MEET THE BAND: Adrian Belew(guitars, vocals), Jordan Perlson (drums), Saul Zonana (keyboards, guitar and vocals) and Julie Slick (bass)
STILL REINVENTING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: The late Frank Zappa once famously declared, "Adrian Belew reinvented the guitar."Belew says the pronouncement means a lot to him, even if he's not sure it's entirely true. "That's a heavy mantle to have," says Belew, who's played with acts such as King Crimson and David Bowie over the course of his career. "I don't know if I reinvented the guitar, but I'm always reinventing what I do, period. I'm always designing new sounds and checking out new gear. Creativity is the whole reason I do all of this stuff. I'm not trying to be a rock star. Whether it's a new drum part or a guitar sound or a new song or whatever it may be, it's a good thing."
THE NEW QUARTET:For 13 years, Julie Slick has played bass with Belew, so she's not new to his reconfigured quartet, but the shift from a power trio to a quartet gives Belew more flexibility. "We imported a new drummer who lives in Nashville and another Nashville fellow named Saul Zonana, who has been our opening act and traveled with us," he says. "We finally got the bright idea to have him play in the band. He plays guitar and keyboards and sings. Some of the set is still a power trio."
A GOOD RUN WITH KING CRIMSON:Belew says he "cherishes" the time he spent with the prog rock act. He recorded several albums with the band and toured the world with it too. "The period in which the lyrics were written by me and the songs were co-written by me and [guitarist] Robert Fripp defined a certain era," he says. "The band was always considered dark and outside, and women might not have liked it, but I felt that as the frontman and singer that I should be the link between the audience and the band and show people that it was okay to like the band. That was the role I took on."
INFATUATED WITH ANIMALS:Belew has a handful of songs about animals and says he's loved animals since he was a kid. "I grew up with a fascination for elephants and rhinos and birds and fish, and everything else," he says. "At one point in my song-writing growth, I realized you could talk about those things metaphorically. You could talk about a rhino being the last one in the world and make it an emotion that human beings could understand and relate to. I also realized I could mimic the sounds and get good bird and animal sounds. It's a way of having my own corner of the universe that no one else seems too interested in."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: His latest album,Pop-Sided, finds Belew channeling his various influences. He wrote about 30 songs that he whittled down to the 11 that appear on the album. "Ten of them are pop songs," he says. "They're my kind of pop songs, which means they're a cross between the Beatles and King Crimson. The eleventh song is a beautiful guitar piece. It's one of those situations where I'm touring internationally so much, I just have a few weeks home here and there. I finally had a little time to carve out for the new record, so I'm really happy about that."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM:adrianbelew.net.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE him:Adrian Belew performs with Saul Zonana at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at the Beachland Ballroom.