New Jersey-based Frank Zappa tribute band Project/Object will be touring the Northeast United States through October 23rd with stops at Mavericks in Ontario, Canada on Friday, October 7; The Garrison in Ontario, Canada on Saturday, October 8; at The Tralf in Buffalo, New York on Sunday, October 9 and at Lovin’ Cup in Rochester, New York on Monday, October 10.
Founded in 1989 by guitarist/vocalist André Cholmondeley, Project/Object has gone through numerous lineup changes since its inception, hosting more Zappa alumni than anyone other than Zappa himself. Project/Object welcomes back alumni vocalist/guitarist Ike Willis and synthesizer legend Don Preston for a tour “Celebrating 50 years of The Music Of Frank Zappa” featuring material both men recorded with The Mothers Of Invention, The Frank Zappa band, and much more!
NYSMusic’s Amy Cavalier recently caught up with Cholmondeley about the upcoming tour and what it’s like being in the longest-running Zappa alumni tribute band in the world!
NYS Music: Tell me the story behind Project Object’s inception? What was the vision for the project?
Andrew Cholmondeley: My vision for the project was simply to turn people onto music that was very influential and important to me.
Around 1989 I started having a Frank Zappa birthday party at my apartment. We would listen to only Zappa music for 24 hours and read interviews read album covers etc. I realized that many people were showing up and did not know a lot about Zappa and left with names of records and songs scribbled on paper. This is way before the blow up of the Internet so people would come back the next year having searched record stores and maybe built a little Zappa collection.
About the third and fourth year, my band played at one of these parties, performing about a half-dozen Zappa songs. It went over great so we learned another half dozen and soon we played our first gig in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It just blew up from there. Next was Lion’s Den in New York City where we connected with our first managers Howie Schnee and Mike Maietta.
NYS Music: A pretty high bar has been set by Frank Zappa, his son Dweezil other Zappa tribute bands…what makes Project Object so unique?
AC: Indeed Dweezil’s band is incredible.I think what makes us unique in our way is that we went out and did it before other bands, over twenty years ago. We were the first band to tour with so many diverse Zappa alumni across the USA and into Canada since Zappa himself took them on the road. We also were the first to do a wide variety of his music
The Grandmothers (ex Zappa/Mothers members) were out there but they tended to do the very excellent early stuff ONLY. We went out there with Ike Willis then Napoleon Murphy Brock etc. and did material from every period in Zappa’s history.
NYS Music: Is there a lot of pressure to get it right and recreate the songs as accurately as possible? Or is there still room for improvisation?
AC: The fans know every note! We strike the balance between doing some tunes as close to the record as we can, with the correct sounds and timbre and instrumentation. And then other things we do – perhaps one of Zappa’s many live versions – we look for moments in the songs where he would leave room for improvisation.
Improvisation is very important part of the Zappa aesthetic but at the core is doing the music accurately and getting chords and little parts correct. I have been fortunate to have so many of the actual ex-Zappa players in the band so along the way they correct parts and help us get little details right.