RPWL - the Progressive Rock band from Germany bring the principle of the concept album to a new level with their latest offering to the Gods of complexity. "Wanted" is just the gigantic piece of art which envolves into a true explosion of massive Prog rock and simply put music at its very best in this particular style and genre. It's the ultimate libiration of the spirit and loosy based upon the old Greek ideas of Plato and Hippocrates. We had the quick chat with their drummer about drums, more drums, and the concept album of course. Here's MARC TURIAUX.
Kindly inform us about your current set-up and kit.
It is a DW Collector's Series kit with standard (fast) sizes: 22, 10, 12, 14. I have a few snare drums that I use according to what is needed. My main snare is a vintage 14x6,5 Ludwig Supraphonic. I play Paiste Cymbals and Agner Sticks exclusively.
What was your first kit and do you still have it?
My first kit was a small Sonor "Action" kit with a 20' bassdrum and two toms. The colour was gold. I loved it and I still own parts of it.
Do you have a health regimen you employ to keep steady and fit as a drummer?
Not specifically. I do sports, of course, I try to keep a healthy diet, I don't smoke, etc. But I don't do that primarily because I want to stay fit as a drummer but because I want to stay in shape and healthy in general.
Have you always been "Progressive" or did you start out as the basic rock drummer?
I think progressive rockmusic has always been a major part of my musical personality. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, and I still do. I played and still play a lot of things, from Jazz Big Bands to Avantgarde Rock. But progressive music has been the one thing that was always there and where I always felt at home
Your thoughts about Neil Peart and especially Terry Bozzio? Are they taking their kit and set-up to the extreme? Too much is never enough?
Well, consdering my setup, I am not the one to ask about extremes in this regard, really... :) To me the most important thing is that you are able to use your instrument musically. If you need a huge instrument to say all that you want to say musically, and you feel limited by a five piece kit – then why not? Get as much stuff as fits in the car. Terry Bozzio's set-up is extreme, of course, but it is taylored to the music he plays. He has tons of drums and cymbals in his set-up, but he uses every single one of them in a special context. If you watch him explain all the different notes that his drums are tuned in you realize how deeply he immersed himself in this. To me, his set-up is a reflection of his imagination and creativity as a drummer and a musician. So I don't see why he should limit himself.
The same is true for Neil Peart. The way he composes his drumparts, the sounds and fills he plays, the way his drumming interacts with bass, guitar and vocals... he can bring three times as much stuff on stage, I will still think it is great!
Who are your influences and heroes?
There are a lot of drummers from all genres of music that I love and admire for what they do. People like Gavin Harrison, Peter Erskine, Steve DiStanislao, Dave Weckl, Steve Jordan, Mel Lewis, Steve Gadd, Antonio Sanchez, the list is endless. If I had to pick on of them as my main influence, it would have to be Neil Peart, though. He is the drummer of my favourite band, so the choice is rather obvious. I was always impressed by his drumming, but also by his dedication and relentless striving to be the best he can in whatever he does. There is an integritiy in the man that I find most inspiring.
How has the reaction to your brand new concept album been so far?
Right now as I write this, the first reviews are being published and the general reaction is very positive.
Wanted - the complex structure and arrangement of Prog, but you still have those sweet sing-a-long moments?
Maybe, yes. To me, one of the most important things about the music we play is that if you take away all the guitars, keyboards, moog sounds and all the ingredents it takes to create a progressive sounding album, and you play the songs stripped down to the very core with just guitar and vocals – they still work. Maybe that is the reason why both elements are there, complex parts and strong melodies.
You're not afraid that you might scare away potential fans with the "hippie" concept of 'the ultimate liberation of spirit' (even though it's the old Greeks).
I think all the albums that the band released until now had a certain main theme lyrically. To me it has become one of the trademarks of RPWL. And we had Nietzsche as main influence of the concept on the last album, how scary is that? :) But I get your point, the concept of "Wanted" might be controversial. But you know, we are not preaching or trying to convince anyone. Yogi's words just offer a point of view that you might share – or you might not. It's up to you. Some will agree, some won't. It's all fine, nobody has to. On the other hand I hope the album works on more than one level and that the music itself is strong enough to keep your attention, even if you are not listening to the lyrics.
RPWL - it's not just music, it's art?
I would never say or think anything like that. I think nobody can decide single handedly whether or not something is art. There are no objective criteria for "art" or "not art". If something is apprecited by many people because it touches them or they feel inspired, enlightened or entertained by it, then maybe that thing will be regarded as a piece of art. But you always have to leave that evaluation to the audience. We play music and try to put up the best show we can for the people who are nice enough to come see us. If people will in the end consider what we do as art, I will definitely feel honoured.
Despite more than 15 years in the Prog scene. Do people still think of RPWL as Germany's answer to Pink Floyd? (and is that really such an insult?)
The reference is always made, there is hardly a review that does not include the Pink Floyd-issue. But that's ok, because the band is a great influence for all of us. We even play some of the more obscure PF-songs in our live-set sometimes. But we are not a cover band. We don't play their music as they did, but we play it the way we do. Obviously it still works and the audience likes it. And as you said – the band has been around for quite a while, so we feel we don't have to prove so hard anymore that RPWL has its own distinctive style.
What's the story behind your moniker?
RPWL is a combination of the first letters of the names of the founding members.
What can you tell us about the future of RPWL?
At the moment we don't really think further than the new album. It will keep us busy for the rest of the year. The tour starts in April and we will play a few festivals after that, so we will be playing a lot. After that – who knows. I think, though, that we will continue to go into the direction we have taken with the last album and tour, i.e. having a strong narrative element in the lyrics of an album and trying to present that story in the live-shows. So the visuals, lights and movies will continue to be a big part of the band live. And where do we go musically? Let's see. There is no plan. That keeps it is exciting for all of us. :)
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
Thank you very much for your questions and for the interest in what I do. It's an honour!
Interview by Urban Wallström