“I don’t want to be an old man and live with the regret of not doing what I love.” Most people are familiar with Keith Wallen as the right-hand man aka rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist of the American Rock band Breaking Benjamin. However, he is an artist in his own right and a very talented one indeed.
Keith is a skilled vocalist, accomplished composer, and songwriter who keeps himself busy. Currently, on the road with long-term friends RED, he seems to be a regular fixture on their tours.
The first stop of the current European tour with RED found MetalTalk’s Dany Jones with Keith Wallen is in London. This time, accompanied by a full band, the artist is warmly greeted by his British audience. Equally, he is visibly excited and doesn’t fail to tell the fans at club 229 how thrilled he is to finally be here and how much he loves this place.
“I’m still a little jet-lagged,” Wallen says, not long off the plane. “But a couple more shows, a couple more days, and I’ll get my sea legs back.” Wallen’s set was incredible, and he was very enthusiastic after his first solo show in the UK.
“It’s unbelievable,” he says, “It’s amazing. I love it. I came over here a couple of times with Breaking Benjamin in 2016/2017, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I couldn’t wait to come back. I got the opportunity to come with my solo band, and I jumped at it. It was a fun first show, and if this is how all the shows are gonna go, it’s going to be a pretty amazing tour.”
Keith’s solo music is different from that of his main band, but the UK rockers know that. “I think I have a few fans here,” he says, “but this is just a great opportunity for me to get in front of new faces, people that have never heard of me or seen me. That’s what this tour is all about. And Red was just absolutely gracious and amazing enough to invite me out on this tour. I’m happy to be here and looking forward to meeting all those new people and new faces.”
MetalTalk caught up with Keith some time ago when he was travelling on a tour bus with RED for the US leg of the tour, where Keith played an acoustic set. In a rather shuddery interview due to the motion, he told us that he wants to express his creativity and get out there as much as he can. Keith has a lot to say, and he will not rest until he is still standing.
“RED are friends of ours,” Keith says. “Breaking Benjamin’s lead guitarist, Jason [Rauch], used to play in Red, and we did some tours with them before. We just hit it off. They knew that I had some solo music, and they took a shot and said come and open for us on this acoustic tour. It was awesome, and it led to this.”
The London set is made of a collection of his original material, including the hits All Eyes On You, Dream Away, Blue and his single It Finds Us All.
We stand before truly fresh, energetic Rock, beautifully rounded by Wallen’s sultry vocals and delightful songwriting artistry. Dark, intense, reflective, uplifting and truly cathartic. A peculiarity of the artist is the use of a power belt, which reflects in most of the choruses and truly lifts the songs, providing plenty of both emotion and dynamic from a more technical standpoint.
The singer is no newbie to the stage either and certainly knows how to perform and project with intention, while the band also deliver on all fronts, truly playing their hearts out as if this was a big stadium show.
It is refreshing to see how well-known and celebrated the singer is, despite playing a support slot, where the audience cheers in approval when he announces the songs and pretty much sing along to every lyric.
Equally, Wallen makes sure to repeatedly thank the crowd for making an effort to come out on a school night and support him. Magic is created when the artist manages to captivate their audience and establish the special bond of giving and receiving, and there is certainly plenty of magic here this evening.
London loves Keith, and the feelings are reciprocated. “I love the accents,” Keith says. “It’s like home but not. You get all the same kind of stuff as you do in America, but it’s just a little bit different, so I appreciate it.”
And Keith wasted no time in trying the English staples. “I had some fish and chips. I had a nice English breakfast, so that was good. And bangers and mash.”
A true gentleman of Rock with a big voice, appreciative of his followers, the artist indeed promises a long and prosperous career, and we cannot wait to see what the future shall hold for him.
The tour continues tonight in Sweden and runs through to Turkey on 6 November.