In this week's paper, Christian Schaeffer chatted with Dave Wakeling of the English Beat. The band will be co-headlining the Pageant tonight with Reel Big Fish. We'll have photos tomorrow. In the meantime, read Schaeffer's feature and enjoy some interview outtakes -- along with some video I shot at last year's VooDoo Lounge show.
CS: How did the tour with Reel Big Fish come about? DW: It was actually a confluence of [booking] agents - we're both in the Agency Group, and they had this notion of some sort of generational cross-pollination of ska. It's working rather well. I didn't realize, but a lot of Reel Big Fish fans had only ever really heard our name but didn't know the music. They'll hear songs and say, "Oh wow, I didn't know that was you; I love that song." So we're picking up a lot of new friends and fans along the way.
Are you noticing a big age range with this tour? A huge age range - not just from Reel Big Fish but also because of the Super Villains, who's the opening band. There's a massive age range, but it's cool because we seem to be capturing yet another teenage scad of well-wishers.
With going onto General Public, was that more a conscious move to leave ska behind and go for a straight-ahead pop direction? I think rather than blend the beats on both songs, we had different feels. So "Tenderness" would be all pop and "Anxious" was all reggae. The first General Public record used more drum machines and synths. That was a bit more to do with [Ranking] Roger than me. Roger was really impressed by whatever the most modern technology was that week. I was not so charmed with it; a bit too much synth for me. One of the things [that] was avoidable was that on the Beat records, Bob Sargeant had been quite strict about only allowing classic-sounding instruments, the best version of that instrument you could get your hands on.
But with General Public, Roger started to program stuff and had his first synthesizer. So we ended up with [former Dexy's Midnight Runners member] Mickey Billingham's keyboard parts, which were great in themselves, but then we'd end up with quite a few more extra because Roger would just go off. One of the shames is the more modern you try to make something sound at that moment, the more likely it's gonna be dated by the genre you're recording in. So General Public songs sound more '80s to me than English Beat songs.