John French has created a 20 minute ‘Bucket List’ video update on various projects and preoccupations that are keeping him busy. He talks about various Trout Mask Replica related issues, drum videos, chasing royalties from his book and some Magic Band live albums that are in the pipeline. It’s well worth a look :
Another John French interview. This time for the Trap Set in 2017.
A short Q&A with John French at the Rough Trade East record shop in London on 20 November 2013. This was filmed by Elaine Shepherd who produced the BBC documentary about Don.
A short interview by David Eastaugh with John French recorded before the Magic Band show at Norwich Arts Centre in November 2013 Listen to interview
In March 2013 John and Denny stopped off in Glasgow during their tour of the UK for an interview with John Cavanagh on his Soundwaves show broadcast on Radio Six International. Listen to the interview
Jerry was the emcee at the Jimmy Carl Black benefit on 7 December 2008 at which John French was debuting his new band Drumbo. Jerry has posted this great interview in five parts, recorded while John was still waiting for his book to be published. The link below will take you to the first part of the interview. Scroll down the page for the other parts. https://anchor.fm/jerry-d-ford/episodes/Rare-interview-with-John-DRUMBO-French-of-Captain-Beefhearts-Magic-Band-et5sd8
If you don’t already have a copy of John French’s (almost) definitive book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic, then here’s your chance as The Last Music Company are reprinting it. An essential read for any fan of Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band. It will be available from 23 April 2021 in Europe and from 2 September in the US in hardback and digital formats. If you having any doubts about getting a copy then read my review of it here : Review of Through The Eyes Of Magic Alongside the book they are also releasing a limited edition vinyl version of John’s excellent
Composer and musicologist Samuel Andreyev begins his project to interview all the musicians who played on the Trout Mask Replica album. He begins with drummer and arranger John Drumbo French
On his Facebook page John French further tries to explain what happened with the recording of the legendary ‘It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper’ album. After writing an 864-page book, “Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic,” in which I tried my best to accurately “set the record straight” on many of the myths and misunderstandings that have collectively swirled and snowballed down the hill of legends into the confused form-a-heap ( yes, I’m using that phrase from Bill’s Corpse from TMR) it is today, I still find the number one thing people seem to keep scattering misinformation about is Strictly Personal,
Yet another interview with John French. This time it’s with Joe Wong from the Trap Set which is a weekly podcast and terrestrial radio show about the lives of drummers. Amazingly John manages to keep it interesting by recalling ever more detail of his time with the Magic Band. You can hear it here :
UPDATED: 8th May 2020 Eric Gudas has written a fascinating article for the All About Jazz website about the making of Trout Mask Replica. He looks at it from a jazz viewpoint as that’s the audience he’s writing for so it makes for an interesting read. I don’t think there are many articles that have discussed the jazz connections of Don’s music. He draws heavily on the interviews done by Samual Andreyev with the members of the Trout band plus a lengthy interview he carried out with John French. I am unable to link direct to the article (the site keeps changing its URL) so
For many people on the first listen Trout Mask Replica just sounds awful. For those of us that grow to love it, it’s a masterpiece. If you don’t entirely get it yet, this 10 minute feature video from Vox nicely picks apart what’s going on and why so many of us consider it to be uniquely special. If you enjoy this and want something more in-depth then have a look at Samuel Andreyev’s analysis of Frownland and his extended conversation with John French.
NTS Radio recently broadcast ‘The Magic Behind Beefheart’, an hour long look at Don and the Magic Band’s career by Imogen Eason. A great selection of music, albeit brief extracts, keep the show moving along. It includes interviews with John French and Denny Walley talking about their time in the band, about Don and Frank Zappa and about playing the music again in the reunion Magic Band. It’s not clear when these interviews were done but presumably they must be a few years old and recorded before Denny left the band – (I’m guessing 2013). Take a listen here
As the Magic Band begin their Farewell tour of the UK this excellent interview by John Martin has appeared on the Nottingham cultural website Leftlion to advertise their performance at the city’s Rescue Rooms on Sunday 12 November 2017. Read the interview Check out details of the Magic Band tour
Around July 2017 John French was invited to take part in the Austin Corn Lovers Fiesta in October to celebrate the music of Captain Beefheart with a collection of local musicians. This was an exciting opportunity for John to not only perform in the US but also to present some of Don’s songs with an extended band, horns, back-up singers and even a concert level theremin player! The Radar Station was unable to attend the show but we know someone who did and he has sent us this review of the event. Review by Patrick Grant Threadgill’s is a bar/restaurant/music venue in Austin, Texas having
John French will be playing a show at Threadgill’s in Austin, TX, October 7th, 2017 as part of the Austin Corn Lovers Fiesta. Here’s what John has to say about it: A four-piece band, 3 backup singers, and 4 horns! Whoa! Twelve people on stage during parts of this show. This will be sort of a “celebration” of Beefheart music. A one-hour show at the former location of Armadillo World Headquarters — where I played with Don in 1971 and also where “Bongo Fury” was recorded. It will be a pretty different experience for me. Oh, and one of the singers, Aileen Adler also will be
We recently posted about composer Samuel Andreyev’s Youtube analysis of the album Trout Mask Replica. A fascinating piece if you haven’t watched it yet. On the back of piece we were able to put Samuel in contact with John French and he has now posted an excellent video interview with John on Youtube lasting an hour and forty five minutes. In the interview they discuss John’s time in the Magic Band (unsurprisingly), concentrating on the time in the Trout House and the making of TMR. Take a look here: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od0_LRNlE5A]
2016 has been a bad news year for all sorts of reasons … unfortunately here’s some more of the same… On 15 December John French posted this on The Magic Band Facebook page: I have decided not to pursue any more tours. There is precious little demand these days, and not enough offers to actually support any group. I have sincerely enjoyed the actual tours, but the five to six months leading up to them is filled with tedious details. Too much time is spent on the business and not enough on the music. Since I founded the whole project in 2002, the difficulty level
A look at the new book from Herb Bermann, Don’s co-writer on Safe As Milk. It’s not that long ago that many people thought that Herb Bermann was just another myth created by Don Van Vliet. Although he shared writing credits on eight songs on the Safe As Milk album, and, much later, one on Shiny Beast, he seemed to have disappeared off the radar. But the Radar Station kept looking for him … You can read about my and Derek Laskie’s search here. We were certain he was out there and Derek eventually managed to secure an exclusive interview with him for the Radar
Magic Band Members: Mark Boston, John French, Bill Harkleroad, John Thomas, Art Tripp Is is a duck ? … is it a train? No, it’s the Magic Band after they left Beefheart in 1974. Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) decided to form their own band. John French joined on vocals and drums and John Thomas, who’d been with French in Rattlesnake & Eggs, played keyboards. Unfortunately only six demo songs were recorded with this line-up before French got the call to rejoin the Magic Band. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, a Magic Band fan and friend of Mark