The Mothers at the Press Conference
("New Music Magazine", April 1976)

[Translator's note: It was originally posted to in January 2002. For this HTML version, I just corrected minor errors and added a few hyperlinks.]

This is a translation of the press conference that took place 26 years ago (Jan. 31st '76). As I had to translate the Japanese translation back to English, it might be totally different from the original wording. (If you find any improper wording, please point them out to me.) Notes between square brackets in the translation are the one in the original Japanese text. My own notes (with asterisked numbers) are attached at the bottom.
Article: "The Mothers at the Press Conference"
Transcribed by Suzy Caowan
Translated from English to Japanese by NAKAMURA, Toyo
Magazine title: New Music Magazine
Publisher: New Music Magazine Co., Tokyo
Published date: April 1976
Pages: pp. 30-37

Question: Mr. Zappa, you've just visited Australia before you came to Japan. Comparing rock scenes in the U.S., Europe and Australia, do you notice any difference between them?

Zappa: The main difference is that, in every country except the U.S., musicians and rock groups are eagerly trying to export their music to the U.S. In the countries like Australia and Britain, their efforts are motivated by big money coming from export, rather than by music.

Question: In Tokyo, why are you going to give us a concert in Asakusa where foreign musicians have never used for their performance?

Zappa: The official answer for that official question is that I didn't decide the venew by myself and I really don't mind if we wouldn't do our concert in this area.

Question: What did you think when you entered this place [Matsubaya in Yoshiwara]?

Zappa: Very cold. [Note: Zappa wore a sleeveless shirt.] Here, the indoor temperature is as cold as outdoors in Britain. And this interior design is very similar to the one that I saw in my favorite monster movies.

Question [from a cameraman with a video camera]: I'm shooting a video, and what do you think of video?

Zappa: Are you asking what kind of video camera I like? I'm not sure what you are asking about, but is it a technical question?

Question: There are rising movements of making video movies, and I heard that you are interested in video too, so I'd like to hear your opinion on those....

Zappa: I've done a lot of things with video [*1]. Speaking of video camera, the one you're using now seems to work very well, so I'd like to buy the same one during our visit in Japan. [After that, FZ borrowed the camera and shot the room.]

Question: Mr. Roy Estrada, your name sounds like Mexican. Please tell us where you come from?

Roy Estrada: Soy de California. ["I'm from California" in Spanish.]

Question: Do you have any plan to shave your moustache?

Zappa: The answer for that question is, No!

Question: How do you keep your moustache?

Zappa: It's not very difficult. The most effective thing for growing this moustache is "natural body juice." Before coming to Japan, I gave it plenty of body juice in Australia, so it nearly grew all over my face. Last night I had the same trouble again, but this morning, I shaved it with a tool that an American scientist invented in order to solve that particular problem. It is called a "razor," a tool with two blades, and it can cleanly shave off anything on your face. I've used it just before I came here. I hope this explanation helps you.

Question: Have you ever heard Japanese rock music?

Zappa: I met a Japanese rock band once, but didn't hear their music. They were called the Tigers [*2], and we met at Whisky A Go Go in Los Angels about eight years ago. They didn't speak English and I didn't speak Japanese, so I just waved my hand to them. Oh yes... in Los Angels, there's a TV station that broadcasts in Japanese. In that channel, I saw a variety show similar to the Ed Sulivan Show. There would be an MC and an orchestra, and solo singers and rock bands would show up. I saw that show, but what they played was not a progressive sort of music. And I know the theme song of "Mothra" very well.

Uchida Yuya [Japanese musician, who invited FZ to Japan]: Mr. Zappa is a great fan of Japanese monster movies, such like "Godzilla" and "Mothra." Last night he wanted to meet two girls who appeared in "Mothra." Later I found out that they were the Peanuts [*3].

Zappa: Now, Roy Estrada is going to sing a real Japanese song. Among the Japanese melodies introduced to the U.S., it is the best one. American children are growing with this melody too, and they love it very much.

Estrada: [In falsetto] Mothra... Mothra... Mothra...

Question: Why are you so interested in monsters?

Zappa: I've been studying monster movies for a long time. I'm very interested in Japanese special effect techniques. And fireworks and explosives are interesting, too. On the contrary, American monster movies are not interesting, as they don't have a human touch. It's only Japanese people who invented a monster that shoots out a ring of smoke when he is stomped on his tail. Mother Godzilla steps on Baby Godzilla's tail, and then, a ring of smoke is coming out from Baby's mouth [*4]. It's definitely an excellent art.

Question: I heard that in '69 you sat in with Roland Kirk.... [Note: a unique black jazz player who plays three saxophones simultaneously.]

Zappa: I met him at the backstage of the Boston Jazz Festival, and asked him to play together if he was interested in our music. Then, during our set, he came up to the stage, led by his attendant. As you know, he's blind. But his body understood all of our signals. At one point, everybody in the band was supposed to get down on their back and kick their feet in the air while they still kept playing. As soon as we got on our back, he also got his back. When we got up, he also got up. He grasped everything. He is an excellent musician. Three weeks later, we played together again in the Florida Jazz Festival.

Question: Now you call your group "the Mothers", but didn't you call your group "the Mothers of Invention" at first?

Zappa: No, at first we were the Mothers. However, when we were going to release our first album from MGM, the record company told us that they couldn't release the record with the name of the Mothers. They said that it sounded like abridgment of a dirty word [motherfucker] and DJ's would never play a record with that kind of name. Thus, out of "necessity," we became the "Mothers of Invention."

Question: Do you have any plan of recording with Captain Beefheart again?

Zappa: Perhaps, some time soon.

Question: Who is your favorite classical composer?

Zappa: Varese, Stravinsky, Penderecki, and I like some of Takemitsu's compositions, and I have some scores by Mayuzumi.

Question: Do you know Tomita Isao?

Zappa: No.

Question: What do you think about synthesizer?

Zappa: It's possible to use synthesizer as an instrument, but unfortunately, you can hardly see it fully utilized as an instrument, especially in the classical field. American composers who write synthesizer music are producing nothing but ugly and boring. But small-sized synthesizers, which are easy to use in live performance, are getting essential for instrumentation of a band. However, those small-sized synthesizers tend to be out of tune, and in some cases musicians tend to meaninglessly change timbres or add effects. Unless musicians can control over these points, synthesizers will continue to be a kind of toy.

Question: What is the difference between the Mothers' music and pop music, a la the Bay City Rollers?

Zappa: The biggest difference is that while they only play 23 minutes, we play 2 hours. Starting from that point, the difference will become limitless if you utilize your imagination. Anyway it's good for their fans that they only keep playing 23 minutes, because those young girls would hurt their throats after screaming for 2 hours.

Question: The Mothers have often changed their personnel. Mr. Zappa, is it because you replace existing members with other musicians you like?

Zappa: The basic principle is that we don't make any contract from the start, so it depends on whether you want to join or quit. And if members change, the music will change, because music is formed according to skills of musicians who play that music.

Question [to members of the Mothers]: What do you think of playing with Zappa?

Terry Bozzio: It's very fun and educational to play with Zappa. I can raise money, too. I love the way he plays guitar, and when I play with him, I can be very popular with girls.

Andre Lewis: I've been playing R&B, but Zappa's music is totally different from that. He's a great guitarist and other members are all excellent musicians.

Estrada: There're a lot of reasons to play with him, but anyway I love playing with him because both of us are perverted.

Napoleon Murphy Brock: It's good for my mind and body. It helps keeping my body clean and comfortable, you know. When playing with him, it makes me discharge extra nectar [note: sperm?] and keeps my body healthy.

Question: What do you think about the 200th anniversary of the National Foundation of the United States?

Zappa: I think it's very characteristic that it only took a short history of 200 years to bring such a broad destruction.

Question: Do you know what kind of place this building used to be?

Zappa: No. Please tell me.

Uchida: [in English] I'm a singer, so I explain with a song, which goes: "There is a house in New Orleans, they call the Rising Sun..."

Zappa: A whorehouse! And then, what will happen next?

Uchida: [again in English] After the press conference of Frank Zappa, we have the Oiran [*5] show, for which you all have been waiting, and there will be some dances and pornographic scenes.

Zappa: Porno? Start it right away!

[Later FZ made an unplanned appearance in the routine of the Oiran show, playing a role of a customer, but there was no pornography at all.]

**** Translator's notes:

[*1] Maybe FZ implied his video usage in "200 Motels."

[*2] The Tigers were a Japanese pop group in the '60s. Some sources tell that they visited the U.S. in Dec. '68, so it might be around that time when FZ happened to meet them. BTW, their lead singer, SAWADA Kenji (AKA "Julie") was the most famous member of the group, and after they disbanded, he has achieved a very successful career as solo singer and actor. You can see his entry in the Internet Movie Database.

[*3] The Peanuts were a singing duo of female twins named ITO Emi and ITO Yumi. Not only they released a lot of hit records in Japan, but they also appeared in three monster movies as "Twin Fairy". And they even appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in '66. Interesting coincidence: in May '75, The Peanuts suddenly retired from the music business, and only a month later, Emi married with a singer named SAWADA Kenji. So, if FZ had got acquainted with the Tigers more closely, it would have been a better connection to reach his favorite Little Fairies....

[*4] Definitely, "Son of Godzilla" (1967). See also the Internet Movide Database.

[*5] "Oiran" means "the courtesan with the highest rank in pleasure quarters" in the pre-modern Tokyo (quoted from:

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