Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Friday 21 February 2003

Mount Juliet.


Another grey, and wet, day at Mount Juliet.

The Crim rehearsals, yesterday & today, are increasing focus. The four players have become King Crimson once more, although noticeably limping gently from King to Crimson & back again. But we are towards the end of the middle.

After today's rehearsals I felt less dribblatum est and more tired, that is, tired in a good way after a day's honourable working. Dribbling exhaustion is not useful: I return to the Basement Belewbeloid without any energy to address the various playing matters that came up in rehearsals.

A major contributory factor to my tiredness is the pressure of business that is involved in setting up the next three stages of Crim touring, for the US, beginning next Friday; Japan in April; Europe in June-July. The European tour is likely now, although there are major concerns remaining. With Crimson, the small print is critical.

My criterion for judging just about anything relating to touring is the question: does this (particular detail) support the quality of the performance? One small example: in order to play a specific European city, the promoter may offer to provide a sound system for the show. If the promoter is cheap, he'll hire a cheap p.a. & the sound sucks. So who is held responsible for the band sounding cheap - the promoter or King Crimson? Another small example: the press/local tv are invited to shoot the first three songs of the show. Press photographers/tv camerapersons are not invisible characters, trained in maintaining a sense of their personal presence while in motion. They are disruptive, and inclined not to leave when their time is up. The beginning of the performance is the most critical & is exceptionally vulnerable. So, does the band go for press, or not? For me, I ask the question: does this help KC/RF play better?

If the criterion of the agent and/or promoter is to maximize income streams, the two aims are fundamentally opposed. Where players & business-persons accept that they are working in the marketplace, but choose not to be governed by the values of the marketplace -- something is possible. This is exceptionally rare. But where there is business, there can be good business: aspiring to excellence, equity, transparency, clean dealing. Business in Southern Europe & South America conventionally (for the touring rock musician) equates to terror. This is not the moment to tell the stories, but they are all true.

More recently, the countries east of the Rusted Curtain have opened up, so now Eastern Europe also carries its concerns for the Happy Gigster. An example of this is the recent advertising for The 21st. Century Schizoid Band former members of King Crimson. This had nothing to do with the band nor their management. What to do? The artist has two weapons in the battle with deception & dishonesty: withdrawal of labour & access to publicity. But the first is stringent & radical. Nevertheless, I would rather not work in conditions where it is clear that the standards to which KC/RF aspire are radically undermined. Other players take another view: the show must go on! This is a well-established performance strategy that promoters use to take advantage of players. My own view is: the show does not have to go on, if the performance conditions undermine the performance.

So, the daily hassling with these details wears me down. The key to it is: I feel personally responsible in situations wherever King Crimson is involved. I am, fairly obviously, not responsible for everything that happens (like ticket prices, online booking, etc.) and cannot be. Nor am I the only member of KC, but I carry the greatest history. Nevertheless, any artist/group is responsible for setting the tone & direction of their operation when it moves out into the world, the world where money exchanges hands. And that world is hard.