Living Colour is 'Re-Thinking Blues and Its Relationship To Metal'
Bill Bernstein

Living Colour is "definitely working towards making another record this year" to follow up 2009's "The Chair in the Doorway," according to guitarist Vernon Reid. And the quartet already has an idea what its "next statement" is going to be.

"We're re-thinking blues and its relationship to metal," Reid tells Billboard.com, explaining that the inspiration came from playing a Robert Johnson centennial celebration concert during April at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. "It was a really electric moment. It was a special moment, and Corey [Glover, Living Colour's frontman] just killed it. I'm still thinking about that and where it all fits into what we do."

It helps, Reid adds, that "as a society, we are in a very blue moment, so that's music that speaks to where we are as a people now. And in spite of our gadgets, the blues will always be with us. The blues is kind of like The Force in 'Star Wars,' kind of like 'may the blues be with you.' It's an emergent idea, but it's pretty exciting. There's a really good feeling about what we're gonna do next." But, he adds, "it's not going to be a retro thing. We play loud. There's an energy there. We'll stay true to that but then incorporate that (blues) feeling into it."

That next Living Colour project is part of a full plate for Reid, who was part of an early summer tour with Spectrum Road, the all-star group that pays homage to the late Tony Williams' Lifetime and also features bassist Jack Bruce, keyboardist John Medeski and drummer Cindy Blackman Santana. The quartet released its first album in June and wrapped up its longest-ever tour on July 8 at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, but Reid expects Spectrum Road, which included two originals on the album, will return to the studio and remain a going concern.

"It really has a band feeling," he says. "That it just emerged out of the thing we were doing to celebrate (Lifetime) really says a lot about what's possible. There's something about the four of us that has the spirit of Lifetime but isn't Lifetime -- like the spirit of the law but not the letter of the law. You can nurture it or you can also kill it, so we won't do anything that doesn't feel right."

Reid has also been busy with film scores, including the documentaries "Free Angela Davis" and "As Goes Janesville," the latter about the recent Wisconsin gubenatorial recall campaign, as well as the photography study "Through a Lens Darkly." Reid is also getting to produce the next James Blood Ulmer album and continues to develop his experimental multi-media theater piece "Artificial Africa," which debuted in February in Manhattan.

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