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Robert Fripp Shares Honest Opinion on Kirk Hammett’s Guitar Skills, Explains How He Approached Covering Slipknot

King Crimson mastermind and guitar player Robert Fripp recently reflected on doing a variety of rock and metal covers with his wife Toyah. Speaking to Guitar World, Fripp discussed what all rock fans now know as the “Toyah & Robert’s Sunday Lunch Live!” series where they covered anything from old-school rock classics and going all the way up to bands like Slipknot.

When recalling how the idea came to be, Fripp offered:

“It all happened over lockdown. My wife was concerned I was going to vegetate. Here was a little 75-year-old man being very quiet. I was seizing the opportunity for reflection – reading and writing. I was not about to die of uselessness. She would see me sat there looking very still and think ‘Dear Frippy, we need to get you out doing something!’”

Toyah & Fripp: Swan Lake Sunday Lockdown Lunch.

“So it all began with her taking me to the edge of our garden, handing me a tutu, and saying, ‘Put it on and dance!’ That was the beginning. We would try odd things to have fun. The aim and intention, which my wife was very clear about, was to lift people’s spirits.”

“Here in Pershore, the fear was tangible. The only time we would see our neighbors would be on a Thursday night when we’d all go out onto the street to clap for the NHS and service providers. We’d look down the street and across the square to wave to the friends and neighbors we could no longer speak to in person.”

Toyah & Roberts Sunday Lunch - Hate To Say I Told You So (The Hives)

Fast forward to today and the two are out there on the road doing the “Sunday Lunch” thing in a completely different setting compared to those awful lockdown days. For more info on their live shows, visit Toyah’s website here.

One of the songs he and Toyah covered was Slipknot’s “Psychosocial.” Reminded of it, Fripp replied by sharing what he really likes about the song and the band:

“What I like about ‘Psychosocial’ and Slipknot is that the ethos of the band is closer to the ethos of bands in general. Which is essentially, the music comes first and the band comes first before the members themselves.”

Toyah & Robert's Sunday Lunch - Psychosocial

Comparing them to King Crimson in terms of how they work, Fripp offered:

“Not everyone I’ve worked with in King Crimson has been as committed to the band as they have been to their own solo career, which probably helps explain some of the personal difficulties people have had with Robert… that ‘terrible man’ who was unkind to them.”

Going back to the song, Fripp also went to explain that he kept it in the same key but didn’t tune down to these insanely low tunings that metal bands use:

“With respect to Jim Root and Mick Thomson, I didn’t tune down exactly like they did. But I did keep it in A.”

Toyah & Robert’s Sunday Lunch - Poison

Discussing the matter, he also added:

“Again, there’s something more sound in terms of pitch and resonance for me using A instead of B. Why? I can’t quite tell you, other than – within my nature – A essentially has greater resonance for me than B.”

Of course, another metal classic that they did for the “Sunday Lunch” series was Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” Reminded of this particular cover, Fripp replied:

“Toyah and myself have been aware of Metallica for quite a while, but I’d never learned a Metallica song before Sunday Lunch. We’re actually playing that song on the road because we love it so much.”

Toyah & Robert's - Sunday Lockdown Lunch - Enter The Sandman

As he further added, he’s into Metallica and sees Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield as one musician:

“I look at Kirk and James as one player — they’re joined at the hip for me! Again, I went into different versions from across their career. Nowadays it seems like they play it a couple of semitones down, which is entirely legitimate. Boy, can they really stomp this one live.

And Fripp knows about Kirk Hammett being a fan of King Crimson. But most importantly, he believes that Hammett is a “stunning player.” Robert concluded:

“I read somewhere a few years ago that Kirk had just discovered mine and Adrian Belew’s interchanging parts from ‘Discipline’ in 1981 and enjoyed them. That I don’t know, but what I do know is that Kirk is a stunning player.”

Toyah & Robert's - Sunday Lockdown Lunch - Enter The Sandman

“The solo on ‘Enter Sandman’ is a real hummer! I’ve been learning it and would say it’s quite challenging but lots of fun. It requires work to get it down properly. So yes, Metallica and ‘Enter Sandman’… I just love it!”

During the same interview, Robert Fripp also looked back on some of the more mainstream songs they did. When the interviewer reminded him of how Toyah and him did those, Fripp replied:

” love ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ by Lenny Kravitz. Him and Craig Ross sound amazing on that track. The solo is a defining classic!”

Toyah & Robert's Sunday Lunch Revisited - Are You Gonna Go My Way

“King Crimson toured with Lenny a long time ago – I think it was back in 1995 on some package. Toyah would join us on tour and we’d watch Lenny together, with Cindy Blackman on drums going ‘Bop, bop, bop!’ with total commitment.”

“It was incredible seeing Lenny with that band 28 years ago. But the version I ended up referencing was Lenny live in Hyde Park back in 2015 with Craig on guitar but a different drummer.”

Photos: Sean Coon (Robert Fripp), Carlos Rodríguez/Andes (Kirk Hammett 2016)

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.