DON'T ARGUE THE CAPTAIN
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART IN THE TALK-IN
from SOUNDS 010472
by steve peacock
is 24.03.72 interview
* announced on front page as 'beefheart, self-confessed genius'
* reprinted in book about cb 'the lives and times of captain beefheart' as 'th' interview'
* all pictures by spud murphy
part 1 - THIS is PART 2
were you pleased with the way 'trout mask replica' came out?
no. because i don't think they had their distribution together, so that kept it away from all those people. and i thought that that album was a very, very important message of energy - to people everywhere. i don't care about their age or their hairdos or whether they are paid their dues, or realise there's no use in it, that was an important message.
we worked for three years on telepathy and things like that together; my group - rockette morton and zoot horn rollo and myself especially - we learned to get that feeling of telepathy like that, and it was treated as some kind of freak show by zappa and cohen - all that straight/bizarre..., bizarre, what the fuck man? people who chop down christmas trees and shave poodle-tails and probably have very short christmas or something, and they spend their lives lumber-jacking.... i don't need a father or a mother - i had a mother and a father, and my mother has her navel and i have mine.
zappa thinks he's a father or something, some people think they're a father. what do you do to somebody like that? 'i have to go back to work'..., hell, go back to work, you'd have to go back to work, you'd have to go back into some weird way of thinking to even want to work - why not play through your job, whistle while you work? they even wrote that, why didn't they get that? 'row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily: life is but a dream'.
hell, there's not enough like them - there's no reason to flex your muscles continuously, blood doesn't need to be in a man's head all the time to prove that he's a penis or something. women don't want to see a man that's trying to be an erect phallus - there's no way, there's no softness, you see, that's why: all these wars.
there are all erect male buildings - now why are there no holes in the ground for the women? you know that i'm saying: there's no recipient buildings, there's no underground buildings - and i don't mean (slyly) underground, man. that's obviously our structure, socially, and everything is all right as long as everybody was honest. the constitution - thát's heavy man, those cats are heavy, but who really believed it? only the people who really had imagination, who can imagine themselves as being a nice person as opposed to a bad person.
but what about that thought - don't you think there should be female buildings? if i get the money, i'm going to make a female building. i'm going to do that, and i'll have you at the ground-breaking. how about that? a nice fucking building; not one that blocks the sun out or that pokes a hole in the sky - then we can see the mountains and the streams, see the full circle, rather than having to go way up in an airplane to see, to measure what it looks like.
but this is a rather sky-hook thing the children are doing now as well: 'it's gonna get together if i smoke a weed'. are you kidding? that's worse. i mean, are they going to enjoy it as much as old people enjoy their liquor? changing around their water intake, dressing water with odd gems that sparkle in the altitude - that's insane. no, not insane: very disconnected. varying degrees of disconnection is what i believe to be insanity.
i think everybody is very disconnected with their environment. maybe they don't like the house they built, but how are you going to change it - the world has to be changed, so why not change it intelligently? why tear it apart and hide it away like the cowboys did with the indian bloodletting scene. man, what is that? and english people like to see a damn cowboy picture, i know they do. but i don't think that this cult thing with this joint added to the human anatomy is going to do it, do you? did you hear 'there ain't no santa claus on the evening stage' on this album?
right, and 'blabber 'n' smoke'.
yeah, but i don't mean that i'm ashamed of the fact that i ever had a joint....
oh sure, it's just people who sit around the whole time getting stoned and...-
yeah, i think with all the peaks showing as it is in this society, we know so much from what has happened in the past, that we shouldn't go back to the twenties and have a war and sleep. another lullaby - that's all we need: another lullaby. all that is, is one change of life that we went through, but they see no future, they don't think they're gonna reach 25 - zoot horn rollo, for instance, told me he wouldn't live past 22. he was real surprised to find out that he is 23 now, but the way he had been to school he had to count to a hundred and then forget it, make a zero.
i didn't want him to do a numbers game on me. i told him the truth, i said i didn't know whether he would or not, but i don't think that's any excuse to admit that you're not alive when you're standing there breathing on my face like that. i think there's a lot of silly attitudes out here, i'll tell you, brought up by these silly movies and... a lot of things.
colour tv - i dug black and white much better, then you can use your colours. colour tv is so inadequate, it's way behind colour photography, wouldn't you say? well, they should bring tv up to colour photography, and then it would be different. but even so, what do they put on it? a bunch of 'look at my holster, darlin'...' - i mean what the hell is that shit? and there's absolutely no lovemaking, that's silly.
right, it's ok to show people killing each other, but not making love.
yeah, but the female of today is a nurse - she doesn't fuck. she's just helping out at the side, she isn't getting off, she's just helping out with her nurse work. where's that at? i won't permit that, i will not have intercourse with somebody who is standing there checking my temperature. but i think that men have caused that shit with these damn buildings, and making a woman look like a cow with udders out in the street, in the pasture - 'go out to graze baby, me and the men are going to play some poker'.
why shouldn't women get to play poker? because man is afraid she'll beat him, which she will every time, because they are heavy. there is no difference between a male and a female mind except men play more as a child, they are just children, and usually a woman is babysitting. well i don't want any woman babysitting me. i want a woman, i don't want a babysitter or a nurse -wetnurse, or sugartail or whatever they call them. what do they call them here, one of those classifiers. joint? (gales of laughter again.) no, i am teasing.... cigarette?
do you think rock and roll music fulfils that function for a lot of people?
well of course i know it, and you know i know it does, and you know it does too. lullaby?
and you try to change that attitude when you're...-
don't you think i have? but hey listen: i have no right to change anything, i'm just playing. i'm not a doctor, i'm not a nurse for the kids like a lot of women are for the men. when i'm playing, women come to see me, not nurses. i have real women in my audiences, you'll see. you watch - you wanna watch out. but these other women, they've got to learn something, the nuns. none me nun, i want some.
was it right that the magic band that did 'trout mask replica', people like zoot horn, were not schooled musicians, they hadn't learned to play?
never played before. if he had picked it up and done a..., you know, bb king. i mean where the hell is that - everyone like bb king, or chuck berry? they neglected their own art and went over to emulate things that had already been done, and could be successfully done right there, any time. bb king could do it, now why the hell didn't they realise that they could do it - the people that copied those people? i don't think that's right, for either party.
that's why i tried to do something that was my own, and the thing is that invariably they'll tell me 'you sound a lot like howlin' wolf and i'll say: that's impossible - the age difference.... i wouldn't do that, i have honour for other artists. that's too easy..., it's too easy for a writer to say: 'you sound like howlin' wolf'. i want the writer to..., well be realistic. it isn't that easy to write about me, and the thing is that it wouldn't be too easy for me to write about you, but those alternatives and concessions shouldn't be made in cases like this, there should be art put on top of it.
if you're writing about an artist, you gotta get into paint too. i have tried to tell writers at all the interviews i've done: man you write something you wanted to say. it's not fair for you to write about me and not have your say.... i am a realist, i'm not an abstract. truly a realist, and they thought i was abstract - do you see what i mean? now, rock and roll: that's far out, it's far out for someone to do something that happened twenty or fifteen years ago.
i have a book coming out, it's going to be really funny. you ask them what they think about the captain having sex, because they have always thought of me as a eunuch - a farout lunar eunuch, due to my brief association with zappa. i mean i am a sexy, healthy male and i'm not in captivity, so naturally i haven't regressed in my organs - i've got blood running everywhere. i wonder what they'll think, now that i have a group of men, who play men's music..., to women. other men can enjoy it too, but it is definitely to women because i'm playing to a receiver, i'm not playing to the telephone company, or an operator.
i think we have to stop now because there is someone else waiting - but can i just ask you one more thing about 'trout mask replica'? when you were putting the vocal track on, you didn't wear headphones, is that right?
well of course not, why should i?
but how did you get it down?
you know how i did it, it's like i said, when you're a child with butterflies as big as your eyes. nothing religious or anything like that...: just a plumber who dug to take the fitting off his pipes, so the water runs: it's no big thing.
but not many people could do it.
sure they could. i can see them doing it man, because i do it and i can see you doing it since i was in here. it's just the idea of trying to see yourself doing it, that stops you from doing it all the time. you out of it, is what it is. but that sounds 'zen', and i am not talking about zen, i'm talking about z'right now.
click clack to the power station, the news or the other INTERVIEWS
captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo