DON'T ARGUE THE CAPTAIN
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART PULLS A HAT OUT OF HIS RABBIT
from NEW YORK ROCKER
#16 010179 usa
by byron coley with an assist from robbie carey
is 26.11.78 interview
(which text was reprinted in JAPANESE translation in japan 011079 rock magazine #27 as 'why don't you listen? there is a sound.')
as well as the full version
MASTER MUST SPEAK TO YOU'
the small matter of an interview with captain beefheart
from PTOLEMAIC TERRASCOPE #28 010200 england
notes: i combined both versions, with the later material in a different colour. the story line followed is that of the authorized second version - teejo
part 1 - THIS is PART 2 - part 3 - part 4
(to jan:) where's my horse, jan?... you know, once stravinsky called me to his house, when i was doing a thing called 'trout mask replica'. laura huxley called and wanted me to go meet him, and said: 'the master must speak to you.' and i didn't go. because of the fact that i was deeply involved in the album and the people i was with probably would've run right out the doors if i would have left at that time. so i didn't go and i've never forgiven myself for that. but, i sold aldous huxley a vacuum cleaner, an electrolux.
really? was it any good or was it a bum cleaner?
oh yeah, very good. i wouldn't have done it otherwise. i have a hard time selling anything. but that was one thing that was really worth it, because at that time it had a bag, a little paper bag, and it just sealed off and you could dispose of it very easily.
i didn't know it was him when i met him. but after being there for a minute i thought: 'this fellow is an awfully powerful, unusual individual.' he could hardly see, you know. he was very tall, but stooped over. and he looked down like this and said: 'i want that.' i said: 'well, i assure you sir, this thing sucks.' something corny like that, but i had read 'a brave new world revisited' and i had seen a picture of him. so by the time i got to say that to him i knew it was him. it was great.
that's the way it happened - up in lano, california, up near pearblossom in the high desert [of mojave - t.t.]. he wrote a thing up there called 'the crows of pearblossom'. that guy wrote some stuff. an englishman coming that far out of himself is amazing. you've been to england? well, then you know what i mean. the idea of him being able to get through all of that school....
(to photographer:) where did you go to school?
(photographer:) rhode island school of design.
i'll bet it's good. they do some good things back here. do you know... - (to jan:) what's his name, jan? he does black and white... god, i've been talking so much around here. what is the name of that, jan? arthur what?
jan van vliet: rudow. r-u-d-o-w.
rudow, he's with 'newsweek'. he's the assistant editor or something. we ate at this restaurant. what was the name of that restaurant?
jan van vliet: i'm going to go in the other room and read.
at the show the other night you played a lot of your older material, along with recent stuff. don't you think that people will see this band standing in the shadow of rockette morton (mark boston) or zoot horn rollo (bill harkleroad)?
i don't think so. i just thought that it would be a nice idea to have people see a band, playing some of the things i did on 'trout mask replica' and 'lick my decals off, baby', and smiling and laughing. because those other guys were having so much work playing that stuff that they were brittle. and it was part of the mystique, you know, the fact that they were like this (makes gesture indicating rigidity) with the exception of rockette morton.
these people are superior. i hate to say superior for god sake. you know, mother superior. but they are definitely way above the thought patterns of those people. some of those people had quite a few prejudices and things like that, which stamps out any kind of creativity.
then do you think that after this tour you'll be dropping a lot of the old stuff and relying more on new things?
oh, definitely. but it's kind of hard not to play a few old ones, because people... - you heard them hollering for a certain request. and all i could say was: 'come on, you didn't pay six dollars to hear a jukebox?' i'm trying to weed out those older things. there are so many new things that it would be absurd to play the old ones much longer. i didn't do 'big eyed beans from venus' and, i mean, that's quite a thing right there, to get by with not doing that. and they didn't say that much. well, they said a few things. (fake yells) 'big eyed beans from venus!' there was quite a chorus.
after you did 'dropout boogie', you made kind of a pointed remark towards the new wave, 'devo' in particular...
what'd i say?
'have you heard this before, does it sound like anything people are doing now?'... just stuff like that.
oh, but i was teasing. i wouldn't stop progress.
because so many bands have sighted you as a primary influence, especially... - have you heard 'pere ubu'?
they're pretty good, isn't it? what about 'the weirdos'?
the weirdos? i don't know, i personally don't like them that much.
i don't either. what i heard the other night about nazism and fascists reminds me of that orange juice chick, what's her name?
the thing is though: pere ubu, they've used musettes...
some of their older stuff has a real '25th century quaker'-type sound.
really?.... i've got to hear some of that stuff.
it's real good.
i haven't heard it, man. i can't afford to buy it. are you kidding? mé? how can i afford to buy that stuff.... [strange question from 'new york rocker' eliminated - teejo] but devo have one of my entire drum parts, obviously, in one of their songs. but why do they have to put the rolling stones' 'satisfaction' on it, together with 'ant man bee', if i'm not mistaken.
all their original stuff was written on electronic drums. supposedly their old drummer is building them a new set right now.
do you think that's good? i wonder about electronic drums. that's kind of frightening. can you imagine a cat with a steel pad...
eeewww, ewww... i hate to see people avoid the heart like that. i like stockhausen, a lot of his stuff. i like hím better than i do his music, i think, him himself.
what sort of things were you doing before 'safe as milk'?
i did a thing called '(out of the) frying pan (into the fire)'. it was about the fellow that invented blood plasma, i mean the usage of it. they let him bleed to death in the street, a black man. that's what i meant by that, which is pretty frightening. it says: 'go downtown / i walk around / the man comes up says he's gonna put me down / you try to succeed to fulfill your need / you get hit by a car / the people watch you bleed / out of the frying pan into the fire / anything you say they're gonna call you liar'.
what do i think of the new wave and punk rock movement, is that what you want to know? i think it's a damn good idea to get rid of that fixated heartbeat, but i hope they don't avoid the fact that the heart is what pumps the blood.
gets it around.
gets it around and around. but i think it's nice that they're delving into the fact that most new music has no investigative qualities and no word transformation. there's just no regard for any kind of research or any kind of breaking down the cataracts. i may get hardening of the arteries, but i'll never get hardening of the eyes. you can quote me.
and people should have the right to make their own preferences. and believe me, a lot of people don't have the right, it seems that people are trying to take that right away from people. well, anita bryant - people hater. and the people love her. present company excepted, i'm sure wé hate her. but man, there's an awful lot of people who don't. and that's frightening at this point. this is 1978. isn't it frightening? that's the thing that scares me more than anything.
i read in a paper in san francisco that she had been voted the worst woman in the world by schoolkids.
that's encouraging, but that's just in san francisco. san francisco has always been tolerant of everything, hasn't it? new york, too. i love new york.
there are some spots in the middle of the country that are okay, too.
man i wouldn't want to be in any of them. would you? you know where ezra pound (famous 'difficult' poet - t.t.) was from, right? nebraska or something. the idea that somebody like ezra pound could come out of nebraska was quite amazing to me. most people down in texas say: 'it don't hurt them' when they burn those cows. good god, what do you think of that? think of ány brand.
your new album seems to be a return to previous styles. do you see it as that, or are you taking off in a new direction?
well, i'm gone, man. i'm off and gone. you see, they wouldn't even let me put out an album. after you do something like 'lick my decals off, baby' - meaning: get rid of the labels - the labels get rid of you. it's the truth. pete johnson is the one who, fortunately, signed me back onto warner brothers.
what happened when you went off warners before?
terrible things, terrible. it was a power of attorney thing. i had signed a p-of-a deal to an attorney in los angeles. and i had a corporation called 'god's golfball' - which was, you know, referring to the game of business. a golfball is supposed to stay up high in the air. but he signed me off of warner bros in the middle of the night, the son of a bitch!
cheap son of a bitch.
not that cheap. it's taken me a lot to get out of it and i don't have a lot. [original sentence with two times 'a lot of dough' has been corrected - teejo.]
was that about the same time as the split-off of the band as mallard?
weren't they a bunch of quacks? they ducked. with a name like that you can't fly, but you can duck. that's what i think. i mean, imagine it. imagine six years of being with people. and they left five days before a tour of the united states and europe. that's pretty nonchalant. or something else.
i've been wondering, who played drums on 'trout mask replica'?
well, you know, the thing with that is that herbie cohen didn't put down who played drums on that, kind of casual again.
so now nobody knows? it's a mystery?
it's drumbo, of course.
oh. it is drumbo.
obviously. i mean, if anybody doesn't know that... - yóu knéw thát - you knów you knew that!
drumbo was john french?
of course, yeah. god, anybody would know him.
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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo