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A CONVERSATION WITH TONY LEVIN

A CONVERSATION WITH TONY LEVIN

South Florida is in for a real treat this month. For the first time in over 20 years King Crimson will be kicking off their 2021 tour in Florida including performing on July 23rd at Delray Beach’s Old School Square as well Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall, St. Augustine’s Amphitheater and Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Walt Disney Theater.

We had the opportunity to speak with legendary Tony Levin about the upcoming tour, his love of photography and of course the Chapman Stick.

SFL Music: Hi Tony. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.

Tony Levin: Well. Thank you. Thanks for calling.

SFL Music: Sure. I’m with SFL Music Magazine, and also Ohio Music Experience Magazine. So we’re going to be previewing for the first four shows of the tour in Florida, as well as the two Ohio shows on September first and second. So we’re hoping we can give you guys a lot of great coverage.

Levin: Excellent. Thank you. I appreciate it.

SFL Music: How have you been doing over the past year or so with everything that’s been going on?

Levin: Can’t complain. Can’t complain. Rough for everybody. But I have it easier than a lot of other musicians. I’ve had some work and some stuff I’ve been able to do. And especially, I feel concerned about our road crews, the guys who make the show happen, the sound and lights, especially with King Crimson, where we have quite a big group of crew. And they’ve had absolutely no work for the last year and a half. So we’re glad to be crawling out of it. And actually I’ve been touring this month all of June with a different band with my brother called Levin Brothers, a small jazz band. We can tour locally around here in New York State, Upstate New York. And what a pleasure it is to be playing live again. And of course I’m greatly looking forward to touring with King Crimson and bringing that big show all around the country.

SFL Music: Oh, I bet. I bet. What has this time off of the road allowed you to accomplish, either writing music, or other projects? I know you always got something going.

Levin: Well, it took me a minute. By a minute, I mean a couple months. Like everybody, I’m not the only one, but it took a while of feeling like I was on vacation and waiting for it to end before I realized, oh no, I got to come up with something here. It’s not going to end. And I did two major projects. A band I’m in, Liquid Tension Experiment, decided to get together and record an album together in the studio. Something we hadn’t done in 20 years and didn’t have time cause we’re busy. The other guys who are in Dream Theater, and I’m in King Crimson, and Peter Gabriel has me touring. So we had the time. And so we tackled those very difficult logistics, complicated, and try to make it safe. And we spent three weeks in July and August recording an album, which had come out now. We’re very happy with that. So that’s one thing I accomplished.

And the second one was, I don’t know if you’d call it bucket list, but I take photos. I’ve always taken photos on the road. I’ve released a few books. But I always felt like the best ones deserved a big coffee table sized book of the best of them. And that involved such a huge amount work going through maybe tens of thousands of negatives, because they go back to the day when it was only film and digital. So yeah, I was able to do that starting in early June, and I finished in December. And I got together a book, which I released, I think in January, called Images From a Life on the Road.

And it’s not that I needed to spend those hours working on something, but I really have for years felt like those photos deserve to be seen by more than me and my friends. I have so many photos from a unique vantage point of being on stage. For instance, Peter Gabriel floating out into the audience in early 80s, when he started to do what later became called crowd surfing. And there I was on stage taking pictures of it. And the early days of King Crimson, when I joined it in ’81 and all the incarnations, stuff like that. So I’m also grateful to have had to work, but I’m also gratified to have those photos out for those who care to buy the book. And that’s the way artistic projects are. You might do it for a few reasons. But the main thing is you want to get it out there, and have a few people have the chance to respond to it, and in some small way of affect their life.

SFL Music: Absolutely. Yeah. Images From a Life on the Road, that’s your third photo book, isn’t it?

Levin: You’re right. Boy, you did some homework. I had to think a minute myself because I’ve done a few, and I’ve got a few other books. But yeah, it’s my third one. Yeah.

SFL Music: That’s awesome.

Levin: I would say I learned from the first one, the printing quality was pretty lame because I didn’t know how you have to really watch over the printer to make sure you get the quality you want. And the second one was a bit better. But this one, I had it very together. And also some photos just deserve to be seen big. So when I say coffee table sized book, I mean a sizeable book with only one picture on each page and thick paper so the ink doesn’t bleed through. So there’s a lot of technical stuff that hopefully, with each book, I’m getting better at making it a really worthwhile thing to have.

SFL Music: That sounds fantastic. That was one of the things I was going to ask you was you attended the Eastman School of Music, as I read, in Rochester. Is that where your passion for photography started since you were at-

Levin: Oh because it’s Eastman? No, no.

SFL Music: No connection?

Levin: A very good question. But no, the school was started and funded many years ago by a man named George Eastman who also started Eastman Kodak, the company. But the school, it’s a music conservatory. It has nothing to do with photography. However-

SFL Music: No. I knew that, but just being in Rochester in the home of Eastman Kodak, I didn’t know if that might’ve been the-

Levin: You could be right. It was sure easy to get my film developed, I’ll say that. Kodak was down the street at that time. And it’s true that I really got more passionate about taking photos in those years when I was about 20, when I was in college. But in my opinion, I didn’t get very good at it for a long time. And somewhat, I think the quality of these photos is because of the opportunity I had to be in the situation. When you’re in the right place and the right situation, you got your camera enough times, then some of the pictures are going to be pretty special.

SFL Music: Yeah. Yeah. And I looked through some of the things that you had on your website and some of the photos. How are you able to do that while you’re playing on stage?

Levin: Oh, that’s a very good question. And I appreciate you doing the homework like that and looking at the website. Thank you for that. Well, when did I start? I think with the first Crimson tour I did in 1981, I started setting up a tripod on stage with a foot pedal, among my bass foot pedals, a food pedal that would trigger the shutter of the camera. In those days, you had focus beforehand and do the exposure. I focus for the picture. And then at various times during the show, especially if something interesting happened, I would take a picture with my foot.

And then when I toured after that with Peter Gabriel, I took it another step. And I would pick up that… Frankly, that trigger was a very analog thing in those days. It was a squeeze bulb that would was send air through the tube to the shutter. Pretty analog. And they probably exist still, but there was-

SFL Music: They do.

Levin:… no digital way to do it. No way to do it from a cell phone, let’s put it that way, in the 80s. There were no cell phones. So then, with Peter, I learned how to pick it up. Sometimes if we were singing and jumping, for instance, on Shock the Monkey. On the song, Shock the Monkey, Peter and David Rhodes and I would jump and sing and play. And I would also take a picture. And it was very tough logistically to get that picture right. But I did it so many times. Every time we jumped, every night that we did the song, that eventually I got a few good pictures of it, which I’m particularly proud of. So the secret is just, not a secret, but a tripod and a foot pedal.

SFL Music: Interesting. I would’ve not thought about that. Because I’m a photographer myself, and that’s what I went to school for. And I’ve covered concert photography for probably 40 years now.

Levin: Well, I’m the one who should be interviewing you because I need a lot of technical advice always. I’m definitely an amateur when it comes to that.

SFL Music: Well, I did see in one of the images, you are a fellow Nikon shooter.

Levin: Yeah. Yeah. At some point I learned to get good lenses. That helped me a lot. But I’ve done things wrong so many ways. It’s almost like a study of how many ways can you get a picture wrong, especially those ones on the tripod where I can’t get at the camera until after the show. And by the way, let me add an interesting factor. When I’m talking about in the 70s and 80s, the way to get the film developed and see whether it came out at all was to take it to a one hour photo developer. I remember touring in Europe, and looking for them so that I could get the last week’s worth of rolls of film developed so that I could see if it’s in focus, or if I’m exposing it right, and things like that. Pretty antique when you think about it now. And in the 90s, I started my website pretty early in the early to mid 90s.

Yeah. And in those first years when I decided, hey, I want to put these pictures up on the web, I had to get them developed in Europe, and then send the print to a guy in Orlando, Florida, my webmaster, who would scan it, who would then put it up, and the biggest we could put it up was 220 pixels wide. If you’re familiar with pixels, it’s quite a big joke now. And I felt like I was ahead of the game that I was getting a 220 pixel wide picture up only a week or two weeks after I took it in Europe, getting it up on their web. Things have changed a lot since then to where I can do a daily blog. At night I get back to my hotel, and spend the next couple of hours looking at my pictures, take the best ones, and put them up on the blog.

SFL Music: Yeah. And for back then, that was a very quick turnaround for you really.

Levin: Well, it sure wasn’t easy. Let me tell you. We didn’t really think that this is pioneering a thing that would become common and become easy, and everybody could do it.

SFL Music: It is amazing how much it’s changed in 20 years, isn’t it?

Levin: Yeah. And as this is not so much for the interview, but I can appreciate anyone who professionally takes pictures of things on stage. Because there are so many persnickety details that the public doesn’t know about it. For me, red light is my biggest enemy. When someone’s lit in red, it always comes out terribly. There’s no contrast, and there’s no… So I-

SFL Music: The camera sees it as black.

Levin: I don’t know, but I know that, as a professional, you know how to deal with it, and I don’t. And I just toss those pictures out, or I try to make them black and white to see if the lack of detail is tolerable. Not a problem with King Crimson where we don’t use any lighting effects hardly at all during the show.

SFL Music: Some of the recent videos I’ve watched before this interview, yeah, your lighting seems to be very even and very nice lighting.

Levin: Yes. We also don’t allow photos during the show, even for me. So I have no photos for the last five years during the show. But as soon as it’s over, when we take the bow, I’m allowed to take pictures. And I am passionately take pictures of the audience each night. I really love the fact that the internet has allowed us in bands to lower the wall that’s between audience and band. And at least share how special they look to us on stage. Because when you think about it, it’s a pretty special element of what we do. We look out, and when the audience is excited, they have their hands up and they’re clapping and stuff, it’s pretty exciting. So I’m very happy that I can do that each night, and try to get that picture anyway, and share it with people on the website. Yeah.

SFL Music: Yeah. Yeah. So you guys don’t allow any press at all for photography for your shows.

Levin: None. We have not done a tour like this where we’re playing outdoor sheds. We’ve not done one with this incarnation at all. So maybe the rules will change. But usually we play in theaters, and we’re really adamant about it. And it was Robert Fripp’s idea, not mine, as you could imagine, me being a photographer. But it’s turned out well. Some people are annoyed by it. But a much larger number of people realize what it’s like to see a concert without somebody holding a camera up in front of them. It’s really much more special. And they don’t have the glowing lights from the phones and stuff like that. So it’s in the interest of the overall audience that we ask repeatedly ask the audience, no photos please, at least I’m only talking about the last tour in 2019, but he announces before the show, “Until Tony picks up his camera when the show is over, when we’re about to do our bow, nobody can take pictures.” I realized it’s a funny, as a photographer, you’ll appreciate that.

Then I have this interesting moment, when we finish the last song, we finished the encore, or which is going to be the last song, which I know. The audience doesn’t know it. And I see my cameras sitting there on a stand. And I know if I pick this up, this is going to have a huge effect on everybody in the audience. They’re all waiting to take a picture. And if I get a picture really quick, really quick, like within about four seconds, if I pick it up and take a picture right away, I’ll get them the way they look. But after that, what I’ll get a picture of is a whole bunch of people holding up their cell phones.

And even the volume of the applause will go way down. And in Japan, it’ll even stop. It goes from thunderous applause, to I pick up my camera, and the applause stops. Because everybody has one hand up in the air and they just can’t clap with one in hand in the air with a cell phone. So it’s a very interesting moment that’s unique to our times. When you get a whole audience that wants to take pictures all waiting for me to give them the cue, and me wanting to get a picture of them before I give them the cue.

SFL Music: Very interesting. I never thought about that, but yeah.

Levin: I’m sure it’s only in this band that it would come up where they know they can take it, but only after I take that picture. And it’s more extreme in Japan, and some other countries. But some places, really, every single person in the audience wants to take a picture. To the point where it’s loud applause, and then it’s so silent that the band has started applauding. So they’re really applauding loud, and we’re bowing and we’re bowing. Then suddenly I pick up that camera, and a few seconds later, it just goes to dead silence. And even the audience is shocked by it, but they’re taking their picture. They’re busy. And so the band starts clapping. And then needless to say, 10, 15, 30 seconds later, it was back to full applause.

SFL Music: It’s back to full applause. Wow.

Levin: Who would have thought? Who would have thought?

SFL Music: Oh, gosh. Do you think this 2021 tour will be different than it would have been had you guys been able to go out in ’20?

Levin: That’s a very good question. I hadn’t thought about that. I think probably not. We’ll rehearse for a good seven, eight days before the tour. And that’s when we’ll just discuss and go through different options of what we’ll play. But I think it’s going to be pretty much what it was. We’re the same people, we’re a year older, but hopefully they’re practicing. I know I have. And hopefully we’re up to the same ability. So I think it’ll be similar to what it would’ve been. But the truth is nobody knows that kind of stuff so I’m only guessing.

SFL Music: Until you guys get into rehearse.

Levin: And I know I feel differently about touring, but I always feel good about touring and excited about it. But yes, I feel more excited and more good about this tour because we’ve all been deprived of live music, and we’ve relearned how precious it is to us from being deprived of it. Frankly, I’ve done shows this this month, and I know audiences feel differently, at least now, in June 2021 because they’re so grateful to be part of this experience. The band feels the same. So one hopes that will continue through the whole summer. And each show, I predict, will be a special event for everybody involved in it. And that goes beyond the King Crimson shows. I mean, each show that’s being done this summer because we’re reopening. Nobody knows what it feels like to recover from a pandemic. We never did that before.

SFL Music: No. No, not at all. And so in the shows that you’ve done with your brother, you really got the sense of the audience’s appreciation.

Levin: Absolutely thrilled. People are thrilled. And some of them hadn’t been to a show since they last saw us in the January 2020. That’s pretty amazing too. Thank goodness we’ve learned new music since then, and we’re not doing the exact same show as the last time they came out the door.

SFL Music: Didn’t dust off an old setlist.

Levin: Yeah. No, we didn’t do that. We were able to rehearse a lot. I don’t like dusting off an old setlist if I have a choice. So the audience, we can feel, it’s very special. And a lot of them have told us that after the show.

SFL Music: Yeah. And I thought I’d take this opportunity where we’re at just to offer my condolences at the loss of your bandmate, Bill.

Levin: Well, thank you. Yeah. Yeah. It was a rough, rough. He really had a big influence. And he was a very close personal friend of mine in addition to a bandmate. I’m always friends and good friends with the bandmates, but in Bill’s case, very special. We had a wonderful times together.

SFL Music: Going back a little to setlists, How hard is it to come up with a set list for a band that has musically changed and pushed so many boundaries in 53 years?

Levin: Yeah. Good question. There are different ways to approach that. And what we’ve been doing the last few years is rehearsing it all. In a normal year, not this year, but in a normal year we get together for weeks. And then drummers, there are three drummers in King Crimson for those who don’t know it, and they get together for a week or two. And then we get together again. And then each tour leg, we’ll get together for more days and rehearse. So we rehearse a lot. And we have almost the entire King Crimson repertoire at our fingers where there’s potential that we’ll play it. And as we rehearse for one particular tour or leg, maybe a song or two will get thrown out as it’s not happening for one reason or another. But that leaves us with maybe, I’m guessing, 45 to 50 pieces. And they’re not simple pieces. They’re really complex and wonderful. Let’s call them compositions. There’s 45 or 50 compositions. Okay.

And that’s what we come into each show with in the morning. The way we do it, other bands do it differently, but the way we do it, Robert Fripp, the founder of the band, goes to breakfast and has headphones on. I see him. I don’t interrupt him because he’s busy at breakfast every morning, if I see him. And he’s studying, listening to all the things he might put in the show. And he’s researched what we did in that city the last time we played, and what we did the last few nights in case people come to consecutive shows. And by about 11:00 in the morning, or noon at the latest, he emails me, all of us, a setlist. Here’s the proposed setlist for tonight.

And the last tour, we played for three hours. So a very long setlist, but by no means was it anywhere near the 40 or 50 songs. And then the next night it’ll be the same thing, but a different set. It could be a completely different set. So each set is only devised that day by Robert Fripp, who devised the idea of King Crimson and the vision of the band is his. And you really put a lot of effort into it. He really cares a lot about it. And it’s different every night.

SFL Music: Wow. That’s great to know.

Levin: Yeah. It’s typical of King Crimson in that Crimson is a band that always seems to find a way to do things differently than other bands. We do our music differently and approach everything differently. Not for its own sake, but that’s just the way Robert’s vision of the band comes out. So not so surprising that even choosing a setlist is not what other bands would do.

SFL Music: Yeah, yeah. How and when-

Levin: Oh by the way, let me just go complete, not that it’s needed, but he presents the setlist. And then if someone has a problem with a particular bit of it, like this song, Robert, can’t go into this one because I have the wrong instrument in my hand, and something needs to be done about that. So we do have then the chance to revise it. And then we go to what we call soundcheck and the afternoon rehearsal. And we play any songs that we haven’t done in a while that are in the set. So by rehearsal we know, by the afternoon we know what we’re going to do, and we work for a few hours on the finer points of it. And then, hopefully, we’re ready to do the show. Thanks for letting me finish that.

SFL Music: No. Sure. Sure. So it more or less kind of goes to committee after he proposes it.

Levin: Yes. It’s pretty rare that we have a problem with it. He’s been doing these things for a long time. But he knows a lot of our issues. But yes, everybody’s free to say, “Hey, you can’t do this.”

SFL Music: Amazing. How and when were you first introduced to the Chapman Stick?

Levin: Oh, I think the year was ’75, or it could have been ’76. So it was a long time ago. The earth was cooling. The earth was still cooling, and I was already a bass player. And Emmett Chapman invented this instrument, and it was publicized a lot. I heard about it. And frankly, I was already playing the bass guitar with a tapping or hammer-on technique sometimes. Not all the time. But I was always practicing it for sure.

So the month that I first heard about it, actually, the number of people said to me, “Hey, there’s this new instrument that’s played the way you are trying to play the bass. You should get it.” So the next time I was in Los Angeles, we’re a Stick Enterprises is based, I did get it. And I took my time learning it. Well, it’s a different technique. And I had an advantage that I played in that technique, but it’s also tuned very differently than the bass. And I know the year because in ’76 I remember bringing it to the Peter Gabriel session when I first played with Peter Gabriel, what’s called Peter Gabriel 1. I didn’t play it on that album, but I know I had it there. So I probably got it in maybe in early 1976.

And then in ’81 when I joined King Crimson, I found the unusual sound of it as a bass to be very useful. And also I tackled, for the first time, the top side of it. Because the instrument on one fretboard has both bass strings and guitar strings. So in King Crimson I found a way to help me have a progressive outlook at the music with the Discipline album where we were trying to really do something fresh and do things nobody had done before. And I found the instrument very helpful to me at that.

And I still do to this day. If there’s a need to approach something in a different way, the fact that it’s tuned different, that it jumps different. And the technique of it is different, but it helps me come up with an unusual part when it’s called for it. Years later I formed the band Stick Men, which I tour with to this day. It’s only a trio, but we have two touch guitar players. So with each of us able to play bass and guitar parts, and then Pat Mastelotto,, the King Crimson drummer who’s in Stick Men, plays both electronic and acoustic percussion and drums. So we can make a lot of noise. That’s maybe not the right phrase. We can play a lot of parts for three guys, so we can vary our music quite a bit for our trio.

Any plans for the Stick Men to release anything new?

Levin: We have no release because we couldn’t get together for the last year. But we will tour in October, but in Europe. October, November. Sorry, September, October in Europe. Yep. And nope, no new release.

SFL Music: Speaking of new releases, is there any talk of any new studio work from King Crimson?

Levin: No, there isn’t. You never know. Normally, I would say there’s not going to be one in the foreseeable future, but when I say something definitive about King Crimson, often I’m wrong. I’m proved to be wrong. So I know better than to say for sure. I would say I haven’t heard of any plans to make a studio album. One never knows. But there’s no plans.

SFL Music: Say it definitively so you can be wrong.

Levin: There you go. And make that album happen. That’s a good idea.

SFL Music: Yeah. For the music-

Levin: There will never be another… No, I’m not going to do that. I’ll catch it from somebody, some fans or something. Yeah. That’s good thinking though. Well let me just continue, when I said that Stick Men has no new release, with the last show I did before this summer was with Stick Men, we had last February and March, we had a tour planned of Asia, which seemed like a very good idea. Japan and China. And first China got canceled, but Japan didn’t. And we went to Japan, Stick Men with special guest Gary Husband on keyboard. And after we landed in Japan, Japan got canceled except for the first show. So our whole tour ended up one show in Nagoya. And we recorded that show, and released it as a CD called Owari. Very nice CD. Very special to us because poor Gary had learned the songs, but he figured he’d have a whole tour to get them really tight. And suddenly we went on stage knowing that that was the only show, and we were recording it for an album.

SFL Music: Will this kind of be a short rehearsal period for you before this tour. You said you guys are getting together-

Levin: For us, yes. For another band, it might seem long. But for us, seven or eight days seems very short. Quite frankly, the English contingent of the band is not allowed yet into the US. And we in the US are not allowed to England without going into quarantine. So we haven’t been able to rehearse at all or we would have.

SFL Music: Yes, I completely forgot about that, that they’re not able to come here either.

Levin: Yes, yes. Most of the time it’s becoming relatively easy for US-based bands to tour and to rehearse and to get together and all that. But not that way in Europe. And when you have an international band, it’s particularly difficult.

SFL Music: Yeah. Since 2013, you guys have been a seven player lineup. Tell me how you thought about that when Robert came up with the idea and expanded the band? And at one point you were an octet with Bill and Jeremy.

Levin: Yes. Well, there’s the Crimson tradition of Robert asking us to do something, and us saying, “What?” And indeed, when Robert told me that he had in mind three drummers, I thought the same as I thought in the 90s when he said he had a vision of having another stick player, Trey Gunn joined the band, we had two stick players. And I try to remember what I learned in the 90s, which is even though it seems like a crazy idea, Robert’s vision is pretty musically valid. And so it deserves to be given a shot. So I’ll just feel good about it, and see what happens.

And indeed, again, it was a great idea. Not because there’s three drummers, but because of the particular three drummers he chose, who could kind of bring to reality his vision of what three drummers would be like. So it’s not just more notes and more clattering. In fact, there’s incredibly tight and precise. And the drum parts are divided up among the three of them in fascinating ways, more than one way, but in fascinating ways. So it’s a really a tour de force of what you can do with three excellent drummers. And it has remained that.

So, when I first thought, well, no one’s even going to hear me playing bass along with three drummers. Indeed, it turned out, in practice, and in our large amount of rehearsal, especially when we first formed the band, huge amount of working things out. So, I found that, in fact, I play a little bit more, a little busier, and there’s room for it. And the precision that they play with affects the way I play. So, it’s been a typical of King Crimson, it’s been a challenging and unusual experience, but one that musically is very worthwhile and valid. So I’m glad that he had that idea.

SFL Music: Yeah. Well, being that this is your fifth go round, if I’m correct, with King Crimson, that makes you the second longest member, other than Robert. You’ve had to have seen quite a few changes since 1981.

Levin: Yeah. Yeah. I hadn’t counted up the incarnations. But it is since ’81. And there’ve been a lot of changes, a lot of changes of personnel. I think the things in common to all of them they’re great players, the other players, and I’m always learning from them. I’m always being inspired, first by Bill Bruford and Adrian Belew, and of course, Robert, and then by a slew of players through the years. So, I’m learning and I’m getting better, I think, from being next to these guys. There’s that.

And the direction of the band changes in many ways, in that Robert’s idea of the way King Crimson ought to go has changed, but something does stay the same. Certainly, we always approach things is that they’re new, and try to do things in a way that’s really uniquely King Crimson. By which, I mean, well, I have a hard time defining what that means, but certainly different than other bands would do it. Three drummers is a good example. And if you can think of my life as a bass player, this is the R&D department. This is where I get the time for weeks or months in rehearsing to try out ideas that would seem crazy in another context, or I couldn’t give the time. And I’ve tried many ideas. And some of them, I keep. A lot of them, I throw out. So it’s a wonderful, challenging, and creatively growing experience to be in King Crimson.

SFL Music: Any chances we’d see you back on the road with Peter Gabriel?

Levin: Boy. I have to ask somebody that. I hope so. But there are no plans afoot. I would have heard. Well, let’s see. I always hear at the last minute from Peter. But there’s nothing this year. I know that. And for me, because next year is I’m booked halfway through the year already with other things. That doesn’t mean Peter won’t tour, but I think he probably would wait for me. So nothing that I’ve heard of at all. But like any fan, I hope. I’m a fan of Peter Gabriel, that’s for sure, in addition to being in the band. I hope there will be an album and a tour. And I don’t know when. I wish I knew. I wish I had inside information. But I get excited when I hear the idea, because I’m the same. I hope there’ll be a Peter Gabriel tour.

SFL Music: And last one, if my research is correct, it’s been 20 years since King Crimson has come to Florida.
Levin: Wow. I had not done that calculation, but you’re probably right.

SFL Music: 2001, you guys did three dates, West Palm, Orlando, and St. Pete. And it’s been five years since you’ve been to Ohio. You guys are pretty frequent in Ohio. And I understand it’s easy routing up there. Florida’s tough.

Levin: That’s what it is. It’s the routing. Florida’s on the way towards Cuba, and nobody’s playing Cuba.

SFL Music: What I wanted to ask was what would you like to say to your fans and our readers who will be attending one of these four shows in Florida and two shows in Ohio, what they can expect?

Levin: Interesting question. Well, I was going to say for me, I was not on that tour in 2001. So I haven’t been to Florida at all with King Crimson. And it’ll be thrilling to be there. I’ve played Florida plenty, and all these cities, but not with King Crimson. So it’ll be a thrill to bring this musical situation to Florida. And of course to Ohio. I think it’s a unique band. And we have a wonderful opening act, the California Guitar Trio, who are good friends of mine, and also a unique band with their own acoustic guitar trio. They met as being students of Robert Fripp a long time ago, and they’d been on the road and touring. They’re fantastic. Audiences always love them. So that’ll be thrilling.

And for me, to do outdoor shows, is we haven’t done that in a long, long time with King Crimson. So there’s a lot to be excited about this tour. But the biggest thing is, thank goodness, that live music is back. And we’re all so grateful for that. And so excited about being even a small part of that. So it’s going to be a wonderful summer for us in that sense.

SFL Music: And I’ve greatly, greatly appreciated your time today, Tony. It means the world to me to be able to speak to you and to provide this interview for our readers and your fans. And again, hopefully we can see you and look forward to King Crimson being here in Florida for the first time in a long time.

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