‘You will probably never do the same thing twice’: Adrian Belew on recreating King Crimson

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Since King Crimson went on an extended hiatus in 2009, Adrian Belew — both with his power trio and with the Crimson ProjeKCt — has worked to keep the group’s legacy before concert goers. That doesn’t mean he’s always faithful to the originals.

In fact, Belew says that was the point.

A member of the group since 1981, the guitarist saw Robert Fripp’s shape-shifting prog amalgam work in a variety of ways, some of which quite frankly were never meant to be done note-for-note again on stage.

“Some things are made to be recreated, and you know that as you are going in,” Belew says in a round-table discussion below. “If you’re recording a piece of music or a song, you hope that you are going to be able to play it live, then you have to pay special attention to that and know what you did — what attitude you had, or what sounds you used, things like that. But there is also a whole realm of music where that’s not the idea. In that music, it’s free-form and you will probably never do the same thing twice.”

In all, Belew has participated in six King Crimson studio efforts. Since 2011, he’s toured with fellow Crim alums Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto as the Crimson ProjeKCt, as well.

That’s given him an opportunity examine the intricacies of his playing on those old records, all the way down to the solos. His approach, then as now, relies on immediacy.

“When it comes to soloing,” Belew adds, “I like to go in fresh and do it one or two times, because I find if I don’t do it the first one or two times, and find something there that I like, then I’m doomed to have to do it another 32 times to get back to where I wanted it to be the first time. I try to know the sound I am going to use, or the sounds, and this is the attitude — I think that is a very good word for it. You have something in your head, and from that moment on all of the experience, all of the practice time, all of that takes over. From that moment on, you’re not really thinking. It’s in the moment.”

Belew, who has also worked with Frank Zappa, David Bowie and the Talking Heads, is now set to take part in the forthcoming Nine Inch Nails tour.

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