Party on, dude
Craig McLean encounters Karl Wallinger of WORLD PARTY, who is now seeing the critical adulation accorded to Goodbye Jumbo turning itself into real chart placings with Bangl. But only after three years of tinkering.
‘Nou thought ofthat yesterday. didn‘t you?‘
The sleeve shows a plaster-cast of Karl Wallinger‘s head exploding. He is cracking up. is this symbolic. l'd wondered. World Party’s third album as the impassioned cry of a man adrift?
‘You thought of that yesterday. didn‘t you?’
Well yeah. but forethought is forewarned. and when events are as rare as the release of a World Party album. or albums as involved and involving as Bangl. it doesn‘t do to critically huff and puff on the spur of
the moment. (And I thought ofthat bit tomorrow.)
‘l’m quite a frivolous person in many ways, and l enloy a good laugh. I don’t sit around all day thinking about the worries of the world.’
Anyway. ‘lt‘s a bit cracking at the moment,’ says Karl Wallinger the day after his latest album scooted to Number two in the charts. ‘Onc can‘t help noticing that things aren‘t as great as they could be. Maybe that goes for. what one feels for one‘s personal life. But what‘s new there? it‘s kind of a universal feeling at the moment. and i wish it would stop. But ijust felt that there was some way of dealing with that that would also be attractive musically.
‘I think l‘d go a bit potty — even more potty — ifl didn‘t have the ability or opportunity to do that . . .‘
He (s)cares, does Karl Wallinger. ‘How could it come to this?‘ he sings on ‘ls it Like Today?‘ ‘We‘re really worried about living.‘ ‘Hold me up. ‘cos i think l‘m going under‘ he pleads on ‘Rescue Me‘. ‘1 don‘t know why. don‘t know when. don‘t know how, don‘t know who. don‘t know where. don‘t know what. don‘t know which.‘ he rambles on ‘Radio Days‘. prefacing this with babbling soundbites and a barely-detectable, exasperated ‘Shit!’ He ruminates on the nature of eco-fear and techno-fear. indulging this. his own form of group therapy. though less doggedly than he did on the educational. liberational Goodbye Jumbo album of 1990. But still. if he can‘t control the environment at large and the actions of personkind. at least he can fabricate his own steady state
logic in the shape of his cossetting Seaview studio — home to this boppin‘ boffin. this rock ‘n‘ roll Wilf Lunn. and venue for the hours, days and years of tinkering that preface each World Party
release. . ‘1 just really love The Studio,‘ he says
with capital letters respect. ‘and when I come in. it just makes me want to play things.‘
Seaview as a comforting cocoon. radiating wamtth and vibes and empathy for the devil that is rock music?
‘Yeeeah.‘ he squirms. ‘but we don‘t kneel in front ofa zen Buddhist altar every moming in order to get ourselves in the mood. It‘s fairly intuitive. but it also works as a Brill-ish type building — we‘re big fans ofthe way The Beatles and The Beach Boys worked. There‘s a lot ofthings in the press about being retro and 60s and all that sort of stuff. but it‘s more to do with an unselfconscious way of making music. so that you can maybe get simultaneously inspired and know that
you‘re doing it for a living. You know what i mean? it‘s a funny thing . . .‘ Karl Wallinger. possessed ofthe earnestness of a Whispering Bob and cast as a bit of a Potty Prof, prefers to tinker, ponder and wander. No thrusting. questing careerist he. World Party albums are triennial affairs. their appearances broken up by long periods ofchin-stroking and head-searching as the 35-year-old Wallinger digests his many and varied inﬂuences. experiences and theories. Musically. he is classically trained. wrote pop pap for a music publishing ﬁrm in the 70s. played in an anaemic funk group. was musical director on a West End production of The Rm‘k)‘ Horror Picture Show. and played second ﬁddle to Mike Scott in The Waterboys. Learnediy. he reads Bertrand Russell (‘an attempt to educate myself in the comings and goings in history of various ideas') and Carl Jung, and is a pop academic of redoubtable standing. This latter allows him to magpie the glittery best bits of The Rolling Stones.
The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Prince. hinting at all yet arriving at his own style with organic elan. I think. And if all this talk of muso proﬁciency and politically correct sentiments smacks of furrowed-brow
gravity. note ‘And God Said‘, Bung/Ts
widely-reported operatic ‘Fuck you!‘
And further note ‘Kuwait City‘. the ditty Wallinger has ‘buried‘ 25 minutes into the final track on the CD version of the album — a sick and warped and funny-as—flip Beach Boys spoof on the subject ofthe GquWar. calling up images of sun, sea. sand and precision bombing. ‘i‘m quite a frivolous person in many ways.‘ chortles our happy hippy. ‘and I enjoy a good laugh. i
don‘t sit around all day thinking about the worries of the world. On the other hand l'm not sure about having to wear tight spandex trousers all the time!‘ he adds, apropos of nothing.
World Party kick offrheir UK tour a! the Burrow/and on Sat [5.
The List 7—30 May l993 47