(Reprinted from Michigan Musician, April, 1997, Bob Rail))

It's 2:30 in the morning at Doktor Toddzilla's farmhouse on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, and we sit in the ramshackle comfort of the living room. It's furnished in Early Musician Bizarre...posters of Frank Zappa, the Beatles and strange barnyard animals line the walls, and the room is lit by the black light bulbs of the pink aluminium Christmas tree, although May is only a few days away. The Doktor leans back comfortably in his chair,
Sheaf stout in hand, his wiry frame and youthful attitude belying his forty-plus years. We're back from a frantic and eerie show at the Blind Pig, where his band Reptile House rocked some of the crowd, bemused others, and confused the rest.

MM: Well, we've finally seen the show...
TZ: And high time too, I might add.
MM: It was everything we thought it would be.
TZ: Thanks very much...what exactly does that mean?
MM: I liked it a lot...the different instruments, the new songs, the sparklers...
TZ: Yeah, don't lean into that sparkler thing too much in print, though.
MM: Why?
TZ: A lot of bar owners disapprove of people on stage with burning magnesium.
MM: Ah. right. How about something about the early years?
TZ: Yeah, how about them, anyway? I was born when I was very young.It was dark, and I was scared. Then I saw a light, and...
MM: Actually I was thinking of your early musical years.
TZ: You never let me have any fun. I suppose you're thinking of the Schultz Food Band.
MM: Yeah, tell us about that.
TZ: Well you know...when I ran into them I really was very young, about fourteen or fifteen, and I was living in a commune with some of these people, who were in this "band". Actually at the time they were a sort of surrealist, dadaist, guerrilla theatre troupe that did this wierd performance art, with people shaking gourds and moaning, and Shultz, this large guy, would put a beefsteak up on a podium and mike it and beat it with carrots while reciting poetry. Pretty far-out stuff for the mid-sixties! That turned into my gig...writing poetry and shaking gourds.
MM: What kind of poetry?
TZ: Oh, terrible poetry! (laughter) Very, very spaced-out free verse. I can't even remember any now. Probably just as well.
MM: Wish I'd been there. Do you think any of that influence carried over into what you do now?
TZ: That sense of the absurd, certainly. Or course later on people came into that group who could really play their instruments, free jazz style stuff, and that influenced me a lot, these folks had wonderful record collectons too...Albert Ayler, Muddy Waters, Coltrane, Pharoah Saunders...I started playing bass right about then.
MM: How'd that happen?
TZ: Oh, there was just somebody's upright lying on a stage somewhere and I picked it up and started playin' it. Until its owner chased me off, but by then I was hooked.
MM: What did you like especially about the bass?
TZ: Well, those low overtones were just so rich. And it looked so cool...basses just look so great, so beautiful and exotic. I've alway been attracted to exotic instruments. When I was a kid I'd always go to the India Art Shop and play on their sitars and things. Guitars and pianos came later!
MM: And accordions?
TZ: Accordions...and banjos...(reflectively) those steenking banjohs...
MM: If you could play only one instrument, what would it be?
TZ: Gourd. You always have a bond with the instrument you start with. Besides I'm somewhat of a gourd virtuoso. I'm known for my solos on the gourd, you know.
MM: And I think that's where we're gonna have to leave it.
TZ: Yeah. Let's leave it and then sneak away quietly.
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