Keith Levene, May 16, 2012
|Birth name||Julian Keith Levene|
18 July 1957|
Muswell Hill, London, England
|Genres||Post-punk, experimental rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Composer record producer|
|Instruments||Guitar, bass, drums, piano, synthesizer, keyboards, violin, cello, double bass, harmonica|
|Associated acts||The Clash, The Flowers of Romance, Public Image Ltd, Cowboys International|
Levene was an early fan of progressive rock - at fifteen he worked as a roadie for Yes on their Close to the Edge tour. In 1976, he became a founding member of The Clash and The Flowers of Romance. Levene was responsible for helping to persuade Joe Strummer to leave the 101ers and join the Clash. Although he left The Clash before they began recording, he co-wrote "What's My Name", featured on their first album. Levene wrote the music at the Black Swan club when the Clash and Sex Pistols performed there in July 1976; on the same night, Levene suggested to Lydon that they consider a possible future collaboration.
After the Sex Pistols disintegrated, Levene and Lydon co-founded Public Image Ltd (PiL). Levene's guitar work was later imitated by others, including The Edge of U2. Levene was one of the first guitarists to use metallic guitars, such as the Travis Bean Wedge and Artist as well as the Veleno, the latter of which was nicknamed the "Leveno" in his honour. He was involved in the writing, performing and producing of PiL's early albums: First Issue, Metal Box and Flowers of Romance.
Levene left PiL in 1983 over creative differences concerning what would eventually become the band's fourth album, This Is What You Want... This Is What You Get. In 1984, he released the original versions of the songs on his own label under the title Commercial Zone which was the original working title of the album. In 1985 he moved to Los Angeles where he formed a company with his second wife, journalist Shelly da Cunha. In mid-1986, Levene was asked to produce demos for the album The Uplift Mofo Party Plan by the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Master Control in Burbank with engineers Steve Catania and Dan Nebenzal. Also in 1986, Levene worked together with DJ Matt Dike, experimenting with sampling techniques and hip-hop for Ice T and Tone Loc on their early recordings for Delicious. In 1989, he released his first solo release, Violent Opposition, on which members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed.
At an impromptu appearance at the Musicport Festival in Bridlington Spa on 24 October 2010, where they were joined by vocalist Nathan Maverick, Levene returned with former PiL bassist Jah Wobble. In 2011 Levene contributed to three tracks on the album Psychic Life, a collaboration between Wobble and Lonelady.
In early 2012, after some planned Japan gigs were cancelled because of visa issues, Levene and Wobble played various venues in England, Wales and Germany as Metal Box in Dub. This was followed by the release of a four-song EP, Yin & Yang.
In spring 2014, Levene went to Prague to record "Commercial Zone 2014", an album backed via a crowdsourcing campaign funding website at Indiegogo. The Commercial Zone 2014 project album, or CZ2014, was provided to the backers of the indiegogo crowdfunder.