A CONVERSATION WITH LEO KOTTKE
PUREMUSIC: That's a great funky record you just did with Mike Gordon.
LEO KOTTKE: Oh, good. Yeah, we like it a lot. We had a ball making that thing.
PM: You know, that's really obvious.
PM: You can see it in the pictures, you can really hear it in the playing. Were many of the pieces written specifically for that duo project?
LK: Yeah. Let's see, there was one cover tune, "I Am a Lonesome Fugitive"--
PM: An unbelievable cover, too, and well done.
LK: Oh, thanks. It's funny, there was no intention of doing any kind of a cover. We were sitting in the studio, waiting for Paul [Paul duGré, the co-producer and engineer], and I just started noodling around on that thing. And Mike said, "What's that?" I said, "Oh, it's some Merle Haggard deal." And he said, "We ought to do that." And I said, "Really?" [laughs]
But other than that and a tune called "Strange" that--again, it's another one that Mike really liked, so we did it, a tune that I originally wrote for a solo record a long time ago--everything else was either done together or actually generated together.
PM: Who was the cat who wrote "From Pizza Towers to Defeat"?
LK: Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot about that. Yeah, that is the great Frizz Fuller, once known as Frisbee Boom Boom Fuller.
LK: The guy who I'm aware of having recorded several of Frizz's tunes is David Lindley.
PM: I thought it must have been the same guy.
LK: You probably know his masterpiece, "Tiki Torches at Twilight."
LK: As a matter of fact, Lindley helped me get "Pizza Towers" together, because Frizz had a habit of kind of leaving things out of the tunes that he would write. You'd sort of have to intuit the Frizz mind to wrap some of them up. But yeah, I've known that tune for--God, I met Frizz in probably '71, through another guy named Chris Darrow, and I've always wanted to do that tune but never found the right way to get around it. Mike turned out to be it.
PM: Frizz, he's kind of a mystery man. What kind of a guy is he? What does he do? Is he a musician all the time?
LK: Well, he died not too long ago.
PM: Oh, I didn't know that.
LK: Yeah, he died maybe three years ago, something like that. And Frizz kind of drifted into and out of his own reality. I only met him once. It was in James Dean's old house, and he was kind of this silence by the fireplace, and liked that Tacoma record [Six and Twelve String Guitar], and didn't say much. And then we would write to each other, but I never saw him again.
There are tapes floating around of Frizz live. They're hard to find. He had a voice that was--you really had to prepare yourself to listen to Frizz. And he had the most amazing way with lyrics. It was astounding. He's hard to interpret. To make him fit is difficult, I'm not sure why. Lindley is the guy who can really do it the best. Otherwise you have to hear Frizz do that stuff. He was a piano player, and probably my age, maybe a little older. And I have a lot of his songs, a lot of his lyrics that he sent me over the years. I mean, there are more tunes, more Frizz tunes that are right up there with "Tiki Torches."
LK: "Pizza Towers" was the first place that Frizz ever worked. It was a pizza parlor somewhere in L.A., and he was the piano player. He didn't work a lot, because he was pretty drifty, but that was one of them. And that guy in the lyrics, Enrico, was the janitor at Pizza Towers. It was a true story. He actually did try to rob a train, because he was good at stealing menudo. [laughs]
PM: [laughs] But there are no CDs, as such, of Frizz?
LK: No, no.
PM: Yeah, it's all underground.
LK: Yeah. continue