It's been a while since I've had enough free time to update you on the latest developments. Many many things have gone on in the last several months. It's been quite a time of change. I'm pleased to say it's actually been quite a positive time for me. Reaching a settlement in my divorce recently was cause for celebration and getting remarried was an even bigger reason to celebrate. Finally I am able to rebuild my life with my family around positive things and move forward free from the unnecessary rigors of continuous and costly custody battles. With all of this change in my personal life it was no surprise that other changes would also come my way professionally. While it may not be common, I actually look forward to change and enjoy discovering the new challenges that facilitate new goals and the journey that one takes to accomplish these types of things.
Let's talk a bit about the changes within the band. First a little background, throughout my father's career he struggled to actually make money touring. (Here's a nice video to demonstrate Frank's touring philosophy - http://www.dweezilzappaworld.com/videos/1084)
He famously lost hundreds of thousands of dollars while touring, gambling that the material he recorded would recoup some of the losses. He was driven to create music and put maximum effort in to that pursuit. The musicians he had in his band came and went with regularity. This was not an easy thing for him to adjust to but it was a known factor in doing business.
While my touring model is different ( I don't tour to make recordings) I still face many of the same challenges as my dad regarding keeping a band together and keeping a business going. It is not possible for me to sustain a touring business if I come home from weeks on the road being away from my family and have nothing to pay the bills with. I have had several tours that I have done where unfortunately the expenses were greater than the profit. The band and crew and all other vendors make money but the person who takes the financial risk can walk away with nothing or actually be at a loss. The way music is consumed these days (mostly for free or by pirated sources) makes it impossible for any recordings of our shows to recoup any tour losses. That being said, I am still very passionate about being able to provide people with the opportunity to hear my father's music as well as some of my own new music. It's definitely a time to look at life with a new perspective professionally and that is exactly what I have taken the time to do.
As it relates to music I have had to consider many things in planning the tours for this year. It's no secret that many businesses have been finding it difficult to operate in this economy. I am certainly affected by it in my line of work. Touring is very expensive. With rising expenses and diminishing returns I have had to consider every option in terms making it possible to continue to keep Zappa Plays Zappa moving forward.
For my dad the reasons for musician departures varied, whatever the reason the show continued to go on. Same for me. Be it a large band or a small band my dad still went about his business to perform his music in the best and most exciting way possible. He arranged his music for the instrumentation in the band he had at the time. I will be doing the same with whatever size band I have available at the time I am touring. The good news is that we have found a solution for this year and I'm inspired by the possibilities to play in new places and play new music. The unfortunate news is that it required scaling back the band and crew in order to keep the show on the road. For example, I am doing my own guitar tech work as well as many road manager duties.
I have a great appreciation for the efforts made by the musicians I have had the opportunity to work with on this project. Among the top of my list are Billy Hulting and Jamie Kime. I consider them to be world class musicians and I also value them as friends. I wish to thank them for their contributions and talents and their dedication to this project. It has not gone unnoticed by me or the many fans we have played for. Many efforts were made over the past 24 months to keep from having to scale back the band but in the end it was a tale of the numbers that led to the difficult decision I had to make as a bandleader.
I know we can create some new fond memories of exciting live music on stage with "the rocking teenage combo" I have on tour with me now. It's another chapter in the evolution of this project. Again, familiar footsteps to follow.
I look forward to seeing all of you out on tour. We have a few fun surprises and some newly learned songs to debut.