The Heavy Metal Fire Brigade Known As WALLOP
The Heavy Metal Fire Brigade Known As WALLOP
The origins of WALLOP from Germany date all the way back to the dawning of 1985, when the band unleashed their debut album Metallic Alps upon the great big world. WALLOP would disband one year later, with drummer Stefan Arnold participating in a long run membership with the legendary Grave Digger. After parting ways with Grave Digger, Arnold and the original WALLOP crew would reform their band, and now present the staggering Alps On Fire via Pure Steel Records. WALLOP is back with an all out vengeance, and there is no stopping this mighty collective now! Highwire Daze recently interviewed lead vocalist Mikk Wega to find out more about the ferocious heavy metal fire bridage known as WALLOP!
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in WALLOP, and how long the band has been together.
Many thanks for your request Ken, appreciated. I am Mikk Wega and doing the lead vocals and most of the press work for WALLOP. The band was founded in 1983 and split in 1986. In October 2018, all of the original members from the first album came together for the first time after 32 years and the madness begun.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local metal scene like there?
Originally the band is from Offenbach / Germany (close to Frankfurt), two of us still live there. There was a big Metal Scene in the 80s, unfortunately this has become smaller, BUT when we played the reunion show last year, it was amazing how many people came when WALLOP was calling, and there were a solid number of young metal fans around as well.
What made Stefan Arnold decide to leave Grave Digger and help to reactivate Wallop?
Indeed this was the starting point. There were some attempts in the past for at least a reunion show, but with all the touring Stefan did with Grave Digger, this was not possible. I just spoke to Stefan and for your audience he would like to emphasize, that he has not decided to leave Grave Digger after 23 years, in his own words, he called it a cowardly and sneaky sacking.
How did you wind up signing with Pure Steel Records?
Oh that was interesting. We already agreed a deal with another label and we were very close to signature. Just by chance, Andy the boss of PSR was in contact with Stefan, while our request to them was rejected a couple of weeks ago. Andy – an old WALLOP fan by the way – was upset about this and apologized. After I had an initial call with him, the band decided to postpone the signature with the other label, suddenly I was in the in the middle of a record deal negotiation again. We informed the other label immediately that we need a couple of days more because of another offer, the negotiations with PSR went very well and we finally signed the deal about one or two weeks later.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the Alps On Fire album title?
No concepts at all, just Metal. It’s pretty easy, as the first album title was “Metallic Alps” and people recognized WALLOP together with the unusual term “Alps” – related to Heavy Metal. So to show the people that we are back, we decided to set the “Alps On Fire” again will be a good fit for the new album title.
Select two songs from Alps On Fire and what inspired the lyrics.
Let’s start with “Metallic Alps”. Andy Lorz told me, in the very early days of the band WALLOP agreed a show in a bar and restaurant, where they never hosted a live show before as it wasn’t a music venue at all. The restaurant was in traditional Austrian / Bavarian alpine style and served such type of food. Again, very unusual for Heavy Metal. Inspired by this, “Metallic Alps” was written for this special show.
Second song is “Fun For The Nun”, what was inspired by the Mercyful Fate EP “Nuns Have No Fun”. The thinking of these days was “This could be the other way around”, so WALLOP made the song “Fun For The Nun.”
What was it like working with John Gallagher of Raven on your cover of Crash, Bang, Wallop?
Some years ago on a Metal Cruise, Stefan Arnold met John and Marc Gallagher and told them, that he had a band, which name was inspired by their song “Crash, Bang, Wallop” and the brothers found this very funny. When they heard that WALLOP is doing a new album and we intend to cover “Crash, Bang, Wallop”, they offered their participation. I can tell you we were very proud and pleased. John is a very nice person and it was really fun to work with him. After some coordination, we sent him the basic pilot tracks, he added vocals and the well known ranting wife. As Marc was not around for a while, John played the guitar solo as well. Later I sung to his vocal lines and Andy added parts of the guitar solo. We like this song very much and John likes this version, too.
Who did the cover art for Alps On Fire and how much input did you have on it?
It was our idea and a friend, Mr. Volker Besier, who is a professional graphic designer and runs his own company did all of the cover and artwork. It was already done when we signed the deal with Pure Steel Records.
How does Alps On Fire compare to your previous Metallic Alps album released in 1986?
It contains all songs from “Metallic Alps”, 3 unreleased songs plus the RAVEN cover. Most of the old songs were re-arranged, some parts of the lyrics were changed and all songs are tuned down compared to the previous album. We decided to put all old songs on “Alps On Fire”, as they were officially only 3000 copies sold from the old album and there are millions of Metalheads on this planet who don’t know these great, old school metal songs.
What has it been like to release a new album right in the middle of a worldwide pandemic?
Yes this was our plan (kidding). We pushed the record companies we were negotiating with for a release not later than 2nd half of 2020. To play on larger festivals – what is our intention – you need an album out with (hopefully) good reviews, so we were shooting mainly for 2021 anyway, with a pre-release show end of March, a first open air festival in Berlin in May and maybe some other warm-up opportunities. Clearly the shows were cancelled, we have a lot of new merch in the cellar and this in not ideal at all. By chance, Pure Steel Records has with “The Orchard” a great partner for the digital distribution, so we see the digital channel as a great chance in the current situation.
What could one expect from a live Alps On Fire show?
We are all performing music since decades and we are not as old as some others (laughing). You can expect a true and powerful Heavy Metal show, with no backing tracks, playbacks or other shit used to cheat the audience. With one of the best German Metal drummers in the back, we promise to kick your ass.
Has Wallop ever played here in the States or plan to do so in the future? If so, how did the shows go?
Rock`n’Roll dreams may come true if this will happen one day, only Stefan toured the States so far. We already have a lot of positive feedback from the States and Latin America, but we can’t fly over for one or two shows only. Main issues are the cost of transportation and for visas, what is the biggest problem, as it costs around 1000 USD per person, doesn`t matter if you are the Scorpions, Rammstein or WALLOP. But let`s see, we are more than willing to rockin’ the U.S.A.
Germany is famous for their BEER!!! What is your favorite beer of choice and why?
Haha, yes it is. Due to the big variety, our drinking preferences are indeed diverse. We have one outlaw, as Stefan Arnold loves Guinness from Ireland, don’t know why (laughing). Stefan Fleischer drinks mostly classic Pils beer, while Andy Lorz likes Bavarian style wheat beer. Personally I like “Helles” very much, this is a Bavarian speciality as well you can compare with Lager beer, of course ours is much better (laughing). We can do a beer special one day, I like to talk about beer.
What’s up next for Wallop?
We are looking forward to April 24th, the release date of the album. Due to the fact all shows are cancelled at the moment, we will concentrate on press / media work to support the release and a little later on song writing.
Any final words of wisdom?
Oh yes, I am old enough for this. I hope all people are taking the current crisis very serious to protect themself AND others. I have a lot of Facebook friends in the States, and sometimes I read stuff like “I want my freedom back” etc. due to curfews and social distancing. This folks have the freedom … to die … if they don’t follow the rules. Listen to your doctors and scientists, not to your politicians when it`s time to start again with caution and protection. Too many people died in the States already and this is just at the beginning. Take care and be ready to rock the world when the time has come to do so. Love and peace!