LOS ANGELES, CA -- TAPintoTV’s Executive Producer Brian Brodeur recently spoke with Joe Travers, accomplished drummer and longtime archivist for the Zappa Trust, about his experiences maintaining Frank Zappa’s vast collection of recordings and the latest releases from the Zappa archive.
Travers, who attended Berklee College of Music and has toured with acts like Duran Duran and Lisa Loeb, has been the archivist for the Zappa Trust for 25 years and is known affectionately as “The Vaultmeister.” He started in 1995, almost two years after Frank Zappa’s death in 1993. “It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Travers said.
Travers’ main objective over the years has been the digital preservation of the extensive assets in Zappa’s vault, which includes recordings, scores, film and video, master slides, articles, original album art, and photos. Travers explained that Zappa did as much recording as possible and began doing so in the 1950s, so “it’s a lot of stuff,” he said. Originally Travers worked closely with Gail Zappa, the widow of Frank Zappa, and upon her death in 2015, continued working with Zappa’s son, Ahmet.
Travers explained how decisions are made about releases of past Zappa material. “Every year, we have a production meeting and we always talk about what we are going to do for future projects,” he said. “One of the things that we always take into account is what are the significant anniversaries in Frank’s career for that particular year.”
When planning their 2020 releases, the Zappa Trust looked back 50 years to 1970, when Zappa’s band The Mothers featuring vocalists Flo and Eddie, recorded at Trident Studios in London. “Thankfully, we have these really great studio recordings,” Travers said, “all of which nobody has ever heard before except for one song,” he said. The 70-song box set of The Mothers 1970 was released this past June. “People are very excited about it because it’s such a rare time period,” said Travers.
Fans of Frank Zappa can look forward to more previously unreleased and remastered recordings from the Zappa Trust, and Travers has many busy seasons to come, with so many groundbreaking Zappa recordings reaching their 50th anniversary milestones in the years ahead.
For more information about the Zappa Trust and upcoming releases, visit www.zappa.com.