FWAK!

 

A chance meeting with Stacy Thunes before Zappa junior played Zappa senior at London’s Royal Albert Hall led to me contacting her brother, Scott. Would he be interested in being interviewed for my humble little site? “Sure thing. I got no problems with the historicals. Lay them on me. But I hope you don't mind if I lie my ass off.” This was just before I flew off to Zappanale #17, and I wanted to delay things – but Scott said “Gimme something before you go.” So I quickly rattled off a bunch of questions, fully expecting to see his reply on my return – but no, his response was immediate: full of wit, sarcasm and hilarity. He dismissed some of my more inane questions, pointing me in the direction of Thomas Wictor’s excellent book In Cold Sweat: Interviews With Really Scary Musicians. Of course, I wanted to take it further and, on my return from Germany, I did. And he came through. In spades. So here it is, in all its bereft-of-ass greatness.

 

IbsScott1(J-Roc).JPGIB: Do you have fond memories of Zappa’s Universe?

 

ST: Wow. That’s interesting. I’ve never been asked that before. Um, yes, and of course, no. The ‘yes’ is big. Orchestra. Real musicians. Late-night partying with Virgil Blackwell that sticks with me to this very day. Being treated like a valued resource by people with far more talent than I will ever have. Have I sucked up enough to orchestral musicians yet? No? Well, I haven’t gotten started yet. That girl with the backless suit. The ‘no’ is pretty big, too. I had recently written my only composition, a Duo For Violin And Cello that pretty much rocked. I’d brought copies of it for possible classical-musician-performance and I was quite excited. There was a cute blond violinist who was excited to look at it/perform it, as she’d just started a duo and needed material. I gave her the score. Later that night, the actual first violinist (a distinguished African-American gentleman who I regret to not remember the name of) asked me if I’d let him have a copy of the score as well and I demurred, saying that I was giving ‘first performance’ rights to the person who’d asked first. Fucking bitch never got back in touch with me and therefore I dropped the chance to have at least one more person look at my music before I lost part of the original score and can’t recreate it because it was in an ancient Macintosh program format and nobody uses it anymore and I can’t make more copies and that piece is lost to history because of my short-sightedness. So, that’s bad. Also, I lost the keys to the apartment of the really nice lady who was allowing us to stay at her place. Also, I had a crush on the daughter of the conductor and she was really nice and she blew me off. Also, and this should sit higher on the list, but it’s been dealt with already (during my first years on the Internet, I had a nice back-and-forth with the subject of this story), but one of my favourite moments in rock and a showpiece for me at the concert was ruined by the keyboard player who forgot to switch the sound on the MiniMoog synthesizer (that I used for the bass part on Sofa #1) from the lead sound he was using on the previous song back to a useful bass tone. I stood there like a chump on the floor riser in front of hundreds of paying customers for thirty seconds or so twiddling knobs like an amateur as I realized in horror that I was not going to be able to play the MiniMoog as I’d done on every single performance of that song since I’d been playing with Frank (not that I’d ever played it before working with him) and I was going to have to jump back on the stage and grab my bass guitar and play it on that, learning the fingerings on the fly and attempting to grab the correct attitude out of the ether while alternately squinting my eyes in furious fuming and glaring at the offending keyboardist who was watching aloft from the wings. I ruined his evening by giving him a load of shit in front of his parents after the concert (I apologize!). Other than that: bonus!

 

IB: You describe yourself as an ex-musician: when was your last gig?

 

ST: I played several casual gigs this year: last week, I played a wedding with a guitarist friend of mine. We drove about a hundred miles to play a gig overlooking 4,000 acres of Northern Sonoma County hills at some defunct ranch for some rich cats. I played an hour and got paid $225. My friend told me I was getting paid for the drive, not the playing. Before that, I played about a month ago with some people from my daughter’s school who have a bluegrass band. We played at a place 40 miles north of my house at an Irish pub, where there were three regulars at the bar. I made $14, but my family was in attendance for the first set and I got to play a friend’s upright bass, so that’s a plus. Four months or so back, I played with the above-mentioned guitarist for a medical convention’s End-of-the-Convention Party at AT&T Park in SF (used to be PacBell Park, the Giant’s baseball team plays there; it’s rad). I made a nice chunk of money and wore my suit, played some jazz, some Brazilian music, and some surf tunes for three hours, sitting in a metal chair on the VIP level where my friends who have season tickets and worship the Giants have never been. I felt guilty for not giving a shit. There were fireworks.

 

IB: Think you’ll ever play professionally again – what would it take to get you out of your self-imposed exile?

 

ST: Since we’ve recently experienced my wife getting a raise and our car payments ending, we’ve been doing pretty well. I don’t think there’d be anything that could get me to leave my family for several months at a time. I mean, really: How the fuck is a family supposed to function without one of the members of the Parent Class MIA for long periods of time? I love her too much to leave her or my children for more than a couple of days anyway. She’s always asking me if I need a rest, would I like to go have a beer with the boys, get out of the house for a bit, and I always say no. Well, most of the time. Alternately, the question is kinda loaded. I was never exiled, self-imposed or not. The only reason I was in music is the same reason most musicians are in music: I needed money and I could make some plying my trade, or whoring myself out, whichever you prefer (for those musicians of the world that ‘need’ to make music, please disregard the previous sentence and remain ‘needy’; us listeners thank you). Once I was unable to make money – for whatever reason – I quit trying to make more money at it.

 

IB: Are you still composing?

 

ST: Nope. I haven’t really touched pen to paper since the debacle with the Duo For Violin And Cello. My musical self-directed adventures are limited to a project I’m thinking of where I’ll post songs to one of my web pages that have a limitation of one hour spent on Garageband. That is to say, I’ll spend an hour on Garageband and whatever I end up with, I’ll post. An entire album of simple things that just pop out of my fingers and head is I think a worthy exercise. Other than that, I’m hoping to put something together with my family. My son plays drums (he’s almost five) and my daughter sings something scary good. I still have plans to teach my wife the bass (it doesn’t take much to be a bass player in a rock band, that we all know) and I’ll play guitar or keys or accordion. But the most important thing is, I’ll finally be in a band with some friends instead of an orchestral hired-hand like every other band I’ve ever been in, professionally-speaking.

 

IB: When I spoke with Ed Mann, he said he finally was able to appreciate your “unique sense of humour”….and “would welcome the opportunity to play with [him] anytime.” What are the chances?

 

ST: Well, pretty damn high, considering. I mean, playing with Ed wouldn’t even remotely ‘bring up’ any bad feelings from him specifically, if that’s what you mean. Ed and I are thoroughly reconciled.

 

IB: If someone has a huge talent, do you think it’s kind of a waste not exploiting it to its full potential, or is it just a sad fact of life that unless someone else spots it and thinks they can make some money from it, it will remain hidden away – therefore being happy and contented is really far more important?

 

ST: It’s a waste, sure, but name me one thing about this life that isn’t tainted with some kind of delightful horribleness. The fact that an artist, or a creative person in any way can be thwarted and have their talents either disregarded or ruined by the System of the World is small potatoes compared to the pressing problems that face Humanity. Namely, the Boy Band Factory and the company that produces those plastic six-pack holders (hi, uncle Bob!).

 

IB: Was it your idea to bung a bit of Bartok into Packard Goose on the 88 tour?

 

ST: Nope. Frank’s. He asked me to orchestrate it, and the Stravinsky, for the band. He tweezed it a bit, so it’s not ‘reeeely’ all mine, but I take credit for it because he stole credit for the music for Promiscuous, as bad as it is.

 

IB: Comparing the two versions of The Deathless Horsie on SUNPYG and YCDTOSA Vol 1, did you have an influence on the variations apparent in the latter over the original more laid back recording?

 

ST: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Seriously. I have never heard those two versions back-to-back nor have I ever compared any two performances of mine from live tapes or records or what-have-you. Any influence I may have imparted to that type of improvised music of Frank’s was purely coincidental and no meaning should be impugned.

 

IB: Your audition piece for Frank was Mo N Herb’s Vacation – did you ever record that (or Mo’s Vacation) for him?

 

ST: Nope. We were going to do a rock-band/orchestral concert in Poland that would have contained that piece, among others, while in rehearsal for the 1982 tour but it never materialized. All the pieces I worked on during my audition phase were looked at for possible performance but the project was scrapped. I recorded three songs with Frank in the studio: Cocaine Decisions, Valley Girl, and Be In My Video. Every other single piece of bass performance came from live recordings, either raw or tweezed/massaged in the studio.

 

IB: What do you know about the song Solitude that Frank wrote for Gail?

 

ST: I’m sorry you brought that up. Sadness. I recorded many, many tapes during the rehearsal phase of 1981. Most of these are lost from lendings or movings. The tape that contained the sole performance of that song was given to Steve Vai as a Zappa-Band-Member to Zappa-Band-Member Temporary InterLibrary Loan. Fucker lost it. I would appreciate it if he’d send that baby home to me. Other than that, it was an incredible song and I was looking mighty forward to performing it for the rest of my time with Frank. ‘Twas not to be. DAMN.

 

IB: Arthur Barrow was still Clonemeister after you joined Frank. Did he give you any particular advice that stuck with you as regards playing bass for Frank?

 

ST: Nope. In one ear and out the other was all the information I received from old Arty. He wasn’t very one-to-one, if that’s what you mean. He was nice enough during the initial putting-together-of-the-band and all, but he and I are not what you’d call compatible. I do recall one item though. We were a Nike Endorsement Band for the Eighties and we’d have to go to Santa Monica to get shoes at the Public Interface where we’d be given two pairs of shoes for each tour. Once, during the 1982 rehearsals, Arty came with us to get his shoes and I arrived wearing my Converse High Tops. When they only gave me one pair in revenge for wearing another brand’s shoes, Arty was there at Nike’s defence, asking me why I thought they should honour their end of the bargain if I wasn’t honouring mine. Nice guy!

 

IB: What can you tell me about the session with Lisa Popeil?

 

ST: You mean the original meeting? Or the week she was a full-fledged member of the ensemble before Frank had to fire her because it was painfully obvious that she was unable to deal with the real-music elements (ie. non-classical) of a rock-band’s particulars? Or the time we were in the bathroom together, making out? I don’t recall much about that particular time, so I was glad she mentioned it in song. I fondly recall her soft smooth skin, and her bounteous breasts and her obvious sexual passion, but I’m a gentleman and she’s a lady and we don’t talk about such things. Also, I can’t mention what Frank told me about her without her permission, so that will probably stay hidden until her after her death. I love her. She’s a sweetie.

 

IB: Do you think you’ve mellowed to the point where you wouldn’t now put on headphones and do a crossword puzzle on stage during a drum/guitar duet?

 

ST: I deny categorically your definition. It was stage-craft, improvised around the idea of a non-rock situation where all elements of stage-craft are considered equal. It wasn’t until after the tour ended that I ever heard anything at all about that particular element of the ‘show’. My understanding of our situation was that rock posturing is stupid and bands that participate in such behaviour are pathetically under-brained and deserve ridicule. You’re talking about the European Dweezil tour of 93 where I was already quite bent out of shape for having to deal with the idiocy of one of my band members on a daily basis and was in no mood to be told what to do, what to think, or anything at all other than “You’re great. I like what you do with my songs and have for almost eight years, and I won’t let the simple complication of not having had the good fortune to tour with our first choice for that position (due to medical issues), so if there’s any bad blood about this, I’ll just jettison the offending party.” Instead, I was ejected (thank you, Lord!) rather than the truly ‘difficult’ member (the person who was new, who was not part of the ‘original crew’, who was not of a sufficiently intelligent nature and therefore didn’t ‘fit in’ as I saw it), and I found that our original conception of the band – that we were the ‘Anti-Rock’ band and our job was to show up rock stage conventions (rock ‘face’, stances, attitudes and positions, grimaces, head-banging, hair-throwing) for the farce that they were – changed during our time on the road and so my previously non-offensive, part-of-the-proceedings “schtick” stuck out like a sore thumb due to a conflict with Dweezil’s apparent search for ‘seriousness’. Never in a million years could I have imagined that he would have switched over to a place in his mind where what we had all previously imagined and unwritteningly decided was thrown away to make way for his ‘music’, and that the proper stance for listening was pure concentration. I did what I did because I thought it was funny, not because I thought it would hurt him. Story of my life, apparently.

 

IB: The story about sticking you cock in Bruce Fowler’s face to shut him up – true or false?

 

ST: Super-duper true. Double true, dat.

 

IB: On a scale of one to 26, just how scary do you think you are?

 

ST: One.

 

IB: Did your brother Derek ever try again to get into Frank’s band after you’d joined?

 

ST: Nope. He concentrated on parking cars (like I had) and composition (like I wished I had) and then he got in a very bad motorcycle accident that eventually killed him (complications from AIDS).

 

IB: You said the Vai tour was “hellish” – what was so bad about it?

 

ST: Pass. I am keeping these things to myself. He’s a nice guy, I’ve heard. And I have no urge to dispel that myth.

 

IB: Is Tommy Mars really an alien?

 

ST: Huh? He’s a nice guy. I love him. Wished things went better between us, but personalities are what they are. Musically, he’s the most advanced individual I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with. I wish him double-happiness for the rest of his life.

 

IB: What memories do you have of Napoleon Murphy Brock on the 84 tour?

 

ST: He was great. I loved the way he stayed in bed ‘til it was time to leave for our first gig (San Diego? Three-hour drive away.) without even remotely getting his room ready to leave. We out-of-towners (me, Ray White, Napi) were put up at a residency apartment in the San Fernando Valley. Kitchen, utensils and plates. That type of thing. We were there for about three month’s worth of rehearsals and so we were very much ‘living’ there. Napi’s room was a fucking mess. We were due to leave at, oh, say, NOON, and I went to go get him and, bless his heart, he was lying there asleep or something. I went in to wrangle him and it was obvious that he wasn’t planning on driving with us in the van, but intended to use his own very large old-school boat of an American car to drive himself. Mistake number one. He very seriously completely missed the entire first sound-check. This is a serious no-no and I only did it once in the seven years I played with Frank, and that was for a pretty serious reason (I’d lost my passport) and Frank had even threatened to fine me for it. I told him to go ahead, I couldn’t help it. So whatever, dood. He didn’t. So for Napi to whip that out at the beginning of the tour was pretty righteous. The next two weeks were repeats of this type of thing. After a while, Frank just figured he was too high to proceed. I have no idea if drugs were involved – I’m just guessing – but you’d have to have a serious priority-issue if you thought that what you were doing was more important than what Frank needed you to do. I wish he’d stayed.

 

IB: Do you think Frank put out too much stuff from the 84 tour (eg. on the YCDTOSA series) simply because it was well recorded?

 

ST: Frank liked clean sounds, tight bands, and no mistakes. I don’t really care for that stuff all that much so I am not really able to gauge his recordings using those criteria. I liked the dangerous elements of the 88 tour, where one didn’t know if one was going to hear a gigantic fucking-up right after a righteous exaltedness or what.

 

IB: Think Chelsea will win the Premiership a third time on the trot?

 

ST: Sorry. Don’t follow sports of any kind. But horses are horribly mistreated in that particular situation and should be left to roam the high chaparral in peace along with the Aardwolf, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit, the Cactus Wren, the Golden Jackal, the Grey Fox, the Puma, the San Joachin Kit Fox, the Spotted Skunk, and the Wild Goat.

 

IB: You’re featured playing with Terry Bozzio on Rhythmatist on Dweezil’s new album – I assume that is an old Z outtake?

 

ST: Yep. I had to look it up on the Dweezil website to find explanations of what they were. Actually, they’re not ‘outtakes’ as much as ‘end of tape’ takes. We always filled out the last couple of minutes of tape with random ‘grooves’ or ‘jams’ or ‘hate filled diatribes’. Since I got paid $300/week, I never knew what was going to end up on an album unless I had to do overdubs (because we’d sometimes record up to 20 songs a day, my memory of any particular surrounding recordings with the Dweez are utterly devoid of content). I didn’t even remember doing ‘end of tape’ takes with Terry. Cool! I think we sound like Red-era King Crimson.

 

IB: When I interviewed Joe Travers about your departure from Z, he said you had problems with him. “He has problems with a lot of people. He had been working with Dweezil for a long time. It just ran its course pretty much. You should ask Scott.” So?

 

ST: Sounds pretty damn good to me. Good on ya, mate! OK, whatever. I offered to perform fisticuffs upon Joe’s person for throwing drum sticks into the audience after telling him repeatedly that this was NOT A GOOD THING as people have a propensity to throw things back. Sure, a Joe Travers Drum Stick is something that most people would fetish like a…well, a fetish. But, like they say in Men In Black (the movie): “A person is smart, but people are dumb.” Throw something broken with splinters sticking out of it into a post-rock concert crowd and you’ll watch me cower in abject fear. Joe not only couldn’t ‘get’ it, but argued with me all the way down the stairs into the backstage area. Mike K was with me so he’ll corroborate. I kept on Joe until I was nearly apoplectic. He never backed down, bless his pointed little heart, but it just inflamed me all the more. I apologized, but I got no joy back. He said: I accept your apology, but I’ll never forgive you. Whoa. Cut off, dood. When I got home from auditioning with the Waterboys in NY after the tour was over, I got a call from Dweezil, firing me. He said he needed ‘nice’ people in his band because he couldn’t afford to have separate rooms for each of his band members (even though he flew First Class all the time and stayed in Four Star hotels wherever we went). You see, we alternated sharing rooms and, after the argument with Joe, we got to stay by ourselves (something band-leaders should take into account when booking tours). Sure, most bands use a single van as their hotel, but how many Zappa-quality musicians would do a van tour of the US? Oh yeah, that’s right: ME. It was great to go back to having separate rooms for the remainder of the tour, but it wasn’t enough to resolve my issues with Joe.

 

IB: How would you rate Dweezil as a musician/composer? Were song ideas with Z greatly influenced by you and/or Keneally?

 

ST: I absolutely loved playing with Dweezil specifically because of his thoroughly fecund musical imagination. For a year and a half, Josh Freese and I (hi, Josh - how’s the Eternal Tour going?) would rehearse the shit out of Dweezil’s bedroom noodlings and turn them into nuggets of pure golden ambrosia. Those few months really were part of the reason I remained mostly unfazed by my lack of financial success and Other-Than-Zappa musical possibilities, keeping me happily sucking at the teat (or, more to the point, shooting up the China White) of the Zappa Family instead of getting off my ass and GETTING A JOB, as they say. I really shoulda, coulda been a contender if it weren’t for them Damn Zappas and their Damn Music (this is a joke).

 

IB: Ahmet seems very unlike Dweezil; extroverted and extremely funny. I imagine you two got on like a house on fire? Miss him?

 

ST: Love Ahmet to death. He was very much a Zappa the entire time I knew him, so he was funny yet distant. He wanted nothing more than to have fun and laugh with his older brother, but other humans amused him at times. He and I shared hardly anything in common but we respected each other. The one time I tried to turn him on to some art was going up to his bedroom and trying to play him Plan Nine From Outer Space. He got bored rather quickly. But he was in his early teens so I couldn't have expected TOO much...he was addicted to comics right then.

 

IB: Do you have any contact with the Zappas these days?

 

ST: Not really. A couple of years back, I got a phone call from Gail (my phone number hasn’t changed since I moved up from LA eleven years ago) asking me if I’d like to be involved in Zappaween. I said yes, and got a phone call directly from the biggest music promoter in New York, Ron Delsener. Pretty dramatic. A contract was sent a few weeks later with terms that confused me, so I got in touch with Steve Vai to ask him if he had the same terms. He did, but he felt that it would have been okay with him if the terms were changed on my account, seeing as I didn’t have millions of dollars in the bank and I lived hand-to-mouth at the time. After that particular conversation, without hearing anything from Gail about anything, I read in the alt.fan.frank-zappa newsgroup that the gig had been cancelled. Gail never called me back. I went to see Zappa Plays Zappa last month and had a nice conversation with everybody there, including DZ (he was about to have a baby); Gail (like I’d never left her house, old friends); Joe Travers (told him good tourist destinations for him and his girlfriend – yes, we were on good terms); Steve Vai (he wanted me to know that he’d finally become a fan of the music of Gustav Mahler, 25 years after I tried to turn him and everybody else on the 1981 tour on to him); Terry Bozzio (who – not having ever particularly gotten along with him [understatement for dramatic purposes] I was not expecting to even make eye contact with, let alone have him come up and grab my arms in your standard Male Side Hug, like in a photograph you’d take with a fan – was smiling and goofy and made a comment to the assembled hero-worshipping band members [who probably thought there would be a fight] that made light of our previous meeting; I appreciated this); and Warren DeMartini, the ex-guitarist from RATT, an old friend.

 

IB: Did you enjoy the show?

 

ST: I DID! They (the musicians on hire) comported themselves admirably. Had to take a couple of pee breaks so I unfortunately missed the drum solo section and one other part that I can’t remember. Other than that, they rocked the world.

 

IB: Do you still have any contact with Mike Keneally or Ike Willis?

 

ST: Strangely enough, Mike never calls when he comes up to Northern California and plays with whoever he plays with, but I enjoyed our time together in Germany for Zappanale #13. I tried to get up to see him the last time he was here, but there was a mismanagement of time on my part and I missed him. Ike? Uh, no. I’m not interested too much in communicating with him. I’m still recuperating from having spent six or eight months of my life in close proximity to him back in 1988 (he still owes me $95). But more importantly, I have hard feelings concerning an interview he did with JamBands.com where he thoroughly put the blame of the entire 1988 debacle on my shoulders, completely destroying (for the audience of that interview and any and all future historians who might read the damn thing) any semblance of a balanced viewpoint concerning the proceedings of that time. The main impetus for me to get ‘online’ back in 1997 was to battle the conception of the times: that I was at fault, that I was a bad bass player, that I ruined the tour and, even worse, Frank’s music with…well, with myself. I’d spent the better part of a year writing my Once-Asked-Questions on Geoscott.com (you can find them on the Wayback Machine, a part of Alexa.com’s web history function) and going on the above-mentioned newsgroup to rehabilitate my history, and Ike comes along and without even attempting to communicate with me, like Ed Mann did (Ed, being the original instigator of a large percentage of the negativity surrounding ‘me’ during the 1988 tour, has since not only apologized to me [and would also apologize to Frank were he alive] but has gone on to be one of my more trusted and simpatico cyber-buddies) lays the entire negativity of the tour on my doorstep, as if he’d never talked to any single member of the touring ensemble after the tour was over to find out the truth, but only read some blatherings on some chat room wall about what happened. I’m happy for him, and glad that he’s got a career singing music, but I’ve only seen him at the Zappanale (where, yes, I was gracious and reasonable to him). I was told that he moved to my locale, and I was shocked and dismayed. I am under the impression that he leaves disasters in his wake so I thought that his injection into my area would be a ‘bad thing’ but it seems that he’s already left without any damage to me, my family, my reputation, or my friends’ businesses. I wish him luck in all his endeavours.

 

IB: How did the invitation to play at Zappanale #13 come about?

 

ST: My sister Stacy met the guy who puts it on. He asked her what I was doing and she had a brainstorm that we should perform live on stage for the very first time in our 40s after never having any previous artistic combinatorality. I jumped at the chance. Of course, free airfare, a week in Germany with some Euros in my pocket, time spent with Stacy and my niece Isabella, and a thousand Euros helped me to agree to leave my “self-imposed exile” from music.

 

IB: Do you still rate Green Day?

 

ST: Strangely enough, more than ever. During that interview where I mentioned them, I had really only heard the Longview CD single which contained two live cuts along with the main song, so I had no idea of their catalogue. Subsequent to that time, I’ve seen them live (nice show at the Bill Graham Auditorium in SF almost seven years ago) and turned my children on to them by accident. I got International Supervideos for my wife as a joke last year for Christmas, but to this day she’s never seen it (she’s got the hots for Billie Joe, as do we all). My children, on the other hand, demand to see it every Movie Day (we only watch movies one day a week and have no cable) along with their Chosen Film, and they’ve managed to turn me into a fan all over again. Waiting and Warning are two of my current favourite songs. My wife was listening to American Idiot a lot last year and I became enamoured of the Jesus of Suburbia Suite, even though the title leaves much to be desired. On another note, my children’s actions have this to say about them: Virgil, my Drumming Son (who is five in a month) sings Green Day songs (along with Weezer songs) CONSTANTLY, and can be found improvising lyrics to their melodies whilst pooping (right before the Eternal Refrain: “Mom/Dad…Will You Wipe My Bottom”) and playing with his robots. He’s learned the basic riff of Smoke On The Water and the counter-melody and ending riff to Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. Hazle, my Dancing Daughter, is more of a conceptualist and thinks that the videos are superb.

 

IB: When did you last cry, and why?

 

ST: My wife and I cry at store openings. Probably some ad in a magazine or commercial that I thought was done with such genius and attention to human needs for art and loving communication (while not insulting the audience’s intelligence) that causes me a deep emotional reaction. We do that CONSTANTLY. I’ll find something, or she’ll find something, and we’ll show it to each other, and as one or the other looks up at the other, we’ll have this look on our faces, like: “AWWWWW”…but with a “isn’t that sweet but totally correct and intelligent and not at all tasteless or base or bathetic or twee” type of attention to basic humanity. Other than that, I think it was a recent communication from a friend who was very eloquent about a difficult situation.

 

IB: How does your wife put up with you?

 

ST: I’m going to take the high road here and assume you mean What Does My Wife Think Of Me In General, because there’s nothing even remotely special about how difficult I am to live with. I don’t gamble, I don’t steal her money, I don’t carouse around with other women (although the thought has crossed my mind), and I don’t drink to excess (in fact, I quit drinking my beloved beer at the start of the Summer because of my encroaching belly). I am lazy and distracted and can’t complete projects and I’m not a house cleaner and the basement and the backyard are conceptually messy but no more so than most. I love my wife to distraction and find her funny, sexy, beautiful and adorable. I make love to her as much as I possibly can (which isn’t nearly enough, thanks to schedules and tiredness and advanced age and rambunctious children and the damn phone and her brother downstairs always listening in with his high-tech spy equipment and his periscope) and make sure she gets an orgasm every time we do it but I’m not mechanical about it nor do I get angry when I can’t…well, YOU KNOW (when it’s more Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Drum Set than Eiffel Tower, if you get my meaning). I’m a sporadic cook and only know three things to do but when I do them, they’re very edible and I get high marks from the family (along with cleaned dishes). I have a quick temper and I hate people in general. I’ve scared my wife with my outbursts at people on the street while driving (I think it’s comedy and I’m only pretending to be mad at them, it being a parody of people who yell at people in cars, but she doesn’t get it) and constantly make jokes that go awry. I lose friends more than I make them from my snappy rejoinders and what I think is funny gives most people I know the Howling Fantods, but I’m always up for a barbeque at my house and we have regular outings with friends so there’s always somebody with us who loves the Family. I’m a great host, always making sure people are well supplied with libations or what-have-you, but when they leave, I heave a sigh of relief. I am always hugging or kissing my wife, and I tell her I love her at least twenty thousand times a day, which isn’t nearly enough for her, which rocks. We communicate about our day and about our thoughts concerning the World, but our innermost thoughts are rather guarded, being too dangerous to let loose regularly. Our subsequent conversations about the dangerous stuff are gentle and informative and we always leave them satisfied. We’ve never been mad at one another for more than a few hours and when my wife WAS disappointed at me for a long-term disaster I purveyed unto her she was extremely understanding (finally) of my lacks instead of pointedly making me out to be a ‘bad person’ or what-have-you. I’m working on losing weight and have dropped 15lbs. in the past three months. I keep to one or two espresso drinks a day and since we got an espresso machine I save my wife billions of dollars by not going to the Coffee Shop in San Anselmo EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t ask for high-end computer or musical equipment (although I’d really like a dedicated room for my recording junk that I can actually use [thank you, David!] and enough electrical outlets to run them) all that much, but she’s just gotten me a used piano (and a brand new acoustic guitar!), so she’s obviously aware of my leanings, but she never gives me grief for my time spent with music (probably because it’s so sporadic and seldom) as another woman might (and they have, let me tell you, they have in the past) and I’ve made her cry with my talents in this area so I’ve still ‘got it.’ I don’t like to repeat myself, I don’t like to tell my children to do something more than fifty times so I get cranky when I do, and I hate it when people give me ‘the cheek’ instead of the lips for me to kiss. Especially if I’ve known them for years. I know people who DON’T give me the cheek and they’re hotter Betties than the Cheek-Givers, so what’s the deal? Idiots. I get cranky when people are mean to my wife, or when other children don’t give my children the social respect they’ve earned and deserve, so I’ve been known to overstep my boundaries and give younger people grief when they are obviously incapable of handling my vitriol, but I always apologize afterwards. I’m an excellent apologist and am extremely well-practiced at it. I am hyper-aware of my failings so I’m always ready to hear criticism, but since most people are incapable of seeing the correct end of a diatribe (this is sometimes evidenced by unmeasured responses to perceived injustices; this happens to me a lot because of my past; they just can’t seem to get over it), they think I’m getting mad at the criticism instead of the manner in which it’s being conveyed. In other words, I’m exactly like other men, except better, so she knows she’s got a good thing.

 

IB: You seem a very happy and contented family guy. Do you ever worry about the time when your kids are less dependant on you?

 

ST: Absolutely. I know it’s kinda creepy – hopefully she’ll remember this in her future, with fondness – but I tell my daughter to never leave me and to not grow up and all that jazz. They are seriously the most adorable things on Planet Earth, and I’ll miss them horribly when they go (even though I’m sure I’ll be as ready to see them ejected from the pod as they’ll be to be ejected) but when you think about it, my daughter at age six is ONE THIRD of the way to college. One third!!! It’s disgusting to contemplate so I reject the notion that they’ll leave me.

 

IB: Ever dream about spoons?

 

ST: Not recently. But I do dream about Frank, and that’s far more disturbing. I dream about being on tour with him, and it’s always great. I’m always excited to be about to play, and it’s mostly backstage stuff at outdoor concerts, as that was my favourite place to be while on tour. Grass, tents, amphitheatres, all the people, the girls, the beer, and sky and the sound of PAs pumping out pre-concert music or the music of others. These are what make up the majority of my pleasant memories of touring so they find themselves inside my dreams of Frank.

 

IB: What do you miss most about him?

 

ST: His voice. Talking to him. Listening to him pontificate about every little thing on the planet that not only was interesting to him but to whoever asked him a question. He was the most generous genius I’d ever met, who’d give any moron the time of day and would explain in gracious languor and excruciating detail elements of an idea, thought, situation or position to anybody who asked. (If he had the time. On tour busses, he had time.)

 

IB: How would you like to be remembered?

 

ST: As a good father, a good husband, and a good bass player. My sense of humour, my giant wangus, and my attention to the clitoris. For my bottomless ability to drink beer without becoming an asshole, my fantastic driving skills, and my Duo For Violin And Cello. For my children who shall go on to amazing things and have my name associated with them in its correct role as footnote to their Greatness (as Beethoven’s and Mozart’s fathers were footnotes to theirs). For being Frank’s longest-concurrently-tenured musician. For having that fist fight in Wales during the Vai tour with that guy who crashed the backstage area drunk and waved that chicken wing at this cute vegetarian girl who I was NOT hitting on but I felt protective of. For the Young Republicans. For my string bass part on the Waterboy’s Love And Death. For having played string bass in a staged performance of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire Du Soldat in San Anselmo – my crush, Sarah Fairchild, in attendance. For being even remotely associated with Derek Thunes’s music by conducting the only performance of his Fantasy For Electric Violin And Jazz Band at the age of 17. For NOT being the reason many people were unable to attend any concerts by the 1988 Frank Zappa band. Wasn’t my fault, people! Impetus or no!

 

***

 

It would be really nice if this interview did appear in a future edition of TMershi Duween but it seems unlikely. You never know. Anywho, the photo of me and Scott was taken by my good Canadian friend, J-Roc, at London’s Roundhouse in November 2010.

 

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