Summers/Fripp interview Part 2
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 21:26:32 -0800
From: cheska at teleport dot com (KernsFunk)
Subject: Summers/Fripp interview Part 2
Song: some frippertronic-sounding stuff that I am unfamiliar with
VG: Videos. You have done two videos now, one for the first album.
RF: And one for the second.
VG: (laughing) And one for the second.
RF: That's perceptive of you, Vic.
VG: I think there's a connection there. I think there is something being
said on an archetypal level.
AS: There is a great photograph of you
RF: Really? What was this? There's some great photos of the session?
AS: I photographed Robert at the video shoot in London last week. I have
some marvelous of you Robert that I took. And I may be able to lay them on
you before you leave for Washington.
RF: Wonderful. Where are they now?
AS: They are down the road. Not very far away. I'll make a call.
VG: Let's all go there right now.
RF: We'll go there after the interview and vibrate together.
VG: All right.
RF: You want to know something about this video?
RF: It was hilarious. It was also very very hard work, because it was
running a day late. So instead of finishing at 8:00 in the evening after a
long day of shooting, we simply went on until 7:00 the following morning.
But, it was amazingly funny. It was amazingly funny. There was one
particular scene where Andy is bringing me tea. Should I paint in a larger
VG: Oh, please. Give us the synopsis.
RF: It was filmed in the Holloway Sanitarium, which was built in 1877 for
the curably insane middle-class of England. It is now on the market for 6
million pounds and 25 acres. Only one of the out buildings is this huge
brick church. One of the intriguing things when you walk in through the
entrance hall is the paintings done by the London School of Art, I believe,
in 1900. Although I don't think they realized what they were doing, they
were painting a whole scene of demons all over the walls.
AS: It is unbelievable.
RF: It is really horrible and profoundly disturbing, and anyone with any
sensitivity at all, let alone someone who is having a little difficulty
with their mental life, finds it utterly unnerving. However, you go on
from that into the hall with pastoral scenes painted on the panels around
the room with a long table that was set up. Myself, in the role of master
of the house was unmoveable and unprovokeable and deadpan, while Andrew the
butler tried to provoke me and live my pen (?). There was this one
particular scene where Andrew is bringing me my tea, past the monkey riding
on the donkey, past Gene October in the role of a junkie slumped in a large
chair with a stuffed black bear hovering over him with a live sheep tied to
his chair. There was also a goat on a table eating the Times and when he
finished the Times, he would go to the Guardian. The camera was on a
dolly, which is a little railway, moved along as Andrew came and the
different animals handlers were holding the animals. And as the camera
approached, they would let them go and run to get out of the shot. I was
also given tarantula crackers to eat. Fortunately, the tarantulas were
dead. However, they were very real tarantulas and they were placed in
cream cheese on crackers. One thing that I didn't know, was that the hairs
from legs of tarantulas fall off and they fell into the cream cheese.
VG: I am speechless myself , actually. Sort of a microcosm of the music
business in a sense. A mini-music business.
AS: I think we made a statement.
VG: Yeah. Do the animals get residuals for the...
AS: Well, they left residuals.
VG: Ah, they left residuals.
RF: The fox fell asleep at midnight.
AS: Oh, the saddest part was we had a baby pig. There is a happy note to
this. The pig lay there all night and was waiting to come on and do it's
bit. But it was dying and it was out the back wrapped in black cloth.
RF: At 4:00 in the morning, the message came through "The pig is dying".
AS: Yeah, but the pig, we are all happy to say, lived. It was only a six
months old piglet. The pig made it.
RF: It was only five weeks. It hadn't been weaned.
AS: Oh was it? Yes, six weeks, yeah five weeks. It hadn't been
RF: Five weeks. It hadn't been weaned.
AS: Yeah, it was terrible, but, anyway, the pig lived. We are happy about
VG: Actually, there is a bit of a story about the first video. Robert,
didn't you make a facetious remark about what the first video needed which
then came to pass
RF: Yes, what happened was I was at World Headquarters in Wimbourne. Fripp
World Headquarters. I was just off on a Crim tour, an endless King Crimson
tour somewhere or another. I phoned up Andy and Andy said "We have to do a
video, do you got any ideas?". I said "Yes, how about half a dozen
oriental dancing girls?" with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. And
Andy said, "What a great idea". I went away on tour, came back, and phoned
Andy up to see what was happening. And the first thing Andy said was "I've
got the oriental dancing girls". Then, sure enough, I turn up in London to
film the video and there they were. One complete with koto.
AS: I beg your pardon.
RF: Complete with koto.
AS: That video is actually seen in this video, we might add. We show it
during the running of this video, now has that ever been done before.
VG: Good technical point here. I don't think so.
RF: These are only two videos which I have ever done I am remotely
interested in. The videos I have done embarrass me and humiliate me,
AS: I didn't you had done any, Robert. Have you done any? With Crimson?
VG: You don't mean the pretentious, silly ones that have been done with
King Crimson, do you?
CG: I'll rephrase that. You mean the King Crimson videos you are not happy
RF: I very much like the "I Advance Masked" video, because it's very very
silly. Very humorous.
AS: It's nice, it's exciting, actually. I was really excited to
RF: Great music.
AS: Yeah, the music, really happening.
RF: But this other one I think will set new standards.
AS: New standards, yeah.
VG: Robert, do you really more comfortable and more able to let fly, as
Andy said, when you are working on a project which isn't directly involved
with Crimson, a band that you feel responsible for.
RF: I find it utterly impossible to play well in Crimson.
AS: Current incarnation?
RF: It's always been the same.
VG: And why is that?
RF: What I have always tried to do within Crimson is to have a band, a
group which is not really a reflection of the four individuals. It simply
has an identity all of it's own. And, I think that Crimson in 81 came
close to that idea, although the penny haven't dropped fully all around the
team. (?) But it was there as a possibility. But I think after 81 there
were elements within the group that found this frustrating and wished, if
you like, a higher level of self-expression. So, it wasn't really a group.
And within the situation, individuals were going for themselves.
AS: I think it is the same in any group, really. Any group that gets
anywhere and is noted for doing anything at all, it's just one of those
things, you tend not to embrace it, but to revile it. Well, you carry on,
but at the same time you, to some extent, feel trapped and you want to
become known for other things or doing something else.
VG: So the implication is a certain amount of creative friction
is useful, but it can cross a certain invisible line where it
brings diminishing returns.
AS: It brings something else with it, yeah.
RF: It is called egotism. Where you get egotism, everything breaks down.
AS: But, all the best groups are rife with egotism.
VG: Well, The Police is a very volatile group. I mean you have three very
distinct personalities. And I am sure that there is a lot of pushing and
VG: And isn't it true that, for instance, that you yourself have a lot to
do with arranging The Police songs? We talked about "Every Breath You
Take" and so on. I mean, people think of Sting as the songwriter and yet
those songs don't always sound the way we hear them on the radio when they
AS: No, over the six years or whatever we have been recording, what finally
gets on record there is often considerable change from the demo, the
original idea to what finally goes down on a record. I mean, it's like
anything. I mean, I think editing and constructing is almost as creative
as writing the original piece because it can become so different. And you
sort of take the base material, which you obviously need, and you transform
it into something else.
VG: We've mention "Every Breath You Take", can you give us another example
of a song that people might be familiar with that started out in a very
different incarnation before we heard it the way it is now?
AS: Yeah, like "The World Is Running Down" for instance, although I thought
that the lyrics were great that Sting had. Nothing like what we finally
came up with. It was like this sort of disco song with different chords
and everything. I know there was quite some friction in the studio over
that particular piece. And we worked through it and we finally came up
with it. Without bragging, overly, if I had not put those chords on and
put the guitar sounds that is so characteristic, it wouldn't have sounded
anything like it does now.
RF: If you wish to brag overly, you can go ahead.
AS: Well, I will. The minute that I put this sound on and those chords
with Stuart's drumming, it all fell just like the key (he snaps his
fingers) and within five minutes we had recorded it. It was just like
instant, it just needed that key. And so on and so forth.
Song: "The World Is Running Down"
VG: Right, there is the old story that I remember. Sting in The Secret
Policeman's Other Ball played "Roxanne" as a bossa nova and that was the
way it was originally written, wasn't it?
AS: That's right, yeah.
VG: And then what happened to turn it into what it was?
AS: Oh, I guess this was in the period - early, early days - when we were
rehearsing in a gay hairdresser's basement up in Finchly (sp?). I remember
very damp, cold, mildewed basement in the depths of winter. And he liked
Stuart, I remember this. But anyway, there we were and we started to fool
around with "Roxanne". He had, as I remember, just the verse, and we kept
playing with it. Sting always denies this, but I remember Stuart kind of
teaching him where to put the bass line, because Stuart was more into the
reggae thing than Sting was at that point. Anyway, I mean this is not to
belittle Sting, I mean he is a fantastic musician in his own right. For
VG: No, no, no, it's not a question of belittling, it's just a question
of... All of this goes into the maw of the band.
AS: It's all being in a group, I think. Any group that's any good is rife
with these things. Any group that really gets along, I think has to be
suspect. I just don't think....You know the best stuff comes out of
conflict of personality, as long as the talent is there with it.
RF: If the group is going to work, it needs to have the same aim.
Otherwise, you're looking at mechanics. Mike Giles, the first drummer of
King Crimson, always said that there were three things that keep a group
together: the social life between the members, the money they make and the
quality of the music. And any two of them will keep the band together.
VG: Fortunately or unfortunately.
RF: Yes. If you share the same aim for the group, it is possible to
overcome almost anything. But if there is a difference of aim, then the
smallest issues become really really nuts.
AS: I think that is true. I think that is about the truest thing you could
RF: Like, if the white wine afterwards isn't quite cold enough, or if it
isn't quite cold enough, you can't really really drink out of plastic
glasses. These become very very weighty issues. For example, if you are
in a group and your aim is to have a group spirit, and maybe another member
of the group's interest is to have a vehicle for them. You are going to
run into problems, you do not have the same aim. You do not share the same
VG: Do some of the same creative tensions when you are working together as
a duo? I mean you both have very different styles and yet, obviously,
you've made something larger than the sum of the parts out of it. Was it
much easier than working in your individual groups, was it harder or was it
RF: Well, I left after two and a half weeks. That is the quick answer.
VG: Well, the other album, too. I mean, we are talking two albums here.
RF: Oh, I stayed for that one.
AS: We've not had to go through the chore, well, not the chore, but the
trauma of being on the road or trying to do that together. I think we both
like the idea of working together and doing this because where maybe we'd
be able to work in a sense where we were free of all those things. (some
indecipherable murmuring about how he just contradicted himself)
RF: You mean you just contradicted yourself?
AS: I just contradicted myself. We've both come from those situations that
we were just talking about. So, we get like a third thing which is...or a
second thing? Where we are very happy to be working together and out of
that. And you get this kind of freedom that goes with that, hopefully.
VG: Fooling around, as it were. Being irresponsible. Being silly and
expecting people to spend their hard-earned money on this, huh?
AS: Yeah, being indulgent. Robert and I had a very nice little routine
where we would meet in the morning, we'd have some coffee, and we'd sort of
talk about what we had done the day before. Listen, fool around, do a bit
of sketching out the new arrangement. And then we'd go off and have...
RF: One thing we have to say at this point is we are talking in the
morning. I would go across to the little homemade cake shop opposite, and
bring back a green cake. Bright, livid green with...
AS: He would bring back me a green cake.
RF: It had cream in the middle
AS: Loaded with white sugar.
RF: Do you know what? It's changed ownership
AS: Oh my God.
RF: And they do not make lime, livid, luminous green cakes
AS: Well in that case, I don't think we will be recording anymore
VG: I was afraid of that
AS: But, I must continue the story, because then we would go to the salad
bar and have our health food lunch. Then we would go to the antiquarian
book shop and probably buy a book each and mull for an hour. And then we
go back and carry on recording. See how simple and uncomplicated we are?
VG: Very artsy, yes.
AS: That's what we would do every day.
VG: Since you mentioned coming into this project after both of you had been
touring for quite some time and how it was a nice change of pace. You both
come from bands that do a great deal of touring. Are there any plans for
the two of you to take this little show on the road and give the great
people of America a chance to hear what you sound like live?
AS: We've talked about it and I would love to do it, actually, because I
think we would have a lot of fun bringing our experience to bear on the
situation and try to avoid all those previous traumas that we've talked
about. I think it would be a very nice thing to do, however, both Robert
and I several commitments, so it is just trying to find the time to do it.
RF: I don't know whether we'd agree on the same way of doing it. There you
AS: We may not.
RF: And I think your manager's ideas would probably be remarkably different
than yours or mine.
AS: There are three ways, really. We could either do it as a duo, like
with two guitars. Or we could try it as the two of us plus one guy filling
in and running tapes that we could play against. Or, we could put a group
together to carry off this music.
RF: And I would far rather have two guitarists
AS: That would be the most fun. Whether we could make it sound anything
like the album is another...
RF: It doesn't matter
AS: It doesn't matter, maybe we wouldn't even try to do that.
VG: It's the chemistry itself that would probably come through
RF & AS: Yes
VG: Well, all right, let's look at that for a minute. You both
do have a lot of commitments and...
RF: I don't. No, I'm just going into retreat and I shall then
let the future present itself.
VG: So are we to deduce from that there is no more Crimson as of
RF: There are tapes of a live album to be mixed in February.
VG: But you are not planning on working in a band format immediately in the
RF: There are no plans for that.
VG: All right. Andy, what about you? Aren't you involved in
some film projects now?
AS: Yeah, I am. I'm just going to trip out to L.A. actually tomorrow or
Saturday to see about another one. But, actually, I am going to write a
screen play. That is the next sort of project for me. And now I have
three films that I could score in January/February and just have to decide
which one. Actually, just as we are here with Robert, something
interesting has come up which I must tell you about. Last summer, I wrote
a script. They are now considering using the music from the two albums,
all the music for the film.
AS: Yeah, I'm pushing for that, because I think that would be very nice
RF: That's great.
AS: So that's something that's being talked about daily, at the moment. And
they are very keen, the director loved "I Advance Masked". So, yeah, film
projects really mostly for me. A live album with The Police over December.
RF: (in Dorset accent) You're going to be a film star.
AS: Well, I don't know, we'll see. The world will decide. I am in my own
mind, of course, except in my mother's mind.
RF: (in Dorset accent) I reckon you'd be great. Number One. Number One!
VG: Wasn't there a jazz oriented album that you were planning on for a
while? Is that going to happen?
AS: Yeah, with Jack DeJohnette. We've talked about that many times. I
think he's getting a little frustrated because I haven't actually been able
to get to it. But I would love to do that with him. And I actually have
some very good tunes that I think would work with him.
VG: And, Cameron Crowe, who wrote "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" sent me a
tape just the other day with a little star beside a certain song you had
done that is going to appear on an upcoming soundtrack.
AS: That's right. I did a song actually in the same studios were Robert
and I recorded these two albums. A song called "Human Shout" and that's in
VG: Which is called...
AS: It's called "The Wild Life"
VG: When will that be coming out?
AS: It will be coming out soon, any day now, I think.
VG: Speaking of things coming to the surface and a great deal of work and
preparation being put into things and spontaneous eruptions and so on. I
think it would should end the interview the way we started just before we
came on the air here. And Robert was asked to say something into the
microphone and a spontaneous duet erupted between the two of you. On the
count of three, I was wondering if you could reproduce that? One, two,
RF & AS: (in unison) Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest
heaven of invention. A kingdom for a stage and princes to act and monarchs
to behold the swelling scene.
VG: Thank you gentlemen. Robert Fripp and Andy Summers.
* HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Steve. Karen, Sierra, Chessy & Sitka *