RPWL singer Yogi Lang’s debut album called No Decoder delivers the final piece of the sound of the German prog rock band. The cd is just in time for the band’s 10 th anniversary and the frontman contributed the final mosaic piece for RPWL’s unmistakable sound. So it is time for a short interview with Yogi.
Why did you feel the urge to record a solo album?
We all had the idea of doing some solo work besides RPWL after the “World Through My Eyes”tour in 2005/2006. On the album “ 9” the band already performed one solo song of each member. Then Kalle was the first to start his band “Blind Ego” in 2007 and after his second album “Numb”, Chris started doing “Parzivals Eye”. I produced the records so that this is somehow my 4 th work on an RPWL solo album. But anyway, I thought the time was right for doing my own album before we start doing a new RPWL album again. Furthermore it was a new challenge having simply me as a topic for a record. I tried to do it as pure as possible as I could, so at least everything on this album is me.
What was your inspiration for the songs?
Things that really touch me in a very personal way. So this is definitely a difference to any normal record. It’s like sitting at the table with a glass of wine and talk. I really understand if there are people having no decoder to my world. But this is exactly what a solo album is about; if you are interested, if there is something that touches you, you stay and listen to it. I don’t dance on the table or do some conjurer’s tricks, we just sit together and talk about life.
How was the working process, did you write the lyrics first or the music?
I wrote the lyrics first. Then I did a very simple demo of the songs. I wanted to keep the songs really pure. At that time it became clear that I had to be very careful choosing the right musicians for the album. I mean, if you want to express simple music, you have to feel it in your heart. Playing many notes is only a matter of technical skills and this is what I definitely did not need on this album.
Could you please explain the title of the album.
The album deals with the inability to project one’s thoughts and feelings on another person and therefore with the failed attempt to be understood.
It’s a fact that the subject is somehow part of my life. Communication has it’s limits. Every word we use has a different meaning for each of us. The word “home” has a certain history in all of us. If you use it you activate a picture in my mind. That picture is most likely different to yours. Now adding every little word you use there is a pre-programmed misunderstanding. There is no decoder for the worlds between any individuals. Knowing that, it’s a first part of a trying to understand But most of the time we simple expect that our counterpart uses the same pictures as we do. This is one of the basic errors in understanding each other. But the album deals with this phenomenon and has no mission to solve the problem. It’s all about making people think about it. You see, in the song Sacrifice you have a person that is running out of options. The disconnection is complete because the last person in your life is getting out of sight. As a last possibility of making sure to be understood he gives his life because he hopes that this picture and its connected meaning is the name for everybody in this world.
Why did you choose guys like Muller, Weber and Pratt to join you on the album?
It was my dream team for playing my album! I asked our former drummer Manni Muller in a very early state of the production. I started doing the first demos and gave him a call. I knew it was perfect for his certain style of playing the drums. I saw Thorsten Weber playing guitar with a band called The Doors Of Perception, a huge German Doors cover band. I completely fell in love with his way of playing the guitar. I was the engineer of a festival he played and so I had the chance to ask him if he wanted to join my solo project. He said yes and we had a good time in the studio. He gave the whole record a wonderful colour. For the bass guitar I was lucky to have Guy Pratt on board. He confirmed to play the whole album after sending him some of the songs. He came to stay in the studio for a while to work on the material. But in fact everyone playing on my album is extraordinary gifted and they are all artists I really wanted to work with. It was a fantastic feeling!
Lyrics are very important for you, why is that and what are the songs on your debut album about?
Many songs are built around that main subject of being unable to understand each other. But of course No Decoder is no concept album and it was never planned to be one. Every song is a part of my life or thoughts that I have. It is all about me and the world around me. Maybe Our Modern World is the most RPWL like lyric because of its political theme. But being or feeling disconnected from the rest of the world is an individual and personal thing and has nothing to do with the big questions of mankind or any global political order or justice oe whatsoever.
Some of the songs really remind me of David Gilmour tracks, are you not afraid that some critics will hold that against you; I will not by the way…
Why should I? This is a solo album and any other way doing it would have been faking. That is how I am. Of course I have to accept if people don’t like the way I am, but that’s the thing about a solo album. If I wasn’t able to accept that I shouldn’t have started making music anyway!
What is your favourite track on the album?
That’s hard to tell. I love every song on the album. There is something special in every tune. Maybe the last track has the most positive message besides all the melancholy within. You’re the one who makes the world a better place for me is a sentence from the song and there are certain people that create a feeling of “home” to me. I don’t know if you know such people. Doesn’t matter how bad the world is, meeting them or talking to them makes the world a better place. It is one of the most wonderful and touching feelings I know. I tried to put that into this last song.
Are you planning a short Yogi tour?
Yes. We talked about a couple of shows in the spring of 2011. We’d all be very happy and proud to present No Decoder live. Let’s see what happens.
I really love the album, but there is one song – Alison – that I cannot listen to anymore. I feel that it is utterly redundant and does not fit in with the other songs. This partly due to the French lyrics. What is your opinion of this song and what was the idea behind Alison?
Alison stands for dreams, needs or longings we have and how they are facing us in many ways, or of course in many persons. I chose the French language because there is pretty much desire in it.
Last question, when will the new RPWL album be finished?
We will start in December of this year. We are all looking forward to doing the new album.
Interview by Martien Koolen