Pic: Pierre Emile Bertona
                  THE TONY LEVIN BAND
Welcome to Europe
             for the first time & with a new album
             & hopefully a whole lotta resonance

      European tour from april 28. - may 17. 2006

Is this a new chapter in the history of the Tony Levin Band with this upcoming european tour and a new album?

It Is a big victory for me to finally be coming to Europe with my band. We have been touring, on and off, for years - but only now am I finally able to bring these players to Germany (We came to Italy last October - because it was a big success and the audiences wanted to see our “Gabriel Alumni” in action, we were able to book more countries this time.Also, my Resonator CD is a big step in some directions I haven’t gone with my earlier solo albums. (There have been quite a few.) This time I am singing, in addition to the instrumental pieces, and I’ve worked quite some time on the lyrics of these rock pieces - they are not just some casual words thrown on the music.The album isn’t out yet, so I can’t tell how people will react, but I think the Crimson fans and Gabriel listeners will enjoy what surprises I have this time.

For how long is this band going on now, and how often did the line up change so far? Please describe the other members briefly.

We started touring as the Tony Levin Band ... well maybe 5 years ago. (I’m not sure the year.) The lineup has stayed the same, but this tour (and the new Cd) I have added my brother Pete Levin, on piano and organ. Pete has played with Annie Lenox, Paul Simon, and jazz greats like Gil Evans Band.
Jerry Marotta, of Peter Gabriel Band and many more groups, is our drummer, and he sings on some songs too (he’s great - we will probably do some Gabriel or even Genesis material that we used to play with Peter, and Jerry can sing it.) Larry Fast (“Synergy”) is also from the Peter Gabriel Band, and Nectar, and his own Synergy records. On guitar is Jesse Gress, of Todd Rundgren Band.We are great friends, with years of experience playing together. You will see what fun we have, while, hopefully, making some great music for the audience.

You have made 3 studioalbums and 1 Live CD so far. Now the fourth one is coming out. Does the new one stylistically connect to the ones before. Or does it go in a different  direction. What’t the title and when you reckon, we get it over here?

I hope the CD will be released in Germany (on EMI Germany) in April, before we arrive. The title is RESONATOR, and yes it still sounds like ME, in that I write music in my style. But there is a lot of humor on this record (a heavy metal version of Sabre Dance, a song with my dog barking on it, called “Throw the God a Bone”, a song about coming home to Mars...) And the ballads “Utopia” and “Fragile as a Song” are, I think, pretty special. (“Fragile” is written about an experience with Peter Gabriel, just the two of us did some jamming with apes!!! Bonobo Apes, in Atlanta, who were very good at communicating. )

Have the tracks on the CD been around for a longer while, or have the just been written before you actually went to the studio?

I had worked for years on the lyrics, and about a year on the music. I also took longer than usual to record the tracks -being more particular than I usually am, because I felt this music deserved it.

Any most favorite track on the album? And why so?

It’s always hard to choose because you get very close to the music and lose your objectivity. I think my favorite would be one no-one else would choose, it’s very odd. I liked it because it’s the most experimental. Called “Crisis of Faith” it is a choir of 12 voices (mine) singing quite rhythmically - this, even though it has lyrics, provides the backdrop for a wild drum solo, and when that calms down, I enter with a freaked out fuzz tone cello solo - still over the almost atonal chorus voices. That’s it - just voices, drums, and cello.

You’ve taken longer than you wanted to, to put that album together. Was it, due to too many other duties or have there been any difficulties etc.?

Mostly the complexity of the music, and that I felt that it had to be done right. But also there was the stuff of life. My father passed away 16 months ago, and I moved my elderly mother to live across the street from me. And I became what we call her primary caregiver - in other words, I could only work on my music between visits to make sure she’s okay. I almost called the CD “Bingo With Betty” because on Thursdays, my mother’s neighbor Betty picks her up and they go to play bingo! (two 90 year olds in a car!!) So I could do much more work on Thursdays than other days!

s your live-set mainly containing stuff of the new CD, or is it more going to be  a – Best of   Tony Levin - Live set over here?.

I like shows that contain new material, and familiar material, and surprises. So I am sure to have all that in our set. Sometimes we do jams too, but now there is so much material I want to cover, and so many options, there probably wont’ be experimental jams in this show. THere will be some of the new album, some of my previous music, some Gabriel, some Crimson - we may start off with a barbershop quartet that’s funny and fun, we may have Larry do a Synergy piece, we may break into a Hendrix or Zeppelin piece... I think that gives some idea what the show is like. Mostly people with see this: players who love to play, and have a special history together, doing what they do!

Are you gonna play the stick as well ? And what kind of bass are you  currently playing? 

I’ll play the Stick, of course - on some of the new music, and will probably break out something familiar on it. I also play fretless melodic bass on some songs, and the NS Electric Cello on some - and my good old Music Man 5 string a lot (though this tour I may use, instead, the new Stealth Bongo 4 string, by Music Man.)

You have worked with so many other well known musicians and have been on a world tour with Peter Gabriel. Please try to pull out a brief retrospective.

Ouch, that’s hard. Albums, the most famous are probably those with John Lennon, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed.  And I’ve been out on the road with Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Seal, and many others.

I remember you’ve been here last autumn, I think it was, Switzerland etc. So this is literally the second time for the T.L.Band. Is it ver y different to play in Europe compared to the states, what’s up to the audience, locations and the generell vibe?

Well, it’s  lot of fun for us in Europe - the distances are (usually) less than in the States, and audiences are more diverse - each different from the other. There is more appreciation that we came to the city, in Europe, and, let’s face it, the food and coffee are better!!

Are you gonna concentrate now purely on your own project for the near future. Or are there already plans for work with other musicians as well – most of all in concern of touring?

King Crimson is quiet - and Peter Gabriel hasn’t told me of any plans coming up, so i will concentrate on the Tony Levin Band, and try to bring this new music to as broad an audience as we can.

Are you still involved in the King Crimson project? And is there something going on in this direction in the future?

No word of anything that I know of. (That could change at any minute!!!)
Any kind of musical dream of yours, which hasn’t come true yet, but you really wanna do it one day. Or any Musician you haven’t been working so far, but would love to. Or better -who is the one, you enjoyed working with most?

I used to say “David Bowie” but then I got the chance to record bass on one of his songs (even told him that story) .  There are lots of great musicians i would love to play with - my first choice, if I’m dreaming here, would have been Hendrix.

Any other futureplans after this european TL tour? 

only to go back to the U.S. and do a lot more shows.

What do  you think about present music tendences in general. Anything you really think which is good  or bad ?

I think there is a lot more good music being made than ever before. Alas, the problem is, with so much music out there, it’s harder than ever to get attention for your music. But to me the music itself is the important thing, not the business, so it’s a good time for music.I also think there is a lot of political upheaval (much of it caused by the terrible policies of my country!) and that often sparks special movements and ideas in the arts community. I know that, for me, the events and complex situations in my country, from 1999, are what spurred me to start writing lyrics, feeling that I can no longer express all the things I want to communicate with just instrumental music.

What’s your personal wish for the future?

All the conflicts and mis-understandings between countries, between tribes. I’m lucky to be playing music around the world - we connect, we musicians, onstage. Players who dont’ even speak the same language can make music together - can communicate in some other way, and that other non-verbal language reaches out to the audience too - the musicians and the audience realize that we share something profound with each other. It’s important to know that, and remember it, when the other, verbal, languages drag us down into arguing about our differences.  For the future? I’m going to focus on that miracle of music, and hope that those who share it with me are equally brought up out of the dark by it.

ebl / musicmirror

The full story about Tony Levin you find in the Stories Section - here