King Crimson Touring the U.S. for the ‘Last Time’
The Court of the Crimson King is preparing to close its doors again soon. Singer-guitarist Jakko Jakszyk tells UCR that King Crimson's Music Is Our Friend Tour, currently in North America, with Japanese dates later in the year, will be the last for what has been, to date, the band's longest-running incarnation at nearly eight years.
"Management has said it's very unlikely we'll be back in America," Jaksyzk reveals. "I think they thought announcing it as a kind of farewell tour was a tacky device, and something you end up potentially regretting if you change your mind. But in essence, as I understand it, this'll be the last time we play here."
King Crimson's current septet format -- now including founder and leader Robert Fripp, longtime members Tony Levin (bass and Chapman stick) and Mel Collins (saxophone), and drummers Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacey -- has been touring since 2014.
This incarnation of the group has not recorded any studio albums but is represented on a number of live sets from Toronto, Chicago, Vienna, Mexico City and other locales. Jakszyk, who was part of the Crimson adjunct 21st Century Schizoid Band prior to joining in 2013, admits he's surprised by how long the group has lasted.
"When we started we thought, 'Oh, maybe one tour,' but Robert seemed to be enjoying himself, so it just kept going," he explains. Pandemic-related circumstances, Jakszyk added, are also conspiring against Crimson right now.
"Touring anywhere next year will be difficult," he says. "All the bands that haven't toured last year or this year will be out next, so there's no venues. They're all kind of booked up already. That means the first available chance will be the year after (2023). I think Tony and Robert will be 77. I'm not sure they want to be on a tour bus for hours on end. Touring the way we do is tiring for a young man, much less people our age."
Crimson's North American tour started July 22 in Clearwater, Fla., and wraps up Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C., while the six-date Japanese run begins Nov. 27 in Tokyo. Though this lineup's live life is coming to an end there will still be music for fans to consume; Jakszyk says he's recently mixed tapes from the group's 2019 Rock in Rio performance, as well as a theater show, sans audience, filmed and recorded in London for the upcoming Toby Amies-directed documentary Cosmic FuKc.
New music is not beyond the realm of possibility either, according to Jakszyk. "There is about 40 to 50 minutes' worth of new stuff, a number of songs I've co-written with Robert and some instrumental things he's written," the guitarist reports. "During the lockdown Gavin suggested, 'Why don't we record these things so we've at least got studio recordings of this material?' That doesn't mean we're going to make a new album or it's ever gonna come out, but we have started this process."
Jakszyk, meanwhile, released a solo album, Secrets & Lies, last year and says his record label, InsideOut Music, has signed on for two more.