Karl Wallinger deserted a rising ship when he made a sudden exit less than two years ago from the Waterboys, a Scottish-English group that was enjoying success in Europe and developing a promising cult following in the United States. Some observers figured his departure to be a less-than-shrewd move, but he swears ignorance to any naysaying.
"I didn't get exposed to any predictions, really, because I sort of just left and disappeared," said Wallinger. "I didn't hang around talking to a lot of my colleagues in bars saying, 'Do you think I'm doomed?' I just went away and started doing something, and what's happened since has happened."
What has happened is the surprisingly rapid acceptance of Wallinger's new project, World Party, which is easily surpassing the popularity of the Waterboys in the United States.
World Party's debut album, "Private Revolution," can be found ascending the charts, as is the single "Ship of Fools," which has the feel of an instant classic.
Like Waterboys leader Mike Scott, Wallinger addresses overtly spiritual concerns--but with a larger, healthier dose of cynicism, some might say.
"No, I don't really think it's more cynical," Wallinger said from London. "I just think it's more down to earth, in a lot of ways. . . . And I'm into dance music a lot more as well, and just general rock 'n' roll really, as opposed to being specifically into more esoteric artists. We're trying to nail it down a bit more. . . ."
The hooky hit "Ship of Fools" is basically about the world going to hell in a hand-basket. But though Wallinger frequently writes from or about a divine perspective fans shouldn't jump to read dogma into his musical agenda.
"Occasionally I like to bring God out of the cupboard and sort of hide behind him, shaking a stick at people," said Wallinger. "Basically I think that God is just the natural flow of things--the world's got a rhythm and man's out of step with that rhythm--and sometimes you can point the finger at people and say, 'He'll get you in the end.' "
But, he added, "I'm not a Christian. . . . Even people who say they're Christian have basically got some weird idea that they must adhere to one single book of wisdom.
"And God, I feel, isn't a Christian or a Muslim. He's the victim of cult followings. He's a bit like Lou Reed."