More than three decades ago, when Dweezil Zappa was 13, he wrote some riffs and vamps. He has since dug them up and rearranged them, calling the piece "Dinosaur," because, he says, "it's in phase with the practice of paleontology." He's now releasing the song – complete with a newly added solo by his dad, Frank – as part of a PledgeMusic campaign to raise money for a legal defense fund, as he takes on the Zappa Family Trust in a complicated legal battle that could impede his ability to use his own name when performing.
Frank's contribution to the song comes in the
form of a solo he performed sometime in 1977. "I selected a few analog
master solo tracks from live concerts and edited them together to fit over my
song," Dweezil tells Rolling Stone.
"This was a technique developed by my dad in the Seventies. He would collect
performances he liked from his live concerts and isolate them from their
origin, then pair them with an unrelated performance in the same or relative
key, thereby creating a new performance or composition. He called this process 'xenochrony.'
"It is far easier to experiment with xenochrony using computer technology," he adds. "Back in the Seventies it required brilliant razor blade tape edits and ingenious fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants synchronization between three tape machines."
The song also features solos by a number of other guitarists who served as instructors at Dweezil's "Dweezilla" music boot camp. They are Oz Noy, James Santiago, Tom Quayle, Matt Picone, Chris Buono, David Wallimann and Derryl Gabel.
"In a way the song is like a mini version of a bigger project of mine called What The Hell Was I Thinking, a textural and stylistic continuously morphing guitar instrumental more than 20 years in the making," he says, referring to a piece that is still unreleased. "That project has over 35 well-known guitarists spilling out of the speakers at various times. They would be best described as cameos in my eclectic 'audio movie.'"
To accompany the release of the song, Dweezil made a five-part documentary about the process. The first two parts are streaming below; he will be posting the others in days to come.
He will also be embarking on a "50 Years of Frank" tour, featuring an appearance by sometime Frank associate Ike Willis and will be leading Dweezilla guitar classes in various cities. He will also be launching a mini tour dubbed "What's in a Name?" that will include storytelling, Q&As and guitar accompaniment, and hosting his Dweezilla Music Camp. The tour dates are below the videos.
Dweezil Zappa North American Tour Dates:
April 25 - Vancouver, BC @ The Commodore
April 26 - Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre *
April 27 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre *
April 28 - Stateline, NV @ Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room
April 29 - San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre *
April 30 - Napa, CA @ The Uptown
May 2 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
May 3 - Fresno, CA @ Tower Theatre
May 4 - Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up
May 5 - Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre
May 6 - Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theatre
July 7 - Chicago, IL @ City Winery @ (What's in a Name? Tour)
July 8 - Nashville, TN @ City Winery (What's in a Name? Tour)
July 9 - Atlanta, GA @ City Winery (What's in a Name? Tour)
July 11 - New York, NY @ City Winery (What's in a Name? Tour)
July 24 – 27 - Big Indian, NY @ Full Moon Resort (Dweezilla Music Camp)
July 28 - Poughkeepsie, NY @ Bardavon Opera House
July 29 - Westhampton Beach, NY @ Westhampton Beach PAC
July 30 - Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom *
August 1 - Ridgefield, CT @ Ridgefield Playhouse *
August 2 - Morristown, NJ @ Mayo PAC *
August 3 - Wilkes Barre, PA @ FM Kirby *
August 4 - Northampton, MA @ The Academy of Music *
August 5 - Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head *
August 8 - Denver, CO @ Arvada Center for the Arts
August 9 - Aspen, CO @ Belly Up
August 10 - Durango, CO @ Community Concert Hall
August 11 - Flagstaff, AZ @ The Orpheum *
* Dweezilla guitar class available