After a long break, the Wallflowers return rejuvenated

CorrespondentMarch 28, 2013 

The Wallflowers.

COURTESY OF JAMES MINCHIN

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    Who: Eric Clapton with The Wallflowers

    When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

    Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edward Mills Road, Raleigh

    Cost: $46, $66, $86

    Details: www.thepncarena.com/events

Wallflowers bassist Greg Richling has known the band’s lead singer and main songwriter Jakob Dylan since the early 1980s, when they jammed together as junior high school buddies in Los Angeles.

So it’s not surprising that they have a verbal “shorthand” between them , which came in handy when the group re-formed last year after a lengthy hiatus to record “Glad All Over,” the band’s sixth studio album in a career that spans 24 years.

It’s also not surprising that the members of The Wallflowers need to take a break from each other sometimes.

“I think a lot of bands – out of fear – they just keep going, worrying that they’re gonna, maybe, get out of the consciousness of the audience or something,” says Richling. “But I think that you have to take care of your life – things that you wanna do. That has to take precedence.”

Touring with Clapton

The Wallflowers are on tour with the legendary Eric Clapton, and the two acts will appear together at PNC Arena in Raleigh Wednesday.

“Obviously, it’s exciting to be on a tour with someone like that,” Richling says. “It’s been a lot of fun watching him every night and learning. And, you know, spreading our music to his audience.”

It seems unlikely Clapton’s audience would be completely unfamiliar with The Wallflowers.

Led by Jakob Dylan, the handsome son of the legendary Bob, the band made small ripples with its eponymous 1992 debut album on Virgin Records, and then made big waves with the 1996 follow-up “Bringing Down the Horse” on Interscope.

The album contained the staples “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache” and “The Difference,” and earned The Wallflowers an eternal spot on classic rock radio.

Richling joined the band when it started touring off the debut album in 1993, and he’s considered an original member, along with Dylan and keyboardist Rami Jaffee, who left the band in 2007 but rejoined for the new album and tour.

The current Wallflowers are a more rejuvenated version than the lineup that last toured briefly in 2009 to promote a greatest-hits album. In the meantime, The Wallflowers have parted ways with Interscope, an unpleasant reality that played a part in the band’s hiatus.

Richling says the layoff lasted longer than anyone expected, but it ended up helping the creative process.

“I feel like it was actually better than when we left off,” says Richling. “What happened is that everybody got jazzed to do it again.”

During the band’s break, Richling got involved in producing other bands, and Dylan picked up an acoustic guitar for some quieter solo work. Other band members pursued various musical projects as well.

Many new songs

Richling says all those individual experiences and influences figured into the band’s songwriting when The Wallflowers reconvened in early 2012 and immediately set about making “Glad All Over.”

In 29 days of recording, the band completed 13 new songs – 11 of which made it onto the album. All the songs were cut live in the studio, Richling says.

And those new tunes aren’t being neglected live in favor of old-time radio staples, either. “The Devil’s Waltz” regularly makes its way into the band’s current set, as well as “Have Mercy on Him Now” and “Love is a Country.”

Fans at concerts may even get to hear “Reboot the Mission” and “Misfits and Lovers,” which featured vocals and guitar by Mick Jones of The Clash on “Glad All Over.”

Richling says the title of “Glad All Over” reflects a “positive tone, which is where we were at. But it kind of also has a double meaning … like, glad it’s all over. Putting some tough times behind you.”

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