captain beefheart electricity


history - interviewflits


from france 11 may 1972 POP MUSIC #107
by alain dister
is 15 april 1972 interview



beefheart is a funny strange fellow. he talks to you for hours about what occupies him most: rain water, the mother breast, the universal gravity... such very serious matters can but put our emotions into action, even when they sometimes seem to be far away from music. however, to him things are connected; making music that pleases people, makes them feel happy, just is a way to contribute to the battle against pollution (that of the grey faces).

he has tried to explain all that to us after his concert at the bataclan club which was organised by 'pop 2' (french television program - t.t.). a humorous concert stuffed with very short tunes, presenting - within the minimal time given - the views of him and his musicians. to the french audience it was a revelation: to discover the captain of course, dressed in a black cape that led us back to the good olden days of screamin' jay hawkins, but also his buddies, extraordinary jugglers, jumping to the sound of their cheerful music, pleased to share their pleasure with us. they are quite numerous (five, and the captain), but nevertheless they always get their solo parts, each in a very particular way which all together tends to stay close to beefheart's ideas about melody.

we notice winged eel fingerling (elliot ingber - t.t.) who adds a new dimension to the band, clearly influenced by the northern areas of california: more introvert blues which easily settles into long improvisations in the style of the san francisco sound. for that reason he had some trouble to integrate with the band, become a part of the collective madness of the members. now all seems to have been cleared up and due to him the group can explore new territories.

in the best of terms we learn to appreciate the other guitar player and his comrade on bass - zoot horn rollo (bill harkleroad) and rockette morton (mark boston) trail the captain for a long time, as their music clearly shows - when they perform some shiny duets, hopping from one side of the stage to the other, miming a confrontation between two angry cats, under the amused eye of the rhythm session.

captain beefheart
                          concert 15 april 1972 bataclan, paris, france
                          - mark boston / rockette morton, art tripp /
                          ed marimba - picture by jean-pierre leloir
MARK BOSTON rockette morton and ART TRIPP ed marimba
live 15 april 1972 bataclan, paris, france
additional picture by jean-pierre leloir from 1 june 1972 rock & folk

these excellent musicians give the beefheart spectacle one of its most crazy, most picturesque forms, while the captain roars at the front of the stage and shows his finger to invisible enemies - one of them must be frank zappa. besides: two of the 'mothers' musicians nowadays are part of the magic band - roy estrada (nicknamed oréjon or / and audi hon), mother from the beginning, on bass; and art tripp alias ed marimba on drums.

after the concert we visited all these nice folks, in order to filch them some secrets on behalf of you.

are you gonna play in the 'spotlight kid' style in future, or return to the more crazy 'trout mask replica' stuff?

i don't know. sometimes i feel the need to play harmonica, sometimes saxophone.... i'm not interested to know whether what i do is commercial or not: that would trouble my mind. the relations between the members of the band are more telepathic now. they are able to play without someone having to tell them how it has to be. that's the way i work.

you're not trying to bring a kind of 'history of captain beefheart'?

oh no! a lot of people do that, but it is a way of being exploited - idiot, don't you think?

from which moment on are you interested in ecology?

since the first time i drank coca cola.

has it anything to do with some wave in the united states?

you mean: a fashion? oh no! i love the sky.... (long chapter explaining why the mother's milk is dangerous nowadays, because it is produced by a body which is subjected to a polluted environment and because....)

do you have contact with the zappa folks?

they're horribles. i don't know them - and they don't want to know mé....

roy estrada was with 'the mothers of invention', before....

no, no. it's róy who started the mothers and zappa joined him. not zappa who began it with roy joining him. roy has started it and zappa appeared later. it's all zappa publicity.

you've never learned 'the classics'. don't you have any musical background?

no. each time you place your foot on the ground you're a drummer. gravity makes you a drummer....

and the rhythm?

there isn't a special rhythm. everyone has a rhythm; who am i to decide what is rhythm and what isn't?

you must have started somewhere: with a certain rhythm, a kind of blues....

no, no, no. i have too much respect for the people who already have done the blues... i respect them too much to steal their music. they have théir music, and i have mine. it is the same, only pláyed differently. i sing a john lee hooker song and i announce it as a song by john lee hooker, but i sing it in mý way. it's just like revolution: it never is the same thing. certain people think that revolution means: to stop the world and change it. it is, in fact. the problem, actually, is that people keep on polluting.

that's part of your trauma on los angeles.

but here too!... it's the same thing!... in all small villages, in the entire world!...

so: what must be the role of music?

to receive... and send out good impressions....

that's what represents your music?

yes, that's true. no hubbub.

just feeling happy?...

that's the same.


an alain chauvat / gorillacrow trancelation ©131297

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