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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

‘You never knew what somebody was going to do’: Greg Lake on King Crimson’s improvisational start

King Crimson’s genre-creating 1969 debut In the Court of the Crimson King didn’t include a single song shorter than 6 minutes. The band’s 1970 follow up ended with an 11-minute song suite.
Founding member Greg Lake says Crimson’s proto-prog excursions would become even lengthier in concert back then. And if it sometimes sounded like utter and complete improvisation, well, that’s because they were. In fact, King Crimson made sure of it.
“On every concert we played, we would have one song that had no time signature and no key,” Lake says in this video Q&A. “It would just start, and somebody would play something — and you would play off of that. Everybody would just play however they felt, however it came. It was a kind of a free-jazz concept.”
Existing in such a turbulent, free-flowing environment, Lake says, forced King Crimson — which also initially featured drummer Michael Giles and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald — to focus not so much on their individual parts, but on the larger musical whole.
“King Crimson was more about listening than it was playing,” Lake says. “All of were good players, and the thing we discovered was that the band played better when everybody listened. Rather than concentrate on what you’re doing, listen to what the other person is doing — so you could interact with it. That was the thing about King Crimson, we were always locked up in some way.”

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