John French answers your questions from 2000/1

In 2000 John French, aka Drumbo, was writing his account of his time in the Magic Band, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic.

The author called on Radar Station visitors to send him their questions and suggestions for the book, to ensure that he included the details that you wanted to know. Many of you responded to this appeal and John French passed on his sincere thanks.

Many of the questions were of a very specific nature and couldn’t be easily covered in the format of a biographical book. Since they were also very interesting questions well worth addressing, John suggested that his answers could be made available at the Radar Station as a preview to the book.

True to his word, here they are:

  1. Introduction by John French
  2. Questions from Eric Clark
    John’s drum style. Tunings and favoured equipment.
  3. Questions from Joe Ashworth
    TMR drum rhythms. Rehearsals. TMR live. Don’s emotions. Zappa’s bonding effect. Drugs. Don’s lyric writing.
  4. Questions from Robert
    Post-Trout Mask possibilities.
  5. Questions from Duncan Lockerbie
    Drugs. Don’s psychic ability.
  6. Questions from Cisco Garcia
  7. Questions from Bob Jennings
    The “post-Szabo Archtop period”.
  8. Questions from Bruno Ghezzi
    Bass clarinets.
  9. Questions from Basil Storey
    Dancing to the Magic Band.
  10. Questions from The Artist Who May Become Known As John Ellis
    Changes to the song lyrics. Heckling incidents. Animal from The Muppets.
  11. Questions from Pierre Antaya
    Antelope Valley. Ecology. John Parr. Strictly Personal guitar styles. Band input. Disappointment with Spotlight Kid. Don and science. Drummers who influenced John.
  12. Questions from Robert Carey
    Trout house. Musical influences. Band members’ personalities. Band’s thoughts on Trout Mask. Difficulties creating Trout Mask. Who wrote the music? Ex-members’ music. Don’s vision. Decals, BJ&MB & Mallard. Debra Kadabra. Voices on Trout Mask. Don and money.
  13. Questions from Steven Ceiro
    Don’s rhythmic ideas. Don’s musical training. Improvisation. Multiple time signatures.
  14. Questions from Dan Mellamphy
    John’s thoughts on Tom Waits.
  15. Questions from Matt Janovic
    Don’s meeting with Ornette Coleman.
  16. Questions from Hans Van Hulst
    Day-to-day life in the Trout House.
  17. Questions from John Wilby
  18. Questions from Jarkko Nevalainen
    Jeff Moris Tepper.
  19. Questions from Michael H
    Don’s thoughts on other artists. Influences on TMR drums. Don and religion. The relationship between lyrics and music.
  20. Questions from Wingnut
  21. Questions from Steven Vacca
    Don’s ex-girlfriend Laurie.
  22. Questions from Monique / Michael Cohen
    Don and Frank. The Beatles. Strictly Personal. John’s work with Richard Thompson.
  23. Questions from Marshall Needleman Armintor
    TMR’s commercial potential.
  24. Questions from Basil Storey part 2
    Band rehearsals. Recruitment of musicians.
  25. Questions from John Wilby
    Beefheart’s influence on other musicians. Greg “Ella Guru” Davidson.
  26. Questions from Ralf NygÂrd
  27. Questions from Paul Lewis
    Transition from blues to avant-garde. ‘Field recording’ approach of TMR.
  28. Questions from the 5th Procurator of Judea
    Steve Reich.
  29. Questions from John Mackenzie
    John’s transcriptions of Don’s ideas. Magic Band line-up changes.

The pictures on this page are stills from the BBC documentary The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart. John French writes:

This interview was done at Whites Cafe in Mojave, where Don’s parents used to take him as a child. He drove up there all the time in the seventies and early eighties when he lived here. I think it was a nostalgic look at his childhood. He may have grieved the loss of his father more than he cared to admit. I recently drove up to Mojave to go to Whites, in search of my own nostalgia, and was saddened to find that the restaurant, a local landmark, had been recently demolished.

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