Issued in July of 2009, Adrian Belew’s e found the former King Crimson guitarist exploring a turbulent, deeply involving theme over the course of an extended five-part suite — but he wasn’t alone in this venture.
The project also saw the studio debut of the Adrian Belew Power Trio, a frisky, authoritative and decidedly youthful amalgam that informed every element of his work. e, as much as it reinvigorated Belew’s muse, also shepherded bassist Julie Slick and drummer Eric Slick to wider notice.
It was a role not dissimilar from the one Belew’s early mentor Frank Zappa played in his own band.
“That was only after the fact,” Belew tells us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “I didn’t intend for that to happen, so I won’t take credit. Much like Frank, I was just needing musicians to play my stuff. The fact is, they were young and smart and sharp players.”
Their collaboration grew out of a Belew appearance, in 2006, at the Paul Green School of Rock, where the siblings were students. Belew then spent some two years constructing the e song cycle specifically for this trio, ultimately finding a striking balance between the muscular ferocity of King Crimson with the soaring complexity of Stravinsky and Gershwin.
The Slicks never missed a beat.
“There’s something about being young; they just wanted to do everything,” Belew adds. “When you play with older guys who have more accomplishments, they don’t want to do everything. They are concerned about their mortgage and what their wife says. These kids had nothing else going on. They wanted to do it all. So, it was really a perfect moment in time. I don’t know how it would have ever happened if I had gone out to find it. Instead, it found me.”
The project itself continued to intrigue Belew, even after the release of e. He later expanded the idea into a full-blown orchestral format, something that was closer to what the guitarist said he’d always heard in his own head, and participated in an incredible performance with the Metropole in Amsterdam in February of 2011.
Unfortunately, this perfect moment, as if so often the case, would not last. Eric Slick left the Belew Power Trio later in 2009; he’s currently the drummer in Dr. Dog. (Marco Minnemann sat in on drums for a 2010 tour; Tobias Ralph eventually took over.) Eric’s sister Julie, however, continues with the trio. She’s launched a tandem solo career, even as she began collaborating with Belew in 2012 as part of the Crimson ProjeKCt offshoot band — finding herself on stage with Crimson members Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto, among others.
“One of the things I liked about the Slicks was that they were accepted by my peers,” Belew tells us. “People like (King Crimson founder) Robert (Fripp), and Tony and Pat. They really saw why I had said these kids were so great. They welcomed them into that family, and not a lot of people are.”
Crimson ProjeKCt (which includes Belew, Slick, Ralph, Levin Mastelotto and Markus Reuter) is in the midst of a summer European tour that will continue through August.