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
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
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
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?
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!
Is 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
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?
to go back to the U.S. and do a lot more shows.
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
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
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