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Interviews

Adrian Belew: Power Trios and Crimson Heads

By Published: November 10, 2008
AAJ: I think you've been accepted fairly well into that world.



AB: Well, I'd like to do some of it. They never call me to do the festivals. I've never done Bonnaroo or any of those big festivals. But I'm hoping that eventually they will realize that the trio element is perfect for their series of festivals they do every year. We go out, and we don't do anything the same. I mean, we have a set list, but I've made in the arrangements places in my songs that were once three-to-four minutes—I've made points where, okay this opens up now and anything goes.



AAJ: Like, "Beat Box Guitar." [on Side Four]



AB: Yeah, that was perfectly written for that. It's very jazz-like in that sense. There is a theme, and once you've played the theme, you are going to go somewhere else from it. Maybe taking some of those elements from it and incorporate it into what you're playing. Maybe coming back to it to sort of reference so people know maybe 10 minutes in, "Yeah, he's still playing that song." But that's very jazz-like; you've got the head, the improvisation, then you come back to the head.



 



AAJ: Speaking of themes, I notice you keep returning to the rhino in your music. It comes up on multiples albums and songs. I know you are an animal lover, and you obviously have affection for this animal.



AB: And elephants, and birds, and whales, and all kinds of animals. One thing I learned from working with Frank Zappa is motif. Frank would have motifs in his songs. He was always talking about dwarves and midgets. And, these little things that keep reappearing. Frank told me that is the way you tie your whole body of work together—by having some kind of motif. Early on, I really like making the guitar sound like odd things. And some of those things sound like animals.



It's easy to get your guitar to sound like some big old grunt or growl. So I thought, maybe I'll just stay with that theme. I started writing songs with that theme. I developed a sound that it seems like a rhinoceros would make so I wrote a song, "The Lone Rhino." I develop a sound that sounded like an elephant trumpeting, so I wrote, "Elephant Talk." That way it's not just some kind of effect. It makes a musicality of it. You can see that there's a reason why I am making this sound with the guitar, it fits the song.



Selected Discography



Nine Inch Nails, Ghosts I-IV (Null, 2008)

Adrian Belew, Side Four (Independent, 2007)

The Bears, Eureka (Bears Music, 2007)

Adrian Belew, Side Three (Sanctuary, 2006)

Adrian Belew, Side Two (Sanctuary, 2005)

Adrian Belew, Side One (Sanctuary, 2005)

King Crimson, Power To Believe (Sanctuary, 2003)

The Bears, Live (Bears Music, 2001)

The Bears, Car Caught Fire (Bears Music, 2001)

King Crimson, ConstruKction of Light (Discipline Global Mobile, 2000)

Adrian Belew, Coming Attractions (Thirsty Ear, 2000)

King Crimson, Absent Lovers (Discipline Global Mobile, 1998)

Adrian Belew, Salad Days (Thirsty Ear, 1998)

Adrian Belew, Belew Prints : The Acoustic Adrian Belew Volume 2 (Adrian Belew Presents, 1998)

Adrian Belew, Op Zop Too Wah (Passenger, 1997)

Adrian Belew, The Acoustic Adrian Belew (Discipline Global Mobile, 1995)

King Crimson, THRAK (Discipline Global Mobile, 1995)

The Bears, The Bears (Primitive Man, 1987)

King Crimson, Three of a Perfect Pair (Warner Brothers, 1984)

Adrian Belew, Lone Rhino (Island, 1982)

King Crimson, Beat (EG, 1982)

King Crimson, Discipline (EG, 1981)

David Byrne, Catherine Wheel (Sire, 1981)

Talking Heads, Remain In Light (Sire, 1980)

Frank Zappa, Sheik Yerbouti (Ryko, 1979)

David Bowie, Lodger (Virgin, 1979)



Photo Credits

Power Trio Photo: Courtesy of Adrian Belew



Photo of Adrian Belew's guitar collection: Justin M. Smith



All Other Photos: Daryl Darko



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