At the mention of the name LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT, the hearts of many instrumental prog fans beat faster. This all-star band, recruited from members of Dream Theater (John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess), King Crimson (Tony Levin) and Transatlantic (Mike Portnoy), has stood since 1998 for musical high-performance sports and at the same time for melodies that remain in the memory for a long time. On the occasion of the release of their comeback album "Liquid Tension Experiment 3" we talked to bassist Tony Levin and keyboarder Jordan Rudess, who even in their advanced age - Levin is 74, Rudess still 64 - show many younger instrumental virtuosos where the hammer hangs
Tony Levin reports via Zoom from his sun-drenched music room in New York, offering a glimpse of his instrument collection, including an electric double bass he once used with Peter Gabriel. Concentrated and with a touch of irony, he answers the questions put to him, leaving no doubt that Liquid Tension Experiment is no mere project for him, but a real band. The band was apparently so inspired during the recording of "LTE 3" that a 55-minute bonus CD was created, containing a selection of the best jams. Levin is enthusiastic about the interpersonal chemistry that prevailed during the sessions and was also transferred to the pieces.
eclipsed: Liquid Tension Experiment briefly reunited back in 2008, but after Mike Portnoy's departure from Dream Theater in 2010, it didn't look like you guys would get back together. Was Mike's reconciliation with his former Dream Theater colleague John Petrucci the deciding factor for you to go back into the studio together?
Tony Levin: I don't really know anything about that. We did a great tour in 2008 and I met the guys occasionally in the following years. So I jammed with Mike on the Cruise To The Edge cruise and recorded two albums with Jordan Rudess. Then this past May, Jordan and Mike came up with the idea of recording a new album because a lengthy lockdown was looming. When they made this suggestion to John and I, we immediately said, "We really need to do this!" The only hurdle was that we had to record under safe conditions given Corona, but we found a solution for that. We then recorded the album within three weeks, and as soon as we plugged in, it sounded like Liquid Tension Experiment. That's what I like in a band: when it has its own character
eclipsed: Playing with Liquid Tension Experiment also means playing a lot of notes. How did you prepare for the sessions? Did you design special exercises for the bass and the Chapman Stick to be well prepared?
Levin: (laughs) I can't prepare at all, because I'm not quite in the same league as the others in terms of playing, and I couldn't practice that much to get to that point. I'm usually on the road all the time, but last year I was home from March to June - I recorded some stuff during that time, but I didn't play nearly as much as usual. Since you just mentioned the Chapman Stick: I've found that I can play faster on the Stick than I can on the bass, which is why I like to use it on fast riffs - like on the album opener "Hypersonic"
eclipsed: This is a track you guys put up on YouTube in advance, and right away on the first listen I was totally blown away.
Levin: Yeah, it's one of those tracks where we really let it rip. When it came to writing an opener on our first album, the other three were like, "Let's be crazy and play the opening riff as fast and long as we can." This time they said the same thing (laughs) - but the riff is even faster, even longer and even crazier!