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Bill's David Cross Interview -- Part Two

This is where writer Bill Murphy posts his interviews with the Crims, and other prog luminaries. It's a book in serial form -- that you become part of!

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Bill's David Cross Interview -- Part Two

Postby LTinAspic on Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:04 pm

This installment picks up immediately where Part One ended (as well it should, eh?). It was recorded on November 23, 1993.

As always, feel free to use this any way you see fit. All I ask is that if you excerpt it you include this info: <b>Copyright 1993, 2006 Bill Murphy.</b>

Enjoy!


BM: [laughs] Well, what was that first lineup like with Jaime Muir and, you know, the whole <i>Larks’ Tongues</i> crew? Describe that.

DC: It was a hoot! It was wonderful!

BM: Yeah.

DC: It was, great fun, you know. Terrifying for me, playing in front of a lot of people. I wasn’t used to that...

BM: [laughs]

DC: ...so that was terrifying, but tremendously exciting, I think. And Jaime was the most exciting element in the whole lineup. I mean, he was, on stage, a fantastic performer and just full of surprises. I mean, in the rehearsal room he was just the gentleman, very kind of studied. And he, you know, his timekeeping was excellent and his thoughts were very creative. And everything was worked out very, very carefully over the rest of it, most of the time. As soon as we got on stage, it was, just a totally different persona took over, which wasn’t King Crimson. This was Jaime Muir performing.

BM: [laughs]

DC: Everything changed from there. I mean, he imparted such drive and energy and theatricality to the whole event that it really made everybody else totally sit up and take notice of what was possible on stage I think. I mean, nobody was really able to imitate him or take his place. But I think he just gave us all a fantastic kind of energy. And, you know, when he left there was an enormous challenge there to kind of fill that gap, which I think was very good for all of us somehow. I think we all knew we had to move to cover some of his territory.

BM: Yeah.

DC: Musical and, I suppose, quite actually spiritual. You know, in that there was definitely an energy that had gone, and that ground had to be covered somehow.

BM: So as a follow up to <i>Larks’ Tongues</i>, did you think <i>Starless</i> was all it was supposed to be, all you wanted it to be?

DC: I don’t know. Because I don’t listen to these things now. I’m very -- I don’t know why -- I’m never very attracted back to listening to these things, so I don’t really know what it’s like now.

BM: Really?

DC: I can only talk in, you know, 20 year old memories, really.

BM: [laughs]

DC: I was very pleased with it at the time, yeah, I think. I was pretty…I mean, you know, as pleased as you ever are. You know, the time comes when you have to stop recording, the time comes to stop mixing, the time comes when the album’s said to be finished, you know, and you just have to move on. So, overall, I didn't feel violently sick at the end of it.

BM: [laughs]

DC: I mean, <i>Larks’ Tongues</i>, you know I’ve never been able to listen to.

BM: Really!

DC: Yes, it’s awful.

BM: [laughs]

DC: Terribly embarrassing it’s out in vinyl. No, I can’t listen to that. But I suppose there’s less of that for me on <i>Starless</i> and there are a few hints of…for me there are a couple I was beginning to feel, ways of understanding rock music, I suppose. And in that way I was happier about it. But then, also, things were lost, you know. There was a sudden move toward the center away from more original areas, maybe more esoteric areas.

BM: Uh-huh, yeah.

DC: But, yeah, I suppose I’d say it’s a good number two album, yeah.

BM: Do you remember, by any chance -- John doesn’t seem to remember – what (and Jaime doesn’t either) what the voice was saying in that “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part One” track? There’s like a big buildup and a break and there's some guy murmuring, talking, saying something. What was that?

DC: Yes, it was a recording of a radio program. That’s right over the end of the part one which is to do with a judge passing sentence on somebody. I’ve forgotten the name of the radio program, but it was a Scottish radio program. And the judge was saying something like, “He should be taken from this place and hung by the neck until he was dead.”

BM: [laughs]

DC: So that’s something that’s recorded. Right. And then there’s also talking, isn’t there?

BM: Yeah-

DC: That’s what you’re asking about.

BM: Yeah, what is that talking part?

DC: Oh, I don’t remember.

BM: It’s some kind of -- I’ve heard somewhere, I’ve read somewhere, or somebody’s mentioned that it was some kind of…Hmmm, I don’t even recall right now. But no one seems to remember. Jaime doesn't recall and John doesn't seem to remember quite what it was. So I guess it’s not really that important. It’s just one of those minor details, you know?

DC: Yeah. But if it’s not important, why did you ask me?

BM: [laughs]

DC: It’s terrible nobody can remember. It might come back to me in a dream or something. I mean, I remember lots of lovely things about that, you know -- like making mud noises with Jaime on the floor with balls of clay, bunches of clay.

BM: [laughs]

DC: And all this is before sound systems and things. You know, it was really lot of fun. Because you not only had to make the noise in those days, of course, you had to make it in time and put it in the right place.

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: And that was all great fun.

BM: Have you kept in touch with Jaime over the years? Have you talked to him since?

DC: Oh yeah, from time to time. I mean, not consistently, but every now and again. I’ve seen him every now and again. It was a couple of years ago, I think, last time I saw him. A mutual friend was doing (he’s got a little studio in his house) some stuff round there and I went round and saw him. And he’s a painter, as well, Jaime is. Did you know that?

BM: Yeah, I talked to him probably about five, six months ago, and --

DC: Right, I think he never saw which is more important, really. And I think his painting is, isn’t it, at the moment?

BM: Yeah, oh yeah. That’s what he said. He doesn’t even recall much of the Crimson days. He said that was like two or three lifetimes ago, you know? He just put it all out of his mind. But...

DC: Yeah, it’s strange though. Yeah. I mean, I think Bill feels a bit like that, doesn’t he?

BM: Yeah, well, yeah.

DC: I mean, I don’t think he’s very happy with the music.

BM: No.

DC: I think he’s much happier with what he’s doing now, I think.

BM: Bill’s response to my questions was more like, “Well, I don’t like dwelling on the past. I’d much rather play my jazz. I want to think about the future.” That’s where he’s coming from.

DC: Yeah.

BM: I asked him, “Well, what about these box sets that come out?” “What about going out and playing a tour with Yes?” And he said, “Well, I just do that to make money. I just did the Yes gig so I could have money to be able to afford to do my jazz stuff,” you know. He’s very blunt and…

DC: Yeah.

BM: ...very straightforward with his answers, but...

DC: Mmm-hmm.

BM: ...it’s interesting.

DC: Yes. It’s a pity then, really. I mean, it just sounds like he’s sort of closing his mind up a bit to...

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: ...to the possibilities, as well. You know, I believe that from that experience I retain a belief in the power of rock music. I think rock music is a very powerful music form. You know, and I’m still working with it now. And experimenting and, you know, have a group now that I think is producing some very successful music. I think that it isn’t a dead form. I think it’s something that’s very alive, very usable. It’s replaced the orchestra, I suppose, as a power tool in the composers’ records file, for want of a better term. I think it’s proved a very successful vehicle for absorbing a lot of different languages.

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: I actually think heavy metal’s terribly important. I think heavy metal probably turned into one of the significant kind of forward movements and unifies this century’s music. Heavy metal is the only area where you still find interest in time signatures, all time signatures, and all kinds of melodic effects that have just been abandoned elsewhere. You know, tonalities and scales that just aren’t used other places. So in that way it’s very good. I mean, there’s sort of a lot of terrible theatrics about it. But I think this music may not be as barren as people seem to label it. And you know, I think rock music and pop music, generally, has absorbed and been adapted into cultures all the way around the world and fed back into itself. So I think that is the kind of churning place. It is the area in which music is developing.

BM: Yeah.

DC: You know music is very kind of disparate and separate. I mean everybody wants to listen to listen to the genuine article. So if people aren’t interested in, for instance, contemporary classical music that has Japanese influences, they listen to Japanese music.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

DC: Or they want to listen to African music or they want to listen to Indonesian music. They don’t want this kind of mish-mash things. Whereas rock music is still possible and I think it’s very possible [to combine musical influences]. I think the future exists with incorporating absorbing, making of them something new.

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: Which I suppose connects with the spirit that I think that period had and I think King Crimson had. You know, it was kind of absorbing, exploring, trying to make something new out of it. You know, and trying, not just with the instrument but trying with the whole gambit of feelings and…head, heart and hips, I think, isn’t it Robert’s phrase?

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

DC: I can’t remember.

BM: You mentioned a lot of things there that bring to mind some questions. The whole idea of progressive rock. Richard Palmer-James told me something that I believe. It’s that Crimson came from an era of music that just won’t be around again. I mean there was a spirit to it, and newness to it. It was actually progressive.

DC: Uh-huh.

BM: And he said that’s kind of gone, it’s never going to be around again. But you’re saying that same kind of spirit is actually still kind of progressing rock today?

DC: Well, it’s certainly in my music, and certainly in the music of the people I’ve found to play with in this country. Actually, one of them's American. But I don’t see it. I don’t see it and hear it around enough to know the people very much.

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: But I certainly feel it in myself, and I certainly feel very excited by the music that I’m involved with at the moment. So usually with things like this if you know one group of people’s doing it somewhere, then somebody else’s going to be doing it somewhere else, aren’t they?

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: I mean, I also in that phrase, am counting all the fantastic work that has happened in the last twenty years. I mean, people like Zappa.

BM: Yeah.

DC: Such people transformed what’s possible. New standards have been set for technique playing and ideas. I think there’s a vast driving energy there. I think there’s a dip, you know. When, things get too hot and too dangerous everybody goes back into their shells.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

DC: And I think we were getting into some very hot, dangerous territory down there. And I think that everything has gone very conservative. I don’t know. I’ve never understood the record business.

BM: Yeah.

DC: I don’t know whether they tell people what to listen to or whether people themselves are naturally very fearful of new things. I know with my own group now, I can’t sell it for love or money. I can’t get a record company to go anywhere near it, you know. But whenever we play, people go through the roof. They love it. And, you know, we’re going down very, very well. People seem to like experimental, interesting, new ideas that are done with feeling. I think that’s what rock music has. It’s got power and soul to it as well, you know, and I think that’s very important. I think that so many forms of music in this century that have been developed have been aesthetic and intellectual ideas and I think that’s what people have reacted to. People look for things with more feeling to them.

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: And, unfortunately in doing that, they’ve gone back to a kind of primitivism, mostly.

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

DC: You know, that’s why you get the kind of Philip Glass kind of minimalist music. People have gone back, you know, stayed absolutely still in pop music. I mean, you know, really very almost nothing’s happened. I tune into the radio every five years, and it’s still the same bloody thing! [laughs]

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

DC: You know, they sample the beach. So the technology's changed. But, you know, there’s really nothing going on.

BM: That music industry thing…I asked John Wetton that, if he saw any changes in the music industry since when Crimson was around, and he was very adamant about that. He said, “Yeah, about the stroke of New Year’s Eve in 1979, the suits came in and the music industry became some kind of thing where the accountants took over and the lawyers took over, and it’s now a very dry, sterile environment, and there’s no creativity.”

DC: Yeah.

BM: He can’t get a record deal. He has an album coming out now, it’s coming out in January. But he said he couldn’t get people interested in his music either, you know.

DC: Yeah. Extraordinary, isn’t it really? Well, I don’t know if it’s extraordinary. I mean, that’s what he thought happened. I don’t know because I haven’t been in touch with the business in the way that he has. You know, I think that maybe that did happen. But you know, why did anybody let it happen? Why did the people allow themselves to be duped into thinking that all this crap was the real thing?

BM: Yeah, that’s a good question.

DC: How do we put up with it? How do we, you know, how do we keep these guys in charge? I don’t know, it’s…I mean, I’m bored to hell with it. I can’t understand why the bloody hell...

BM: [laughs] Yeah.

DC: [laughs] It’s amazing to me. I think things will change, really. I don’t think it’s gone fully. I think people will be bored and people will be looking for new things, and I think, you know, that rock is certainly one of the areas where it might happen. I think the only thing that’s liable to kind of put an end to rock is health and safety, I think. [laughs]

BM: [laughs]

DC: You know, as people become more aware of the health risks and things, you know, the very loudness of rock might essentially sign it’s death knell. But if that’s coped with in some way, people accept that as a health risk. Or if they find a way of not damaging people’s ears so much, I think it’ll probably survive for a long time.

BM: That’s one thing that Ian MacDonald has told me a bunch of times, that he's had problems with his ears ever since -- especially with his Foreigner days. His ears got worse and worse in front of the bass cabinets.

DC: Yeah, I’ve got trouble with my left ear. I had some problems with that. Uh, not so much lately, I’ve just been working very hard to not have things too loud.

BM: Yeah.

DC: But I mean we used to be awfully loud on stage with Crimson. Lots of monitor problems. For the last couple of years, I just tried never to use a monitor on stage and life is much easier.

BM: [laughs]

DC: Everybody else is worrying about their monitor mixes and I carry on playing, you know.

BM: [laughs]

DC: After all this, you get the general gist of what’s going on.

BM: [laughs] The name of your band is The David Cross Band, isn't it?

DC: It is at the moment, yes.

BM: Yeah, yeah.

DC: There’s a democratic move to change that now because, basically, of the Crimson connection. We seem to be one of the hottest bands around at the moment because of what and how we're playing.

BM: Uh-huh.

DC: You know, in terms of bands that aren’t signed to big labels. And uh, we just can’t get anybody to see us. And it’s been suggested that the reason for that is my name and the association with Crimson. That it’s all so old that everybody thinks it must be a load of crap.

BM: [laughs]

DC: And having tried using my name for a couple of years, we might well change in the near future to another name. I’ll tell you what’s interesting about that, is we had Pete Sinfield...

BM: Oh yeah.

DC: ...came down to our last gig. We did a place called the Orange in London a couple weeks ago, sixth of November, and he came along. He thought it was an amazing band. So we’ve given him a ring and asked him if he can think of a name for us. Maybe he can come up with another name as interesting as King Crimson. Sort of lurking in the darkness.

BM: Pete Sinfield’s a character. I mean he’s a --

DC: Yes, I didn’t…I mean, I only met him once or twice when we were down doing <i>Larks’ Tongues</i> because we were at Command Studios in Piccadilly. And he was in the next studio doing something, was it Still?

BM: Yeah, that’s his solo album, yeah.

DC: And I met him then. And then, you know, hadn’t seen him for years until we were doing a live recording and we had…God I can’t remember his name -- Tom somebody -- who was doing some live recording for us. Now what is his name? I can’t remember. Who’d he been working with? Mike Oldfield? But he knew Pete Sinfield – well, his wife did, anyway. His wife used to be married to Pete,. So it’s his ex-wife who’s married to this guy, Tom. So she rang him up and persuaded him to come down and hear us. So that’s when I met him again – twenty or so odd years on. Looking totally different, you know. As we both do now, I suppose.

BM: [laughs]

DC: [laughs]

BM: Yeah, had sent me some pictures. I asked him if he had any Crimson photographs, memorabilia, he could send me for the book. And he sent me a bunch of photos from then and now. And I’ve got some from just this year in the spring, and he does look quite a bit different. But --

DC: Yes, you know what he’s looking like now.

BM: Yeah.

DC: Yes, the ravages of time.


Speaking of which, this ends the first half of my interview with David Cross. Part Three (which will likely represent the next 1/4 of the interview) will be posted soon. (<i>Hey! Beth! Who said you could take a break? Get typing!!!</i>)

Cheers,

Bill
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Postby Whiskey Vengeance on Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:34 pm

Thanks, Bill! Sounds like David was a lot of fun to talk to. I can't believe he's ashamed of LTIA!!! :shock:
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Postby Gilesfan on Mon Apr 24, 2006 6:29 am

Thanks again Bill.


I thought Larks Tongues In Aspic was almost as much David's album as Jamie's. They both brought elements to King Crimson on that album for the first time ever that had not been there before. I can't believe David does not like it. :?
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Postby evktalo on Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:02 am

Thanks Bill! This is a very intresting interview indeed. And fast work too. Thanks also to Beth for her work too. :)


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Postby Dog_none on Mon Apr 24, 2006 11:49 pm

I'm kind of surprised at his views on heavy metal. I'm not surprised that he respects it, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone say it "unifies [last] century's music".

Also, I think it's kind of funny that you can't get a straight answer regarding the voice at the end of LTIA I. Though I'm not surprised, I can't remember details of work I did last year. I can't imagine trying to remember details of something I did 30 years ago.
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Postby crimcinnaman on Tue Apr 25, 2006 3:49 pm

Thanks Bill! Good to read some more transciptions. Always a very enjoyable read.
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