Welcome to Prognaut.com, Kalle Wallner, (lead guitar). Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to talk with us about RPWL’s new double album The Gentle Art of Music.
Prognaut.com – I just finished my review of the album and it is a great retrospective with revisions to celebrate your first ten years as a band. You have really captured the power of your best songs, showing your development over the years. Was that the idea behind this album?
Kalle Wallner – Thank you! We wanted to put together something special for the band’s tenth anniversary. We tried to choose two songs from every album. This gives our true fans and new ones a chance to see what’s happened over the years. We didn’t want just a best of album. We wanted to rearrange our songs in an acoustic way, breaking the songs down to the simple core elements. We added some violins, Indian instruments, female harmonies, and additional live instruments, no sampling. Manu Delago plays his hang drums on World Through My Eyes. Tom Norris and the London Symphonic Orchestra brought strings and arrangements which added to the sound.
Prognaut.com – So please tell us a little about the evolution of RPWL from a Pink Floyd cover band to the prog rock stars of today.
Kalle Wallner – Well we all got together and jammed around on some songs of Pink Floyd, just for fun. Soon, we began composing our own songs, everyone making music just for fun. I was working as a session guitarist on other artist’s projects. I met Yogi who was in a band Violet District, which reminds me that his band is finally releasing their first vinyl album in February, 20 years after the original release. Interesting to release a vinyl album 20 years after the CD came out.
Then we wrote our first songs and finally pulled together our first album God Has Failed in 1999. We didn’t release the album until 2000, as we were searching for a label to release the album. But it was a natural writing progression for us after jamming on Floyd for so long. The band name came from the initials of original lineup.
Prognaut.com – Speaking of Pink Floyd, did you hear about Roger Waters and David Gilmour getting together recently for a benefit? What is your feeling about the reunion?
Kalle Wallner – I like the idea of Waters and Gilmour working together, but without Wright it is hard to imagine a comeback.
Prognaut.com – “Hole in the Sky” sounds very Pink Floyd. It almost sounds like David Gilmour wrote it. What movie clip is playing on the opening?
Kalle Wallner – I can’t remember which movie is in the intro. But I do remember working together in a small rehearsal room with a few chord rhythm patterns. I played this peaking style and created the whole arrangement in a few hours. I was so excited, I took the copy I recorded on a cassette and took it out to the car with Yogi, who was working as producer at that time. He and I just sat there listening to the tape and we knew we had something to build on. Yogi wrote the lyrics and hook lines for vocals and we felt it was a very special song. But I’ll never forget that first listen in the car on the car cassette player.
Prognaut.com – “Crazy Lane” is an incredible single that any band would be proud of creating. Where did the inspiration come for this song?
Kalle Wallner – That was a combination of Chris, Yogi and I. It began with a few chords and acoustic guitar. It only took two weeks time to write the song in my rehearsal room. Yogi and Chris helped start that journey. I didn’t really write it to be a single.
Prognaut.com – The sitar sound on “I Don’t Know” is fantastic. What inspired you to include it on this piece?
Kalle Wallner – That was funny, because it was new for me. I had an idea for the ribbing of the song. The sitar - like sounds bring something special to the song. It brings back the sound of the past.
Prognaut.com – It sounds, from the tracks on this double disc, like the album Stock was a real turning point in the sound for RPWL. What prompted the change?
Kalle Wallner – Yes it was a special album. It came before the 4th studio album. We tried to realize all the things we had missed on the first three albums and wanted to add to our sound now that we had added more to our studio. It was recorded in surround sound. The first two albums were a rougher mix. There was more production on the Stock album. We had new experiences and more tools to work with in the studio. The first album had been recorded on a tape machine. The second album used more Pro Tools, and the third album bigger Pro Tools. So for the fourth album we wanted to use the full dynamics of a professional studio.
Prognaut.com – The collaboration with Ray Wilson on “Roses” is excellent. Any future plans for more Ray Wilson or other collaborations in the future?
Kalle Wallner – I wrote “Roses” for the second album. I was not happy with our version at that time. I tried to do it again during World Through My Eyes, but we couldn’t get the right vocal mix. Ray happened to be playing in Munich, and Yogi said “‘Roses’ would be perfect for Ray”. So we tried to ask him after the concert if he’d be interested in singing the song. Ray and RPWL were both on the same record label. However, we knew Ray normally does not sing on any other albums. But we were surprised to get a call three days later, directly from Ray, and he said he would do it. Later he performed it with us at some of the European shows and festivals we did together.
It’s not as easy for Ray to get together. He is very busy. Ray lives in Poland. He did join us for some gigs in Poland, and sang ‘Roses’ with us.
Prognaut.com – I interviewed Sylvan last year on Prognaut.com for the release of their new album at the time. Two great German bands. Do you guys have any plans to collaborate on a project some day?
Kalle Wallner – Sebastian Harnack, Sylvan‘s bass player, played on my solo album. It would be good to tour with them sometime. We are good friends. We’ll see.
Prognaut.com – “Moonflower” is an interesting inclusion on the album. Very different sound for RPWL. What was the inspiration for the song?
Kalle Wallner – It was originally released on the Stock album as a ghost track in 2003. The inspiration came from one of the final days of mixing the album. It was a spring day and we had worked hard all day. The windows were open and it was just a perfect day. We were very, very tired and we just played the song. It was never planned. The analog guitar was finished at the same time as the lyrics. The record label didn’t like the song because it didn’t fit with our sound, so we released it as a ghost track.
Prognaut.com – Who is the female singer?
Kalle Wallner – I don’t remember now. She was a local jazz singer. She was perfect because she had a very girlie voice.
Prognaut.com – “Breathe In, Breathe Out” is another favorite of mine and a good pop song. I’m surprised some of these pop songs do not get more air play here in the US. Do they get allot of play in Germany?
Kalle Wallner – Unfortunately, not really. It is very hard to get prog airplay, even in Germany. There are two or three big radio stations for the whole country and they decide what gets played.
Prognaut.com – “World Through My Eyes“, the song, seems to have allot of Peter Gabriel influences. What would you say were your influences?
Kalle Wallner – Not directly for this song, though Peter Gabriel is a main influence of the band. He is innovative.
We also recorded this album in surround 5.1. The song is also on the Start the Fire live album. We wanted to record it this time in a much more original way. We wanted to bring it back to the simple arrangement, and add some psychedelic elements from India.
Prognaut.com – Why did you not include “Masters of War” on the Gentle Art of Music?
Kalle Wallner – This is a cover song from Bob Dylan. We wanted the Gentle Art of Music to only include our own original music. We will play it on tour. We all like the song very much.
Prognaut.com – What part of the world influences you the most?
Kalle Wallner – That’s not easy to say. There are so many influences. Every part of the world influences me. For Yogi I think India and Indian styles of music. Religion, spirituality.
Prognaut.com – Any plans to tour the USA?
Kalle Wallner – It’s not so easy for European bands to come to America. We will be at CalProg on October 2nd, 2010. We need more time to prepare for next year with some additional festivals and shows.
Prognaut.com – What’s next for RPWL?
Kalle Wallner – We have some shows scheduled in Europe in the Netherlands and Belgium. We have started writing new songs. We know this next album will be very important for our careers since it represents the first album of our second decade together. We will need more time. We are optimistic to finish in maybe December/January, and have the album ready by maybe early summer or autumn of 2011. Yogi is busy working on his solo album, No Decoder, which he plans to release in November. He has some great special guests on the album including, Manni Muller, RPWL’s former drummer and Guy Pratt, bassist with Pink Floyd.
Prognaut.com – Do you have a name for the new RPWL album yet?
Kalle Wallner – Not yet.
Prognaut.com – Is there anything that you haven’t been asked yet that you would like to cover in this interview?
Kalle Wallner – I can’t stop saying thank you to all of our friends and fans. There are too many people to thank. Thank you everyone for ten fantastic years! Looking forward to ten more fantastic years!
Thank you very much for your time. We hope the album sells by the bucket loads. I hope to see you live if and when you make it to Portland, Oregon. Thanks from all of us at Prognaut.com.
Interviewed by Prof on August 6th, 2010