sax, yenor sax and musette.

C is for

capital punishment: don't give yourself capital punishment, there's no money in it.

close control: when i say close control i mean that we love each other. (referring to the magic band.)

and his credo: i don't believe in straight lines either, or any lines. i believe in circles..., i have to believe that way or i'd fall apart.

D is for

diamonds: i've seen some of the most beautiful diamonds on a woman's face after she's perspired and danced.

as well as dope: (1) ever used? well, of course. i'm an artist. when i didn't realize that i didn't need to be an artist i indulged in a few things just to satisfy myself, you see, which was a selfish thing. but i will go on record, as they say, i'm sure there ís a record, i'll go on record as saying i don't think it helped me. matter of fact, i used it for a while as an excuse to hide behind to not emulate what i really wanted to do.

(2) did it do harm? no, because i think the mind is something that's more vast than that. do you mean, do i think i'm an acid-casualty or something like they talk about, i think not. because zoot horn rollo [bill harkleroad], in the group, i mean i have his permission to talk freely about this, had lysergic acid two hundred and fifty times before he met me. and he was curled up in a ball, like a clam. and any time anybody'd say anything artistic to him or anything, he would.. - i think he was afraid. you see man, when you throw a piece of sand in the clam, you get a pearl; you throw a piece of sand in a man, you get an ulcer. he had ulcers and, finally - after two years living in the same house - finally he was able to start emulating himself again. so he's fine now, you heard him play. he doesn't sound like a casualty. i think he's an example, if you will..., and there needn't be except that people tend to think of things by the way things have gone.... if anybody would like to think of him as an example of somebody who had that amount of hallucinogenics, i think that he's doing real well. but i don't look at him to be anything abnormal or un-normal, i just look at him as another human being.

(3) can drugs benefit anyone as a short cut to mind expansion?i think nót, 'cause the mind's already there....

E is for

egalitarianism: you notice that i use - if you want to call it that - you notice that my musicians are on equal basis with me.

everybody drinks from the same pond.

everybody's colored or else you wouldn't be able to see them.

and e.s.p.(extra sensory perception - t.t.): i think that everybody who has a circle hás e.s.p., and i think they have it anyway whether they like it or not.

i think almost everybody has it but i think the telephones and televisions and things like that have made people lose their ability to use the imagination. as i said before: i don't believe in insanity, i believe in varying degrees of disconnection - and i don't believe the telephone company is the kind of network i would try to emulate for my mind.

F is for

fillmore: i don't feel i need any help, you follow me?

i don't wish to be told that i needed any help to make it, you see, because i've already made it.... we all made it the minute we got out of our mothers.

and film: (leer:) how do you relate to film? (beefheart:) very kodak.

on being a film-maker: i see it as a role that i want to roll and if it rolls and it doesn't stop, it pleases me.

i've already made a movie and i'm making another one. i'm making a movie right now, on this tour.

i think every film is a promotional film. really, don't you? i don't think people do films not to promote themselves.

on making a movie with frank zappa: never! that was a rumor that frank zappa used to connect captain beefheart to frank zappa and then when he got me connected to him on that label he got scared and welshed the deal. (see also zappa.)

G is for

god's golf ball (beefheart's new record company): it bounces higher than the washington monument.

we're having a group called 'the twenty-fifth century quaker' that's going to record on it. we have a group called 'rattlesnakes and eggs', from the desert - a seven piece group. we'll also have a film on it.

as well as gold: i like beads better than money....

captain beefheart / don van vliet - new york, usa, late january 1971 - cover page 15 march 1971 changes - picture by jim albertson

H is for

his hat: i wear this hat on stage on my head because when i'm on stage like that and i wear this hat, i can gather all that music on the brim, like this, and it keeps coming around and around. mainly because i'm more of a person that likes acoustic things and i get more of an acoustic sound. see, i don't get quite so..., i don't get quite as much of an electric sound when it hits here and goes around.

this ís a mad hatter's hat... i mean, one that was made with mercury.

i didn't make it, but it was given to me by a mad hatter that had been cured.

as well as hope: i just figure if i'm breathing in and out i'm doing all i can and if i'm doing all i can, it's all i can do.

I is for

identity: referring to the magic band: they're not interested, you see, in having their surnames because of the fact that it's attached to all of those myths their folks tried to keep them in - which is one of the things i think we have to do is get away from that family tree. you know? then we can be friends with our folks rather than having a feeling that they're a burden.

and insanity: i don't believe in insanity, i believe in varying degrees of disconnection.

J is for

jefferson airplane: i never met them..., but i'm not too fond of their calling card. i don't care for their music. it's..., uh..., too lullaby-like.

i see other things, you see?

K is for

kite: see panacea.

L is for

the legendary recluse: it's just that nobody came over to see me before. my name's in the phone book and... i've been waiting for frank zappa to come over and see me.

also 'lick my decals off, baby': a far-out fine record! - king leer.

M is for

making it (see also fillmore): i'm not interested in ruling or being the rules.

i'm trying to move art into their neighborhood, let's put it that way.

and man: i think that man has the most highly developed intelligence. i think men get so intelligent that they're stupid.

man can spread mayonnaise.

i think that man shouldn't give up his ability to reason, 'cause once he gives up his ability to reason he's an animal that's missing part of his brain.

i think that man is a child that can't accept his natural functions.

and mellow: i don't think that mellow can be put in categories.

the word mellow has been designated to mean yellow, my music entails more colors than yellow.

if i really want to do an anachronism i always use a sea-foam green.

misunderstanding: if you know the history of captain beefheart, you know it's been one of tremendous misunderstanding. - grant gibbs, beefheart's personal manager.

you should know by the kindness of uh dog the way uh human should be.

and musical structure: musical structure is really a laugh, only it's a very bitter laugh. bitter pleasantly, like an olive, but maybe like a martini.

i plan, on a tape. i don't ever edit.

i don't work it out, it just comes out.



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