captain beefheart electricity

DON'T ARGUE WITH THE CAPTAIN
the interviews


 

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

'THE 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 - part 2 - part 3 - THIS is PART 4

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(to photographer:) i can see what you do being an awful bombardment. it's a hard act, one of the hardest. have you had any exhibits?

(photographer:) i had one in new orleans.

i know a fellow that just went down there. he was sitting at a bar... - did you hear that horn (indicating a car horn on the street below)? it threw me right out of my thought pattern.... he sells space shoes in san francisco. you'd love this guy. he's incredible. and i think they make the best space shoes. have you seen murray's space shoes? they're like these things - they get molded to your foot. they feel só good.

but this guy up here is the best. the best i've ever seen. i'm going to have three or four pairs made. i don't know how i'll pay for them, 'cause i probably won't have enough money to walk after paying for these shoes. they're so expensive - a hundred and a quarter apiece (in dollars - t.t.). but i've had these ones for seven years. they last forever.

i find that these are cheaper than any other way. you just revamp these things and they look brand new. if i wanted to really shine these things and dye them they would look brand new. but this fellow is so good that he's definitely an artist. you should get some of these. his name is travis and you should go see him.

but i never have enough money.

the thing is, you should save it and get a pair of these. you'll never forget it. you don't even know you have feet. think about not knowing you have feet. you'd love it. that's the thing - get away from the feet and the head is fine. because the foot touches everything and that does it up here. when i paint with these things on... - i have a pair that i do nothing but paint in. and i can completely get out of here with these things.

you know who told me about these? it was a fellow, when i was five years old, named eden ahbez - they call him 'the nature boy'. he wrote the song 'nature boy', really good song (whistles it). i'm so hoarse. i whistle with my vocal cords, real unusual whistling. but i'm so hoarse from this tour that i can't really keep in tune, which is frightening. because i sing with my vocal cords. if i go (whistles) then i know i'm not going to be able to sing, until i can whistle in tune. although that was in tune.

but you see, there's a restriction on tuning. people like to hear music in tune, because they hear it in tune all the time. like a camera - the way it's going to be is the way that the camera is constructed. i tried to break out of that on an album called 'trout mask replica'. i really tried to break that down. i made it all out of focus. i untuned the piano i wrote it on. then one musician - i mean réally a musician - art tripp (ed marimba), came in and said: 'i've got to fix some of these keys', and i said: 'oh, no'.

he had gone to the manhattan school of music, and he was going to join my band. so, i got an erector set and i said: 'this is the test. form means nothing to me. just take this erector set (i'd built a little thing), now, squeeze this erector set.' because he'd gone to the manhattan school of music he was very form-minded - although it's better than julliard, where for most people just make a mold. but i said: 'how does that feel?' he says: 'it's horrible'. i say: 'am i right, then?', like that. and he says: 'i'll try it.' so that was better.

i'm going to start lecturing soon at all the colleges and stuff. and the thing is i'm going to tell people the way i do music. because i have a different way of doing music. i'm a sculptor and it does definitely pour from that.

do you think people will get it?

i think it will go into their minds. i think everybody who has ever... - do you hear those horns? do you hear them? well then, of course they hear my music. everybody hears my music, but the thing is, it's a matter of whether they want to or not. i don't know how people can say they don't hear that horn, when that horn is there.

that's what gets me. what the hell are they doing, man? what are they doing? i mean, people must know they're wrong. they must know that some of the things they're doing are so far back that a train don't go there. they must realize that and yet they still have the same concept.

i'm talking about preference. like weight, fascism, they don't change, man. who in the world can say one thing is the same way? you heard that horn, but you heard it differently than i heard it. maybe. and you heard it different. that's what i mean.

i've gotta start writing. i'm gonna get political and then i won't be worth a shit. all those stupid people in high places - that's politics. that ís politics - stupid people in in high places. a beatnik poet in santa monica, when i was thirteen and frank zappa was thirteen, he was with me - we were the same age - and we heard this guy and he says: 'if you don't mind stupid people in high places..., you'll love the government.'

he had a pair of dark glasses and a suit. i stood up and said: 'yeah. woo. i agree with you.' they almost kicked me out of the club. now, why would they almost take me out of the club if they had somebody like that there saying things like that? there are so many contradictions. so right there i knew that the guy who tried to take me out of there for standing up and saying that was... - it's so crazy.

but can you get them to realize or admit it?

i wonder. i really wonder. lysergic acid (aka l.s.d., a very heavy soft drug - t.t.) was one way that people got out of certain things. but the thing is it's too fast, you can't see what's happening because it's too unnatural. again, i'm back to the drums. you see, i don't think that that's an answer. i just think that everybody is different. somebody just being there and trying to project exactly what they think, just standing there. i don't know whether distinction is going to do it, although i'd like to hear it.

are you looking for ways to break it down?

all the time, but i don't have to break it down because i've never been fixated and i'm lucky: i never went to school in my life.

not even when you were a little nipper?

not even when i was a little nipper. i wet my pants when my mother took me to kindergarten. so i did a kindergarten - wet my pants and got violent, 'cause i wanted to get the hell out of there. we were playing with blocks and i wouldn't do it. and i never did do it. just wouldn't do it. never.

what do you do about people who have gone through years of that structuring?

well, i told you what i did with art tripp. i did that to see if he really thought that was not a painful technique, mentally. and physical is mental, to a degree. it helped him.

what about the rest of the people?

when i play, i play to everybody. the fact is that i wouldn't select myself to be playing to fixation.  let's just hope that this new wave doesn't become fixated. that is the one thing that worries me about it. maybe they will fixate themselves within trying to sell their records and whatnot, and use too much shock-value, which i think is not the answer.

because shock-value is... - it would be a pity if they let this one fall. man, if they drop the ball this time. ['full' version is missing the next lines:] you know, like these people (makes peace sign) did. ooh. that's a shame, because they had some good ideas. soap is not one of them, though. cleanliness is next to godliness, with that i agree, and i think they were wrong about that. i mean, not too much cleanliness, because your skin would fall off. i've had to take so many showers after coming off stage on this tour that my skin is getting so dry.

i find myself just putting on this cream, and the only one i can use is tom's and it's so damn expensive, you know, $1.75, $2.00 for a little tube. ['full' version abruptly continues:] i've had to use so much of it - my hands are cracking from holding the microphone, playing the teeth. it's just amazing what goes through and what happens. the good things are so damn expensive, only a few of the wrong people usually get them.

the wrong people have all the money.

yeah. and that's how they get it. 'the higher you go, the rarer the vegetation.' salvador dali said that, although i don't know where he got it. i think i've read it in a classic of one sort or another. an older classic. what do you think about that? am i right or wrong? although there really is no right or wrong. the truth has no patterns. i put that on 'tropical hot dog night'.

i don't know, but i'm afraid i see it in terms of hair. and since i'm going bald myself...

what? you're going bald? you mean you won't be able to get a new wave?... but doesn't it all come down to preferences and decisions? and don't they create a girdle? although some girdles are pretty hip looking - i mean those old 'playtex' girdles, oh man! woooo! where in the hell can one get some garments around here? i like baggy clothes because they allow more breathing. but i would. i wrote 'big joan'.

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[epilogue]

here we ended the interview in favor of a photo session. but while being snapped, don told a story about putting a washerwoman into hysterics at the royal albert hall in london. it seems the captain got her when he said: 'an architect is someone who wants to crawl up your penis, pull down the shades, turn off the lights, and type all night.'

what a great fucking quote.

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second version recybered with permission




a NOTE:
 if you want to know what true beefheart adventures happened during don van vliet's guest performances for the 'blue collar' soundtrack and the album 'now' by the tubes, you should click clack to the separate stories hard workin' man and the sputnik and the blimp respectively. if you don't really want to know, go through it anyway: you can have some very, very good laughs (although there's the danger of an overdose)!

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and ANOTHER one:
 ptolemaic terrascope is an irregular magazine from england. the shit is that of each issue they only print just the amount of copies that have been
pre-ordered! so you must keep an eye on the giftshop to make sure you'll get future issues which will contain interviews with former members of the crew like bill harkleroad (zoot horn rollo), doug moon, and gary marker [part-time member], and maybe alex snouffer (alex st. claire)...

perhaps you're even lucky enough to get hold of the earlier issue
#26 01.02.99 DRUMBO john french

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click clack back to the history or the power station


captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo

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