On May 11 Dweezil Zappa announced on his blog that in the wake of Ray White’s departure, a chap named Ben Thomas has been named new lead vocalist of Zappa Plays Zappa.
Fun fact! Thomas recently appeared in an authorized performance of Joe’s Garage with the Open Fist Theater Company. That’s him at 1:11. (If the embedded video doesn’t work, here’s the direct link)
Here’s an excerpt from Dweezil’s post:
…We made some calls and rounded up a few terrified singers. Imagine the call, “Hello, are you interested in auditioning for a really tough gig, with a highly critical fanbase – with a 5 week tour that starts in less than a week? Still there??? Ideally you’ll need to learn 8 to 10 songs for the first week. You do have a passport, right?”
I told all of the singers that if they could walk in and sing the correct melody to “Inca Roads” without missing an entrance they would have a chance of being hired on the spot. The chances of that happening were quite slim considering we needed them to learn this song in the shortest time possible. For some only a few hours…
A few very talented singers gave it their best shot. We didn’t even make it through the first verse in most cases.
Things were not looking so good but then it happened. A young blonde-haired guy walks in to audition, says he’s heard the song before but never tried to sing until last night.
Joe rolls the toms and Billy initiates the classic marimba figure, first verse arrives – right notes, right rhythms, no mistakes! The song continues and gets increasingly more difficult. After the solo the vocal entrances are pretty tricky, once again no mistakes. After the interludes and keyboard solo we entered the home stretch – no-one made it this far before. The final entrance arrives and… He completes the entire passage on his own, not realizing it’s actually split up into separate phrases between himself and Scheila. Ultimately making it much harder on himself because of the shear lyrical density.
After a slow mo “hollywood” triumphant hand-clapping sequence we hired the guy. Ladies and Gentlemen allow us to introduce you to Ben Thomas, our new lead singer.
CLICK HERE to see my 2007 interview with Dweezil.