This interview was made in April 2008 and is exclusively published on PlanetZappa.com.
PZ- Hi Joe and welcome to PlanetZappa!
PZ- What's your background as musician?
JT- I grew up in a family of drummers & music lovers. I was born with the drums in my genes, I really had no choice. Loved Rock music. Played in a bunch of different bands growing up in Erie, PA. Went to Berklee College Of Music. Graduated in 1992, moved to Los Angeles. Got the gig with Z in 1993.
PZ- yeah, remember a heavy show with Z at the Melody in Stockholm 1993, it was fun. Anyway what's your musical influences?
JT- Started with bands like Alice Cooper, Grand Funk, Kiss. Dug Metal in High School...bands like Motley Crue, Rush, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne & Van Halen. Discovered Jazz & really took to Miles Davis, Chick Corea & Thelonius Monk. Discovered FZ in 1979. I was 10.
PZ- Do you have any favorite drummer that has affected your way of playing?
JT- John Bonham & all of FZ's drummer in one way or another.
PZ- When did you first come in contact with Frank's music?
JT- 1979. I remember hearing City Of Tiny Lites on College Radio. Then simultaneously, my uncle (who was a main source of all of my early musical exposures) got Sheik Yerbouti & I always asked him to play it.
PZ- What was it about Franks music that got you hooked?
JT- First it was the humor. When your ten years old, songs like Broken Hearts Are For Assholes can blow your mind. The musicianship was always underlying, even if I couldn't understand it yet, it was intriguing to me as I was a musician myself. I can remember being bummed out early on if FZ wasn't singing lead. That changed though pretty quickly.
PZ- What was your first Zappa album?
JT- The first FZ album I bought was "Apostrophe'" all because of the front cover.
PZ- What was your first Zappa show?
JT- I almost saw the 1984 tour...but at that time I was 16 years old & found out too late.....It wasn't until 1988 I saw him for first & only time.
PZ- In what way has Frank and his music affected you the most?
JT- Musically, understanding complicated rhythms. Polyrhythms mostly & the exposure to great musicianship that his band members over the years has displayed.
PZ- What's the story behind when you became the "Vaultmeister"?
JT- When it was discovered by certain individuals working at the house that I knew more about the contents of the vault than anybody around, Gail declared me The Vaultmeister.
PZ- What is your main function as the "Vaultmeister"?
JT- To preserve & identify the contents of the vault, including all media types from audio to film & video. Also, to supply as much help & information as I can to GZ towards anything FZ related. I currently produce future projects with Gail.
PZ- It must have been very exiting to enter the Vault for the first time (we can just imagine)?
JT- yes, it was definitely a life changer for me in many ways.
PZ- How much influence to you have on possible new releases from the Vault?
JT- Well, in the end it's all Gail's decisions. But she is very respectful of my ideas. Mostly, I present the materials & discuss with her in detail about the contents & how they could be used, if FZ hadn't had ideas for them already.
PZ- Is there any upcoming release from the Vault that you can tease us with?
JT- I could get in trouble for that.
PZ- We understand, worth a try though. And then you joined the "Zappa Plays Zappa" -band, can you tell us something about that?
JT- Well, that really has a lot to do with the musical relationship I've had with Dweezil for the past 15 years.
PZ- ZPZ are going on tour for the third year in a row (new dates for 2008 announced!) and the band has come a long way regarding the development towards a "real" FZ experience. Dweezil is the band leader, fantastic guitar player, the band is very tight and seems to have a lot of fun on stage....
PZ- Any fun story (episode) from ZPZ that you can share with us?
JT- I got to meet Alice Cooper for the first time in 2006. That was definitely a highlight for me. We are really crazy when we are on the road, we are always being goofy, loud, moody & overall having a good time.
PZ- You are also a member of the "amazing" Mike Keneally band?
JT- Yes, I really love Mike Keneally. He's a great friend & a wonderful musician. I love to play his music, he leaves so much room for you to play anything you want to.
PZ- We also love Mike and his wonderful music. Rumors say that the "Guitar Therapy" - lineup (You, MK, Bryan Beller and Rick Musallam) are going into the studio to work on Mikes upcoming release Scambot?
JT- Yep, that would be next week for me. I was at Rick Musallum's place last night & we listened to the demos Mike recently sent us to start looking over. Fun stuff. Very through-composed of course.
PZ- Very exiting! BTW, is there any question you've never been asked that you would like to answer?
JT- I don't think so.
PZ- Ok, thats all we have for now. Thank you for taking the time with us, good luck and see you next time!
Interview by: PlanetZappa.com
Copyright© 2008 PlanetZappa.com