THE FEEDERZ: Frank Discussion Interview
by Alexander Laurence
I first heard about The Feederz in 1981 when a few of my friends when to see
Black Flag and a few other bands in Arizona. They came back with the "Jesus"
single. Later I would read about Frank Discussion in RE/Search. A few weeks ago
I heard that Broken Rekids was re-releasing the first two albums: EVER FEEL
LIKE KILLING YOUR BOSS? (1984) and TEACHERS IN SPACE (1986).
These albums sound as relevant as ever. I heard that Frank was in the studio
with Jack Endino recording Vandalism: As Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face.
This was good news. The Feederz have always been uncompromising and
mysterious. They are definitely one of the most important west coast punk bands ever.
And they seem to be as vital now than they were twenty or more years ago. They
played a show in San Francisco recently. The Feederz are back to do some damage.
AL: What was the punk rock scene like in Arizona during the early 1980s?
Frank: Actually, we got started in the 1970s and back then there were just lik
e ten of us in Phoenix. Out of this circle there we'd start a new band every
week even though a couple of bands like the Consumers and the Exterminators
were more permanent fixtures. There wasn't a scene and we'd just get gigs at
biker bars and shit by lying about what we played. It was big fun harassing the
denizens of Phoenix. Sometimes we'd have to fight our way out of the clubs
though. By the time the 1980s rolled around there were more bands, but fairly
early in the 1980s I did the "Bored With School" thing and had to leave Phoenix or
go to jail.
AL: What you think of John McCain or Arizona politics?
Frank: I don't think of John McCain much. But if you want someone truly
twisted who's from Arizona check out Evan Mecham, former governor of Arizona. Now
that guy was nuts. His very first act in office was to rescind Martin Luther
King Day. Then he refused to disavow a textbook that called blacks
"pickaninnies," defending it as a "term of affection." When the movement to recall him
became seriously large, he sent letters to conservatives all over the country
asking them to move to Arizona to support him. In the same letters he claimed
thousands of homosexuals had moved to Arizona just to recall him. And that's just
a few of the things he did while in office. He was impeached in 1988, but he's
still a force in conservative politics there. Only in Arizona. I wonder if he
wears a tin foil helmet at night to keep the voices away.
AL: When did you start making music?
Frank: In the early 1970s. Actually, I learned to play guitar from Captain
Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica.
AL: What is your relationship to Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys?
Frank: I have no relationship with him. But you're talking about my affair
with his wife aren't you? Actually D. H. Peligro was already in the Dead
Kennedys. Basically, he was good enough to help us record and do a couple of shows
with us. There was never any question that he was first and foremost in the Dead
Kennedys. Peligro was and is a great drummer and a great guy.
AL: What gave you inspiration to perform with live cockroaches glued to his
head? I know that Christian Death used dead animals at the same time.
Frank: I don't know. You just come up with things. Who knows where they come
from? But hell, come to think of it, we had used dead rats since back in
AL: Why was the original cover of Ever Felt Like Killing Your Boss? made
Frank: To destroy everything it came into contact with. A "product to destroy
all other products" so to speak.
AL: You were in the Weekly World News for the Gilman Street show with dead
morgue animals. What was that about?
Frank: That was great fun. But it almost ended things for me. Fuck, being in
the Weekly World News and seeing Julie Andrews tits all in the same year.
What's there to do after that? Actually a video of the show is on the re-issue CD
of Teachers In Space if anyone wants to see it.
AL: Do you work with computers?
Frank: Why yes. I'm writing to you on one this very minute. Heh. But
seriously, there are so many new opportunities for sabotage and putting out
information using the net and computers. New means of attack in a whole new playground.
I like that. The idea of owning some corporation's or some government's
website is mighty attractive, you must admit. If their website suddenly says
something they wouldn't normally care to admit, well then... You can attack all
governments, companies, etc. anywhere in the world without leaving your living
room.. Nice huh? Not that I would ever do such a thing...
AL: Did Surrealism and Dadaism influence you?
Frank: In the early days. I was a kind of homespun Surrealist. I had read the
Surrealist Manifesto and had immediately seen the implications of it.
Unfortunately, the Surrealists hadn't. One day I had a talk with one of the
Surrealists from way back. All he talked about was real versus false poets and such
shit. I was truly disillusioned. Vale from RE/Search then gave me some things by
the Situationists and it was like I had finally found people who got it...
There were a few that I never lost respect for though, like Tristan Tzara, Luis
Buñuel and Marcel Duchamp.
AL: Why them?
Frank: Because they never sold their dreams or their ability to rebel off
short or the dubious honor of being lovingly accepted '"back into the fold." Even
in their old age they never lost their bite. Even back in the day you could
see 16 year olds who were already senile. Who were already accepting the
unacceptable and defending it wholeheartedly. Maybe they thought they were growing
up. If that's what it is I don't ever want to grow up. Because that's not
growing up, that's dying. They're already in rigor mortis just waiting for the
needle to pump the embalming fluid in. Life always fights against its
enslavement, and is always testing the bars to its cage. When you see officer friendly
and don't become enraged at their mere existence, that's when it's time to start
AL: Why did you cover songs like "Have You Never Been Mellow?" Is that "Punk?"
Frank: Because they're horrible little songs that irritate. Who knows if it's
punk and who cares? If you worry about whether something's punk you're
already lost. If you liked Mellow, then you'll love the version of the theme for
Seventh Heaven we sometimes do. Hahahahaha.
AL: Not sure if I liked it. I thought it was annoying. I am not sure where
people came up with the idea of covering a song, a good or bad one, then totally
destroying it. Now it's conventional for a punk band to do an odd cover of a
Frank: I think covers of really terrible songs have always been part of the
culture. Probably because it's fun and a lot of times funny.
AL: What do you think of the French student movement in 1968?
Frank: The May Occupations movement? Mmmmmmmm... Some wonderful possibilities
there. Did you know less than a dozen Situationists managed to ignite a
situation that ended up bringing France within 48 hours of an outright civil war?
Think about that the next time someone says we have to wait until there's a
mass movement! The student's part in it was overplayed in the media you know.
AL: Have you received hate mail for songs like "Crawlspace" and "Jesus
Entering from the Rear?” Those songs still seem offensive today.
Frank: We haven't received much hate mail. But we know we're hated. And
that's just fine.
AL: Do you get threatened at shows?
Frank: From the beginning we played biker bars. At one biker bar, the owner
fell in love with us because I took down a 200+ pound biker. Don't ask me. It's
part of their culture I guess. And at one show someone tried to shoot me. At
another show, a bunch of cops from the Mesa PD were doing the security. A
bunch of people heard their plans. Apparently I had really pissed them off. I got
word that they decided after the show they were going to fuck with me so I had
to hide in the van. So I guess the answer is yes.
AL: What are the other members of The Feederz doing now?
Frank: Which version? Out of the original Feederz, Clear Bob lives in Phoenix
and Art Nouveau died a number of years back. The drummer for much of the San
Francisco days still lives in Northern California. And now there's Ben Wah and
Denmark Vesey who are part of the new lineup.
AL: Were the first two records recorded as live takes? Who produced those
Frank: No, we do the basic tracks live, then throw on some overdubs. If you
listen closely, you'll hear things like a rhythm guitar and the lead playing
at the same time. Can't do that live. We always produced our own stuff until
our latest that is co-produced by Jack Endino.
AL: What is more important: music or ideas?
Frank: Ideas. No question. Otherwise it would just be alternative muzak. On
the other hand, if you weren't doing it as music what would you do? Go hand out
flyers on street corners or do some tedious "spoken word" crap?
AL: What should people expect when they attend a Feederz show today?
Frank: Not sure how to answer that. But I do know what NOT to expect: some
pathetic reunion attempt by a bunch of tired earwigs wanting to make a couple of
bucks off nostalgia. Gawd. Seeing some of those things you just want to say
"they look so natural." Almost as if they were still alive. But one thing I can
tell you to expect from a Feederz show is, if you don't cry out and you don't
move, it won't hurt as much.
AL: Are you finished recording the new album?
Frank: We just did. We got out of the studio from the last mix this morning.
It's called "Vandalism: Beautiful As A Rock In A Cop's Face." New songs about
the tender joys of rioting, looting, hacking... feel good stuff like that.
Insurrection is never having to say you're sorry,
JESUS 7" (Placebo, 1980)
EVER FEEL LIKE KILLING YOUR BOSS? LP (Flaming Banker, 1984)
TEACHERS IN SPACE LP (Flaming Banker, 1986)