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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

King Crimson Reigns in Times of Change

Led by Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew, the band brings its modern, muscular sound to Ventura Theatre.

July 25, 1996|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Generally speaking, one guitar god is plenty for any given rock band. But King Crimson has a pair, Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew. And both of them will be all over the stage when the group shows up at the Ventura Theatre on Monday night.

Fripp is the only member who originated with the band in 1969, and Belew has been on board since 1981. The band has had countless personnel changes, makes an album every once in awhile, tours for awhile, then breaks up for awhile. The last album, "Thrak," is from 1995.

Belew--he'll be the one singing--did the talking during a recent phone interview.

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How's the tour?

Been to Prague, Budapest and Slovakia, plus all over Western Europe. Eastern Europe is not up to speed with American society, but they have another aspect, the historical aspect. Everything is so much older.

Are you a good road dog?

No, I'm not the best person on the road because I'm a homebody. I have my wife and family and a studio at home and I'm always aching to get back there. Plus, I have a fear of flying, but I try to stay centered. I love doing the shows, it's just getting there. I read a lot, and try to do some writing and just try to stay busy.

Why does King Crimson seem to break up so much?

I guess Robert Fripp just gets fed up every few years, but I don't think that's going to happen this time. We're taking things at a slower pace. Everyone in this band has a reputation, and we've all put a lot of work into the band to get it to this level.

What's the deal--three years between albums?

Robert and I will start working on a new album around the end of the year. Then we're looking at 1998 for the tour for that one. I have a new solo album coming out in September, "Op Zop Too Wah," an interesting pop album with 21 new songs.

"The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll" puts King Crimson in the art-rock category. What do you think the band sounds like?

That stuff about art rock is pretty old, but I suppose that's pretty close. It's muscular and adventurous, sometimes modern, sometimes not. It's almost a pop band and almost not a pop band, if you know what I mean. We play a pretty good sampling from the entire King Crimson catalog.

Is there a typical King Crimson fan?

We seem to attract more musicians than anything. We'd certainly like to draw more women, but it's usually lots of guys standing there with their mouths open and a notebook with a girlfriend next to them who's asleep.

How did you join?

I went to England in 1981 with the Talking Heads, and the first morning I was there I got a call from Robert Fripp. He said he was forming a band and asked me if I'd like to join. I said yes.

How did you end up as a guitar player?

I started out as a drummer, a singing drummer which I thought was a nice combination. I was a teenager and I kept wanting to write songs, but I couldn't do that on the drums. Then I got sick with mononucleosis and I had to stay home for a few months, and I taught myself to write songs and play guitar. I listened to Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Andres Segovia, Les Paul--and I think George Harrison was a great guitarist for what he was doing.

What advice would you give young rock gods in training?

Listen to everyone that interests you, then try to forget it. Then try to find what's really yours, a little grain. I can play blues or country. You don't hear it on my albums, but I can do all that stuff.

What does everyone always get wrong about the band?

People seem to think it's all Robert Fripp's idea, all his band. He's what I like to call quality control. If an idea makes it past him, then it's OK for King Crimson. But we're all contributors in this band.

* The 8 p.m. show without an opening act will set you back $27.50 with notebooks optional. Call 648-1888 to find out more.

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Get the Message: For something really different, you might want to check out Bill "The Fox" Foster at the MVP Sports Bar in Simi Valley on Saturday night. No icy intellect or passionless precision here--not even any guitars. Foster sits at the piano and sings ribald drinking songs. A one-man party, Foster knows every dirty joke you heard in the fourth grade and then some, plus he drinks beer upside down and faster than anyone.

Foster, who calls himself a "musical therapist," has been dispensing his message for over 30 years. In no time the whole place will be singing along, sort of a strange adult campfire, and the bartenders will be in overdrive.

The show is free. The MVP is at 1030 E. Los Angeles Ave. Call 520-6015.

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