How King Crimson's Tony Levin Remains Creative in Quarantine Era

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Previously scheduled tour was another casualty for an industry thrown into coronavirus chaos.
As with so many, bassist Tony Levin's summer plans have suddenly changed. He was originally set to tour North America with King Crimson, but those dates have since been postponed until 2021 — yet another concert casualty for an industry thrown into coronavirus chaos.

But Levin isn't looking for pity. "I'm fortunate in a way," he says. "Most of what I do is on the road playing live, but I have a backlog of music that I want to record and write at home. And like many touring musicians nowadays who are suddenly at home, I'm finding it's a good time to catch up on all those other things that were a priority but a second priority now that the first priority – touring – has suddenly gone away."

Levin also plays in prog act Stick Men and various other groups, including touring and recording with Peter Gabriel as part of the songwriter's long-running core band. So while most of the world was still adjusting to a new quarantine reality, Levin told UCR he was perfectly comfortable juggling a handful of new projects — including the seeds of a new Stick Men LP and a solo tribute to the many drummers of his life.

You're involved in lots of bands and projects, but it's been 13 years since your last solo album. Is that something you hope to tackle during quarantine?

The way I am: I always have a list of things. Yes, I'm way overdue on a solo album. But also, the group I'm in, Stick Men, want to write a new album – so I can use the time for that. [He and touch guitarist Markus Reuter are] more focused on trying to get a sense of how to write our new music, which we've already started. Doing it remotely is not our favorite way, but we can do that — trade ideas and stuff like that.

Also, I take a lot of photos. I've put out a few photo books, and I'm overdue for a photo exhibition and another photo book, and all those things take months of work that's hard to squeeze in when you're on the road. So, I'm tackling all of those simultaneously while I'm home. I'd like to say if I'm home long enough that I'll get them all done. The reality is that I probably won't get them all done, but at least I'll make progress and get some of them done.

Listen to the Stick Men Perform 'The Tempest'

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