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For Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa, music is in their genes.


With kids named Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Rodan and Diva, you just know the house of Zappa wasn't a conventional family domain.

Despite that, Dweezil and younger brother Ahmet managed to carve out a fairly standard sibling relationship.They grew up sharing a bedroom. Now when they're on the road, they bunk together in the same hotel room. Ahmet sang on two of Dweezil's three solo albums. Now they're fronting their own band, Z.

Music, of course, runs in the genes. Their father Frank - who died in December - was an eclectic mastermind, a performer, composer and bandleader whose range stretched from rock to avant-garde jazz to classical.

Music was a constant at the Zappas' Laurel Canyon, Calif., compound - and a family affair at that. It was oldest sibling Moon, after all, who sang lead on dad's only Top 40 hit, ``Valley Girl,' in 1982.

``Our family's always gotten along real well,' Dweezil says. ``We like to do projects together.'

Forming a band with Ahmet, he adds, was bound to happen, noting the fraternal bonds in bands such as Van Halen and AC/DC.

Once Ahmet ``got old enough and interested,' says Dweezil, ``it was the perfect thing to do.'

The brothers finished Z's debut album, ``Shampoohorn' - named after a bathing ritual from their youth - before Frank became too ill to enjoy his sons' accomplishment. The album bears some of his stamp - an aggressive musical attack, shifting tempos with jazzy touches and the offbeat humor of songs such as ``Kidz Cereal,' ``Doomed to Be Together' and ``Did I Mention It Was Huge?'

But Dweezil - who cites Eddie Van Halen rather than his father as the principal inspiration for his musical career - prefers to emphasize the differences between Z and Frank Zappa's work.

``My dad's bands always had amazing musicianship and quite a bit of humor,' Dweezil says. ``We grew up with that and wanted to provide a similar thing, but with a different blend of music. Ultimately this stuff is heavier and more guitar oriented. ``Plus, my dad wrote everything, and people were meant to play the parts he specifically wrote. I invite people to play and do what they do, to creatively express themselves within the context of the arrangement.'

This doesn't mean that the brothers Z are knocking their legacy. During their concerts they play a medley of their father's music, ``about 200 songs in 20 minutes' according to Dweezil.

And while Ahmet has picked up his dad's wit - he's an onstage dervish who occasionally plays a ``Star Search'-style game with fans - Dweezil echoes the prodigious work ethic reflected in his father's almost 60 albums.

Besides presiding over Z, Dweezil also is working on a piece called ``What the Hell Was I Thinking?' - a 75-minute guitar suite that will meld solos from Van Halen, AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young and many of Dweezil's other favorites.

There are other less flamboyant projects on tap, and Dweezil says this drive to keep busy is the true legacy from his father.

``His philosophy was, 'You have the time, you have the energy, you have the inclination - so do it while you can,' ' Dweezil says. ``That's basically what I do. I pretty much work constantly, even if no one's hearing about it.


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