Eyellusion CEO Jeff Pezzuti Talks Zappa Estate-Approved Hologram Tour
Words by Corinne Casella
Photo Credit: Eyellusion
Kicking yourself because you never got to see the weird and wonderful Frank Zappa live? Fret no more, an estate-approved hologram tour, ‘The Bizarre World Of Frank Zappa,’ launches with a nine-date U.S. tour at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY on April 19. The U.S. shows will be followed with seven European dates, with additional dates to be announced in the coming months. Frank Zappa’s son, Ahmet Zappa and Eyellusion CEO Jeff Pezzuti are co-creators of the tour.
“As a futurist, and hologram enthusiast, Frank fearlessly broke through boundary after boundary as an artist and in honoring his indomitable spirit, we’re about to do it again, 25 years after his passing. My father and I actively discussed 3D and ‘holography’ and it was a concept he actively engaged in. He actually devoted half a chapter of his The Real Frank Zappa Book to this subject. This is a love letter and a journey celebrating the genius artistry of Frank Zappa. On a personal note, I feel like I am finishing something my father started years ago. And let’s not forget, Frank himself will be rocking his fans, alongside his bandmates like nobody’s business,” stated Ahmet Zappa, EVP of business development for Eyellusion and co-trustee of the ZAPPA FAMILY TRUST.
I had a chance to sit down with Eyellusion CEO Jeff Pezzuti to go into further details…
In setting up the tour, what aspects have been the most difficult/most rewarding?
JP: The most difficult part has been bringing Ahmet’s ideas to the stage as he envisioned. There are always ideas that seem like they will work, and then have to be reworked. Luckily, this was only a few songs, but there were hours of meetings weekly for the past year to get the content finalized. Most of the initial ideas were kept fairly intact, but some were completely reworked. Ahmet, like his dad, is a true visionary and I can tell you, I loved working with him throughout the entire process. A plan doesn’t always go..according to the plan [laughs].
The most rewarding was the first time we had a chance to see the show onstage in production rehearsals. It was magical to see both the content and of course to see Frank appear on stage again. It brought us both to tears. Obviously, for Ahmet, it was a different emotion to see his father performing again. But, throughout the journey, we always felt if we could get the show to the public, as designed, we could really change the live music space. I know it’s a bold statement, but it’s an incredible show! We cannot wait for everyone to see it!
This hologram tour stands out due to the inclusion of former band members. How did they feel about being approached with the idea? What can you tell me about how it has affected practice sessions. Especially working with unreleased material.
JP: Well, Ahmet reached out to each of them individually over a year and a half ago. Told them what we were doing. Obviously, they had questions [laughs] But, their love for Frank was the reason they took this leap of faith. The band is so good – so good, I can’t stress it enough. Not everyone could play with Frank Zappa, only the best of the best. But, from the first rehearsal to the final production rehearsal, the band just kept getting tighter and tighter. It doesn’t hurt to have Mike Keneally, Scott Thunes, Robert Martin, Ed Mann, Ray White, and Joe “Vaultmeister” Travers! And although Joe never played with Frank, he has been intertwined with the family for decades, and he is truly one of the best drummers out there. Just an amazing band! Obviously, working on new unreleased material took longer than ones they have previously played, but they still worked them out quickly, and they sound so good!
Is this tour meant to be a one-off or do you envision future performances?
JP: This tour will continue until it doesn’t! We feel like this is a show that you will have to see more than once since there is so much visually happening. Also, we have additional content that we will be putting in the show in the future and this will allow us to continue to change the show and create new visuals for the fans!
What do you hope fans will get from this experience?
JP: Just a great, unique night of music, and a visually stunning show like nothing else! It’s such a great show! You don’t have to be a fan of Frank to enjoy, but afterward, we hope you are!
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