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The Zappa family

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”Frank’s image is not of a family man. He’s given his kids weird names, and he has these weird songs, so they assume his children are crazy freaks on drugs.” Frank would be the original Mother himself, Frank Zappa. His kids would include the weirdly named Dweezil, 23, and the not so weirdly named Ahmet, 19, both of whom are not freaks or on drugs, though possibly crazy. Ahmet is talking about life in the Zappa household, which also includes mother Gail, and sisters Moon (of ”Valley Girl” fame), 26, and Diva, 14. ”We’re the Brady Bunch, but with a horrible twist. Or the kooky neighbors on some ’70s sitcom,” he adds. ”No one wants to leave. The rent’s cheap.”

Although reluctant to talk about it, the unusually close family is undoubtably even closer because of Frank Zappa’s ongoing battle with colon cancer. And being so tight, Dweezil — a noted guitarist with three solo albums to his credit — needed to look no further than his brother when he started a new band. Together they are Z, with Ahmet on vocals, and their first album, Shampoohorn (named for a bathtub activity the two practiced on their hair as kids), will be released this week. Dweezil describes the sound as ”pretty bizarre and totally unclassifiable,” but anyone familiar with Zappa senior’s work will recognize the defiantly anticommercial fusion of rock, jazz, and funk, combined with silly/satirical lyrics. ”There are similarities with Frank’s work,” agrees Dweezil, who used to disagree emphatically when people told him his guitar playing was reminiscent of his dad’s. ”I’ve gotten better, so now I can hear the similarities. I understand his music now, too. I never even used to ask him for advice on playing because I was so intimidated by him. He does things no one else can.”

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