:: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 ::
by Randy Brandt (with Michael Brandt)
Kalel is the stage name of Michael Wittig, bassist for Pillar. He was kind enough to spend some time with my son Michael and I before their show at the Flatirons Theatre in Boulder.
Note: Click for my review of Pillar's Where Do We Go From Here.
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Randy: So, I was checking out the website today, and I ran into "Pillar's not a Christian band anymore." Do you have to deal with that a lot?
Kalel: Where'd you see that?
Randy: In your discussion board, because people have been complaining about it, there were a couple comments about it. Has that been kind of a thing that's bugging you?
Kalel: Not really. There's only two kids on the message boards that would've talked about it, so we really haven't heard much about it. We don't really care what people want to label us. If they're gonna say we're a Christian band, that's cool because we're all Christians; it doesn't matter to us.
Randy: Well, the bottom line is, like you said, if you're Christians, and you're doing good music, anyone can enjoy it and hopefully people who don't know the Lord will hear it.
Kalel: It all comes down to the music, if it's good music or not.
Randy: I read in...where'd I see it? I think Rob was talking to Christianity Today, in an interview he did a little while back that you guys have done some radio shows with Korn and stuff. Did you have any contact with Brian Welch, and have you heard anything since he came out for Christ?
Kalel: I just heard about it like everyone else--on the internet. I haven't had time to do anything, but I've heard the story, it's pretty cool.
Randy: He's got the Head to Christ website; he's got his testimony on there on mp3 you can download him talking at his church.
Kalel: That's awesome. We'd like to hook up with him sometime, but he's still kind of beyond...
Randy: Not easy access.
Kalel: Yeah, you don't just call him up.
Randy: Well, I know who's doing his PR now, so maybe I could hook you up.
Randy: He just signed with a Christian company out of Nashville to handle his PR and stuff. He's working on a new album already. A demo of one of the songs is up on the web already. I figure stylistically, it might be fun to have a gig where you guys are playing together.
Randy: I heard the blue-light special bass is at home. It didn't make the tour, huh?
Kalel: No. I got a Fender endorsement recently, so the Warrior stays at home for practice but I play Fenders exclusively on stage. They sound good.
Randy: Your son Kaden is starting to grow up. What is he? Close to one?
Kalel: He's a little over one. He turned one in February. One and a month now.
Randy: Is that about the worst thing about being on the road? Having to hear second-hand about his latest escapade?
Kalel: Yeah. Yeah, it's hard.
Randy: Does he have an interest in music? Can you tell? Is he listening to you at all, or is he too young?
Kalel: It depends on the song, really. There's little kid songs and stuff he'll kind of move to them. It's kind of funny. He'll dance a little bit.
Randy: Kids are a lot of fun. How'd you end up buying a bus from a hockey team? How'd that come down?
Kalel: How did that happen? Well, I think we just heard that they were selling it through town. We talked to them and really the only reason we'd been wanting a real bus for a long time, is it's hard to get financing.
Randy: Doing the van thing?
Kalel: No, we've always had buses, but they're old buses that break down all the time. We wanted something '95 or newer. So we went there and talked to them and stuff, and our problem had always been financing. The Tulsa Oilers, their offices were right in the same building as a bank, and they were friends with the bank. So they introduced us to the head guy at the bank, and he gave us financing.
Kalel: Worked out pretty good.
Randy: All worked out, and then you had a gig at a game or something?
Kalel: Yeah. We did it not too long ago--I think in January.
Randy: Had you been watching hockey at all before?
Kalel: We actually played at several hockey games before. I'm not like a super-big sports fan. We're on the road too much to watch anything, but we've played at several hockey games.
Randy: You had fun watching them?
Kalel: We always get to sit right behind the glass. It's really fun. Probably one of the funner sports to watch. Especially when they get in fights!
Randy: I heard you're starting to write some new stuff for the album. How's that progressing?
Kalel: It's doing good. We just had a lot of time off in January and February, so instead of just sitting around doing nothing, we got together every week and started working on some new stuff. We got a lot of stuff wrote, and a lot of ideas on tape.
Randy: Tell me a little bit about the Pillar DVD. I heard that Rob is producing some stuff. Is there going to be some live concert stuff?
Kalel: Well, the main reason we wanted to do another one is the last couple DVDs we had we weren't super-happy about. They were more put together by the label and outside people. The very last one, that came with "Fireproof" when it was released by MCA Records, we didn't even see it until it was completely done. We were personally just disgusted. We wanted so much more, and it wasn't. So this time, we kind of took matters into our own hands. We bought this really nice camera, you know, the one they make movies with. Rob has just been filming for the last couple of years with it. He's filmed just everything, you know, shows, live footage, goofing around on the bus and backstage, a lot of our overseas stuff, going to Germany, Australia, New Zealand. He had like twenty tapes of footage. We're finally making a DVD out of that and it's going to be packaged with a limited edition version of "Where Do We Go From Here" which releases on May 24. There'll be also a couple bonus music tracks. We're putting Sunday Bloody Sunday on there, which has been remixed.
Randy: 5.1 on there right?
Kalel: There'll be some 5.1 on there--Further and Bring Me Down synced up to the videos and different audio options depending on what you have...Sunday Bloody Sunday. We had our producer Travis Wyrick do a crazy remix of Bring Me Down. He basically took all the instruments out and just re-did stuff. It sounds crazy.
Randy: So that's going to be on there, but will there be a lot of fun backstage stuff?
Kalel: Yeah, easter eggs, hidden stuff and other goofy stuff and a photo gallery and just all kinds of stuff.
Randy: It will be more like what you guys envisioned for a DVD rather than just the label doing everything.
Kalel: Yeah. Rob actually went up to Nashville, went through the tapes and pinpointed the parts he wanted on there.
Randy: So I guess it's pretty much done then, if it's planned to come out May.
Kalel: It's just about done--I've seen the cover for it. There'll probably be some information on our website. There should be some text stuff already, but I think the album cover picture and stuff should be online within a couple days.
Randy: And as far as the new one, we should look for about a 2006 release?
Kalel: Yeah, definitely. We're going to keep writing until probably the end of the year when we'll record, and put it out hopefully sometime early spring 2006. We'll see.
Randy: Michael, you had a couple questions for him.
Michael: Are you going to have any more music videos made from any of the songs from "Where Do We Go From Here"?
Kalel: We would love to, it just depends on how much money the label has. A lot of that stuff is out of our hands. I know they really pushed Bring Me Down; it was on MTV and did all kinds of good stuff.
Randy: The new "Flicker Rocks Harder" DVD is pretty recent.
Kalel: Yeah, I know they were planning on releasing Hypnotized to mainstream radio and doing a killer video for that, and if we ever did, I'd like to go back to where we did our photo shoot in Joshua Tree, California, but it just depends on their money situation. We'd love to, but it's kind of out of our hands.
Michael: Are you going to play any of the new songs tonight?
Kalel: Yeah, we will play a bunch of new songs. Actually on this tour we haven't been playing anything from the first album. We've been playing half and half of "Fireproof" and this album.
Randy: Will we get Fireproof itself, the title track tonight?
Kalel: Oh, yeah. And Sunday Bloody Sunday, since it's on the limited edition when we get that on there. We've been working up some stuff with [Thousand Foot] Krutch. What we want to do is do a medley of a bunch of songs off the first album, because we've had a lot of people asking for them. We'll definitely play a lot of new stuff, though, tonight.
Randy: Michael, is there anything else you wanted to ask?
Michael: Will the Bring Me Down music video be with the "Where Do We Go From Here" limited edition?
Kalel: Yeah, definitely. It will be on there with the normal version, but there will also be a 5.1 version if you have surround sound at your house. The song is remixed 5.1.
Randy: They played it at Rocketown at GMA last year.
Kalel: Microsoft financed us doing that because they were doing some kind of 5.1 stuff. There's a handful of mainstream artists doing 5.1, as far as we know, there's probably... I don't know any Christian artists doing it, but maybe Third Day because they're like millionaires, but no rock bands. We're the only Christian rock band to have it. I've seen it in a surround sound studio, and it's bad. Basically they mix it like five times instead of just once--they mix it for each speaker.
Randy: They had that big concert floor and we were kind of on one side, but they had the giant speakers overhead. Of course they had their commercial first for Microsoft Media Player and then said, "...now brings you Pillar" and they cranked it up.
Kalel: It's synced up to the video, so there's one part where this rock comes toward the screen, there's the "khwoosh" sound of it coming. It's pretty bad. I think they did a surround sound version of Further, too--the acoustic version, so you can hear all the different instruments.
Randy: All right, I think that's about it. We appreciate you taking your time.
Kalel: Cool, man. No problem!
:: Randy Brandt ::