World Party comes to Asheville
It’s possible that the most famous World Party song is “She’s the One,” made a hit single by Robbie Williams in the late ’90s. But World Party founder and core member Karl Wallinger is no stranger to hits: “Ship of Fools” came from the band’s 1986 debut; Wallinger has also worked with Sinead O’Connor, was the musical director for the film Reality Bites and contributed to folk-rockers The Waterboys in the 1980s. “All this time later you get to the point where you don’t give a monkey’s, and you either believe in the music or not,” the musician says. “I still do.”
A brain aneurysm in 2001 slowed Wallinger’s work, but after years of recovery he’s back to recording and writing. A tour brings him to The Grey Eagle on Tuesday, June 3. The current iteration of World Party is a trio with John Turnbull (The Blockheads, Bob Geldof) on guitar and David Duffy on fiddle and mandolin. Wallinger plays keyboards and guitars. “I’ve always done things differently live. I’ve never just played the record,” he says.
In the past, Wallinger has toured with a band that he booked in Nashville. World Party has morphed from rock outfit to the present stripped-down trio. “After doing this for a while, I’m getting a hankering for bass and drums,” he says. And, while the band does change from album to album and tour to tour, “There is a kind of floating crap game out there that is roughly an idea of World Party,” says Wallinger.
He continues, “It’s an amorphous thing, and it just kind of changes, which I think is good because everything changes all the time anyway. And why the hell not?” One thing that hasn’t changed is Wallinger’s approach to making records. He says he’s never achieved fame on a large scale, but he’s always been able to follow his own vision. “I know the best thing to do is get out of the way,” he says of his creative process. “You have to make yourself disappear in order to write music. I try to get something from somewhere that I don’t control and make it manifest.”
Though the process is hard to put into words, it continues to work. Wallinger is currently at work on a new World Party album. “The songs — people have got a soft spot for them,” the musician says. “They’re about real things, and I don’t mind singing them. I’ve been singing ‘Ship of Fools’ for about 30 years, really.”
World Party performs at The Grey Eagle on Tuesday, June 3, at 8 p.m. Gabriel Kelley opens. $15 advance/$18 day of show. thegreyeagle.com