new album starts with a very strong track in my opinion, “Silenced”.
It has all the ingredients that I have learned to love from
previous RPWL albums. An appealing melody, great arrangements and
a good balance between instrumental and vocal parts. Especially I
like the final part with the keyboard- and guitar solos. It is
also clear that the lyrics formulate a rather serious message.
Maybe you can explain a little bit deeper the intention with the
The main subject of the
album is social critisism. Silenced for example is a song about
those people who are just living to pay for our wealth. The thing
is that most of us are slaves to our habits and so we are used to
let people die in order to live our lifes. But I think that
repression is not the right answer to the problems we caused
during the last centuries. To think about those people is the
least we can do. It's a first step that leads us to a change. That
is what this song's about.
next track “Breath in, breath out” is a more relaxed ballad
that I think could be easier for the general public to digest (a
typical single). Is this something you think al lot of? I mean,
that you perhaps need these simpler tracks to not repel the
audience that could have a problem with more arranged and complex
songs? Or, do you just feel it natural to write these ballad-type
When we start doing an
album, we write songs without thinking about the finished product.
Focused on the message of the song we just let it flow. In fact
we've always felt comfortable with doing straight and easy songs.
But that's nothing that you have in mind while you're writing a
song. I think as an artist you can only do what you truely believe
number four “Masters of war” is a really great cover on an old
and well-known Bob Dylan song. For me, it is much better in your
version due to the dark atmosphere you create as a background to
the vocals. Really impressive. How did you get the idea to do the
cover and to do it in this particular way?
If you're able to add
some new aspect to the original, a cover-version of a song makes
real sense. We felt that the message of the song has become more
important in our modern world. The economic interests of global
players are more and more in the foreground when we talk about
troubled regions or wars. We wanted to play the song with the
emotions we feel when we talk about those "masters".
In the original version you got the feeling of cold anger at the
wars at that time. We tried to add more musical dramatic and depth
to the song, because the situation has become more complicated .
It was a great honour for us to play and record this song.
text is strong on “Masters of war” but is it really in line
with your own opinions? I mean, the song ends with some rather
remarkable statements about revenge towards those who are
responsible for the wars. Is this really a message that you
support? We can all see how revenge just creates hatred and new
revenge and so on (look at the Middle East example).
Sure it's a song about
the persons who should be held responsible for a war. It's really
complicated to talk about this subject, because the modern
"Masters of War" are sitting in the executive suites of
companies and brands. That's what we are talking about, not about
the spiral of violence. We did a song called " '48 " on
our album "9" , containing our thoughts about the "middle
east"-problem. Of course , if you look at this example, you
can see parts of our bloody western colonial history. It's quite
easy for us to look at this region and to talk about breaking
through the spiral of violence. I think you always have to keep in
mind that neither the soldiers, nor the terrorists are the
"Masters of War" that we are talking about. The revenge
that you mean is the revenge that is used by those, who are the
real "Masters". The hatred that you mean is the hatred
they created .
“Masters of war” follows then a very different track with the
quite funny title “This is not a prog song”. And the text is
funny too, indeed! I realise that you are sick and tired of all
the very negative press that you have got for your records
throughout the years. Written by people with lots of prejudice and
maybe even by people who never even listened to the albums. This
is common for bands playing music that does not follow the
mainstream track. I remember myself when I read a really bad
review of the marvellous “Wind and wuthering” album by
Genesis. I really got furious. But I wonder, what is the perfect
review of an album of yours that you would like to read? An
enthusiastic one written by a fan (like me) or a critical one from
a person not knowing much about your music? Maybe an impossible
question to answer but please try?
First of all we wanted
to make clear that we all should be able to laugh about ourselves
from time to time. You know, the prog scene seems to be so serious!
But of course it is strange when someone writes a review, who
never heard the album. My favorite one was that guy writing that
it was such a pity that especially on "Roses" my german
accent destroyed the whole song. If I had more time I'd have
talked to Ray about that problem.... But in fact, I took the
worst reviews I could find and sang them, that's it!
following track “Watch myself” is again a very relaxed and
nice song with some gorgeous mellotron sections in the last part
of it. But I am not sure if I understand the message here (if
there is one). Could you explain your thoughts here?
I remember I met a
friend and I had the feeling that he lived his life not
really being aware of all the wonderful things that surrounded him.
I think we all have times in our life when we are watching
ourselves being numb and passive. In the song this is the death of
a personality and a start of a new born self at the same time.
You're looking at your self as you had been, in peace.
track “Stranger” is another track with a text that again has
some serious anti-war meaning. At least the initial arrangement
makes you feel a bit unpleasant where you here the sound of a
Merry-Go-Round and then after a while mixed with machine-gun
sounds and attacking airplanes. What is it you want to describe?
Yes, you're right. The
merry-go-round is meant to be the innocence when we are born
into our world. But without fail it leads into being what we are:
human beings, unable to live our life in freedom and peace. In
this story there are two soldiers standing face to face in a war.
In the knowledge that they have to kill each other. One of them
suddenly understands that he doesn't know a thing about his so
called enemy: Does he have a family, does he love art or in what
does he believe? Of course after this moment of clarity he can't
shoot anymore and so he has to die. By the way, this is our big
chance in a globalised world: knowing more about other people,
having friends all over the world, all that makes it much more
difficult to hate the "unknown stranger"!
should also say that I really liked to here the inspirations from
Manfred Mann in the keyboard solo in the end of “Stranger”.
Have you listened much to Manfred Man before or did this occur
just by chance?
He was one of my big
heroes when I was young. I was not only a fan of the keyboarder,
but also of the producer. The way he works on cover-songs is
follows a very laid-back and quite track, “River”, although
with some more power at the end. I actually like it a lot and I
think it is one of the stronger tracks on the album. I really like
when you are able to create such an enormous feeling with only
your voice and a backing acoustic guitar. What came first – the
melody or the guitar works? I mean, did you and Kalle Wallner
create it together or was it an idea from one of you originally?
This is a wonderful
example how two ideas just fit perfectly together. I had the idea
to do a song about the constant river of time. Of course we are
part of this river, unable to see the way it goes. Reaching a new
level of consciousness means reaching the waterside, sitting there
and watching the source of our life coming from above,
understanding the heart of all creation. A very positive song by
must say that I am not totally happy with the instrumental
adventure in the middle that cuts “River” into two parts. I
actually think that it destroys the mood of the song and it is
kind of disturbing. Why did you include it? You have done similar
things in previous songs (like in “Side by side” on the
“Trying to kiss the sun” album)? Do you like this experimental
and improvised way of creating music? It reminds me of some of the
things Genesis did on their “Lamb lies down on Broadway” album
(I think the track was “In the cage”).
We wanted to create a
river. In the narrowness of our existence we are not able to reach
a goal without a way. So you have to join the river just like a
leap in the dark. The middle part of "river" is the way
that leads to the finishing part of the song, the last goal of our
life. Of course this way is mysterious and unexpected, without any
natural guidance! But, same as our life, this part is learning its
sense by reaching the end.
last track “Turn back the clock” is a nice end of the album
with great singing and arrangements (again some of that wonderful
mellotron stuff!). The title is a phrase that one often hears in a
positive way with the meaning that things were better “in the
good old days”. But I am not sure if that is what you wanted to
express or was it?
It's some kind of dream
to get the chance to do it all again and make it better. But at
the end I think this phrase is one of the most common excuses that
we use. If we could turn back the clock, there wouldn't have been
any soul spared. But again, I don't mean that in a negative way,
it's just the way we are.
this track there is somewhere in the middle a beautiful keyboard
solo followed by some guitars accompanied by mellotrons. It
reminded me from the first time I listened to it of some Swedish
folk music, a polska, which is still a popular kind of dance music
in some Swedish regions (Dalarna)! I wonder, was this just by
chance or where you really inspired by a polska here?
I don't think it was
inspired by folk music, at least I don't know, but I had the
chance to listen to the wonderful swedish band "Ritual"
that played traditional swedish instruments when we toured
together. That was really great to hear!
are a few tracks that I haven’t commented here and which I maybe
think are a bit weaker than the others. Maybe I wonder a bit why
you did not choose to include the absolutely marvellous final
track on the “9” album named “Another day”. Since “9”
was a limited edition album this was maybe not so wise, or was it?
We decided to do the
"9" Album because everyone worked on his solo album and
it was quite interesting to hear, how the band played this
individually composed songs. "Another Day" was a track
from Chris' still unreleased solo album.
is actually a much more evident link to Sweden than the possible
polska inspiration on this album and that is seen on the cover. I
guess that you are well aware of the fact that you have (mis-)used
the logo of the Swedish company IKEA on the cover. The only
difference is that it is now black and white (and not yellow and
blue) and the name IKEA is replaced by RPWL. Aren’t you afraid
that this could be felt a bit provocative? Or maybe it was
intentional? It would be interesting to hear how this idea came up
and developed? I know that you have expressed your criticism about
the use of brands and logos for companies and products as a kind
of replacement of religion on modern life. I guess there is a link
to this reasoning also in the design of the cover, isn’t there?
I don't know what was
first, kraft foods or ikea, but anyway, what we wanted to do was
just reducing the band to a brand or a logo. It's interesting how
much influence they have on us and our culture... driving that car,
wearing these sneakers, eating this or that... in these days we
define ourselves by such things.
The picture on the cover
shows today's most important spiritual guides: mass media and
talking about brands or logos, I cannot resist asking you about
the band name RPWL (I guess you are rather tired to hear this
again but….). Don’t you think that it actually is a problem
for you to have a band name that people doesn’t easily remember?
Have you seriously thought about changing it sometime? Or is it
too late to change now?
Then I think we have to
go back to the year 1997. We just came together to make live music.
In fact, there were several ideas, but at least somehow band names
always seemed to be boring. When our label said that we had to
have some name, because otherwise they wouldn't do the album, we
took the initial letters of our names. We started this thing
because we wanted to do what we love to do and that will never
change as long as we call the whole thing RPWL.
the really big strengths of RPWL in my view is that you are able
to write songs that are really beautiful and at the same time
deeply touching through meaningful lyrics. One personal favourite
is the final track “Home again” on “Trying to Kiss the sun”.
It really touched me deeply emotionally. The song is about what
happens in a relationship between a man and a woman when a child
appears in their life. This is not always easy and I guess every
couple can identify themselves with at least some problematic
aspects. I have myself a very special private interpretation of
that song and it is not always easy to listen to it. But I really
love it. Is there a personal experience that lies behind this
beautiful track, also superbly performed on the live sections of
the album “9”?
Yes, my second daughter
"Loumea Zoe". It was a very sad story because the
assurance that the decisions I made was bringing sorrow to another
one was unavoidable yet at the same time nearly unbearable. So if
you want: the beginning and the end of "trying to kiss the
sun" are the two sides of the medal.
I really wonder why we haven’t seen you touring in Scandinavia
yet? You should have a quite large potential here if considering
the great success that some of the Pink Floyd tribute bands have
made here. I really would like to encourage you to add some
Scandinavian gigs gigs on your tours!
We once had the chance
to visit your wonderful country when we toured with the
swedish band "Ritual". So we should be prepared to have
a good time in sweden!!!!!