Pygmy Twylyte are one of the finest Frank Zappa tribute acts on the circuit. They join us to share their favourite Frank Zappa compositions to play live.
Navigating the vast Frank Zappa oeuvre is no mean feat, but Scotlands Pygmy Twylyte have embraced the challenge with gusto. Since their inception in 2018, the band have selected a core body of classic material, complemented with a rotating offering of more obscure cuts, and blasted this to delighted audiences across the UK. With guitars, keyboards, saxes and multiple vocalists at their disposal, the band has a (stink)foot planted in the camp of several of Zappa’s most memorable touring line-ups. Head down to nod along to rock numbers, lose count during jazzy interludes (after all, its not dead it just smells funny) and evade the infamous Frunobulax!
The band have live dates coming up, including one in Manchester that we will be at. You can find dates and tickets here.
We are honoured to welcome the band to At The Barrier as they pick some of their favourite Zappa songs to play live.
Jim (vocals): My favourite tune to play with the band varies all the time, but whatever we begin the first set with is always a real blast, especially if we’re playing to people who’ve never seen us before….. So starting with a tune like Florentine Pogen which showcases the whole band is a hoot! It also reassures the crowd, “ Ok, these guys can actually play this shit!”
However Joe’s Garage is always a celebratory song, near the end of the night, the audience has had a great time and then we pop this rather conventional song in there…. It’s real singalong tune, feelgood time!
Euan (drums): I tend to enjoy the more technical numbers with tight, complicated arrangements. Florentine Pogen and Penguin in Bondage are good examples, but from the current crop of stuff recently added, Advance Romance definitely gives me a wee energy boost when I see that it’s next on the set list. Our version is more or less a copy of the ’88 band arrangement. There are loads of good ‘stabs’ to hit with Chris and Jon that are very satisfying (when we manage to land them bang on, that is!)
There is a braw riff under the guitar solo, which is ideally suited to keeping it simple and belting the ride bell as hard as possible – makes for a nice contrast with the fairly busy verse and chorus sections.
Just have to make sure Chris doesn’t have it too deep in the setlist, otherwise my wrists will be gone!
Jon (bass, vocals): My favourite tunes in the set usually change every so often. From a bass playing point of view Peaches En Regalia, Andy & Sharleena are always a challenge due to their complexity. I also really enjoy the improv sections of tunes like The Torture Never Stops, Son of Orange County and The Gumbo Variations, as they’re completely different from gig to gig, and give the band a chance to stretch out.
Slipping in musical references to other songs is another cool element to what we do – little snippets of Sabbath, Rush and even King Crimson have been known to make an appearance during our sets, but if you want to find out which snippets and where we play them, then you’ll have to come along to the show….
Ben (keys): I love playing Black Napkins because every time we do, I find myself at the end with this wonderful feeling of catharsis and usually little to no memory of any details from the past 10-20 minutes.
Chris (guitar, vocals): On any given day the answer to this question would vary….. could easily say Outside Now, The Torture Never Stops, or Son of Orange County, but going to go with Montana. Pretty sure the Strictly Commercial compilation was the first album I picked up, and albeit it is just the single edit on that, this is one of tracks we play which I have the longest history with. I think this is where I’d point someone to start with FZ, it’s got all the things that to me typify his music. Love playing it, it’s got lots of cool bits, a great groove for soloing plus the middle vocal section with Jim and Hebe covering the Tina/Ikettes parts is always fun!
Steve (Tenor Sax): Whilst never officially on the set list, we do tend to sneak Willie the Pimp in sporadically. Monster riff, iconic vocal from Beefheart, and a seven minute solo from Frank. Couldn’t ask for more…
Hebe (Soprano Sax, vocals): It’s hard to choose but I would say one of my favourites is definitely Camarillo Brillo. The lyrics are just the right level of absurd and it’s impossible not to bob along to. It also ends with such a great line in the saxophones and I always come away from playing that one grinning. I probably finish all of them grinning to be honest, they’re all great fun, but that one has a special little something.
Paddy (Alto Sax, Trombone): I think my favourite song of Frank’s that we play is Andy. It’s a mixture of all the things I want in the songs we play. Primarily some fun sax parts, but also some great bits to sing along with. I’m a not-so-secretly repressed lead singer and it’s great to sing along with Jim without needing the skill or pressure to do it justice (or remember the words!). In particular when the main theme of Andy comes back in after the blues section it’s a full dopamine rush for me.
Many thanks to Pygmy Twylyte for taking the time in writing for us. We can’t wait for the show in Manchester!
The music of Frank Zappa really is something special, so to have a chance to see it played live is always a treat. Be sure not to miss out on the chance to see this super talented bunch of musicians play some of the greatest music ever composed. Read more from our Frank Zappa archive here.
Dates and ticket information can be found here. Get a flavour of the band with a little clip of I’m The Slime; below.
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