Interview with Robert Fripp in Musician

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Date Submitted: 7-Oct-1992
Submitted By: Paolo Valladolid (pvallado at waynesworld dot ucsd dot edu)

Subject: _Musician_, August 1984 feature on Crimson: Fripp

"Music is the cup that holds the wine of silence. Sound is that cup, but empty. Noise is that cup, broken."

"I feel limited by recording. Not always...if its 'my record', I feel limited, I feel a responsibility. But if its someone else's record I don't worry, because they're picking up the pieces."

"The Giles Brothers were looking for a singing organist. I was a nonsinging guitar player. After thirty days of recording and playing with them I asked if I got the job or not - joking like, you know? And Michael Giles rolled a cigarette and said, very slowly,'Well, let's not be in too much of a hurry to commit ourselves, shall we?' I still don't know if I ever got the job."

"I never thought Crimson would happen again...speaking strictly as a human being, I'm sorry it did. Because it is excruciatingly painful."

The other band members take the space easily, without thinking. But Fripp's sense of responsibility holds him captive to the vision. He knows what Crimson needs, and if they won't provide it, he'll subvert or betray his own playing style to try and fill the gap. He lays himself out, nerves bare and screaming, and lets them get away with it.

Bill talked about the drummer having to go and be the carpet; but Fripp, int his point of view, is be the floor beneath the rug.

"...I construct a field on which other people can find themselves. But in finding themselves, it doesn't occur to them to extend the courtesy to me. And that you can print...hopefully they will read it and the penny will drop. Dear guys, if you're reading this: your guitarist is frustrated!"

"Why, then, do I continue to do it? Because, obviously, there is something there worthwhile. No other band is doing what King Crimson is doing."

But at what cost? In all the rattle and bang of the Crimson creative process, some vital element is being constantly misplaced, and I think it's Robert Fripp's instincts. The hotline to the Court, if you will. Fripp doesn't really play on Crimson albums anymore, not really play, the way he has on Bowie's albums, or on the Roches' "Hammond Song", when a more playful and adventurous Fripp could come out behind his fastidious facade. On a Crimson album today he plays a lot like he talks, which, in turn has a lot in common with the the way Bill drums - in that it is overly intellectualized...small wonder there's a Time conflict between them. And small wonder that there's a Space conflict between Fripp and Adrian, what with Fripp locking himself into a self-imposed Iron Mary of arpeggiated cross-rhythms just so that Adrian can have room to soar. (Adrian, by the way, doesn't think it's that way. "I see Robert wailing a lot," he says.)

"I can understand Bill not wanting to be the timekeeper of the band, because I'm not interested in being a rhythm player...which is an entirely honest, worthwhile, interesting role. But it's not one I go for. Now, my response to Bill's not wanting to keep time is that I don't mind him not keeping time for me, because I can keep my own. What I object to is his disturbing my time. It's Tony Levin who is buying a drum machine...because Tony realizes that to me, time is now a vital issue. My personal pulse is being disturbed so oftenm and so frequently...that I'm not going to handle it anymore."

Its sad...there can be no solution to the problem. As his friends well know, he is simply too much the gentleman. Another guitarist would reach out and fight for some space...but Fripp is...incapable of resolving the difficulties. Not without cranking the pressure to the certifiable danger point, and he is unlikely to do that. It is easier to withdraw.

"...Well, if you put it another way, if you ask me whether I could envisage a future in which all I did was stay at home in the village where my family go back for 300 years, with my friends and family around me, and I didn't tour endlessly with musicians that irritated me, I didn't have to deal with pressure that people normally never have to deal with...I didn't have to do interview, be hit on everywhere I go...could I handle that as a future? The quick answer would be yes. Could I handle it well? The answer is, phenominally well. Me and a book is a party. Me and a cup of coffee is an orgy."

Until the next time Crimson calls at least.