Carl Hose: Thanks for talking with me. You’ve got a new album out. Tell us about it.
David Wallimann: Thanks so much for having me! Evolving Seeds of Glory is a full length instrumental progressive metal album that was written in the midst of one of the most defining periods of my life. I was in my late twenties, going through a paralyzing depression. As I was going through this, I started hearing music, something I hadn’t heard before. The music always came to me during my evening walks. Evolving Seeds of Glory is my best attempt to reproduce what I heard during those long walks. I am very fortunate to have great players help me on the record, including Randy George on bass and Nick D’Virgilio on drums.
CH: Is this your first?
DW: This is my 3rd album as a solo artist. My first one – Deep Inside The Mind, is getting re-released soon with new arrangements and new musicians. My second one is a collection of Christmas songs re-arranged in a fusion-rock genre. I did release an album with prog rock band Glass Hammer and also the band Public Alchemy.
CH: How do you compose? Do you like to map everything out in writing or do you just start jamming and then working through what you capture until you find the gold?
DW: I usually compose without an instrument. Most of my compositions happen on walks. I feel that ,for me, writing on an instrument is always limited by my physical ability to play that instrument, whereas writing in your mind is only limited by your imagination. Once I have a musical idea, I will try my best to reproduce it on the guitar or keyboard. That’s how I usually start.
CH: What is your writing process like? Do you have specific times you write best, do you wait for the muse, or do you make yourself sit down and write on a regular schedule?
DW: Unless I have to, I try not to force it. Once I have an idea, I try to record it somewhere and leave it there. I get back to it after a few days and usually hear the next part. The important thing when doing this is to not have a guitar in hand because if I do, I will always start playing, and that always ends up with something less interesting than something I would create within.
CH: How do you feel about the state of the music business today. There are some who believe the business as it used to be is dead, some who believe it is completely gone, and others who find new ways to make a living in music. Certainly illegal downloading has had an impact, but where do you see the business. Does it still exist, just on a different level than before?
DW: It’s true that the music business has completely changed. I know a lot of musicians who complain about not being able to make it like they used to in the good old days. I see it differently. It is absolutely possible to make a good living with music. However, I feel that it’s essential for musicians today to have the entrepreneurial mind. Think differently. Don’t live in the past. The old ways don’t work that well anymore. There was a tie when putting a band together. Gigging a lot would bring you somewhere. It’s still possible today, but there are other ways. Thinking differently and creatively makes it possible to enjoy a rewarding career in music.
CH: What advice do you have for songwriters and players who want to actually write and record music? Is there a way you feel that can be done today?
DW: I would suggest starting from within. Try writing without an instrument and see what comes out. The instrument is… an instrument. 🙂 See it as a tool to share your ideas, not as the sole idea generator. I often say this to my students: “The writer tells the story, not the pencil”.
As far as going places with your original music and making a career, there are ways, however they change all the time. Starting to build an audience is essential. Do this early on, even if you don’t have music to share yet.
CH: Do you prefer to play live or are you happier in the studio?
DW: I much prefer being in the studio. I enjoy playing live – sometimes – but I could go the rest of my life never performing and I would be OK. I love composing. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the whole world. I think I played live a total of 4 times in the last 8 years. 😀
CH: What is your studio set up like?
DW: My guitar goes through an Axe FX II. It’s super convenient and sounds great, in my opinion. I stopped using amps about 10 years ago because of lack of space. The Axe FX replaced all that and more. I use Logic Pro X for all my recordings. It’s all really simple to use, which allows me to focus on creating.
CH: What music (bands or songs) inspired you early on to get into music, play guitar, etc, and what bands do it for you today? Is there one record that changed your life?
DW: Joe Satriani was the first real inspiration I had when it came to guitar. I then fell into progressive music. Later on, I discovered Spock’s Beard and Neal Morse. The story-telling aspect and orchestration of prog rock is very appealing to me.
CH: One song you wish you’d written, either for the creative joy or for the royalties.
DW: Haha! That’s a great question! Hmm . . . I think I would have liked to write Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road. Out of all the songs, that’s the one I probably listened to the most in my whole life. I love the story of that song and how it builds up. I love Dire Straits!
CH: What’s a guilty musical pleasure you have? A performer or band you love but don’t tell people you love.
DW: Are you sure you want to ask me that? How many people are reading this? 🙂 I always go back to cheesy 80s French music. For the record, I did grow up there so that explains a bit. Google “Debut de soirée” and you’ll know what I’m referring to. Ok, I’ll go hide now…
CH: Well, mine’s Culture Club. I feel better now. Beatles or Stones?
CH: Coffee or tea?
DW: Coffee. Lots of it . . .
CH: You’ve been teaching music for many years. Do you enjoy that more than writing and recording, or do they satisfy different aspects of your personality?
DW: Yeah, I love teaching. It’s almost selfish because I have learned so much about music while teaching. Taking time to anticipate student questions really has an impact on your own playing. Simplifying complex musical concepts has really had a huge impact on my music and that’s all because of teaching.
CH: What’s going on with you now, besides the new album? Where else can fans get into some of what you do? Where can they grab lessons, more of your music, etc? Anything big coming up they should be on the lookout for?
DW: The last few years have been all about efficiency and re-defining my business. I have young kids and I don’t want music and business to take more time away from them. So most of my time is spent being a dad and enjoying that. I also have a Youtube show where I try to upload about 3 videos per week. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years and love doing it. People can find out more about my music on my website www.davidwallimann.com
Also, follow me on Youtube at www.youtube.com/wallimann
And lastly, if anyone is interested in guitar lessons: www.guitarplayback.com
CH: Appreciate you talking to me, man. Take care.
DW: Thanks so much for having me, Carl!