After years of Zappa Plays Zappa shows, in which son Dweezil plays the music of father Frank, the younger Zappa will issue the only song he ever wrote with his dad next month. The Middle Eastern–tinged, metal-fantasy shredfest “Dragon Master,” streaming below, will appear on Via Zammata’, due out November 27th.
A week before the passing of his mother, Dweezil tells Rolling Stone about how he came to work on a song with his father, who died in 1993. “In the late Eighties, when heavy metal still topped the charts, Frank told me about a new song he had written and he had a look on his face that indicated there was something special about it,” Dweezil says. “I asked him the name of it, and he said with [a] smile, ‘Dragon Master.’ I grew up being inspired by early metal guitarists like Tony Iommi and Randy Rhoads. My dad told me I should write the music for the song and he handed me the lyrics. They are filled with epic metal imagery. I tried to match the intensity of the lyrics with a riff reeking of classic metal.”
The song’s lyrics contain purposely silly, over-the-top turns of phrase like “Satan is the dragon master/Bringer of total disaster” and “leather children are bound in chains.” Shawn Albro, previously of the hard-rock group U.P.O., sings the tune’s predictably wacky vocal line. “The lyrics to ‘Dragon Master’ definitely have humor to them,” Dweezil says. “I wanted to juxtapose that by making the music deadly serious. I infused the nasty sound of the riff with an Arabic motif that I played on the oud. I also reinforced that motif with a string quartet.”
Via Zammata’ will be Dweezil’s first studio album in a decade. Aside from Frank’s posthumous contribution, the record also contains another notable guest: John Malkovich, who recites the allegory of the cave from Plato’s The Republic to music by Dweezil on a song called “Malkovich.” Also of note: Dweezil plays the Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix gave Frank on “Nothing.”