With Adrian Belew, King Crimson guitarist and singer, c1984

Fernando Hurtado – Date: 28.02.2011 – What do you think the drummer of the future will be? There are great drummers that are doing some great stuff like Gavin Harrison, but I want to know your opinion about the future of the drummer as an artist, composer and instrumentalist.

Great question, Fernando. If I knew the answer, I’d be a rich man indeed! We’d have to start by defining ‘drummer’. I suspect you mean the drumset artist appearing over the last 100 years or so, with a one-man collection of percussion instruments assembled around him on which he performs live. Sometimes that performance was recorded. That was the basic blueprint, but we know now that in the more interesting areas of modern popular music technology has loosened the old industrial demarcation lines. Bass, drums, rhythm guitar are a bit out-moded, and ‘behind the scenes, people tend to write, create, noodle with multiple technologies on multiple instruments, some more rhythmically orientated than others.

There are many different directions developing, and pioneers are sprouting up everywhere, only to be replaced by tomorrow’s even braver pioneer. I may not know all the names, but my experience of humanity so far tells me this is inevitable. So Pete Lockett is developing Indian rhythms for the drumset alongside others who are applying rhytms of other cultures to what is essentially a western instrument. Others are blurring the distinction in live performance between electronics and acoustics, and devising hybrid kits that are half automated, half blood spitting; half man, half beast!

Having done wonderful things in your own bedroom with your own kit however, you have then to devise a meaningful musical context to play it in, and then – if you’re not wiped by this point – bring that music to market! No wonder everyone just wants to play in a simple old blues group! From the snare drum specialist with a symphony orchestra to the computer-based producer dreaming up impossible thing for the drums to do and then playing it backwards, there are as many possible futures for drummers as there are drummers with imagination. Like everyone else, drummers used to live in a comparatively certain world, now they live in an uncertain world. That often makes for good (or better) music. I wish I had a better answer – I’ll work on one.

Jeremy Richardson – Date: 08.03.2011 – I think I have to challenge your view about computer composition. Some of us are not superb instrumentalists but are very good at hearing and envisioning the music in our heads. Soemtimes unbearably so. Sibelius has liberated me over the last 9 years to take the basic notational understanding I had from obligatory piano lessons and translate this noise in my head into something useful. On a few occasions I have then been fortunate enough to take this into the studio and hire proper practitioners to make it come to life. As you have pointed out – studio expense has prevented me from really ‘banding it out’ and allowing these musicians a chance to explore possibilites beyond what I’ve written (largely). I’m not sure what I am – a composer, songwriter or what? I just think that there is a band of musicians in my head (which sometimes includes you) and I imagine how they would best voice my work as I write. In another world, if I was a better musician, things would be different. In the meantime I have Sibelius – as vital to me as sign language to a mute.

Jeremy – I think we have a misunderstanding. Your impassioned and elegant plea for Sibelius falls on receptive ears; I’m totally with you. Sibelius is one of many wonderful tools, which, like Pro-Tools, may be put to more or less creative use. In the ProTools world I don’t think just making your music more ‘perfect’ qualifies as creative use. In other words the first, best and only tool you really need is imagination. Everything else is just there to help you transmute that imagination into musical form. I don’t care how the composition is realised. It’s just – is it any good?

Tom Shriver – Date: 09.03.2011 – Could you please restore the page listing Earthworks’ past performances? I saw Earthworks in 2003 in Tokyo, but I can’t recall the name of the venue. Thanks!

Request acknowledged, Tom. My records don’t show Earthworks in Tokyo in 2003. I can offer you April 24th or 25th 2002 at Sweet Basil 139, or in 2004 we played a club called Eggman in Shibuya on April 23rd and Astro Hall April 24 or 25th, also in Shibuya, Tokyo. Any good?!

Richard Reina – Date: 14.03.2011 – … I woke this morning to the terribly sad news that we’ve lost Joe Morello. You and I spoke about Joe when we met at the Borders store in December 2010. I had informed you that your written tribute to him had been forwarded to him. You have spoken so eloquently and fondly of Mr. Morello as an influential drummer to you. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him several times through the years. Sorry to be sharing such sad news. He will be missed, and may he rest in peace.

Richard, it was a sad day indeed, and something of the end of an era for me personally. You may have found the podcast I did for Sony Legacy when Time Out turned 50. Great, great drummer.

All sympathies go to Sakura Date: 16.03.2011 and his countrymen. We were again reminded of the devastation caused by the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation problems in Japan.

Robert Vetter – Date: 28.03.2011 – … A few days ago I watched the Live in Japan DVD from the Three of the Perfect Pair Tour in 1984. I specially like the performance of “Industry” – one of my favorite pieces by King Crimson. I was wondering how did you perform it live – I mean the ostinato figure you play on the snare together with the bass. After a while the osinato figure becomes a loop and you play over it. How did you manage to record this loop with Tony in live situation and in sync with him? How did you realize it from technical point of view?

Robert, I’ve just watched it again, and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t a clue! Some sort of early looping device that T.L. is driving, I suspect? The figure is played in real time to start with, then I think it’s captured and looped through to the end, while as you say, I play over the top. I didn’t have the machinery – I think it was Tony. It was 1984 –some 27 years ago! – so it wouldn’t have been very sophisticated. Sorry I can’t detail this any better for you.