I Have A Cat - An interview with the in-famous Don van Vliet, otherwise known as Captain Beefheart

By Eric Mace

In 1993 Co de Kloet decided to devote a 4-hour special to The Captain for the famous Dutch radio show “Supplement.”  At that time Van Vliet had already decided not to do any more interviews.  However, based on their good relationship, he did agree to an hour-long telephone interview, most likely the last lengthy interview he ever did.

On one hot summer night, CdK conducted one of the most intense interviews of his career.  The material was used for radio and quoted in numerous articles and books.

So there it was, the last long conversation on record with a phenomenon.

But over the years, the Thing itself collected dust on one of the many shelves in CdK’s NPS office.  All that time there was a question mark hanging over it… there was more to it than just the words.  But what?

It took yet another decade for CdK to hear the light, as it were.  Besides merely a conversation - the weird noise of the phone, the way Don spoke, the pauses, the ambience, the bizarre associations, the contrasts - everything pointed toward the idea that these tapes should be regarded as a music track for a larger recording, whereby the words themselves would be overruled by the pure sounds and dynamics, sort of like Instrumental Vocal Music (not to be confused with Instrumental A Cappella).

With this paradox in mind, CdK approached Gary Lucas, his “1980 link,” and asked if he was interested in participating in ‘scoring’ the interview, wherein the new music and the old tape would be equal in importance.

Gary said yes, CdK sent him the transcription of the basic material and a few months later, in January 2008, the recordings took place. First recorded was a basic layer to the complete track, then inserts which consisted of Gary Lucas improvisations and lines as well as ideas that were the result of thought-exchange between CdK and Gary.

CdK requested sounds, notes and sometimes conducted Gary, a challenge in itself!

Gary Lucas & Co de Kloet - "I Have A Cat"