Restarting the Party

A typical rock ’n’ roll story — veteran band tours to support a new album.

But nothing is typical about Karl Wallinger and World Party.

First off, the album isn’t really new. It’s five years old. During that time, Robbie Williams took one of Wallinger’s songs to the top of the British charts. His bandmembers produced and played on the song — and they did it without his knowledge. Needless to say, the band fizzled.

“It really is a strange scenario,” Wallinger says from London. “Then again, we live in such a strange world. It seems almost appropriate.”

The “Ship of Fools” that is World Party has been Wallinger’s to sail for the past 20 years — he enlists different sidemen and assembles the band in various configurations. One of rock’s great talents and deepest thinkers, he is a socially conscious man who philosophizes amid beautiful, seemingly perfect songs. He melds his groovy ’60s rock roots base with a bevy of different music styles — folk, R&B, classical, sometimes even disco.

“I like to be multifaceted. One of the things that’s always been true of World Party is that it’s got a wide bend. It doesn’t matter how you dress to go to the show,” he says, “but that attitude isn’t convenient for commerce. Record company people want to pigeonhole and categorize. They think too small. Everything is ‘showtime’ to them.”

Always a critical favorite, the band prospered in the early ’90s with the albums “Goodbye Jumbo” and “Bang!” before getting lost in the recording industry corporate shuffle. Then, in 2001, the album “Dumbing Up” had just been partially released in the U.K. when Wallinger suffered an aneurysm, which rendered him unable to speak.

“I spent about 2½ years working with a trainer,” he recalls, “and I didn’t work at all for about five years. When you think you’ll never do something again that you love, and then you get a chance to do it, it’s really special.”

The reinvigorated Wallinger charted his own course, regaining control of his catalog and re-releasing “Dumbing Up” on his own label. And when World Party reappeared in March at South x Southwest in Austin, Texas, curiosity was in abundance on both sides of the stage.

“I truly wondered if anyone would show up,” he laughs. “But the reception was tremendous. The work you’ve done in the past is still relevant today. The songs really have made their own friends over time.”

The band took to the road as a trio earlier this year. For his next tour,Wallinger is bringing along a seven-piece band.

“At some point here, we’ll actually have a rehearsal and figure out what the hell we’re doing,” he laughs. “And we may kill each other on the bus. It should be grand.”

Wallinger speaks with a genuine gratitude that his music has connected and resonated with people over the years, and approaches the future with enthusiasm.

“With this new [distribution] arrangement, I can record and get it out to the public in a very short period of time, without some big company in the way telling me what World Party should be. The only excuses are the ones I have to make,” Wallinger says. “When I go into the studio this October, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing. It’s exciting. The best things often come out of nowhere. They just sound like good ideas. I do this and sometimes it works out. I’m very, very lucky.”

concert peview

world party

When: Saturday at 9 p.m.

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St.,

San Francisco

Price: Tickets are $25

Info: Call (415) 885-0750 or visit www.musichallsf.com

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces charges against former SFPD Officer Christopher Samoyoa in the 2017 fatal shooting of Keita O’Neill at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
DA Boudin charges fired SFPD officer with manslaughter over fatal shooting

Ex-Officer Christopher Samayoa to face criminal charges in killing of Keita O’Neil

The area near the Castro Muni Metro Station is expected to be affected by construction work on the Twin Peaks Tunnel, with lane closures on Market Street and some loss of parking. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Construction on Twin Peaks Tunnel to begin November 30

Area around Castro Muni Station will see greatest impacts including lane closures on Market Street

(Genaro Molina/Pool/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom calls latest surge of COVID-19 cases ‘unprecendented’

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation California’s latest surge of COVID-19… Continue reading

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, during a news conference on March 10, 2020. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
LA County suspends outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surges

By Alex Wigglesworth Los Angeles Times Los Angeles County public health officials… Continue reading

Renderings of the main entrance to upcoming Mission Bay elementary school on Owens Street. (Courtesy photo)
SFUSD offers first look at planned Mission Bay elementary school

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned… Continue reading

Most Read