Insert and play! In line with the motto "Rome wasn't built in a day", David and Jan Wallek, better known as the Wallek Bros., used 2014 to complete their début album "Insert / Play". The result is a very mixed cross-genre début album that will appeal equally to music critics, folk and rock fans. The Wallek Bros. have recorded 14 songs in a relaxed "living room recording process" for which David and Jan Wallek held the musical scepter in their hands. As well as providing the vocals, the brothers also played guitar, banjo, bass and piano. The album was co-produced by Martin Claas. The twins' brand new arrangement of the song "Bitter Harvest" by John Carter Cash has now made it to the compilation "Sounds Like Nashville", something of which the German thoroughbred musicians are quite rightly proud.
The two musicians' story is full of the well-known trials and tribulations that befall anybody trying to make it in the music industry and yet nurturing a steadfast passion for country, folk and rock music. Twins Jan and David Wallek were born near Cologne on 24 August 1986. Their father Udo Wallek was also a musician, so they were exposed to good rock music from a very early age, and grew up with the music of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. David started piano lessons at the age of six. However, he didn't enjoy following sheet music, and so began to develop his talent for improvisation. Jan, the guitarist, shares his twin's aversion to the dots on lines. The boys' preferred musical genre is the blues, although Jan's preference for folk and folk rock is undeniable. At the tender age of twelve, they started their first band at school, calling themselves the "Cracks". It was clear that they couldn't have a front man on keys, so David took up the bass guitar. The band's first TV performance came years later. The WDR programme "Addis Stunde" gave a short portrait about the band, but sadly they split up shortly after it was shown. Although some of the band members then decided to make their education their main priority, Jan and David felt the same way about schoolbooks as they did about their music books, and ended up leaving leave their grammar school to go to a secondary modern.
In the summer of 2006, and now calling themselves "Sink Twice", Jan and David teamed up with producer Carlos Wichterich to record an album that leant towards modern country rock. Just a year later, in November 2007, the fruits of their labours appeared in the form of an album of cover versions under the independent 4ensoul Records label. The respectable success of this album encouraged the brothers to continue in this direction, and so they started writing their own songs. In addition to this economic success, the boys also got together with renowned producer Uwe Baltrusch (whose artists include the Wise Guys), who regularly used them as studio musicians. They then also recorded some of their own songs with him. None the less, after some to-ing and fro-ing, they split with Baltrusch, and their recordings effectively landed in the waste bin.
The twins have been performing as the Wallek Bros. since mid-2009; in the light of their series of trials and errors, they have decided to be the masters of their own fortune. Regular live concerts and the perfection of their song-writing skills have now led to this album – "Insert / Play". The début appeals for its crisp rock sound, which was initially indeed recorded in the Walleks' living room. Only the drums were added in a school hall because of the quality of the acoustics. The opener "Midnight Dancer" sets the tone. It's all about fun, partying and original rock music. Riveting guitar riffs and solos are reminiscent of the Stones in their heyday. Overall, though, the lasting impression is the sound of the big American rock and country heroes such Neil Young, Bon Jovi, Big & Rich and Little Big Town. All groups who are also the declared idols of Jan and David Wallek.
"Big & Rich in particular is one of our biggest role models," says David Wallek. "That's because of our two-part vocal phrases, which we spend a lot of time arranging and that make our sound so distinctive." The twins provide audible confirmation of this with the sensitive John Carter Cash country folk number "Bitter Harvest" mentioned earlier. The delightfully economic arrangement of the ballad with acoustic guitar and sweeping strings provides the voices with the intimate space that creates the song's melancholy yet relaxed mood. Another highlight, and perhaps the most mainstream title on the album, is the folk-and-pop "Someday Soon". "Someday Soon" is a classic folk song with a catchy banjo refrain that instantly hits the spot. Having said that, it's not a soft number! Crossover-rock is the mood of "Sunday Morning". "We wanted to include the full bandwidth of rock on the album," explains David. "I think 'Sunday Morning’ is an excellent example of a song that moves in a different musical direction with the participation of a rapper, but that still fits perfectly in our concept."
"Insert / Play" is a multi-faceted début that is well worth listening to and will undoubtedly appeal to all fans of earthy, honest rock music. Despite the very best tonal quality, it never fails to amaze how difficult it can be for German bands, including the very best of them, to get their music out to their audiences. However, thanks to AGR Television Records, the Wallek Bros. have now even managed to make the leap across the pond – although that is not so surprising when you listen carefully and without preconception to this début album. So - insert, play, and enjoy …