Short talk with Tony Levin

Let me share with all fans my new blog interview…about music, technologies and recordings with well known bass player and composer Tony Levin.

Tony – how do you feel during this crucial world times?
Glad to be making music. That’s always a positive thing.

Basic question: Creating music – what does it mean for you? Is it a long-term process with inspiration coming gradually or it can be spontaneously done – due to modern technology – in a few days?
It varies a lot. I’ve done writing just on the spur of the moment, and sometimes taken years to get a song right. It varies with the music and also, if you’re making music for an album, there is the time constraints of that album, so when the finish date comes, you’re done, whether you want to be or not.

Looking at it from a distance, how do you perceive the changing nature of recording technology?
I don’t think about that a lot. Many musicians like me have recording setups at home, so we can trade files – that’s become the most common way of recording for me, even in bands. It’s not bad – much less expensive than travelling to be together. It’s not perfect, but neither was going to a studio that’s not right for the project.

What would you keep/restore, if you could – what type of recording?
I prefer to be as flexible as I can, and if something new and exciting comes along, I will hope to be alble to learn it and use it to improve my music.

It seems that an album could be actually recorded on just one notebook with a good piece of smart software. Still I feel that it somehow sounds pretty much the same (take s works with all types of I-gadgets).
I guess that is true, but for me, the projects I get involved with try to record with as high quality as we can (even if that isn’t necessary).

Do you see any connection between recording in the 70s and today, technology left aside?
Well, the one thing in common is that technology keeps changing. And at a faster pace.

How do you approach marketing/promotion of your music?
I mostly leave that for other people – I’m not very interested in it, or very good at it. There was a time when I had noone to help with my releases, and I would try to look around for some smart musician, who has a sense for marketing, and then try to do what they did. That isn’t as good, of course, as being one of the first to think of a new marketing approach – later everyone will follow along.

It´s possible promote and sell albums without major labels? Any frustration for Digital download?
We do quite well selling CD’s at our shows. That’s fine for us because we tour a lot.

Vinyl, CD or MP3?:)

Do you still believe in a concept of album? My young friends or kids listen 60 sec from song and skip to next…or select only individual songs.
I like the LP concept, including the break to turn the record over. But I don’t try to make many albums that way.

What about Tony Levin and his band in a next 10 years?:). Can we expect you in Europe?
I will be in Europe this Spring with Stick Men, then again in the Summer with King Crimson.

Tony, thanks you very much for your time.

Mojo Lieskovský, DOUBLE LOUD


About Tony
Bass player Tony Levin has maintained this website since 1996, giving behind the scenes views of life on the road and featuring his photographs from stage and on tour.
His most notable bass playing albums and tours have been with: Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Buddy Rich, Peter Frampton, Gotye, Carly Simon, Judy Collins, Paula Cole, Chuck Mangione, Steven Wilson, James Taylor, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.
Solo albums: World Diary, Waters of Eden, Resonator, Pieces of the Sun, Stick Man.
Collaborative groups: Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Liquid Tension Experiment, Levin Torn White, Levin Minneman Rudess, Levin Brothers.
Levin is currently a member of the bands King Crimson, Peter Gabriel Band, Stick Men, Levin Brothers
Books published: Beyond the Bass Clef, Road Photos, Crimson Chronicles vol 1. and (coming soon) Fragile as a Song.
Born in Boston, June 6, 1946, Levin grew up in the suburb of Brookline, starting playing upright bass at 10 years old. In high school he picked up tuba, soloing with the concert band, and started a barbershop quartet. But he primarily played Classical music, attending Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he had the chance to play under Igor Stravinsky and in the Rochester Philharmonic. Also at the school was drummer Steve Gadd, who introduced Tony to jazz and rock, leading to his trading in his upright for a Fender bass, later moving to New York, joining the short-lived band Aha, the Attack of the Green Slime Beast, and becoming a studio musician.
Having played on many albums in the 70’s, Levin jumped at the chance to tour with Peter Gabriel in 1977, switching to Music Man basses, which he still favors, and learning the Chapman Stick, which he played extensively in King Crimson from 1981, and led to his starting the band Stick Men.
In 1984 Tony released Road Photos, a collection of black & white photos taken during his travels with Crimson, Gabriel, and others. Soon following was the book Beyond the Bass Clef featuring stories and essays about bass playing. Another photo book, Crimson Chronicles, volume 1, the 80’s contains an extensive collection of his b&w photos of life on the road with the band.
2016 is another year filled with creative output and concerts for Levin. Stick Men has toured the U.S. and will play in Europe in the Fall. The Peter Gabriel / Sting tour in Summer will be a notable one. Joined by Adrian Belew and Pat Mastelotto, Tony will host the yearly Three of a Perfect Trio music camp in the Catskill mtns of NY State. King Crimson will tour in Europe from September. A new album release from Levin Minneminn Rudess is coming, as is the album “Prog Noir” from Stick Men. And in June, a book of Levin’s lyrics and poetry, titled Fragile as a Song.

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