“I am inspired by lots of things really. The world around me. Whoever I’m hanging out with. Whatever music I’m obsessing over. When life is hard, I write to make sense of it. When life is good, I write to remember it,” said Keith Waggoner.
All Wall is the up and coming band that has made their mark within the music industry with singles like “The Spider” and “Once They’re Gone” from their self-titled debut album.
Recently, Global Looking Glass had the pleasure to interview Keith Waggoner and Samson Crouppen of the band ALL WALLS.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Samson Crouppen (SC): I’m originally from St. Louis and moved out to Los Angeles in the early 00’s to pursue comedy. Met Keith on a street corner a few years ago and the rest is history.
Keith Waggoner (KW): I grew up in Northern California. Came to LA for a girl and it didn’t work out. Yesterday marked 11 years in town for me, so I guess I am a local now.
What inspired your bands name?
KW: It’s actually a surfing reference. That’s what I call it when the waves are unrideable.
Who are your musical influences?
SC: My biggest are probably Led Zeppelin and Muddy Waters.
KW: When I was 16, I saw 7 Seconds at a vets hall in the town where I grew up. That’s what made me want to learn to play guitar and be in a band and all that. I love Fugazi and Sonic Youth. I’ve always gravitated toward that kind of dissonance and raw energy. Wilco, Stereolab, The Pixies, Broadcast have all had a huge influence. Last night I listened to Ziggy Stardust for the first time in a long while and it reminded me of how much of an impact that record had on me when I first heard it.
How would you describe your music and album?
KW: Unlikely is the first thing that comes to mind. This album and the project as a whole feels like the culmination of years of work. I think that’s why the record is so diverse. Most of the musicians involved are long time collaborators from various projects I’ve worked on over the past several years. There is a shorthand between us that makes it easy to stretch out and create something a little more out of the box . That has been a lot of fun to explore. Not something we could have done ten years ago.
What is your favorite song on your current album?
SC: My favorite is ”The End of a Long Walk”. It’s the most personal out of any of our songs. It’s about the end of a relationship. Keith sings it as a duet with our violinist Charlene Huang which makes it pretty engaging.
KW: Probably “New Vibration”. Upbeat pop songs are the hardest to write, so I appreciate them when they come along. It’s very different than anything I’ve ever written.
What is your writing process like?
SC: Usually Keith will say what he is looking for, I will lay down the drum beat. Then Keith does his magical producing shit where he makes it sound like a symphony overnight. He used to live across the street which made it pretty easy to record often and whenever we had an idea for a track.
KW: For me, conceptually, the music just comes. I hear it in my head, a lot of times as a complete arrangement. Sometimes I get super excited and drop everything to record it. Other times the idea has to stay with me for a while before I do anything with it. Sammy usually starts by laying down the beat and then later comes in to help with the lyrics and vocal arrangement.
Is there a song on the album that was more challenging to put together?
KW: “All Night Smoke Machine” was one of those that didn’t come straight away. I really dig the music but it’s not a style that comes natural to me, so it took a little while to come up with a vocal arrangement that I was comfortable with. A lot of times when a song becomes difficult like that, I will just put it away and write another one, but I’m glad we finished it.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced launching this album?
SC: Finding the time to do everything necessary to put out an album. It’s a huge undertaking but we have really come together to make it happen. It’s been a great challenge.
Can you tell me how the idea of the song and the video “The Spider” came about?
KW: I originally wrote “The Spider” as part of the soundtrack for a film called Gutshot Straight. Those sessions were actually he unofficial beginnings of All Walls. I had been asked to write a song for the opening sequence of the movie and the director wanted me to collaborate with a vocalist that he knew named Greta Karen. Sam and I had finished the music for the track and I had Greta in the studio one night to sing a lead line that I had written. It was like a blind date and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she was a natural for the part. She came in and knocked it out in like an hour. After that first session, I didn’t speak to Greta for months until we had come up with a concept for the video. I called and was like – Hey remember me? Want to be a vampire?. She was pretty excited about the idea, so we put together.
What was it like playing your first show and is there a city you look forward playing in?
SC: Our first show was back in July at at Origami Vinyl in Echo Park for our 7” release. Crazy stage because you’re playing up in a loft about 15’ above the floor, but it was nice to break out of the braces of rehearsing and play live.
KW: It was a great night. We played six songs I think, so it was pretty light. More of a party for sure, but it was great to get out and play the songs live in front of a crowd. We had a couple guest players there who were on the record. It was fun. We’ve been talking about doing some west coast dates outside of LA, so hopefully that comes together. I always look forward to playing San Francisco. There is something magic about that city.
Name one random act of kindness that you have recently done?
SC: There is a guy in Silver Lake who has taken a stop light median and made it into one of the coolest landscaping designs. Really made a usually ugly intersection pretty nice to sit at during a light and admire. So I gave him a buck.
KW: That guy is bad ass. He used to post up at 7-11 giving away these pencil drawings that he would make. I still have one somewhere. I love what he’s done with that median.
If you could pick any song from any band or musical to be your own personal theme song what would it be and why?
SC: Personally, Kendrick Lamar’s song “i”. It has such a great feel to it and it makes you want to move. That is a theme song right there – At the end of the day, you have to love yourself and what you do as an artist, because when the praise isn’t there, that doesn’t mean you stop. That’s when you do your best work.
KW: “Long Distance Runner” by Fugazi. When I feel defeated, that song reminds me to keep my head down and put one foot in front of the other. Even if I don’t why I’m doing it.
Courtesy Image: ALL WALLS