World Party has had an album out for more than six months, and leader Karl Wallinger is still shocked that people haven't gotten the initial joke.
The album, strangely titled Goodbye Jumbo, was never meant to sell a million copies or take the band on a major tour. Wallinger said it was an educational process in the studio that was purposely given an awkward title and done with "no marketing ethic at all."
"I still hear DJs say Goodbye Jumbo and I laugh," said Wallinger, whose band will perform at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University in D.C. Sunday night. "Sure it has a meaning to me, but to the rest of the world it's just two cumbersome words that don't befit the title of a rock and roll album. It started off as a joke."
Of course, Wallinger was forced to explain.
"Saying goodbye to Jumbo, which is the kid's name for an elephant, is sort of like saying goodbye to something we loved dearly but in a naive kind of way," Wallinger said. "As for selling the album, it took forever to make, and I wasn't sure that people weren't going to say 'This way to the lunatic society' after hearing it."
The immediate success of "Way Down Now" and later "Put the Message in the Box" -- two pop songs with a radio audience -- may be attributed to World Party's 1986 hit "Ship of Fools," which dominated rock radio for several months.
"More and more people are finding out about us every day," said Wallinger, who was a member of The Waterboys, whose claim to fame was a 1984 tour with U2. "We certainly didn't do it the easy way, taking almost four years off, and we never really toured a lot before. Basically with Goodbye Jumbo, it was like starting a new band again with a slightly privileged position."
But Wallinger has had other factors working to his advantage.
His long friendship with Sinead O'Connor has produced a working relationship.
"I did 'Black Boys on Mopeds' with her, and she did 'Sweet Soul Dream' with me," Wallinger said. "I really don't know a lot of industry people, and she wasn't nearly as popular when I asked her and she asked me."
So what does Wallinger make of O'Connor's fame?
"She's a phenomenal success," he said. "Once you obtain it, you never really know what kind of ingredients go into having success at that level. I think her performance in the video ['Nothing Compares 2 U'] helped enormously.
"She tends to stand out and she's not exactly a quiet young lady," said Wallinger, laughing. "It's quite strange when someone you know so well goes through the door, so to speak. I'm very excited for her."
The concert calendar . . .
At Hammerjacks: Wrathchild America (tomorrow); Mannekin (Saturday); Babylon A.D. and Trouble Tribe (Sunday); The Ramones (Oct. 5); Extreme (Oct. 6); Tony McAlpine (Oct. 7); Company of Wolves (Oct. 11); Stryper (Oct. 13); Joe Jackson ( Oct. 14); Kix (Oct. 18 and 19) Vixen (Oct. 21); T.S.O.L. (Oct. 29).
At Max's On Broadway: Pylon (Sunday); Albert Collins (Oct. 4); Steve Kilbey of The Church (Oct. 8); Dramarama (Oct. 8); Beat Farmers (Oct. 14); Marianne Faithfull (Oct. 18); Phranc (Oct. 19); Steve Morse (Oct. 21); Robyn Hitchcock (Oct. 25); and Mary's Danish (Oct. 28) . . . Coming to the Network: Scatterbrain (tomorrow); Child's Play (Sunday); and Social Distortion (Nov. 4).
This weekend at the 8X10: Tom Principato (tomorrow); and Bobby Radcliff (Saturday) . . . At the Grog and Tankard: Monkeyspank (tomorrow); and 10 X Big (Saturday).
Suzanne Vega appears at Shriver Hall on Nov. 4.
Howard Hewett performs for Martin's West Super Club Series Oct. 10. For more information, call 944-9433.
The 9:30 Club in D.C. has an unusually full schedule of progressive music in the coming weeks including Pylon (tomorrow); 2 Live Crew for two shows at 8 and 11 (Oct. 2); Jesus Jones (Oct. 3); and Flotsam and Jetsam (Oct. 4).
Also in D.C., Bad Company and Damn Yankees will be at D.A.R. Constitution Hall (Oct. 28).
Ritchie Coliseum in College Park comes back to life next week with Dread Zeppelin (Oct. 1) and Sonic Youth (Oct. 10).