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Interviews

Adrian Belew: Power Trios and Crimson Heads

By Published: November 10, 2008
Adrian Belew / King CrimsonAAJ: Good time to put a power trio together.



AB: Yeah, fortunately I was able to make that leap there. If it hadn't worked, though, I'd probably be upset about it. But I'm not. I know Robert pretty well. I've been working with him for 27 years, and he's got his own mind set about things. And once he decides something, he goes that way. Then, he might undecide it. [Laughs] He is consistently inconsistent.



AAJ: If you know this, what was Fripp's revelation that he could get King Crimson back together for 2008?



AB: He told me that he realized that bringing [Porcupine Tree member] Gavin Harrison as a second drummer would bring new life to the material, and that excited him. Now, whether it has anything to do with beyond that—if he's wanting to make new music, or it's a making money thing, I really have no idea. At this point, I'm taking it for face value that it's time for King Crimson to do a few shows this year and maybe next year does the same.



AAJ: I know you've already had some rehearsals. Robert Fripp keeps the camera going and posts the shots in his web diary on dgmlive.com. How have the rehearsals been going so far?



AB: I guess they've gone okay. We've learned things faster than Robert thought we would. I thought they we would learn them quicker, but he thought it would take a long time. I think Tony and Gavin maybe surprised him a bit because they did their homework and really knew the material. I don't want to say too much, but I'm a little curious about how it's going to come off live because at this point we're only doing material that everyone has heard different versions of the band do. There's nothing new for the most part, maybe some drum duet type things that are new, but nothing else new.



And, it concerns me only that if we go out and really ace it, then that will be great. But if we go out and sound like every other version of the band, then what's the point? So I'm concerned at this point. And if you ask me this in September, I'll be able to tell you. And I think what I will tell you in September is , "Wow, of course we were hot and I loved every minute of it."



AAJ: What has it been like with Gavin Harrison on the drums, so far?



AB: Gavin is sensational. He's a wonderful guy. Fabulous player. Like we said earlier, he really did his homework. Never floundered for one minute. Can do amazing thing with his feet and hands. [Laughs] And, I think importantly for Robert, Gavin's English. Robert felt like he had lost the English side of King Crimson, which I can totally understand because in my experience, long before I was ever in the band, it was a totally English band. AAJ: A very British band.



AB: Very British. Very English in its thinking and terminology and its lyricism, its background, its culture. I know it's been somewhat changed over the years by the infusion of Americanism—people like myself and Tony Levin. But I'm happy to see it go back to the English shores as much as possible, I think that's where it belongs.



Adrian Belew / King CrimsonAAJ: I thought a recent post by Robert on his web diary was just hilarious. He says "Here's Adrian's basement, and here's Adrian coming downstairs to show me my part on, "Level Five."" I thought that was just great—you showing him his part. So, am I ever going to hear "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Parts I-IV" and "Level Five" in the same show?



AB: Wow. I think not, probably just because it would be too much of the same.



AAJ: 45 minutes of...



AB: Yeah, I mean truly—it's the same piece of material being redone different ways. Same tempo area, same scale usage. So if you backed them all up together, would probably be too much of a good thing.



AAJ: I understand. Where did he get "Larks' Tongues In Aspic"? I always wondered... why did he call it that?



AB: Ah.... I don't know. Many of those titles came from Peter Sinfield, the lyricist who was in the band at that point. [Editorial note: Sinfield had left the band by the time of Larks' Tongues in Aspic (DGM Live, 1973). According to Wikipedia, "The title was invented by percussionist Jamie Muir and is meant to signify what he heard in this album's music: something fragile and delicate (larks' tongues) encased in something corrosive and acidic (aspic)."].



Sinfield is the one who came up with "In The Court of the Crimson King." I believe he is the man who named the band King Crimson. I could be wrong about this history, I don't know. Those are things that he claims.



AAJ: And I wonder about "Red." Why was it named "Red"?



AB: Well by then, Pete Sinfield was long gone from the band, so it couldn't have been his idea to call it "Red." [Laughs] Good title. Great album title and a great record.



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