Anyone that has listened to rock music over the last four+ decades has heard his voice; be it covering a song in a band or just as a fan with the radio dialed in, some of us remember him from the days when MTV actually played music videos all day instead of these ridiculous ‘reality’ shows. He is a legend, owns a signature voice that most recognize immediately, and after all these years continues to own that style, that voice. I am talking about John Waite of course of The Babys, Bad English, his solo career, and a stint in 2003 with Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band.
Unlike many elder statesmen of rock, Waite has not lost that voice and if he had probably would not be out there embarrassing himself for the payday. He is at his heart a rock n’ roll rebel that still does not ride along with the system and does things his way, more so now maybe than ever.
“I want to be pure you know, I want to live life pure and do the best I can and not look away from trouble you know?”
He still writes new music and doesn’t want to be out there riding the songs that too many are doing, a musician at his very core. For his new live CD “All Access” he chose some that were standards on radio or as you learned the guitar yet still chose the ones he wanted:
“I chose the best performed live songs. I didn’t choose the obvious songs. I didn’t want it to be one of those ‘Greatest Hits’ things. That’s not what we are; we’re not an arena rock band. I get lumped in with all this f***ing stuff and I wonder if anyone is listening out there, you know? It’s not what I do or have ever done but that’s my lot you know, I get lumped in with it. It makes it interesting because I insult everybody (in the industry) every time I put a record out they get pissed off. I go off from the mainstream, but that’s fine with me, at least I am going in the right direction (laughs)
He does hope to come back to the east coast and play in NY as well as Syracuse. He calls NY home and loves the snow believe it or not, and loves the seasonal changes like most of us do that live here. Who needs all those natural disasters and dangerous critters? He’s amazed at the reviews he has gotten from this album after all these years and will always remain true and soulful with what he sings.
“You look at the clock at how long you can keep that level of fierceness. You listen to a the really great blues singers and they got better as they got older. If my voice was just a whisper it would still be soulful in some way because it’s about phrasing and lyrics, you know? The singing part can really be organic and truthful or it can be operatic and full of shit you know? It’s like arena rock, ‘oh listen to me sing this high note and I’ve put some vibrato on it’ I’m like f**k off!
(We laugh) And then they can’t do it five years later
Or they get the tapes out and stand there and pretend to sing. This album was a knee-jerk reaction against all of that. I’m not going on any voices or eighties tours, and I’m not going to make a safe record, and I’m not going to be told what to do or what to write. The world agrees with me apparently. If that was the last record I ever made I would be good with it. But, if it was the last I did and my testimony, then let it be.
John Waite is a pleasure to talk to and we hit it off as brothers in the window giving the suits the bird and laughing at their reactions. His Live All Access album truly is fresh and is the band straight up raw within months of them getting together. Check out the actual conversation with personal laughs edited out of course but cool either way to hear this legend with an attitude still doing it and doing it right.