John Waite, best known as a vocalist with The Babys, Bad English and his solo career, expands on his singing and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer in a band?
I never really thought of singing as “singing”. It was as natural as talking to me. I come from a musical family so there was always music around me. We really didn’t have much as kids but music was free. I listened to cowboy music and country as a kid. It was a cross between Americana and Folk. Blues came later but it still surprises me that I sang in a blues style as a kid. I think you’re born with it. My phrasing has always been totally natural. I never think about it.
Apart from The Babys and Bad English, have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any other notable bands?
I’ve never auditioned for anything. It’s not my thing. I can’t do other people’s stuff. I’m just not coming from that place.
You have appeared on a number of albums over the years. Do you have a favourite and why?
These days I think my best stuff came after Bad English. Temple Bar was the closest I’ve come to what I set out to do. The songs were true and as real as they could be. The album was about NYC. It’s my best really.
Apart from this year’s EP, it’s been over ten years since you released your last full solo album. Do you have any plans to release another solo album?
The band and me are on the road through the rest of the year. I’m recording shows for a possible live album. This year I released the Anything EP with original songs and a standalone release of Dylan’s Masters Of War. The new greatest hits CD Singles just came out. I release stuff when I have music ready. There’s a three-CD acoustic set called Wooden Heart that came out last year. That’s a lot of music and now there’s The Hard Way documentary coming in December. We just got back from seven shows in Holland and are back on the road in US. Life is good!
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip-top shape all these years?
As for keeping my voice in shape I have no set thing. I don’t worry about it. It (my voice) is stronger than ever. I still roll my own cigs and have a glass of wine after the show.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
Singing with the band is the greatest thing. It’s never work. It’s what I do.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
I sang on Warren Zevons last album shortly before his death. I was a fan and that was a deep experience. I got to know him. He was the real thing. That was an honour. The duet with Alison Kraus was the same thing. Every now and then you come across artists who feel the same about you and you have a chance to collaborate. It’s kind of wonderful. I’m lucky.
I’m working on a song with Rinus Geritson of Golden Earring at the moment. I’ve been a fan of his playing since I started out. We finally met this year on the tour of Holland. He got up and played on “Masters of War” and “Whole Lot of Love”. Killer!!!
I have to ask, as myself and most Melodic Rock fans would like to know if there is any chance of new material or live shows involving you and Bad English?
I can’t say I’d never do a Bad English reunion but it’s unlikely. It was a great time but we flamed out. They were great players but at the end we had nothing left. We tried it but it just wasn’t there. Onward!
Me and Neil were in touch last year about doing a blues album together. That could happen, it’s just a case of when. He’s such a great talent. We were always cool. It’s finding a window to do it. I’m in. Great guy!
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
We love to play. A full euro tour is possible. It’s harder to put together than it looks. Holland was great. Cool venues and top end back stage. It’s a demanding thing so we make it as easy as we can.
You have a documentary “The Hard Way”, just out. Why did you feel this was the right time to release it?
The documentary is raw. I wasn’t trying to paint over past mistakes. Most documentaries are there to make the artist look good and move more product. This is not that. It’s the truth.
Interview by Stuart Dryden