Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Interview with Legendary Bassist Tony Levin

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Tony Levin
Tony Levin
It may be easier to list the musicians Tony Levin hasn’t played with rather than the ones he has. The legendary bassist has made an indelible low-end imprint on more than 500 albums, including the works of artists as diverse as Alice Cooper, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Dire Straits, Sarah MacLachlan, Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Buddy Rich, Todd Rundgren … even Cher (among many others).
Tony Levin was the bassist on John Lennon’s final sessions. He not only recorded and toured with Paul Simon – Levin also acted in Simon’s 1980 film One Trick Pony. He’s been the bassist for Peter Gabriel throughout the latter’s solo career, and he’s played bass with most incarnations of King Crimson (there have been a lot of them) – including that iconic band’s current offshoot The Crimson Projekct – since 1981.
In addition to his high-profile session and touring gigs, Levin has also participated in a number of more adventurous side projects with equally virtuosic musicians, the latest of which, Levin Minnemann Rudess, finds him collaborating with drummer/guitarist Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson/Joe Satriani) and Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess (see our interview with Jordan Rudess here).
We recently interviewed Levin about this new project (the CD ships on Sept. 5, 2013), asking along the way about his other associations, his favorite tech, and those sticks he puts on his fingers for a more percussive approach to the bass guitar.

The debut CD from Levin Minnemann Rudess
The debut CD from Levin Minnemann Rudess
Tony, tell us how your new project with Marco Minnemann and Jordan Rudess came together?
I love doing projects with great musicians – and with producer Scott Schorr, I’d been thinking about who to do a trio album with (after the critical success of our last one, Levin Torn White, with guitarist David Torn and YES drummer Alan White). I have worked with Marco Minnemann, on a tour playing the music of UK, and I knew what a great drummer he is (though didn’t realize until making the album that he plays guitar too, and really well!) Jordan Rudess and I have made a few albums together, as Liquid Tension Experiment, and I’d wanted to do something else with Jordan.
Speaking of which, how do you feel LMR relates to Liquid Tension Experiment? Do you consider this a continuation of sorts?
I don’t think of the two in the same way at all (though I admit that musicians like me tend to see each album and band as a new situation, even though others will hear continuity). On the LTE material, which came out great, we wrote the pieces together, and recorded right away – all in one time segment in the studio together. And some of the material was based on jams we did. The LMR material was composed individually; the other players then brought in to do their thing on it. No jamming, (well, Jordan and I did do some jams, but instead of fleshing them out and editing them, we decided to include videos of those jams, as they happened, on the Deluxe Edition DVD).

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