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Interviews

Adrian Belew: Power Trios and Crimson Heads

By Published: November 10, 2008
AAJ: He lied.



AB: [Laughs]



 



AAJ: I'm not sure if he ever played, "Space Oddity" again. Not really sure.



Adrian BelewAB: The challenge was amazing. To play all that variety of music from so many different records and so many different lineups with one band. And you know, a lot of that music had everything from sax sections to strings, orchestras...everything is on that music. David really likes to vary his coloration from record to record. So it was a big challenge for me. What I basically did as musical director was to orchestrate that. Teach the band. Find an arrangement that works for the band and work that out with them. And then it was down to being the guitarist, and how do you cover all those bases. I think we did pretty well with it. There are a couple parts where you falter. I mean, how do you do "Young Americans" without a saxophone? [Laughs] I tried, at least.



AAJ: I was really disappointed that he never put out an official live album or DVD from that tour. I've seen some bootlegs from that tour thanks to YouTube and such, and it was really monstrous.



AB: It was very good. I loved that tour. I had a great time, and I got to know David really well. It was first class all the way. It's the kind of thing you dream of doing once in your life. It was a very special time.



AAJ: You met Paul McCartney on that tour.



AB: I met Paul McCartney. I met my wife! We met after a show in Orlando in the lobby of the Peabody hotel. So that was, for me, a life changing tour. It changed everything. I'm with you though, I'd like to have a record of that.

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Back to Crimson



AAJ: The, '90s King Crimson, how did that come together? After Robert ending the band 10 years previous in Musician magazine?



AB: Well, I kept hearing rumors that King Crimson was starting again. I had not had a call, and I thought, "Well that's interesting. Is it going to be a totally new lineup?" I thought about a little bit, and I thought, "I've invested a lot of time and energy into King Crimson. I really feel that I am a part of it. And, if there is a new King Crimson, I don't want to be standing on the sidelines watching the parade go by. I want to be in the parade." [Laughs]



So it just so happened that I was going to Europe to do some dates. I had enough time to stop in and visit Robert in England. Ostensibly, I was just there to see him as a friend and say "Hi." While I was there, we did a new version of, "Cadence and Cascade." He asked me, "Would you be able to sing this, since you're here?" And "Of course, I'll sing it, I know the song very well." And I did that, then I got around to the subject of King Crimson. I said, "Well if there is a new King Crimson, I want you to know that I'd like to be a part of it. And, if that's not in your plan, that's fine, but wanted you to know that I am agreeable to that." And after that, Robert said that got his wheels in motion, and he really got serious about it. I don't know, he had new material, he had new energy for it.



The next that happened, he came to my house in the United States, and we began writing new material again. Like nothing had changed. I mean after he left he had about 30 seconds of chords changes for what would eventually become "One Time." And we had already started working on other pieces like "VROOOM" and things like that. I had a very clear idea for what he was shooting for musically speaking. It was, in some ways, akin to an advanced Beatles. That was a little bit of what I was hearing. I wanted to hear something like "I Am The Walrus" which turned into a song like "Dinosaur." That's the King Crimson version of that type of music.



AAJ: Was that song lyrically about impressions in the press that King Crimson was one of these old progressive bands going back on tour—the band as dinosaur?



Adrian Belew / King CrimsonAB: No, it wasn't really at all. Actually, it was more of a personal statement. I was tired of people always digging into my life and trying to find out things, you know. I don't know what it was about. Maybe I felt at that point that I was a dinosaur. The music industry was moving so fast and past me, and I knew that I wasn't going to create hit records, and I wasn't going to be on the radio, so I had to change the focus of my career around at that time.



AAJ: So it was sort of a comment on where you were at, at that time.



AB: Yeah, and I never really considered the idea that King Crimson was called a dinosaur by a critic or anything like that. Never even occurred to me. I was also in a big dinosaur phase. I read volumes of books about all the new dinosaur theories. If you remember, that was around the time just before Jurassic Park (1993) came out. I was already studying all the new theories that they had. Especially the one that really struck me was the one that said dinosaur were early versions of birds. And I'm a bird watcher. So for me, that was incredible. It got me going. I started reading everything I could about what was going on there. For a long time, dinosaurs were just these big plodding things, no one knew anything about them or where they came from. All of a sudden, there was this explosion of information.



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