INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Trouser Press APRIL/MAY 1975 - by Ihor Slabicky
FRIPP: THE FINALE
Robert Fripp: I don't think you'll hear very much from me.
Ihor Slabicky: What do you mean?
RF: I think you'll find that I might just well disappear.
IS: And just have albums appear in record stores every so often?
RF: Maybe not even that.
RF: You must wait and see how much is wanted. I respond to people that want something. You see, if you do something like the Fripp'n'Eno album, and Atlantic turned it down, I don't think I have very much in common with Atlantic. In fact, I have nothing in common with Atlantic.
IS: Are they required to put everything out?
RF: No, they're absolutely not.
IS: So why...?
RF: Well, if they don't want to, I don't want them to put it out. The album has a meaning for me.
IS: I was under the impression that you went into the studio and made it very fast.
RF: We made side one at home. We just took a lady friend around to Eno's, had a glass of wine and a cup of coffee, plugged in, and did side one in forty-five minutes. Two guitars, that's all. No amplifier, just me, my Pedalboard, direct-injected into two Revoxes. Side two in a studio, recorded in an evening. Took it right into another studio, mixed it, put it together, there you go. That was the album.
IS: I was thinking that to have some meaning you have to work on it for a while ...
RF: I worked on it all my life. It was the most perfect expression of whatever I've done or thought or felt. In other words, if anyone doesn't like side one, they won't like me. So when Atlantic turned it down, in fact, they're turning me down. Which doesn't make me uptight, or bitchy, or cheesed off, or anything like that. I just appreciate that for what I will be doing in the future, the appeal will be limited to people of certain types. I don't feel the need to bang my head against the wall, to rush around America again. If the people want me to come to America, I might, because I've got a lot of things I want to do as well.
IS: One of the first advertisements for the King Crimson album was this ad.
RF: Oh, right. This is what Pete Townshend wrote.
IS: How did you get him to write that?
RF: Well, I had this idea for a liner in an advert, which was to ask Pete Townshend, to give him a record to review. And he really liked the album. And this is what he wrote, unsolicited. That's just his reaction to it. It's difficult to tell you the kind of excitement which was in England when the band came out. It only really got to that pitch in America afterwards, when the group broke up, but in England, the feeling was quite amazing. And since it was my first professional rock group, the first time I played live on stage in a rock group, I didn't know how rock groups did anything.
Ian had been in the Army for five years, was suicidal, neurotic. As we all were, I suppose. Mike Giles came from the Orchid Pearly and cabaret bands. Greg Lake was the only one who had any experience as a professional rock musician and that was with The Gods, who eventually became Uriah Heep. So if you like, think of Uriah Heep as Greg's rock background.
• • •
IS: You were going to make some point about the Trouser Press?
RF: Oh, that's right, yes. Where you refer to me as a "cold unemotional genius" in the star system. Well, look, this is complete nonsense. I mean, do you realize that? Do you realize, first of all, that I am not a genius and second of all that I am not emotionless? I mean you've heard the, you've heard the ahh...
IS: That's the sort of impression that one gets of you...
RF: Well, surely you can see a little more than that.
IS: I don't know. I think I came in here pretty openly, I don't know how I'm going to come out.
RF: Fff... Well... Ehh... Well, whenever someone has a mind and uses it, I suppose there is a tendency for them to be regarded as calculating. However, not only am I not my body or my feelings, I am also not my mind. To regard me as a genius is nonsense. To regard me as emotionless is somewhat lacking in observation and penetration.
IS: I think that observation rose from watching you on stage, where you're just very intently playing and you just barely look up to see the band and you hardly ever look out into the audience. If you were in a bell-jar of some sort, it would create the same impression. You seem distant, in a way. But, the other day I was reading some article in Melody Maker: "Robert Fripp Super-Stud," and they said you were just trying to change your image.
RF: That reflected me as I was then. It was also great fun to see how many people, personal acquaintances as well as people along the way, who were quite surprised, quite shocked, to find that in fact I was a young man with developed carnal interests, which were not held in perhaps as great a check as should have been. It is also interesting in the number of young ladies, having read the articles, I think were interested to find out a little more.
IS: What are you now?
RF: That fashion of living is no longer appropriate to my life as it is now lived.
IS: Can you further tell me something about what your fashion is now?
RF: I've already told you.
IS: All right.
RF: If you want the handy sentence, here it comes again. It's the harmonious development of all the parts of my being simultaneously and in a hurry.
IS: Can you, do you think you can do it in a hurry? I mean, is the reason why you're doing it in a hurry because you're worried about what will happen?
RF: There are some techniques to do it in a hurry. Yes, that's exactly right.
IS: How does one find out about these techniques? Are they, does one just simply have to look for them or can you tell me now?
RF: When you spend a sufficient period of time looking, but looking in a certain way, which is more than a casual interest, one finds oneself presented with an opportunity, which one can then take or not.
IS: I guess the analogy would be sort of my looking for a copy of Giles, Giles & Fripp and I finally got one.
IS: It eventually comes around.
RF: You have to actually work.
- JUST A BRIEF INTERMISSION -
RF: The other thing, I've decided to give some guitar lessons.
IS: To musicians or non-musicians?
RF: To guitarists of medium and advanced capabilities. Not beginners. Whereas the King Crimson idea represented an attempt to influence and get to reach a lot of people, the ventures for the future, the Eno situation, the guitar teaching, and other activities, will be to seek to influence a smaller number of people, but nevertheless, will have a greater effect in time. In other words, instead of striking at the base of the pyramid, I'm striking higher up. I would rather give guitar lessons to half a dozen guitar teachers than sixty of their pupils... I'm working on a guitar technique that doesn't seek to give the player control of his guitar as much as control of himself.
IS: You have an interesting style of playing. You pick strings with both hands.
RF: The distinguishing feature of myself and most other guitar players is that I have two hands and have worked hard over a period of thirteen years to develop my right hand technique, my electric skill. Most electric guitar players, in fact, have no plectrum technique, and most of the movement is done by the left hand. Which is very good for phrasing and so on, but it means that the player is not in control of his instrument.
IS: When you were playing on stage what did you put your guitar through? Did you have it directly into the amp?
RF: It went through a Fripp Pedalboard.
IS: What's on that?
RF: Oh, these things aren't important.
IS: The last gig you did in New York here, did you know that that was going to be the last one?
RF: Well, I knew it would be the last one for David, but at that point I had considered touring with the band. We considered experimenting with a number of different forms. As a trio and as a quartet with Ian McDonald. But on one Thursday, some four weeks ago yesterday (that makes it Thursday, September 19, 1974) I decided that was it. And, I have no real regrets, other than not playing Red live, and not going to Brazil and Japan, I suppose. That sort of thing. But not real regrets because the decision was a right one. The kind of feeling I've got from other musicians is that they rather envy what they see as, well, my courage. I'm not saying that I'm not considering it courage, I just continue to consider my action wholly sane and appropriate to the time. But There are a number of musicians I know who wish they could do the same and of course they can.
IS: That's true. King Crimson, speaking from a record industry point-of-view and an audience point-of-view, reached, I guess, a high point or re-reached it. I thought that the first album, An Observation, was excellent and from there it went down a little until you reached Islands, which was very different, and then you had Earthbound, which showed what, maybe, American touring was like, but then...
RF: Earthbound wasn't King Crimson.
IS: I think in a way it was because it sounds like an awful bootleg.
RF: It's King Crimson's own bootleg.
IS: Right, and it sort of, it sort of represents, well, this is what it really is like, it's just sort of really bad, it's, I mean...
RF: It wasn't King Crimson.
IS: I think what the album stands for...
RF: The album was released to show why the band broke up.
IS: Yeah, right. I guess that's what I was trying to say.
RF: Well, you succeeded in saying it then.