Cleveland, Barry, Guitar Player
ADRIAN BELEW LIKES TO KEEP A LOT OF PLATES SPINNING IN the air at once. Lately, he has been touring with his Power Trio supporting the band's new Side Four (Live) [ABP] album. But he's also featured on the latest Nine Inch Nails disc Ghosts I-IV, he's collaborating with classical pianist Michael Clay, he has posted one archival Dust recording per week on his Web site for the past year, and, by the time you read this, he will be rehearsing with the revamped King Crimson. In his spare time, Belew has been expanding his instrument and effects setups to fill out the Trio sound in the future, and in anticipation of doing one-man shows at exhibitions of his paintings.
Then again, such a work ethic is nothing new for Belew. He first came to prominence in the late '70s, when Frank Zappa asked him to join his touring band, where he was seen by David Bowie, who asked him to play on his Stage and Lodger albums and perform live, where he was seen by Talking Heads, who asked him to play on Remain in Light and the subsequent tour, where he was seen by Robert Fripp and asked to join the reformed King Crimson--all within about three years.
Since then, Belew has brought his singular blend of high-wire fretwork and signal-processing prowess to seven studio and countless live King Crimson recordings, more than 15 solo albums, six projects with his pop side project the Bears, and dozens of recordings by major artists from Paul Simon to Porcupine Tree.
Past accomplishments notwithstanding, the Twang Bar King is as engaged as ever, freshly inspired by his association with 19-year-old bassist Julie Slick and her 20-year-old drummer brother Eric (both School of Rock alumni) in the Adrian Belew Power Trio.
"I love the Power Trio," enthuses Belew. "These kids give me energy, and make me fed young all over again. They really inspire me to create, and we're just starting."
What's the latest with King Crimson?
The new lineup of myself, guitarist Robert Fripp, bassist Tony Levin, and drummers Pat Mastelotto and Gavin Harrison will soon begin rehearsals for eight shows in August. We're just going to get things up and running, and make sure this is something we want to do properly.
Will there be a new album?
At this point, Robert has been saying, "Let's play a few shows, and see where we go from there." If he and I do begin writing, the process generally involves about two years of planning and getting together repeatedly to design the material, write it, bring the band in for rehearsals, take it out live, and then get into the studio.
What do you find so rewarding about working with Nine Inch Nails?
Trent Reznor and his crew give me free reign to improvise and go crazy. Then, they take the bits they like, and make something out of them. The process brings things out of me I ordinarily wouldn't do. We have a lot of fun, because Trent and I both have an affinity for odd sounds. He also loves to work with quirky effects that you can get down on the floor and noodle with--that's something that inspired me this last time.
Back in the '80s, I had an Electro-Harmonix Echoflanger mounted on a stand, and I was able to get some really oddball sounds by reaching over and twisting the knobs--including getting the effect selector knob stuck between two positions, which is how I got most of my sounds. I miss quirky pedals like that, so I'm experimenting with the Electro-Harmonix Flanger Hoax and some other pedals. The only problem with the Hoax is that I can't get it to do the same thing twice [laughs].
What other pedals are you experimenting with?
I've got a Locomofon Fuz-Fabrik made by a couple of guys in Norway. It's one of those devices that almost sounds like pulling Velcro pieces apart. Another new pedal is the Eventide Time Factor. I've got expression pedals connected to it via MIDI so that I can manipulate the delay time and feedback. …