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Progressive Rock Interviews

RPWL

Interviewed by Josh Turner
Interview with Kalle Wallner of RPWL from 2007
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Do you have any tours or concerts lined up at the moment?
Kalle Wallner: We had a small tour through Europe in May. In September we played some gigs in UK. At the moment there is a break for Blind Ego due to the recordings of the forthcoming RPWL album.
MSJ: Many festivals are popping up these days. Do you see yourself at one of them in the near future?
Kalle Wallner: Yes, RoSfest is coming up next. I’m really looking forward to go back there. We played the 1st RoSfest with RPWL and enjoyed it a lot!
MSJ: Let's talk about the new album, Mirror, the topics seem to revolve around obsession, sadness, and despair. Why is that, and whose story are you trying to tell?
Kalle Wallner: The last years were very formative ones for me. I had lots of trouble, and lots of up and downs. So it came very naturally that the lyrics of my songs have a biographic background. Not in every detail, but the basic ideas are something that definitely happened in my life. I tried to describe these emotions. So you could say I tried to wash my soul by writing these songs. I looked into my personal mirror. That’s why I chose this song as a title track, because this song is like a summary for all the other songs.
MSJ: How did you come up with the name of your band, Blind Ego?
Kalle Wallner: RPWL was, is and will be my No.1 band. So I did this side project just for my “ego.” But it’s quite different to write alone or together with a band because you don’t have to make any compromises. But certainly you miss other influences and so a solo project has many advantages and disadvantages. This is what “blind” means.
MSJ: In general, tell me about any "significant" influences that we haven't already covered.
Kalle Wallner: Lots of metal stuff - I grew up in the eighties with Metallica, Iron Maiden, and all of those heavy metal bands. And I still like the rock sound in any kind. My favorite bands at this moment are Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine and Tool. But I also like Radiohead, Muse or Incubus, for example.
MSJ: To change gears, let's discuss your songwriting… Do you write the lyrics or the melodies first? It’s hard for me to make an educated guess as your songs are extremely melodic. Alternatively, the lyrics always seem to tell a story that’s near and dear to its writer. My best guess would require me to flip a coin.
Kalle Wallner: This was the biggest difference to RPWL. With RPWL, I’m used to just come up with an idea, a lick or a riff and we’d complete the songs together with the band. For my own songs, I basically started with some riffs or chords too, but the second step was doing the hook line and some lyrics. After that, I’ve been arranging the whole songs.
MSJ: Can you explain your songwriting process in further detail? Like who writes what, where might you get assistance, and is the trial-and-error done strictly on paper, in your head, with a piano, or with the guitar?
Kalle Wallner: I’m working as an arranger too, so I’m used to working with the computer to finish demo versions of the songs with all instruments, guide vocals and programmed drums. And I used these demo tracks as a basis for the productions of Mirror as well.
MSJ: Any idea what else we can expect from the studio, either with solo work, Blind Ego, or RPWL?
Kalle Wallner: First of all we’re happy that we got such a fabulous feedback to our special and limited RPWL-album “9” which was released in September and which is only available in our online shop. The next step will be the forthcoming RPWL album. We already began with the recording. All songs are finally composed, so I think we will release at the end of February. A Europe tour will follow in April, and some festivals might come as well. RoSfest in the USA is already confirmed for RPWL and Blind Ego. After that, I will produce the forthcoming Blind Ego album. I already wrote a couple of songs for it, and I’m looking forward to it!
MSJ: Any plans in the works for live albums or DVD’s?
Kalle Wallner: I guess it’s too early for a live album. But generally I like live albums and live DVD’s. So I hope I may realize one of them in the future. Maybe after the second studio album.
MSJ: Are you in any other projects these days aside from what's been mentioned?
Kalle Wallner: I’m working as a session and live guitarist for others projects too. And with our company Farmlands, we have two studios: our own label and our own booking agency as well. So I’m busy all the time. I’m working as a producer and an arranger as well with the band Hidden Timbre. They also released their debut album on our label Red Farm Records.
MSJ: Had you ever considered playing a different instrument or pursuing a different career?
Kalle Wallner: Other instruments? I learned violin at school, but I was not very motivated. The guitar is more than enough for one man’s life.
MSJ: Going back to the beginning, how did you get involved in music?
Kalle Wallner: I was in a kind of musical kindergarten at the age of 5, started guitar lesson at 8, and violin at 11. But no one of my family was a musician. It always was a wish of my own. As a kid, I always listened to any styles of music. But the more I liked the guitar, the more I got into this rock thing.
MSJ: When did you decide you wanted to become a guitarist and join a band?
Kalle Wallner: I started playing in my first band at the age of 11, when I got my first electric guitar. Then I played lots of local bands until I recorded my first CD with Violet District in 1992. It was always my dream to become a musician, but at this time I decided to do it. I also studied guitar for a couple of years and did many different projects and bands.
MSJ: I wanted to touch upon the others who contributed to the album. How do you know these musicians and how did each one of them get involved in the project? I recall that you have all played at RoSfest in various bands. Is that the link or have you known each other further back?
Kalle Wallner: It’s different. I met John Jowitt the very first time at the RoSfest. We had a good time there. John is a very good bass player and a great guy! Playing a festival in Germany in 2005, I told him about my plans of starting a side project and asked him if he liked to play the bass. John gave me the link to Paul Wrightson. I listened to the Arena album, The Visitor, for the very first time and imagined Paul would be the perfect singer for some songs. I met John Mitchell at a festival too. And I knew that he loved the RPWL-song “Roses,” so I thought my chances would be good to make him join Blind Ego. I never listened to Kino or other projects of John, but as I heard a song of The Urbane; I was enthusiastic of his voice and was sure that he would be the right singer for the rest of the songs. The drummer is a guy from Munich. I’ve known Tommy Eberhardt for many years - definitively one of the best German drummers!
MSJ: Speaking of RoSfest, how did you land that gig as headliner for its inaugural year?
Kalle Wallner: George wrote an email and asked us. [laughter] Seriously, I don’t know exactly, but I remember being very happy when our booking agency came up with that news. And I know that Kenny told us that he ordered some RPWL-live-cds via internet to get an impression of how RPWL sounds live. The funny thing is that we hadn’t released an official live-CD at all.
MSJ: That is funny… Back to the album, I’m curious about the artwork and upside-down font. Who was responsible for this graphical design? Also, what's the meaning and the motivation behind the artwork? I see a face trying to free itself from some sort of orange, elastic barrier.
Kalle Wallner: Stefan Wittmann is a very good friend of mine who already designed the RPWL artwork as well. He came up with the idea of making a picture of my face behind this latex sheet. An amazing picture, and it fits perfect to the idea of Blind Ego. You can see how I’m trying to free myself.
MSJ: On another less serious note, can you tell me about a Spinal Tap moment that you may have experienced in your career? This would be some practical joke, mishap, or just something out of the ordinary that occurred in concert, on the road, or in the studio.
Kalle Wallner: I remember a very big German festival that we played with RPWL in 2001 called “Burg Herzbergfestival”. Around 20000 people were on this festival area. At least at that time, it had the flavor of a hippie-festival. We were scheduled at 11pm, but they were so late that we started at 4 am next morning! We started performing in darkness and finished our last song “Farewell” at sunrise. Instead of a crowd of 20,000, there were just 300 in the audience. But I’m sure all of us, band and fans, won’t forget that concert!
MSJ: That’s too bad. I’m sure a lot of them would have wanted to stay and that it wasn’t anything against the band. Maybe you’ve already answered the question, but what's the worst part about being a musician?
Kalle Wallner: Lost all my girlfriends and my wife
MSJ: I'd like to find out about your current musical tastes… What's the last CD that you purchased?
Kalle Wallner: Foo Fighters' Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
MSJ: Along the same lines, what's the last concert that you attended as a fan?
Kalle Wallner: Incubus, 2007 in Munich.
MSJ: Is there any CD or tape for that matter that you've worn out?
Kalle Wallner: Radiohead, OK Computer.
MSJ: Who is your all-time favorite band?
Kalle Wallner: Metallica
MSJ: Let's talk about some favorites that aren't necessarily related to music… What is your favorite movie?
Kalle Wallner: 2001: A Space Odyssey
MSJ: What is your favorite TV show?
Kalle Wallner: House
MSJ: Do you have a favorite book?
Kalle Wallner: Anything of Franz Kafka.
MSJ: Are you a sports fan and if so, who is your favorite teams?
Kalle Wallner: Football [ed: for all the Americans reading this, by this, he means soccer], FC Bayern München.
MSJ: Before we wrap up, is there anything you'd like to say to your fans at this time?
Kalle Wallner: I remember that when we played the first time at RoSfest, I was really surprised about the warm welcome and the very friendly people, like a big family. It was such a pleasure to play there. Many of them wrote emails and we are still in contact. So I’m looking forward to meeting many of them again! I’m very proud having the invitation to come back - not only with RPWL - but with my own project, Blind Ego, as well.
 
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