It doesn’t matter where you take it from…it’s where you take it to that counts

With Nick Meier, guitarist, modelling the Sum/Win T-shirt at my place.

It seems to me that after an exit from the upper reaches of almost any profession, the retiree has only a short window of currency, (if that’s possible). By that I mean any doctor, lawyer, musician or anthropologist has the essential knowledge in his head, at his fingertips, and on immediate call, for perhaps just a couple of years after he leaves his particular discipline. Such is the speed of development in any area of curiosity, any stockpile of knowledge or skill-set will start to look crusty alarmingly quickly. When you’re no longer in the game, you lose it fast. The black book of contacts seems redundant, and suddenly you don’t recognise the name of anyone on the cover of the drum magazine. And you’ve never even heard of the famous band they’re in.

I’ve been gone a year and a half, and already it shows. Who’s who?! What, if anything, does my experience of the analogue, for-money world I inhabited have to offer the brave new citizens of the digital, for-free music world we now have? At my various lectures and talks to students, the big questions are ‘What will the business look like tomorrow’, and ‘Can I earn a living on a drumkit?’ ‘Your guess is as good as mine’, and ‘with difficulty’, are I suppose the honest if uninspiring answers.

BTW, anybody interested in the online marketing of music – as most of us are, I suspect – could do no worse than check out the thoughts of Andrew Dubber . His free e-book ‘The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online‘ is required reading for musicians and independent music businesses. . Best analysis of the pickle we find ourselves in that I’ve yet come across.

The new site is up and running. Hope you enjoy it! Lift the bonnet, kick the tyres, poke the interior and generally have a good rummage around. Let the Guestbook know of anything that doesn’t work, broken links, and things that stink. I’ve personally added a fair few links, snippets, CD and DVD descriptions, details, and hitherto little known gubbings, and done a lot of what the wonderful Declan Colgan over at Panegyric Recordings (who distribute King Crimson’s physical product) is pleased to call ‘curating’. I’d never thought of that term connected to anything other than the visual arts, but Crimson, Panegyric, and, to a lesser extent, Summerfold and Winterfold catalogues are all blossoming at some speed, and the audio or aural arts require curating every bit as much as the visual.

As I will be withdrawing from questions and answers when the new site is established, this will be my last crop carried over from the Forum on the old site:


Thanks to all for May 17th birthday greetings, and to Andy McDuffie – 5/18/2010 2:29:15 AM for his suggestion that I become a talking-head, a sort of ‘post-percussive Palin’. I’ll let you know…!

Michael Bettine – 5/18/2010 6:30:47 AM – good to hear from you Michael – missed the deep irony of “Phew – I should write a book about this stuff” which comment ended my last blog. I have in fact written a book, Michael, exactly on this stuff. Have a look at the home page of my site.

Pleased to hear Crimson is playing in Matt – 5/21/2010 5:52:33 AM ‘s supermarket. Now that’s odd! Thanks to Kevin Morrissey – 5/24/2010 11:22:47 PM for his Ian Anderson lyric, and comment about the Age of Information on ‘Gradually Going Tornado’. I did indeed write the song’s lyrics, and the lyrics to The Sliding Floor and Plans for J.D. I think Dave and I knocked out the words to Gothic 17 together. Broadly though, I reckon singers do better – somehow sound more convincing – singing their own words rather than somebody else’s.

Roger Norway – 5/27/2010 1:07:40 AM says ‘ Guess you still are in possession of a drum kit / home studio? Do you use it at all these days? If you should stumble across some great music while playing around, what would you do with it? Yes, Roger, I have drums set-up and enjoy playing. It’s great for the mind. An hour a day keeps the doctor away. The last part of you question is, I regret, now unlikely!

Dan Page – 6/3/2010 5:30:53 PM questions the whole basis of tribute bands. Me too, Dan – it completely beats me. But more than the musicians who are just fulfilling a demand, isn’t it weird that one of the biggest and most profitable part of the live scene is tribute bands? Why does the customer seem so happy to shell out a fortune for a tame re-tread of something he had 30 years ago? Not even the thing he had 30 years ago, but a facsimile? Now I know I’m losing it.

Mitch – 6/7/2010 7:01:12 AM was wondering “how Crim was received in the UK versus USA or all of ‘prog rock’ for that matter. What do you think of the style and direction of Carla Bley?” Mitch – I assume (maybe wrongly) you are in the USA? – whatever you do in the UK, sooner or later you’re going to have to do it overseas. The place is so small and the opinion-makers so over-heated that you can be built up and shot down in a week. The US moves much slower in it’s critical judgments. So for a while we were very well loved in the UK, but having established international success, the traditional way here is to be trashed, especially if that international success has been hard-won in the US. The critical vitriol poured on Crimson was sufficiently heavy in the UK to ensure that we hardly ever played here, and then Robert wasn’t keen. To my shame, I don’t know Carla’s work.

Do go back to the Forum and read Dane Terry – 6/8/2010 11:35:05 AM. Thanks for the interesting post, Dane, which compares treatment of drummers in the West to the esteem in which they are held in Bali (and also in much of African, Indian, Asian and Oriental culture!) No, not yet been to Bali, but it would be great. Maybe now there’s time.

Gerald Murphy – 17/06/2010 08:33:05 is on the re-union thing, and asking would I do an 80’s KC? Not if I can help it! It’s precisely because I loved the 80s band so much that I would be highly unlikely to try to recreate the same thing, a mission I fear destined to failure. My experience of reunions, has, on the whole, been underwhelming.

Roger Norway – 18/06/2010 02:26:44 asks “don’t you feel that the whole (prog) era has been deleted from the history of rock?… I love 70s prog and think the best of it is in no way inferior to jazz or classical or any other art form…. As a drummer, who are your favorites among the many talented prog rock drummers, and is there any other musical moments in 70s prog rock, except from the ones you contributed to, that really meant something to you?

If you were to convince a music lover that progressive rock really had it’s moments, what would you recommend?”

Roger, I’m perhaps not quite the fan of progressive rock that you are. In the UK it now has a couple of dedicated national magazines which cater for this very unfashionable music, a bit like heavy metal. It’s studied at University on courses based on several academic analyses, so I don’t think it’s been forgotten. In fact I’m writing the Foreword to Will Romano’s new book on this very subject as we speak, due out in the Fall.

The ‘unfashionable’ prog and metal continue to be quietly big sellers, unlikely the ‘fashionable’ new bands which have generally some way to go before they out-sell a modest King Crimson album from the days when people paid for the music. If you’re going to be progressive about something, there will be striking successes and abject failures. The rock industry could afford a progressive movement when there was money around. In return for its ‘investment’, it got blindingly good records like ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ ,Soft Machine’s first, or Art Bears ‘Hopes and Fears’, and the huge amounts of dross that inevitably followed. I can’t separate drummers from the music they are generating and the genre they are working in, no matter how talented thay might be. So in the sense that I’m cool about prog, I’m pretty cool about prog drummers. I hope I don’t have to apologise when I say I just always preferred jazz. Perhaps that’s what I brought to prog.

Over at the new Guestbook Don Smith – 6/20/2010 in a generous effort to fill my summer, recommends ‘making a drumming documentary film yourself (never mind all the funding, writing and production headaches)? If your autobiography is any indication, the odds are better than fair that it would be informative and entertaining’ with a spin-off scholarly book on the evolution of drumset playing. Thanks, Don, for keeping me busy! Any drum-crazy TV producers out there with a hefty budget?

Rich – 10/07/2010 – I’m afraid the offer to do signed copies of the book expired some time ago.

Finally, Stephen V. 10.07.2010 has questions about a C2C hike I did recently:

How long did it take? Leisurely pace – about 16 days for 200 miles.

How did your body (and feet) hold up? –No problem, but you have to look out for blisters.

What sorts of insights did you realize? After walking that far, you have this insane idea that you could and should walk everywhere. It doesn’t last long.

What was your favorite area? The Swaledale valley. Something like the Garden of Eden, I imagine.

How was the food? Repetitive English pub food. Bulky.

Did you use maps only or use a GPS? No GPS, but on a couple of scary occasions I appended myself to a group of walkers who had one, and latched on to them.

And, did anyone recognize the retired drummer? If so, did you “fess up” or play coy? Naturally walkers are going to discuss their occupations. Yes, mine caused bit of a stir, in a gentle, British kind of way. They’ve read about ‘rock stars’.

Maybe it would be appropriate to close this blog with a mantra that has certainly been central to my limited thinking for as long as I can remember. ‘It doesn’t matter where you take it from, it’s where you take it to that counts’. Write that on your snare head, or stick a post-it on your computer with it on, and don’t you forget it.

Been nice chatting with you, and enjoy the new site.

2017-11-22T12:30:35+00:00 July 14th, 2010|