RPWL (June 2004)

RPWL Take Stock

RPWL on South Street (courtesy RWPL)At the inaugural ROSfest in Phoenixville, PA, ProgressiveWorld.net was lucky enough to interview both of the headline acts - Jadis and RPWL. This was an unusual interview in that all five RPWL members were present. So as ProgressiveWorld.net's Duncan Glenday asked questions, the conversation flowed so quickly that it was impossible to attribute the responses to the individual band members. Most questions were answered by Yogi Lang, vocalist, but the others chimed in with comments and - more often - with humorous quips! The interview was held in a dusty store room, behind the theater's old projection room, while sitting on old plastic chairs and wooden packing crates. But the band was friendly and forthcoming, and the conversation was peppered with humor and friendly ribbing all round.

Duncan Glenday: Are you familiar with ProgressiveWorld.Net?

RPWL: Yes, we are.

DG: For those readers who aren't yet familiar with RPWL, could you give us a brief introduction to the band?

RPWL: Well - [points] Manfred Mueller plays drums and joined the band a little while ago.

DG: Okay - so you're not an 'R' or a 'P' or a 'W' or an 'L'? [Laughter] You guys are going to have to rename yourselves 'The Alphabet Soups'!

RPWL: [Laughs] That's a novel idea for merchandising - Alphabet Soup! This is Karl [Wallner], who plays guitars, and I'm Yogi, and I'm the 'L' of RPWL. And this is Steven [Ebner]. He's a little bit shy [Laughs] 'cause he can't speak good English. He plays bass.

I'm Andreas [Wernthaler], the keyboard player, and I joined the band four years ago.

DG: Four years ago? How long have you folks been around? I mean you went through a few incarnations before RPWL, didn't you? Starting as a Pink Floyd cover band, is that correct? Then you had another name?

Violet District - Terminal BreathRPWL: Yeah - the story starts a bit earlier in 1991 when I produced the Violet District record. And after that record I didn't see Karl for about 5 years, and when we met we discussed making music together, and that was the point when RPWL was born and where the Pink Floyd cover band began. Because we didn't have time to practice, the only thing we could all play together was old Pink Floyd songs - although we didn't play them as Floyd did. And - yeah - it developed. We started to play parties and so on, and we started doing our own songs, and then it went the way that I think is quite usual. We didn't know that someone had recorded us at a live concert, and he called us and said let's make a record. That got RPWL into a state that we didn't expect, and it was when we made RPWL - God Has FailedGod Has Failed. Then the next record was Trying To Kiss The Sun, which was when Wernie (Andreas Wernthaler) joined the band because I was also playing keyboards, which didn't work well in a live concert. So - here we are!

DG: Regarding your Pink Floyd background. Does that come through in your music very much? I don't hear it as much as some people seem to.

PRWL - Trying To Kiss The SunRPWL: You know, I never understood what they really mean by comparing us to them. For me Pink Floyd music brings a big amount of emotions into the music - directly. Not with a lot of breaks or solos and things, but straight through the music to you - and this is what I grew up with. Maybe that is what we took with us.

DG: So aside from Floyd, what other bands would you say influenced you guys?

RPWL: Oh - Led Zeppelin, The Who, Genesis. [All agree ] Yeah - Genesis.

DG: Your first album was when - 2000? And Trying To Kiss The Sun was in 2002?


RPWL - StockDG: And Stock - as I understand it, the name meant that you had these songs in stock, sitting in the can, but they weren't good enough to make the first 2 albums, so you made the third album. That story would lead people to believe that the third album wasn't that great.

RPWL: No - and this was a point we discussed with the record company at that time. It wasn't that those songs weren't good enough. It was just that they didn't fit in with the concept of the albums. For example a song like "The Gentle Art Of Swimming" - we had the song written and we'd recorded a demo version, but somehow it didn't fit with the first albums. So we took those songs, we worked on the songs and they developed into something new and finally developed into their own record.

DG: So you actually re-recorded those songs, from scratch?

RPWL: It was mixed. Some songs were only remixed, some we had to re-record because they were only demo versions with a drum-computer and a few guitar lines. So those were re-recorded. Somehow it came together as if the whole thing had been planned, yet it wasn't planned.

DG: Well I like Stock better than the first 2 albums. Would you agree with that? Which is your favorite album?

RPWL: That's very hard. I think Trying To Kiss The Sun is the most emotional one, because it was a very emotional time for me. So I like it the most because there's a lot of heart in it. But Stock developed into something special because of what we did live, and the whole life we had together when we did the tour, that all came into the Stock recording. Our shows were quadraphonic, and we always had to translate that into stereo, so with Stock we had the possibility to make it like a live concert. I understand why you say you like it the most. There's something in that recording that we didn't plan, which was quite exciting. But Trying To Kiss The Sun is more emotional, with songs like "Side By Side" or "Waiting For A Smile."

DG: Which leads to a burning question. You released a record with all original stuff in 2000, and another one in 2002, over two years ago, and Stock was essentially a rework of older material. So, are you guys on a creative hiatus right now, or is something going on behind the scenes?

RPWL: You know, songwriting never stops! But it was important to draw a line and say - let's have a look at what we've done, and then we'll go to something different. Something completely new. And we're recording right now!

DG: So there's a new CD in the works! When will it come out?

RPWL: Yes - I think we'll be finished in one or two months, and it could be out in August or September.

RPWL at ROSfest 2004DG: That's something to look forward to! On to this show - how long do you guys rehearse before a show like this?

RPWL: It's a bit different when you rehearse for a tour, because you have to rehearse all the old songs as well. But we recently finished our Stock tour, and we're in the studio at the moment, and we also rehearsed for a small concert we're doing next week, so we're very close together and it came together very quickly.

DG: And how will you warm up before you go on tonight?

RPWL: Well we don't know yet! We hope there won't be any problems with the sound checks, and what's interesting for us is that a lot of the equipment we're using is borrowed, so we don't know how - or if - everything works on the stage.

DG: So your warm-up is ... does everything work!

RPWL: [Laughter] Yeah - it will be very exciting! This time it would have been very difficult to take all our own equipment with us. We're used to our equipment, but today everything is new - the keyboards, and so on. We only brought the small things with us - guitars, bass ... the rest is new to us.

DG: Which song is the most difficult to play on stage?

RWPL at ROSfest 2004RPWL: Perhaps "The Gentle Art Of Swimming," where we have to co-ordinate the sound effects.

DG: Okay - then which song to you enjoy playing the most?

RPWL: "The Gentle Art Of Swimming"! [Laughter] And "Side By Side."

DG: With your recording, the tours and so on - how much time do you guys spend together?

RPWL: This varies of course. When we're recording, of course we're very close together for a long time, but it can happen that after recording we split up because I just can't see these guys anymore [Laughter] Yeah, there are breaks, then we just write letters to each other! [Laughter]

DG: And the letter says "Wish You Were Here"!

RPWL: [Laughter] Yeah - you can't get away from Pink Floyd!

DG: Are you guys full time musicians, or do you have day jobs?

RPWL: [Points to each person] Full-time, full-time, full-time, part-time, [points to Stephan] quarter-time, so he has the most money! [Laughs] Yeah - he puts the money in the band, and we just relax and play music!

DG: Are any of you involved in side projects?

RPWL: Andreas I have another band - a local band that you won't know. It's hard core. But no one else is involved in what you'd call a prog band. The whole heart is in RPWL.

RWPL at ROSFest 2004DG: Who writes the songs in RPWL?

RPWL: It depends on the song. We all come up with ideas, and work on the ideas and see what direction they go. And if it works fine, it's a song. And if it doesn't work out, we have it in stock! [Laughter]

DG: So it's a collaborative thing. And the lyrics?

RPWL: That's Yogi. It makes sense that the singer writes his own lyrics. I think it's difficult to sing the lyrics of another writer. Like Roger Daltrey had to sing the lyrics of Pete Townsend, and it didn't always work.

DG: So while you're trying ideas out - do you guys ever just jam together, and does that help song development?

RPWL: Yeah - making music is about opening your mind. And when you've got 5 open minds it can go in directions that you never thought of!

DG: It's always interesting to watch the various bands on stage. Some of them jam for as much as 60% of their set, yet with other bands not a note is out of place. Do you guys jam on stage? Do any of your sets evolve into a jam session?

RPWL at ROSfest 2004RPWL: There are a few parts, yeah. There are a lot of songs that are in synch, but there are songs where you can just give them a new direction if you want to.

DG: Some people may question the title of your first album. How do you defend the term God Has Failed if people take offense?

RPWL: Well - this was the time when my father died, and there are times like that when you ask what is the sense of your life, and you ask ... has God failed? I think people understand this when they lose a part of their life. I dealt with that question for a very long time, and the whole CD deals with that question. I think if you ask - what do we mean by the title, and you go through the CD, then I think it's clear what we mean.

DG: But it's God has failed, as a statement, rather than has God failed, as a question.

RPWL: At that time that was what I felt.

DG: On to a different topic for a minute - God Has Failed, Trying To Kiss The Sun - I'm looking for themes here. Is there a concept album coming up? [RPWL shakes heads] Is that not something you'd like to try?

RPWL: No, because the concept of the albums were certain emotions that came to the band, or certain lyrics that came to me at specific times, so they are sort of concept albums but not that they tell one story. It deals with one emotion, like with God Has Failed it deals with questions about yourself. I'm sure the next CD will deal with an emotion, but not a concept album.

DG: Do the European fans differ from one country to the next?

RPWL bandpic (courtesy RPWL)RPWL: Yeah! Oh yeah! It's a funny thing - for example in Poland, there's a very very warm welcome when we play there. And for example when you tour the Netherlands - I don't know why - I'm not into historical things really, but I don't know if they have something against Germany. [Turns to the others ] Do they? But they are very, very reserved. [Karlheinz: It was the soccer results] Aahh okay! [Laughter] That solves the problem! No, to be honest, when you play in Germany, the Germans are also very reserved. They are enthusiastic, but while you're playing it's a kind of police - a musical police [Laughs]. You can't get anything wrong or you get a penalty. [Laughs] Yeah - somehow you get the feeling the more wrong you play the more they like it! So we try to play everything wrong. [Laughter] And here in the States, for example, it's a very warm welcome. Really. And Poland is very warm - you can feel where you're playing! It's funny. But playing in America for the first time, what I felt yesterday when I saw Jadis' wonderful concert, people really brought them this warm mood, this warm atmosphere - and this is what we felt from the time we landed up till now. We're really looking forward to it.

Arhlene Glenday: So you apparently haven't been through the security at the our airports yet!

RPWL: No - this was funny, too - I had to show that I could play the tambourine! Yeah! It caused a jam on the security system at the airport. [Laughter]

DG: You said you have a small concert next week ... are any tours planned, though?

RPWL: We have some concerts scheduled in Europe in September. Nothing planned for the USA, yet. We have to concentrate on the new stuff, get the new record out, see how it works. So if there's something in the States it will be next year.

DG: Do you have any other messages for the fan base? I know you guys are quite popular over here, among parts of the prog community anyway.

RPWL: We want to thank everyone for this warm welcome, and we hope we can give something back with the concert.

DG: Well, guys, I want to thank you for your time, and I'm sure your set tonight will be a knockout! Can we get a few pictures?

At ROSFest 2004 (l to r): Stephan Ebner, Yogi Lang, Duncan and Arhlene Glenday, Karlheinz Wallner, Manfred Mueller, and Andreas Wernthaler
At ROSFest 2004 (l to r): Stephan Ebner, Yogi Lang, Duncan and Arhlene Glenday,
Karlheinz Wallner, Manfred Mueller, and Andreas Wernthaler

[All pictures, except where noted, © 2004 Duncan N Glenday]

God Has Failed (2000)
Trying To Kiss The Sun (2002)
Stock (2003)
World Through My Eyes (2005)
Live - Start The Fire (2005)
The RPWL Experience (2008) Gentle Art Of Music (2010) Beyond Man And Time (2012) A Show Beyond Man And Time (CD/DVD) (2013)
Wanted (2014)

The RPWL Live Experience (DVD) (2009)

Added: June 7th 2004
Interviewer: Duncan N Glenday

Artist website: www.rpwl.net
Hits: 1690
Language: english

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