The legendary front-man of The English Beat and General Public is once again headed to a stage near you. Seriously, just looking at Dave Wakeling’s schedule wears me out.
Ahead for Wakeling and company are two monster events: the ‘80s Halloween Concert happening October 29 in Redondo Beach, which will be hosted by Richard Blade and feature live music from Oingo Boingo Former Members, Dramarama, and The English Beat; and the Darker Waves festival on November 18th in Huntington Beach featuring 30 bands including New Order, Tears for Fears, The B-52s, Echo & the Bunnymen, Soft Cell, Devo, OMD, The Psychedelic Furs, X, Violent Femmes, and yes, The English Beat.
After those mega events, Wakeling will crisscross the US for the Winery and Grinery Tour through December. Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Louisville, and more will get their dose of the two-tone ska band.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s vinyl! In addition to the recently reissued General Public “All the Rage,” coming next month for Record Store Day, The English Beat’s (Originally the Beat) “I Just Can’t Stop It (Expanded).”
The limited edition, November 24th release features two LPs of the 1980 album, plus “rarities, alternate versions and live tracks exclusive to this RSD Black Friday release.” Home to “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Hands Off… She’s Mine,” “Tears of a Clown,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” and “Best Friend,” it is required for any Beat fan.
We figured the man himself might be the best person to ask about all these many things, and any chance to speak to the charming and hysterical Wakeling is a “Yes please!” from me.
Traci: Hey Dave! How is the garden doing?
Dave: It survived the summer, but it takes its toll, so they all seem a little bit overworked. This is the hardest time of year, really, and now it’s got hot again, so I can’t even get out there and tidy it up much. I could have done this morning between nine and 10 was the only time it was going to be below 80.
Traci: Hopefully this will be quick and painless; I don’t want to stress you out more.
Dave: I should be all right. It’s not like a nervous visit to the dentist. I had one of those a couple of weeks ago. I’m in good shape here. (chuckling)
Traci: As always, you are a busy man! All these shows, the General Public rerelease, and now this English Beat release on the way.
Dave: Yes, it’s all happening now. Rhino Records are releasing an expanded version of the first Beat record. Got extra tracks on it, singles tracks, of course. Live tracks. Remastered onto see-through high audio, 182 grams vinyl. We never used to ask about the weight of our records, but now you need to know the weight. It’s a lovely looking package with a nice bit of blurb inside. It’s a limited edition – only 8,000 of them being made, especially for Record Shop Day. You can only buy it in person, then after that date, I’m told if there’s any left, they’ll be available online.
Traci: Only 8,000 copies! That seems like a small amount, so hopefully collectors can get their hands on it.
Dave: With records like this, they’ve been rereleased in endless different forms and different colored bags. Sometimes the same record, just a different colored bag, and I don’t like it too much. It’s a bit cynical sometimes. I think that record companies know there’s a certain percentage of fans that are obliged to buy whatever comes out, because for 40 years they said, “I’ve got the lot, I’ve got all of them. Got all of them and the specials.” So when they bring something out, I like to see that it’s got something added, something different, a different take on it, or some effort has been put in not to just give you the same 10 songs in a different order. They seem to have gone a little ways with it on this one; I’m quite pleased with it.
Traci: That sounds more special than like, the Taylor Swift doing 10 copies of the same thing, just with a different picture.
Dave: I don’t know about you, but I’ve got all ten. With being a bit of a Swiftie, I bought another 10 that I won’t play. I’ve got like a freezer room where I keep my collectibles and a copy of this video will be put in there. You never know. Documentaries in future years.
Skankin’ with the Ferris Bueller Crew
Traci: Documentary? Uh oh. My police record has been hidden…
Dave: We all know about that. It’s too late to hide anything. We know everything, I’m afraid, at this point.
Traci: Well, there were questionable actions in my KROQ days. Heck, my shifts with your buddy Richard Blade alone…
Dave: Blade is so enthusiastic and it just emanates off him, like radiation or something. He has an immediate effect on the crowd. We saw him introduce us a couple of times at the Greek Theater and down at Humphreys in San Diego and by the time he’d finished building us up and start, it was clapping and screaming so hard that you thought, “Well, we’re going to have to do everything we can just to even maintain this at this point. You’re not going to build on this.” I don’t know how he does it. He’s got a mojo.
Traci: But you have that as well.
Dave: I think that’s why we like each other. We like to think that about ourselves as well as each other. It’s great to be in the music business, but there’s a lot of pretense that can come with it. People start having to go around with an entourage and can only go in certain doorways and that sort of thing. And I think me and Richard have always been a bit opposed to that, and so it’s not that difficult. It’s actually very enjoyable to meet fans after a show.
Traci: When you started out, you obviously had no idea about social media and the internet. When Darker Waves got announced, a friend of mine Tweeted something about it, and you liked his Tweet and that made his whole week. You have that effect on fans all over the world.
Dave: That’s the part of the entertainment industry; I’ve only got to be reasonably polite to somebody and it would be reported on Twitter that they met me and I was one of the nicest people they’d ever met in the world, and all I had to do was try and be polite. So that’s good. It’s not a very high bar. I can do that most of the time. It’s nice meeting people. Also, I’ve said it sometimes, but I always think it these people that are meeting you happen to be the same people who bought every meal that you, your kids, and your grandchildren have eaten for the last 40 years.
Traci: Wow. Good point.
Dave: So, you’ve got a moment to say thank you for that, haven’t you? When you think about it that way, it’s nice to meet them. It’s very nice. I shy away from those paid meet and greets, because then it means unless somebody’s got $50 or $100, that means they’re not allowed to meet you. I don’t like the sense of that. I’ve always enjoyed it. I always used to go and have a cigarette straight after the show at the back, by the dressing room door or whatever, and everybody knew that. We had our own meet and greet where there’d be like, 30 people standing in the rain, smoking a wet cigarette. But I kind of enjoyed that; there was a sense of camaraderie to it that would have been spoilt by me going around the circle and collecting $20. They’ve already paid to watch you sing.
Traci: You’ve got a lot coming up; the ‘80s Halloween concert event at the end of the month, hosted by that guy Richard.
Dave: Hosted by the Blade himself!
Traci: Dramarama and Oingo Boingo Former Members on that show. Then you have Darker Waves in November.
Dave: That’s going to be a spectacle, isn’t it?
Dave: There’s that many groups, I don’t even know how they’re going to get them all in here.
Traci: And you have your Winery and Grinery tour and some dates are sold out already.
Dave: Winery and Grinery, which is a lot of wineries, and the City Wineries particularly, a lot of them are on the East Coast and we did it last year and it was a huge success. So we’re doing it again this year. It looks like it’s heading towards becoming an annual event. For as long as I’m doing annual events, a lot of them are already sold out or way close to it, so I’m looking forward to that. Should be fun.
Traci: I can’t imagine you have more, but is there anything else happening you can tell us?
Dave: Well, the world of ska is good. Orange County and San Diego are good. Rest easy.
Traci: Dave, thank you for talking to me and have a blast on the road for the next few months.
Dave: I will do, yes. I’m resting up now, building up the chi. This is a quiet month, and then November tour through Christmas. I’ll be standing at Christmas Eve by the Christmas tree, just shaking. “You all right, Dave?” “He’s had too much ska.”
We have the utmost faith in Dave Wakeling and believe he can power through the year and continue to entertain all the rude boys and girls.
Check him out for yourself locally when The English Beat play October 20th at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills; November 3rd and 4th at Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach; and November 18th at the Darker Waves Festival in Huntington Beach.