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Patrice 'Candy' Zappa Internet Interview
by Vladimir Sovetov

  Well, boys and girls, do you remember this nice picture of Zappa family used and perused and used again in all authorised and not at all Frank Zappa's biographies. Father Francis wearing a tie, young Frankie in an incredible jacket, two merry brothers Bobby and Carl and mother Rose-Marie holding by the hands a little cuttie. Candy you may think. Yes, she was and still prefer to be called by this childish nickname.

  She is Patrice Joanne Zappa, Frank Zappa's younger sister, and she is talking to you right now!

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VS: Candy, you are ten years younger than you brother Frank so in 1959 when he moved away from the family to live on his own in Pomona you were nice nine years old girl. Any remembrance of the event? What was Frank then in your kid's eyes.

CZ: Well first I want to dispel an erroneous statement that our family moved to California in 1950. I was born in 1951, so I am 11 years younger than Frank and we moved to California that same year. I adored my brother Frank. When he moved out to live in Los Angeles, mom was inconsolable. She cried like I'd never seen.

VS: Really?! That's touching to know that our cynical genius Frank had good old sentimental mother. How she is doing now? I believe she is ninety something already.

CZ: She is 86 and still going strong.

VS: Great, well, Frank said many times that his mom was truly religious woman. So he probably gave her hard time with all his so to say sex oriented anti-clerical stuff? What was her reaction to her son public verbal activity? Have you ever seen her listening to his music?

CZ: Well I really don't know how she felt about his lyrics safe to say she probably blushed a few times. Her taste in music leans towards country and easy listening.

VS: But I'm sure she was proud of him anyway. What do you think your mother sees as the main achievement of her eldest son?

CZ: Oh yes, she was proud, but she was also taken aback by some of his behavior. Even while he was a Mother of Invention she could be heard saying "Oh Frank!" after hearing some of his lyrics or seeing his antics on stage. Having achieved what he had in his short life and that he was her son, I'd say that was quite an accomplishment. On his birthday, he would call mom and congratulate her.

VS: But back to Mojave desert of 1959. Do remember Frank friends Motorhead Sherwood or Don Van Vliet?

CZ: I knew his friends Jim Sherwood and Don Von Vliet. Frank was always bringing them over to our house when I was younger.

VS: How did Don look? Did you feel that this friend of your brother is going to "shake the world" a little bit?

CZ: Don dressed in the pachuko look of the 50's, that is the French cut shirts, chinos and very odd shoes. Don was and still is a character. He liked my singing, that I do remember. "Shake the world"? I don't know if he did or not!

VS: You sung for Frank and his friends as a little girl?

CZ: When my friend Sylvia would spend Friday nights at my house we would be in my room playing our guitars and singing songs that we had written and Frank would always come over for some of mom's chili and kick it with us in my room. He would listen and offer suggestions and tell us to keep at it. He was my biggest influence.

VS: So it was Lancaster. And do you remember some other places your family happen to live before moving there. Do you remember Pomona, La Mesa and young Frank troubles with explosive substances?

CZ: We lived in Monterey, Pacific Grove, Montclair and Claremont, San Diego and I went to high school in Pomona, an all girls catholic high school. Yikes! Frank liked to make things go BOOM!! when he was younger. If you check out the first part of his book, The Real Frank Zappa Book, he talks about how he almost blew off his nuts in the garage of our house in Monterey. And again in San Diego when he and a friend placed little smoke bombs at his school on the night of Open House.

VS: Aha! You was in catholic school! One could expect this. So you know for sure did they really teach to blow there or not? Was it as fun as in Frank song 'Catholic Girls' or rather dull 'smashing with rulers' as in 'Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courderoy Ponce'

CZ: I was truly a sheltered lass and I didn't know what blow was - if I am understanding you correctly - but I don't know if Frank's version and my actual experiences are the same. There was definitely a dress code and you had to obey the rules... or you went to hell!!

VS: So how come that you eventually could broke the spell and avoid the hell?

CZ: I'm not sure I broke the spell, I just came to a decision to live my life as I thought it was right. As long as we don't hurt anyone doing as we wish, that's what counts. Frank was the epitome of that, he did what he wanted, was paid well and had a good time. If anyone was offended by what he said, there's always the on and off knob.

VS: But returning to the family. What was Zappas household for you the only daughter of Italian father and mother?

CZ: Actually, I have a half sister, Ann Zappa, from our dad's first marriage. But she didn't live with us, so in essence I was the only girl in the Zappa household, aside from mom! I was sheltered from alot of stuff so I didn't know alot of what Frank was doing. Oh I tried to follow, but was kept back.

VS: By Frank or by your parents?

CZ: My parents. My dad was afraid I would be corrupted if I hung around with Frank and his friends and maybe I would have, but the journey would have been worth it.

VS: By the way, despite the fact that Frank never said it straight but I think your father Francis Vincent direct or indirect influence was very important in forming your brother brilliant personality. What do you think about it?

CZ: I'm sure that in some way dad influenced Frank, I mean you don't live with someone without getting something from them, positive or negative. In their own way, I believe they loved each other, they just had a hard time conveying it.

VS: And your dad, born on the south of Europe, did he enjoy glass of wine from time to time? And Frank? I mean everybody know that Frank was absolutely against drugs, but Peter Occhiogrosso once told me that he has no doubt that been an Italian Frank never minded good old wine. Is it correct suggestion?

CZ: Dad had wine in the house for his friends that would come over to visit, he was diabetic as I am and he couldn't drink. He may have sipped a bit, but not on a regular basis. Frank liked White Zinfandel and I was over there once when he served it to me and I got hooked on it. But now I don't drink at all.

VS: Also, Candy, you know, in a lot of early Frank songs he mentioned a lot of different cars. Chevy, Monza, Nash etc, so what car or cars had you family? Was Frank interested in cars himself.

CZ: My dad was a Ford man, so we had a few Fords and he also liked the European cars like Renaults and Citroens. Frank's probable interest in cars was for transportation. I don't remember any teenage fascination for cars.

VS: And another thing. Do you remember Frank driving? I mean everybody know that he never did it since late 60s, but what about 50s? By the way, what's the matter, it was just to dull for him to stay in a queue for drivers licences or there were some another mystical reasons for not wanting to drive which so funny un-American.

CZ: I don't really know if he drove anything in the 50's but he managed to get his drivers license in the early 60's. I don't know what prompted him to stop driving, really. Maybe because he stayed at home to work and if he went out he was driven.

VS: Ok, if my own memory serves me right I believe after spending ten days in San Bernadino County prison Frank returned in 1963 for short stay with the family. Do you remember him broken-guy and ex-convict?

CZ: After he was FRAMED for making a lewd tape, which was a joke, he was, I'm sure, highly disillusioned by the judicial system, among other things. He bounced back and worked to get his music going and when he did, he was on his way.

VS: So no special details?

CZ: My memory is a little fuzzy about that time, again I was kept from alot of things concerning Frank.

VS: By the way forgot to ask you one thing about Lancaster' days. These names in Frank song "Village Of The Sun" - "Little Mary, and Teddy, and Thelma too" do they sound any bells for you?

CZ: No they don't.

VS: OK, back to Zappas. How are they now? You've already said that your mother Rose-Marie is OK. What about brothers Bobby and Carl. Where are they living and what they are doing?

CZ: Mom and Carl share a place in the San Fernando Valley, Bob and his wife live on the east coast.

VS: Are you and your brothers heavy smokers? Or this habit was something very peculiar to Frank only? Kind of childish's rebellion? You know, he wrote in "The Real Frank Zappa Book" that his mother promised instant death if he ever going to try it and yet he done it.

CZ: Frank was smoking at an early age and according to him, tobacco was food. I smoked for a few years but quit 3 years ago. Being diabetic is a blessing in disguise, it makes you stop doing things you shouldn't be doing in the first place! As far as mom telling him it was instant death, I don't know about that, but any parent that loves their child will try to make them stop doing anything that harms them and telling him it'll stunt his growth or it'll kill him didn't seem to work. He was 6'1", but he did die, so 1 out of 2 isn't bad.

VS: Someone once told me that Carl planned to write his own book about your brother Frank? Is it so? Have heard anything about it?

CZ: That is news to me!

VS: Maybe it's a mistakes and it's rather Bobby than Carl. After all it was he who wrote this article about his brother being an Italian mother. So why not a whole book about the subject?

CZ: I still don't know anything about that.

VS: I see, while we are speaking about your brothers. I suppose you've seen Frank's movie "Uncle Meat" don't you know the source of the Carl's joke about "using the chicken to measure it"?

CZ: No sorry, I missed that one. But I do have Baby Snakes and Does Humor Belong in Music?

VS: Which one you like more?

CZ: I love them all.

VS: And if you watched Baby Snakes what do you think about rubber doll affair and woman screwing doggie routine. I mean a lot of people inclined to see Frank as a blatant sexist because of this. What do you feel like a member of the opposite sex about it? Is it OK with you?

CZ: I think the thing that you and maybe other folks are missing here is that Frank may have had his own ideas about men and women, but what he mostly did was observe society, as bent as it can be, and musically reported back to itself, good -bad-or indifferent.

VS: Do you like your brother Frank music? What's your favorite records?

CZ: Absolutely, he is one of a kind. We share the same bent way of looking at things. All of his music great, some of my favorites are We're Only In It For The Money, Apostrophe, Sheik Yerbouti, Tinseltown Rebellion and The Yellow Shark. I could go on, but you get the picture!

VS: Yes! And when you last time seen him? Have you any contact with Gail or your nieces and nephews Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet or Diva?

CZ: The last time I saw Frank was at a concert at the Universal Amphitheatre in the nosebleed section in 1985, the last time I spoke to him was May of 1992 about a year and a half before his passing. And no there isn't much contact with the family and don't ask me why.

VS: No, I could imagine! But when did you see Frank on stage for the first time?

CZ: The first time as a Mother of Invention? In 1966 at a place in Hollywood. Our family dressed up in our best clothes and here we were amidst the hippies and I'm sure they wondered who the hell we were. If they only knew that the man they came to see was our relative! I performed with Frank's band he had when I was 13, at our family restaurant in 1963. I sang a couple of songs with Ray "Baby" Collins.

VS: Your family restaurant? Never heard about it! Where it was? Who was in the band then and what was in the program?

CZ: My dad bought a restaurant in 1962 or 63 in Upland California on Foothill Boulevard and in the back of the place Frank put in a makeshift stage and the college crowd came in on Friday nights and he had some of his pre-Mothers band members there and I asked if I could sing a couple of songs with Ray.

VS: Have you seen Ray in real Mothers days or later? What do you think about Ray being one of the most severe and it seems not very fair critic of your brother this days?

CZ: The only contact I ever had with Ray was when I saw him with Frank, but whatever went on between him and Frank, I am not familiar with so I cannot give an opinion of his feelings against Frank.

VS: Well, now I think is a time to tell your own story. The Muffin Records web site recommend you as a R&B artist. Is it so? How is started? What bands you played with? Any records for us fans to search?

CZ: I picked up the guitar when I was 11 years old and started playing and writing songs. One day Frank came over showed me some chords for about a week, then said "OK kid, you're on your own." Frank's favorite four letter word was work. "Just keep working Candy" He would tell me that and I did and it paid off. I have had a few bands, done some recording of my songs and covers, but nothing out YET!

VS: And what about Nigey Lennon "Reinventing the wheel" project? I know you were an active participant. Do you like it? In what stage of production is it now?

CZ: I was asked by Nigey to sing on her CD shortly after we first met in January of '97 and it's been an ongoing project. Perhaps Nigey could shed more light on the progress of it1.

VS: You know, when I heard you singing on one of the early Nigey Lennon demo, it was Any Way The Wind Blow, by the way, I was wondering have you ever auditioned for Frank or his band? Or maybe your other brothers?

CZ: I once auditioned for a science fiction opera Frank was writing called Hutchentoot and normally I can sing anything, but this time was difficult. I don't know if he ever finished it

VS: Yes, just couple of songs ended up on 'Sleep Dirt' album. Well, but are you a little bit envious now that the only of Zappas who found his place in Frank records was Carl. I mean 'Dummy Up' song from ROXY and 'the wet sock previously owned by Carl Zappa'?

CZ: There is no envy here. I prefer to just do my own thing and that I will. Besides in the early 60's when Frank was on the Steve Allen show, he was showing everyone how the bicycle was a musical instrument and the bike he used was mine!!

VS: Wow! Have you saved it for future museum of Frank?

CZ: I have no idea what happened to my bike.

VS: And what's the most dearest thing for you in Frank Vincent Zappa Universe?

CZ: Do you mean what do I remember most about him? That he was my brother and I had the honor being related to him and I miss him more everyday and am grateful that he was here albeit for a short time. He left a legacy of incredible music and humor, bent though it was, but his fans and admirers understood him. Anyone else just didn't know him and that is their loss.

VS: Thank you very much, Candy, for finding the time to talk to us, Frank fans.

CZ: You're welcome.

Dec, 1998

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  Nigey Lennon's comment on progress of RWT

Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 08:35:41 -0800
To: Vladimir Sovetov
From: Nigey Lennon
Subject: RTW Update

She's [Candy] been really good natured about the "ongoing" nature of the "Reinventing the Wheel" project, but we've finally looking at going into the studio to finish the CD. We'll be tracking the vocals, adding my guitar parts, and recording Mike Keneally from February 8 through the 14th at Silent Sounds studio in West Hollywood. Then John Tabacco (my co-producer and engineer) will take the finished tracks back to his studio, Sonic Underground, in Stony Brook, NY, to mix them. I'll probably go back there in March or April to give him a hand with mixing and mastering. We don't have a release date yet, but it will probably be mid-1999.

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