September 11, 2000
by Vinny Gallo



King Crimson: Construkction Sukcs … Knox, Johnston: Tell-Tale Hearts

King Crimson: Construkction Sukcs

I bought with my own money–well, money I stole–my first Beatles album in 1967. The Beatles were the perfect band for a 5-year-old to get interested in rock music. By the way, I’ve always hated hippies, especially pot-smoking hippies. Marijuana and socialism were the evils of the 20th century.

In 1974, I bought with my own money–well, money I stole–my first King Crimson album. It was their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King, which had been released five years earlier. Almost 25 years later, I would use a track from that album, "Moonchild," in my masterpiece film, Buffalo 66. The song and the album are modern classics.

You know, in the 60’s and early 70’s people under 25 years old controlled only a small portion of the economy. They didn’t spend so much money on things that would be mostly insignificant in their lives. Bands could sell only 100,000 copies of an album and have major impact worldwide. By impact, I mean that because a band or person or thing existed, the world changed in a real way–in a way that enabled people to move forward in their language and ideas. Ronald Reagan had great impact. So did King Crimson.

When I started listening to King Crimson and some of the better progressive rock bands then, it really felt like the ideas, sensibilities, aesthetics and certainly the music were complex and new and had a real relationship with the most interesting younger people of the time.

Certainly all the work that I’ve done in my life was affected by my experience with music at that time, in a real way. I’m sure Robert Fripp, the rest of the guys in King Crimson, and the members of Yes and, certainly, Genesis had idolized several heroes from their childhood. It doesn’t matter who those heroes were, because these groups were able to transcend their influences, even their ideas about being in a rock band.

That doesn’t happen so much anymore. When a dwarf rich kid from Nashville like Harmony Korrine flies first class and moves to a plush, safe apartment in Soho, then runs around town quoting Godard with lines like "Fuck the bourgeois," it’s insincere, it’s calculated, it’s unoriginal and it’s–the worst thing in the world–trendy. He already knows that he and his boring girlfriend Connecticut Chloë Sevigny are going to be on the cover of The Face. He knows he’ll get his run at the Angelika and be hip in Japan. But no one will ever make an important film because they saw Gummo or Julien Donkey Boy.

Where do records go now? Who buys them? And why do they buy them? Do they listen to them? The whole thing? Or just the song on the radio? And why don’t they listen to them anymore? Don’t they love their CD’s? Man, when I hitchhiked from Buffalo to New York when I was 16 years old, I didn’t bring any food or clothes, I didn’t bring my football trophies or a pair of my girlfriend’s underpants. Instead, I dragged 700 record albums in wooden milk crates. You try hitchhiking with 700 record albums, and then you tell me what bands you love.

People do a lot of shopping today. Shopping to shop, shop shopping, shopping shop, shippity-shop shopping. I had a storefront on Elizabeth Street one time, for one month. As a conceptual joke I put some items in the window for sale: a one-legged pair of jeans, an empty Evian bottle, a box of dirt, a rotten banana and an unused, but unwrapped, condom. Everything sold.

The new King Crimson album, The Construkction of Light (Virgin), will not have real impact. It will not change a thing. It is not a move forward in art or music. It’s not a classic and it’s certainly not trendy or contemporary. The closest thing would be the song "Into the Frying Pan," which sounds like a radio song–from five years ago.

The rest of the record is not worth writing about. It’s clear that Mr. Fripp and his bandmates are out of touch. It has nothing to do with age. Mr. Fripp probably doesn’t spend a lot of time listening to new records, or seeing new bands, or making himself available to younger people with more modern ideas. You know, in the 20 years I’ve been hanging out in New York and in London, I’ve never seen Robert Fripp anywhere. Doesn’t he see bands? Doesn’t he go out? Success, money and people telling him for so many years what a genius he is have disabled him. He’s a disabled veteran. Construkction of Light is a release by a band of disabled veterans. The only problem is, the war isn’t over.

–Vincent Gallo