ADRIAN BELEW INTERVIEW (at last!)


Date: Wed, 29 Apr 92 01:00:42 EDT
From: wcsanil at ccs dot carleton dot ca (Anil Prasad)
Subject: ADRIAN BELEW INTERVIEW (at last!)
Sorry for the late delay folks, but here it is at last...

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                     Adrian Belew Interview
                          March 26/1992

                         by Anil Prasad
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The entire contents of this interview are (c) 1992 Charlatan
Publications Incorporated (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). *No portion*
of this interview may be reproduced in any format, anywhere.
If you see portions of this interview appear elsewhere, please
notify me *IMMEDIATELY* at: wcsanil at ccs dot carleton dot ca

                     Thanks. -- Anil Prasad
-----------------------------------------------------------------
I know I sound like a pompous ass putting a disclaimer like that
at the top of this thing, but as of the date this interview
was submitted for this one time appearance on the Discipline
list (April 28/92), the interview has yet to be published, and
won't be appearing in my magazine until mid-May. So this
is for my own protection. Thanks for your understanding.
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I think you'll get a kick out of some of the information in
this thing. Belew is always an open and honest person in his
interviews, and is of course, always entertaining. Hope you
enjoy it.
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AP: I understand you were in Mexico producing a band recently.

AB: Well, I actually did the production for a band called Kaifanes,
the production was done in Lake Geneva, Wisconson where I live, but
I first met with them in Mrxico CIty for a week. It took us five
weeks to make the record, and I would say overall it was completely
a success.

AP: What kind of music do they perform?

AB: They're a progressive rock band. They have their influences not
only from their own cultural, Mexican music, but also from groups
like King Crimson and people I've worked with (laughs). So it was
a very interesting blend of their particular own brand of music.
I've never heard anything quite lke it. It sounds somewhat like a
Mexican U2 (laughs). They're all really wonderful people and we had
a great time doing the record. It's an excellent record, I really
like it.

AP: When does it come out?

AB: I think it comes out the middle of May.

AP: What label are they on?

AB: They're on on BMG/Ariola.

AP: How did you get involved with them?

AB: They sent me their last CD, video and press kit, lots of
information about the band, and I really liked the band. There was
a time and a space when I had just finished Inner Revolution where
they were producing the artwork and pressing the CDs where for 2
months you don't have anything to do. So it was perfect timing. So
that's how it all came about. I've been wainting to produce outside
projects..

AP: You were supposed produce Timbuk3 [a fabulous little band from
Austin Texas -- known for their megahit "The Future's So Bright I

Gotta Wear Shades" -- Remember them?] until IRS [Timbuk3's record
label, and the former label of The Bears] threw a wrench in the
works right?

AB: Yeah, it didn't work out, but I really like their music...

AP: I think that would have been a phenomenal combination.

AB: It was a good combination, we met and it seemed like it was all
going to work until IRS decided they wanted to do something else.

AP: In their usual inimitable fashion.

AB: Yeah... (laughs)

[Note: I interviewed Timbuk3 a few months prior to this interview
with Belew and they told me when they approached IRS about Belew
producing their next album (which turned out to be "Big Shot In The
Dark" -- GET IT! It's a fab album), IRS came back and said "Well,
who's Adrian Belew? What hits has he produced?" And Belew and The
Bears used to be signed to the label!!!!!!]

AP: You tinkered about with some of the old tracks on Desire Of The
Rhino King didn't you?

AB: Umm, no i don't think so. There's a different version of "Lone
Rhino" and there's a new song that was never on a record before
that was on a guitar player flexidisc. Other than that, they're the
same mixes. We remastered everything, and they probably sound a
little better.

AP: I could swear that you changed the bassline on "Big Electric
Cat".

AB: Yeah, I think I know what you mean. There was a mistake in the
mastering at the front of "Big Electric Cat" that cuts off the
first note and seems to turn the beat around. But that's very
observant! (laughs)

AP: On the first few cuts, Inner Revolution has a much raw and
rougher feel than your last few albums.

AB: Yeah, i tried to do that. About halfway through the record I
decided to put some more aggressive songs on. The first few were
songs like "I'd Rather Be Right Here" and "I Walk Alone" and
"Everything" and then I decided that to really balance things out
you're gonna need a few aggressive things, plus I've been dealing
with this recording style of using less information per song. In
other words, having three instruments doing the job of six, and
that accounts for some of the rawness too.

AP: Did you want to get away from the pop angle on a few cuts too?

AB: Oh no, I think these are more pop songs than ever to me! But I
just wanted to keep it simpler, more direct. Also, I knew that this
would be some music to play live. I kept in my mind a vision of a
band playing it.

AP: Why did you choose to use Chris Arduser (drummer of The Bears)
on a couple of tracks?

AB: Well, Chris came into town in Lake Geneva and i thought I could
use a sparring partner for a couple of days, so he came in to the
studio and played my drums which were already set up and miked and
we came up with some new songs that way.

AP: What do you think of the Psychodots (the new band formed by the
remaining three members of the Bears)?

AB: I like them very much, actually, Rob Fetters is going to play
guitars on this tour. The drummer is the same drummer from the
Bowie tour, Mike Hodges, and we've imported a newcomer, a bass
player named Brian Lovely. It's a real lean, mean nice rock band.

AP: Two guitars? Great!

AB: Yeah, it sounds good. We've already learned 18 songs in about
a week and half.

AP: So, I understand you're back in King Crimson. (laughs)

AB: No, not really, not officially.

AP: I read an interview where Fripp said you'll definitely be
involved.

AB: Well, we've only been talking about it at this point. I'm not
certain it's going to happen. Ummm, it looks positive that it could
happen. I think until we sit and play music together I wouldn't
really be able to say for sure, but I'm excited about the
possibility. I met with Robert last summer and we've talked a few
times on the phone and it all sounds pretty good, maybe... but it's
still a rumour.

AP: Why did you choose to redo the vocal on "Cadence And Cascade"?

AB: As I said, I was going to visit Robert over the summer for a
couple of days and he suggested that "since you're here why don't
you do something on this new compilation?" So, it was entirely his
idea, but I enjoyed singing it. I always liked that track even
though I had no involvement in the original version.

AP: Do you really want to put up with all the crap you went through
before with the band?

AB: I'm not sure, that's what I'm thinking about. I'm just not
sure... it would have to be done in a newer way, and that's what
we're working out, and of course I would really like to see what
the music would be. If it was vital, new, unique music, then that

would really interest me.

AP: So, Jerry Marotta is the new drummer?

AB: Yeah.

AP: Why won't Bill (Bruford) be involved?

AB: I don't think Robert wants to have Bill involved and I think
Bill is also entrenched in his new projects. Personally, I love
Bill.

AP: I think he's incredible..

AB: He's a remarkable drummer.. i learned a lot working with him...

[This is where Adrian went into why Broof isn't involved in the
new KC which I think from the 500 messages I got, was explained
well enough...]

AP: King Crimson was always full of strange relationships and
conflict wasn't it?

AB: Yeah, there was a lot of conflict built into that situation.

AP: Do you think that the tension was a catalyst for some of that
great music?

AB: I'm not sure if the music is a product of that or not. I'm not
sure if you could still make the same music... I'd like to believe
you could without all that tension. It's just the potential of all
four musicians put together, whether there were pressures beneath
it or not, I think it would have still made the same music.

AP: What would be the biggest challenge for King Crimson in the
90s?

AB: Well, probably to overcome the stigma of being nostalgic, of
"re-un-ite-ing" or anything like that, so that's why I'm saying,
the only real reason for doing it would be to have some real, new,
vital music.

AP: Do you miss recording within a band format?

AB: No I don't actually, I prefer recording alone. I approach
recording more like a painter approaches painting you know. It's
the challenge of working through all the problem solving, of how to
get to the music that you hear in your head that I find most
attractive about creating music in the first place and it quite
simply is more challenging to do it all yourself and like a
painter, I have my own vision of how to do it, and if I can do it,
I'm gonna try to do as much of it as I can, so also, I think that
in bands I've been in in the past, you get tired of having to
compromise so often, so finally you say, I'll just do it myself !
(laughs)

AP: Well, it's certainly worked well for you so far.

AB: Well, yeah, I've worked at it a long time you know. If there's
ever something that I can't do, like a string quartet, I'll gladly
have other people play it.

AP: Was there a particular "Inner Revolution" that inspired the
song?

AB: There wasn't a particular inner revolution that happened to me,
although my life has taken on some dynamic changes recently. Inner
Revolution really came from conversations I had with my girlfriend
Martha Thompson, she studies communication and nearly has a masters
degree and it's a theory of hers, a working theory about how things
can change dynamically in your life. It could be something that
causes you to change or it could be you causing yourself to change.
So the general message that I read into the song was as it says,
"If there's something in your life, you have the power to change
it."

AP: What were some of the dynamic changes?

AB: Well in the past two years, I would say going on tour with
David Bowie for nine months was a big change in my life. On a
career level that was one of the biggest steps I had taken in a
long time, not only because of the link there was, but also the
finances of it, the whole scope of everything, it changed a lot of
things. Also in the last two years, I decided to get divorced and
start my life over. I had really felt my marriage had reached a
complete failure state where I could no longer be myself and
actually be the person I needed to be to do what i want to do in my
life. This took a long time to work through and decide, obviously
a big decision like that, and that was a big move. Following that,
I met Martha and fell in love and that was a giant change in my
life. So to me, a lot of this record revolves around the hope of a
new love, of a new start in your life and a more positive feeling.
Basically I feel better than I've ever felt in my life, so I wanted
to write some songs about that.

AP: On "This Is What I Believe" you've got a killing sax sound,
that's your guitar of course.

AB: Yeah, that's a GR-50 synthesizer, I can't tell you any more
about it than that (laughs). It's one of those things I come up
with now and then, it sounds to me something I liken to that Stevie
Wonder style of harmonica playing, so that's what it's called, the
synth patch on my synthesizer says Stevie Wonder (laughs). I like
to give them names. (laughs)

AP: Do you have a lot of new digital toys these days?

AB: Yes I do. I just put together a whole new stereo, midi guitar
rack, actually I say I put it together, but someone else put it
together for me. What I do everyday now is work with all the sounds
and try to get all the right things that the songs need.

AP: I knew that "I'd Rather Be Right Here" was about a fear of
flying, but I was surprised to find out that it was
autobiographical.

AB: It's the strangest thing. It's totally illogical and it just
came on me a few years ago and this has happened to a number of
people I know, David Byrne and David Bowie of course. I used to
love flying, in fact I even have flown planes! I took flying
lessons for a little while. I was always thrilled by airports and
the whole idea thrilled me and then I don't know what happened,
this real illogical fear started and now with the plane, there are
times when I get up to move to another seat because I think I'm
gonna help the plane little bit! (laughs)

AP: Really?

AB: Yeah, it's that bizarre and stupid!

AP: Are you gonna be doing some flying during this tour?

AB: Well, there will be some flying for this tour yes, but mostly
it will stay on the ground. That's not by my design, it's just the
nature of this level of touring. I'm trying to overcome it. It
gives a great deal of humour to my friends. Whenever we start the
take-off you know, as soon as the plane starts to take off, my
hands break out in an amazing sweat, I mean sweat just pours off of
my hands! Actually it's been quite awhile, because I remember, the
guys in King Crimson used to laugh at it and they'd always say,
"Watch this, watch his hands!" (laughs) It's some sort of stigma or
stimata or whatever it's called. It certainly is weird, I wish I
could get rid of it.

AP: On "I Walk Alone", you have that Roy Orbison thing happening
again.

AB: Yeah, that was the one song I wrote when I was on the Bowie
tour. I used to lay in my bunk in the bus sometimes when I would
get tired and would try to think up songs. That was one I thought
up and only later did I work out the chords and what it should be
on the piano and then I realized as I was doing it, it had that
emotional timbre of Roy Orbison and of course Roy being an
influence on me when I was a kid, I thought it would be kind of
nice to do something in that vein. Not many people write those
kinds of songs these days.

AP: Your voice really takes on his quality...

AB: Well, the only thing I left out was the big "Roy note" he
always hit at the end of a song (laughs), but I didn't want to copy
him to that degree. I just wanted it to have that, I dunno, that
qulaity of his voice, I wouldn't know how to explain it, but I
wanted to try and get some of that in my voice.

AP: Tell me about "Only A Dream".

AB: It began as a drum track while we were testing mike technique
and sounds for the drums and I went ahead and played the drum track
and really liked it because it had a lot of different drum rolls
and things I don't usually play and so I wrote the song over the
top of that and it came very quickly, that song. As soon as I
worked out the chords I knew what the melody would be. I always let
the songs tell me what they want to be about and it seemed to me
that this was a big dynamic type sounding song and therefore could
be about something larger than some of the other subject matters so
I went back to my usual "what are we doing to the earth" plea
(laughs), but I always like to include something like that on a
record to just to remind people who may not know of my convictions
that I believe we are making some big mistakes in the way we are
treating our planet.

AP: Are you an active envrionmentalist at all?

AB: I'm not an active environmentalist. I think my action is simply
that what I can do is write songs about it to bring about some
awareness and that's as far as I go with it. I don't really
participate in any fund raising or anything like that. I think it's
a private matter anyway, I think it's one person at a time doing
what they feel would help. Even if it's just recycling, it does
help.

AP: What sort of selection of songs will you be peforming on tour?

AB: We've worked out ten of the Inner Revolution songs and they all

sound really good -- well everything sounds really good! I'm very
happy with the way this band is turning out. It's a band that
should be capable of doing everything I've ever done in different
situations. We're gonna do something from King Crimson, a couple of
Bears songs, we're also gonna play for the first time songs from
Young Lions -- that album was never played live...

AP: Are you gonna do "I Am What I am?"

AB: We are doing "I Am What I am"!

AP: Excellent!! Great!! (This is my fave Belew track of all time)

AB: It's great! I love it, it's a great track, and it also gives us
a break from singing, and we've got the taped voice of the Prophet
Omega.

AP: Did his camp ever get ahold of you?

AB: No, we've never been able to locate him through every resource
we know...

[For those of you that don't know, The Prophet Omega was a radio
evangelist from sometime during the 40s-50s. Adrian use samples
of his speech and pieced them together for the vocal track
for "I Am What I Am". He did it without Omega's permission and
has been putting aside royalties for him, just in case he or one
of his descendants wants to claim them.]

AP: So, his royalties are still building up for him?

AB: (cracks up) Yeah, I guess so! If he just wants to claim them!
(laughs) The other day we learned "Young Lions" too, that was
really a thrill. I wasn't sure if we could accomplish that.

AP: Because of the percussion?

AB: Yeah, it really sounds great though, and we're playing "Men In
Helicopters" as well as "Pretty Pink Rose" of course.

AP: With Rob on co-vocals?

AB: Yeah, Rob is doing the David Bowie vocals and it's working out
great. The only thing we haven't decided is what we're gonna play
>from Mr. Music Head, but apart from learning "Big Electric Cat" and
"The Momur" and maybe some songs from the older stuff, we've
learned "The Rail Song" already, it's a little bit of everything,
and there's also a really nice six minute piece of music I've put
together to play on that has excerpts chronologically from my
entire career from 35 different songs. It's a pretty nice piece,
sort of like a musical version of "Cruelty To Animals". (laughs)

AP: Last time we spoke, you were about to do some advertisments in
Japan for air conditioners!

AB: Well, they really weren't for air conditioning! (laughs) That's
one of their products, the commercials don't tout a product as
such, it's very different. They do a profile about me, in other
words, the commercial is about me, and at the end it says "I'm
always unique, like Dyken is", that's it (laughs), that's the name
of the company.

AP: How do you feel about that sort of thing from an artistic point
of view?

AB: I think it's fine. I don't have any problems with it from an
artistic view. It's not an artistic thing, it's a commercial thing,
a thing you do for money and i enjoy it a lot, and the money was
good and they have a different view in Japan. In the United states
it's frowned upon for an artist to do commercials, it's not looked

at as you said, "artistic enough" but in Japan people do
commercials there who wouldn't do commercials here because they
have a different outlook on it, the commercials are very short and
often they're the best things on television! People like Rob DeNiro
and David Bowie and so on have done commercials there who wouldn't
do them in the states. [Note: Bowie *HAS* done ads in the States!]
I was told that it's one of the only ways for a non-Japanese person
to achieve stardom in Japan because they don't play the music on
the radio. You can't go through the normal channels, so the best
way to be popular is to do these television commercials. A lot of
people do them for that reason. I did them because it was an
attractive idea and because the money was good, and I really
enjoyed it. It was like a video shoot, like making a rock video and
I liked the end result. I wish they'd show it here, it's a great
little profile of me!

AP: Are you planning on doing another instrumental album for the
future? And would Atlantic give you that sort of artistic freedom?

AB: Yeah, I would like to do that, I don't know if I'll get that
freedom from Atlantic or not. I've been letting material like that
accumulate and sometime I'll find something to do with it. I'd
rather do a movie soundtrack or something. I think that kind of
music needs more of a purpose to exist because there's no place in
the market for it, maybe it'd be better if it were attached to a
movie or something, but I would like to do some more instrumental
music.

AP: It's sad that record companies seem to reward innovation like
"Desire Caught By The Tail" with punitive measures.

AB: Yeah. I think it would be a dangerous step for me to take at
this point on a career level too. I know that Desire Caught By The
Tail lost me my record deal with Island, that was no big deal
because I went over to Atlantic and did so much better with them.
I'm happier, still that period was, well, confusing for me.

AP: So how does a rock MEGASTAR cope with a receding hairline?

AB: (cracks up) Well, my father had a receding hairline and I
always thought he looked really handsome in it. So I thought that
mine would get to that point anyhow. (laughing) I dunno, I think it
kinds of gives me my own look, my own character, I think I deal
with it by not worrying about it, I meet too many guys with
receding hairlines, and that's all they talk about. I kind of
accept mine, I like it. Martha likes it, that's all that matters to
me! (laughs)
AP: What's in the future for Mr. Music Head?

AB: (laughs) Well, this tour will probably go for three months,
Afterwards I think we'll figure out if there will be a King
Crimson, which will probably be a big decision right there and I'll
have to see what happens from there. If that happens, then that
would be the next step for me, if it isn't the right think to do,
I would probably go into making yet another solo album and I'd like
to do another major production this year. I so much enjoyed being
in the producer role, I felt natural doing it. Of course, I have
produced a lot of albums, but they've always been my own or The
Bears, and that doesn't count as much. Producing an outside
project, someone you don't even really know, really appeals to me
at this point.

AP: A lot of us out here would love to see King Crimson together
again, as I'm sure you know.

AB: Yeah, well, I would too. If it works, I would like to see that
happen too. Obviously, it was a great adventurous band I was happy
to be a part of, it wasn't always fun, I've said that to you in
past interviews, but that wasn't the object of it, it was to make
some great music and I think we did accomplish that at times.

AP: To me, King Crimson was THE band of the 1980s.

AB: Well, if we could have it be THE band of the 1990s, that would
be terrific (laughs) wouldn't it?

AP: I hope it works out, I hope you all get along!

AB: Well, I must admit, I had a much better time with Robert this
time personally, but Robert and I always got along real well, but
I still think we've both changed, grown up some, matured some, who
knows, maybe that accounts for a lot the differences.

AP: Robert's a quirky individual, I've had a couple of bitter
encounters with him in the past.

AB: Yeah, hs is. You have to approach Robert with kid gloves a
little bit, because he's an unusually opinionated person, so you
have to learn how to umm, like that. (laughs) He can be a hard guy
to get along with, but he's always treated me very well, and we
really have a good friendship and a good musical understanding. I'm
just concerned whether King Crimson is the right thing to do with
my time in the 90s, because you know I'm really enjoying being a
solo artist quite honestly. That gives me a lot of autonomy and I'm
a little scared of giving some of that away.

AP: Your profile has been building up quite nicely as of late.

AB: Yeah I think so too, and I'd like to keep making records on my
own as long as they let me! (laughs)

AP: Are you going to be releasing any non-LP things like that CD
single you released a couple of years ago?

AB: You mean from this album?

AP: Yeah.

AB: I don't know if they have a plan for doing that or not. I
haven't heard of anything like that. I hope they will. I like that
little extra CD, it had some other extra things on it as well.

AP: My Baby's In Love With A Shoe Salesman!

AB: That's an old, old song of mine from when I first started
writing songs, I thought it would be fun to put on there. "Neptune
Pool"  is the other extra track which I think is a very nice
musical piece.

AP: Atlantic won't let you put that sort of the stuff on your
albums?

AB: Well, I guess I can. They don't really give me limititations,.
For this record I wanted it to be songs and I chose out of all the
songs I was writing the ones that I felt fit together best and made
the most complete picture.

                  ***********THE END**********

-----------------------------------------------------------------
The entire contents of this interview are (c) 1992 Charlatan
Publications Incorporated (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). *No portion*
of this interview may be reproduced in any format, anywhere.
If you see portions of this interview appear elsewhere, please
notify me *IMMEDIATELY* at: wcsanil at ccs dot carleton dot ca

                     Thanks. -- Anil Prasad
-----------------------------------------------------------------


Mike Stok