Log of The Artist Shop/Talk City chat with
King Crimson founding member
Ian McDonald
on Sunday, May 3, 1998



Session Start: Sun May 03 21:59:13 1998

<WotanCCC> And here we go

<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> ******************************
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . Welcome to tonight's
<WotanCCC> . Artist Shop
<WotanCCC> . Featured Artist Conference
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . Ian McDonald
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . Presented by
<WotanCCC> . @Music and TalkCity
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> ******************************
<WotanCCC> .

<WotanCCC> Many will remember Ian as the main composer keyboardist/wind instrumentalist for the original King Crimson. Those days have been beautifully captured on the recent DGM archival release, Epitaph. More recently Ian has toured Japan as part of Steve Hackett's band along with John Wetton, Chester Thompson and Julian Colbeck. Hackett is releasing these performances, which included early King Crimson material, on both CD and video at the end of April. This is Ians second appearance here at TalkCity. Ian, we appreciate you taking the time out to come back and speak with us today. Welcome to @Music and TalkCity! Welcome Ian.

<IanMcDonald> Thank you very much. It's my pleasure to be here and I look forward to talking to the folks out there and am interested to find out what they want to know.

<WotanCCC> Ian can you start us off by telling us about your tour with the Steve Hackett band? How many performances were there?

<IanMcDonald> We just did four performances in Japan. This was in December of '96. I would like to have done more than four. We were just starting to get good when it was time to go home. I would really like to do something like that again as I hadn't played publicly with Steve or John before.

<WotanCCC> Hard to leave eh?

<IanMcDonald> Yes, it's hard to leave Japan anytime. It was my third trip there and I always enjoy Japan. But it was good to get home anyway. It was a couple of days before Christmas. And three weeks of jetlag on top as we'd rehearsed in London (LOL)

<WotanCCC> And now, lets take some questions from the audience.

<AskIan> mista_ted says: The new album is called Epitaph, IS this work connected to King Crimson early style (according to song with same title from 1-st album)?

<WotanCCC> Good question, great collection.

<IanMcDonald> Yes, in fact these are recordings of the original band. Essentially bootleg recordings done in concert without our knowledge for the most part and thanks to modern technology we were able to clean up the tapes and improve them sonically. Because they were almost unlistenable in their original state - some of them. There are four discs altogether. Discs 3 and 4 in particular show the original band at its best. There are some amazing group impovisations.

<WotanCCC> 2 & 4 show some incredible playing.

<WotanCCC> ooops 3 & 4

<IanMcDonald> Thank you.

<IanMcDonald> Yes, it's a side of King Crimson that you didn't really hear on the first album. So I'm very happy that this Epitaph Box is available now.

<WotanCCC> Those audiences must have been totally blown away. Our guest today is Ian McDonald. He is here to talk about the new King Crimson Live release "Epitaph". As well as his work with Steve Hackett and Foreigner. To send a question to Ian use the following format; Type /msg ASKIAN Your question here. Your question will be put in the queue and asked in the order it was received.

<AskIan> robtron says: Ian..I've got a recording of your Oct 1969 Croydon show with Crimson where you play a song called Trees with pieces of Birdman and Wishbone Ascenion...were you guys planning to cut this, or Birdman, on the second Crimson album?

<IanMcDonald> robtron - That's funny. I just recently heard that tape myself for the first time....

<WotanCCC> How is the quality of the recording?

<IanMcDonald> I had completely forgotten that there was a piece of Birdman incorporated into Trees. There were no plans to record Birdman as I had yet to write it. And I probably found that that little excerpt in Trees was very useful. So I borrowed it from myself.

<AskIan> heyday says: Ian one of personal favorites is "Tomorrows People" was that originally written for Crimson?

<IanMcDonald> Not as far as I know. That's one of Mike Giles' compositions. I don't know exactly he wrote that. But I have a feeling that that's a post Crimson composition.

<AskIan> bob3 says: Ian I heard that you've done or are working on a solo cd? Tell us about that. When will it be out?

<IanMcDonald> Hopefully by the end of the year. As yet there is no signed deal, so I'm a little reluctant to talk too much about it. But it will be a solo album with various guests on vocals, etc. And I'm very much looking forward to putting this album out.

<AskIan> dan-etweb says: Rumor has it something BIG is scheduled for next January comemorating KC's 30 anniversary. Can you tell us what?

<IanMcDonald> I was hoping you would be able to tell me!

<WotanCCC> Ouch

<IanMcDonald> I don't know of any specific plans. Of course, wouldn't it be nice if the original band got together for a concert?

<WotanCCC> Or a tour.

<IanMcDonald> That would be my highest hope, but it seems unlikely. Don't mean to be putting rumors out. But there has been talk of doing "something" but there's no specific plans that I know of.

<WotanCCC> So at this point those are only rumours.

<IanMcDonald> Oh, yeah. There's definitely talk, but it's just talk. At least everyone is talking and friendly, so there's always a possibility of "something" happening.

<WotanCCC> A King Crimson "Orchestra" would be interesting. I suspect we would hear about something in Elephant Talk. Do you follow ET?

<IanMcDonald> Well I don't have a computer, so I dont keep completely up to date with the latest goings on, so I'm not on the mailing list for the newsletter. Crimson Orchestra - interesting if not Chaotic (LOL). One idea I had was to have Fripp on stage throughout the evening starting the show with the present KC and then going all the way back.

<WotanCCC> Wow.

<IanMcDonald> and closing the show with the original band. That would be something! But it's just an idea, I don't wish to spread rumors.

<WotanCCC> Might have to do it on consecutive nights like the Ring Cycle. Thats a lot of music.

<IanMcDonald> Oh boy! I suppose so. One band each night! I think I would prefer to do the same show 5 nights running!

<AskIan> robtron says: Ian...how long did you guys (John, Steve, etc.) have to practice "I Talk to the Wind" & "ItCotKC" for the Japanese performances?...they're performed amazing true to the original songs.

<IanMcDonald> We had 10 days to rehearse the entire set, which is not a lot of time considering that many of the players had never played most of the material before. But everybody worked very hard to put together a good show.

<AskIan> xpac1 says: my dad really likes your music and he would like to know what do you think the best KC song was, in your eyes?

<WotanCCC> Shouldn't that be ears?

<IanMcDonald> Hmmmm. Well, I'm always biased towards the first album, I unashamedly have to say. And I think the best song on that album is Epitaph. It's my favorite track and to me it's Greg Lakes best vocal anywhere.

<WotanCCC> Thats a song that works with pretty much any instrumentation.

<IanMcDonald> And it's just a great song.

<WotanCCC> Its interesting to hear how much of the 2nd and 3rd Crimson albums were played by the original band.

<IanMcDonald> I've never heard any other instrumentation really.

<WotanCCC> Lake does it with just solo guitar. Works very well.

<IanMcDonald> Yes, when the group broke up, we were already working on new material hence, Pictures of a City, which showed up on the second album, can also be heard on the Epitaph Box set as A Man, A City. It was already in our live show. Also I had written Cat Food whilst on the road during the first tour.

<WotanCCC> And some of Islands was already taking shape in the form of Drop In.

<IanMcDonald> Does Greg do that <solo guitar Epitaph>? I've never heard it.

<WotanCCC> He used to do it with ELP. It was part of a medley of songs like LuckyMan. Very good. Very powerful.

<IanMcDonald> Lucky Man was actually one of the first songs we did with King Crimson! A bit of trivia there. When we began rehearsals, but it was dropped only to resurface later with ELP.

<WotanCCC> Wow. Too bad theres not a tape of that somewhere.

<AskIan> bob3 says: Tell us why you left Foreigner?

<WotanCCC> Did you see bob3's question there Ian?

<IanMcDonald> Regarding Foreigner - I guess Mick Jones felt the group was not big enough for the both of us. You can draw your own conclusions on that.

<WotanCCC> Same ol song and dance eh? Thats a shame, did you enjoy your stay with Foreigner?

<IanMcDonald> Well, suffice it to say that it was not my intention to leave the group. Yes, I had a great time....

<WotanCCC> You were with them for 4 albums no?

<IanMcDonald> 3 albums actually....

<WotanCCC> Sorry....

<IanMcDonald> I co-produced and had a lot to do with the first three album, perhaps more than I am credited for. Or does that sound like sour grapes!

<WotanCCC> Not at all.

<AskIan> robtron says: Modern Masquerades is a great album..why did Fruupp break up? Do you stay in touch with these guys?

<IanMcDonald> Well, first of all, thank you. Yes, I'm quite pleased with the way that album turned out. I have no idea why they split up. I haven't really spoken to them since making the album. I moved to the U.S. shortly after making that album.

<AskIan> xpac1 says: if you had the chance to work with any musican EVER who would it be and why?

<WotanCCC> Interesting question.

<IanMcDonald> Maybe Miles Davis or John Lennon. I always wanted to work with them, but never had the opportunity. I think it's pretty obvious why one would want to work with John Lennon. He was one of the greatest songwriters of all time and just a great rock'n'roller!

<WotanCCC> I was just reading about Sean Lennon this morning.

<IanMcDonald> I could think of all kinds of other people.

<WotanCCC> I guess he's got some interesting new music coming out.

<IanMcDonald> Yes, Sean has an album coming out. Isn't that right?

<WotanCCC> Yes he does.

<AskIan> heyday says: Ian , one of my favorite albums is MacDonald and Giles..I need to buy it on CD..any chances of it being re-released in the States?

<IanMcDonald> Oh boy! The only place that it's available right now is in Japan. And there are certain importers from whom you could obtain it from. I'm actually at the moment trying to regain the master tapes. I have always wanted to do a re-mix and re-mastering job on that album. With any luck that could come out early next year.

<WotanCCC> Of course, the Artist Shop could get it for you.

<AskIan> robtron says: Can you give us any clue as to what directions King Crimson might have been heading toward had the Fripp, McDonald, Wetton, Bruford ensemble stayed intact after Red was released in 1974?

<WotanCCC> That would have been a great band.

<IanMcDonald> That's hard to answer. My function on that record was merely as a session player. I believe I only played one solo on one song. So I don't really consider myself a member of that particular group. I think it was Robert's intention to disband that group all along. And I think he only asked me if I would tour with them to see what I would say before he disbanded the group. I said yes, I would tour. A little revenge on Robert's part maybe.

<WotanCCC> He was unhappy with Crimso at the time?

<IanMcDonald> Who knows what goes through Fripps mind (LOL).

<WotanCCC> Probably a mistake to second guess him.

<IanMcDonald> Yeah (LOL). He's hard to figure out, that one.

<AskIan> phoenix says: will be Lou Gramm or anyother Foreigner member -past or present- playing on your new album?

<WotanCCC> Good question.

<IanMcDonald> Actually, yes. Lou was kind enough to give me a vocal on a lyric that we wrote together. And it's a great song. I would love everyone to hear it. I would probably ask Al Greenwood to do some keyboard work also.

<WotanCCC> .

<WotanCCC> ****
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . For more information on Ian McDonald
<WotanCCC> . King Crimson and "Epitaph"
<WotanCCC> . or Giles, Giles and Fripp go to;
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . http://www.artist-shop.com
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> ****
<WotanCCC> .

<AskIan> robtron says: Ian....have you played any live small venue gigs lately beyond your accompanying John Wetton (which I attended in NYC)?....or any other plans for live performances of your own stuff?

<IanMcDonald> Well when I get my solo album finished, I will definitely be touring then. I may play at the Long Island Guitar Show which would be Saturday, May 16, even though I'm not billed, I will be there. But I have no other plans at present to play.

<WotanCCC> Any idea on who will be in the band?

<IanMcDonald> This thing on the 16th, I'll probably just sit in with the house band which is lead by guitarist Jimmy Vivino from the Conan Obrien show band.

<WotanCCC> Very cool.

<IanMcDonald> Peter Frampton is headlining that show.

<WotanCCC> What contemporary artists do you find interesting? What do you find yourself listening to these days?

<IanMcDonald> I listen to mostly classical music. I find that I'm listening less and less to rock music. But there are a number of interesting bands coming out of England right now such as Pulp, Verve, and I still don't know why Radiohead's album was voted best album of all time in Q magazine.

<WotanCCC> LOL I was wondering that myself.

<IanMcDonald> I also listen to jazz - Coltrane and people like that. It seems to me that there are just too many bands which is spreading the really good players too thinly. If one took the best player from each band and say had a quarter of the number of bands out there right now, I think there would be some really great music being made.

<AskIan> robtron says: Tell us about your new cut of "Schizoid Man" with Ian Wallace...coming out on his new CD...

<IanMcDonald> That's an interesting track. It's a combination of Schizoid Man and a Thelonius Monk tune called Providence (I think) and it switches from one tune to the other. That was fun to do.

<AskIan> xpac1 says: what are your personal goals for the future?

<IanMcDonald> The immediate goal is to secure a recording contract. And then I just want to make as much music as possible.

<WotanCCC> You must have quite a backlog of ideas.

<IanMcDonald> Actually, that's true, I do. But sometimes it's hard to write when you don't have a specific outlet for the material.

<WotanCCC> I hope we can hear some of them soon. I know the feeling.

<IanMcDonald> So knowing that I am a "recording artist" hopefully will mean that I will be able to have a creative burst!

<AskIan> robtron says: When's the last time you have played a mellotron before a live audience? You were one of the purveyors of this unique sound.

<IanMcDonald> The last time I played a mellotron in front of a live audience was the last show of the original King Crimson!

<WotanCCC> The mellotron is such a distinctive sound. Adrian Belew has a great mellotron patch in his GR-1. He uses it on Dinosaur.

<IanMcDonald> I don't own a mellotron, although I am thinking about trying to obtain one of the original group's instruments. I recently recorded my flute for some new customized Mellotron tapes which should be available in the near future.

<WotanCCC> Didn't Crimso buy their first one from Yes or visa versa?

<IanMcDonald> No, actually we bought our original mellotron from ads in the newspaper.

<WotanCCC> Funny, I've never seen one for sale in my local paper. B-{)}

<IanMcDonald> Of course, we are talking about 1968 here ;-) I remember driving all over the English countryside to pick these things up. We had three originally. Those Mark II style mellotrons are now worth a pretty penny.

<AskIan> musicusher1 says: from DavidEric: msg ASKIAN: Is there any unreleased Mcdonald and Giles material in your archives?

<WotanCCC> Good question

<IanMcDonald> Actually, no. Although I recently played flute for some tracks that Michael Giles is recording! And when I do my solo album, Mike has offered to return the favor and do some drums for me!

<WotanCCC> Outstanding!

<IanMcDonald> Mike and I recently recorded together also with Steve Hackett doing a remake of I Talk to the Wind with Steve doing the lead vocal. This turned out really well. I hope Steve puts it out on one of his records.

<WotanCCC> Is there anything else you would like to mention before we conclude today?

<IanMcDonald> No, I would just like to thank everyone for their questions. And I look forward to doing it again sometime. I amazed at how much some people know! It's very interesting.

<WotanCCC> Very cool Ian. Its been great chatting with you. Looks like our time is up. I'd like to thank everyone for joining us tonight. Ian, we appreciate taking the time to come and chat with us. We all hope youšll come back to Talk City again soon!

<IanMcDonald> Likewise, it's nice chatting with you to. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk directly to the fans.

<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . For more information on Ian McDonald,
<WotanCCC> . Epitaph, and The Steve Hackett Band go to;
<WotanCCC> .
<WotanCCC> . http://www.artist-shop.com
<WotanCCC> .

<WotanCCC> Finally, thanks to the Artist Shop for working with us on this conference. We especially appreciate the efforts of Gary Davis in giving us the opportunity to speak with Ian McDonald. Don't forget to drop by the Artist Shop and explore all of their musical offerings. http://www.artist-shop.com. Thanks for coming everyone. See you later.

Session Close: Sun May 03 23:07:39 1998


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