Tony Levin interview (June 2017)

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Snaxster, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    In the Court of Tony Levin

    FGPO: How much influence do your Crimson predecessors have on the way you approach the material?

    Levin: John Wetton had a wonderful ability to dig in harder and harder and make the bass sound change just by the way he played it, with the way he touched it. That’s great, but I can’t do that so well. It could be the basses that I play—if I dig in harder and louder, it doesn’t really sound like I’m getting louder. I’m stressing out the bass amp and stuff like that. I don’t know exactly how he did it. Actually, frankly, I’ve watched it—I’ve watched him as a fan, and it’s just in his hands and his bass. And it’s wonderful. So now I’m confronted with something that’s an integral part of the piece and I want to do it, but I actually can’t. I’ve tried different ways to actually overcome that, with pedals and different basses, I’ll pull out a different bass that maybe has a little crunch in it, and it starts to go on a little musical adventure that is my own. That’s one example of how I’m chasing the classic part but I’m also being myself.​
    nixdad, Marial, nbsipics and 5 others like this.
  2. MixBass

    MixBass Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2006
    L.A. Harbor
    Co-founder. GrabAxe
    Great read, thx!
    I had the pleasure of meeting and doing a small bit of business with Tony years ago and he couldn't have been more of a gentleman.
    nixdad, Snaxster and songwriter21 like this.
  3. doodahwarrior

    doodahwarrior Inactive

    Dec 16, 2015
    Tony is a genius. Period.
  4. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    I met Tony during Winter NAMM of '09. I was able to go, from working at GC at the time (not sure if employees can still get passes), so I jumped at the chance. Tony was the first person I met, after I walked through the doors for the first time. It was funny, because intially, I just heard someone messing around at the EB booth, not doing anything flashy (quite unheard of for NAMM), and yet there were still tons of people around this person. I was saying to myself, "What the hell, who's hoggin' the spotlight over there with nothing fancy?" The crowd eventually cleared, and it was Tony...glad I didn't let my curiosity out loud! Anyway, yes, Tony couldn't have been nicer, and he was the perfect intro to the awesomeness of that giant gear playland, complete with 5 days of palm trees and 80-85 degree weather (I stayed a few extra days).

    P.S. My small talk with Tony, included inquiring about Liquid Tension Experiment possibly doing more albums. He wasn't sure at the time, because of everyone's schedules. Sadly, I don't think that will happen anytime soon!
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
    Leo Smith, nixdad, Snaxster and 2 others like this.
  5. Mildew Jones

    Mildew Jones

    Dec 18, 2014
    Only 2 things to say about that...the power of the P Bass, and the legend that was John Wetton.
  6. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I get two things from that interview excerpt: One, Tony is incredibly astute in noticing that particular aspect of John Wetton's playing. While in hindsight it strikes me as an obvious component of Wetton's technique, I'm not sure I'd be able to articulate it that concisely if someone asked me to describe Wetton's tone.
    But two, I think Tony doesn't give himself enough credit when he says he "can't" do that. I suspect he would just involve more time/dedication to achieving it than perhaps he's willing to put in based on the potential reward. Being a consummate professional who's made a career based on an almost ruthless efficiency in achieving a musical aim, the idea of spending too much time chasing another player's sound probably doesn't meet Tony's criteria for a Worthy Pursuit.

    otoh, I did also notice a recent picture of his onstage rig and I see he's added some mystery bass with a P-type pickup, so perhaps that's part of his approach to the John Wetton-era material?
    Snaxster likes this.
  7. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Do you happen to have a link to the pic. and would be able to post it here ?
  8. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Here it is:

    Per Tony's description, "This tour, I’m using just one bass (not counting the Stick and NS). It’s my 80’s Music Man ‘3 of a PP’ bass. Got to have a backup bass, though, and it’s a new ‘vintage’ model of Music Man… a Cutlass, with cool retro color and with passive pickups, a great classic sound. (Probably, with no strings breaking, I won’t actually use it on the tour. But good having it there.)"

    (from this page: King Crimson at Count Basie Theater - show 2 )

    Attached Files:

  9. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    That's a cutlass. Right?
    I'd love to try one!
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017