Bad English/The Baby’s John Waite On New Single, Documentary Of His Life (Interview)

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Interview by John Wisniewski

John Wisniewski: John, you have a new single out “Not Dark Yet”. What inspired the new record? What may inspire you to write?

John Waite:  I started out recording with a full band but I couldn’t relate. Everything sounded too familiar. No matter how a tried nothing moved me. The Wooden Heart series was always in the back of my mind so I just turned my attention to that. Everything clicked. I’d been toying with the idea of covering Bob Dylan’s Not Dark Yet for some time. It’s a big song. I cut it much slower and didn’t listen to the original. I knew it. It’s my take on a masterpiece. I hope I brought something to it. More and I 95 just happened. The sessions lasted about two weeks. It was good to be interacting with strong musicians again. It kick started my writing again.

John Wisniewski: You are an artist as well as songwriter. How long have you been drawing?

John Waite:  I spent four years at art school studying illustration and design. Art has always been part of my life. On the road I get the chance to visit museums and see some great paintings. I’ve been painting again to fill in the time with lockdown. I’ll always paint.

John Wisniewski: Any favorite bands?

John Waite:  I’m always hearing music I respond to. New artists are always breaking through. It’s really about women artists at the moment. There’s such a lot of music now. All the great albums from the last 60 years are available too. Maybe that’s why I made Wooden Heart 1 2 3. It’s direct. Simple.

John Wisniewski: What was it like writing and recording “Missing you “?

John Waite: Missing You came out of nowhere. At the 11 th hour. The last song to go on the album. Everything changed after that.

John Wisniewski: Will you be playing any live dates?

John Waite: So far we are edging forward with live dates. Some are private with social distancing. Everybody wants to play. I’m not about just going out there and saying  ” f***k it “. I want the audience and my band to be safe. I would think the more people get vaccinated the faster we’ll be back on the road. We have 10 dates in Holland at the end of the year. That’s what we’re shooting for. My fingers are crossed.

John Wisniewski: Any future plans or projects?

John Waite:  I’m writing a new album at the moment and will be recording again soon. I’m pretty much focused on the new Wooden Heart release at the moment. It’s all good. There’s a documentary coming out this year on my life so there’s a lot going on !!! I didn’t see that coming. It’ll be an interesting year ! Onward !!!!

John Wisniewski: What was it like being in The Babys And Bad English?

John Waite: Being in a band is great for a year or two but after that everyone seems to want to go off and do something else.

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ABOUT JOHN WAITE

Countless musicians of far lesser accomplishment have probably made similar statements regarding their own personal creative process, but when the confession comes from John Waite – whose been successfully writing, recording and performing some of the most listenable, enduring and appreciated popular music for more than 35 years – one cannot help but both recognize and marvel at the shimmering legacy of this British born rock star.

The ride began when Waite was tapped as bassist and lead vocalist for the Babys who rocketed to Top 20 chart positions with a pair of infections hits, “Isn’t it Time” from the band’s sophomore LP, Broken Heart in 1977 and the monster ballad, “Every Time I Think of You” off 1978’s Head First. But it was the album’s rhythmically aggressive and seductive title track where fans got their first glimpse of the authentic John Waite, a no-holds-barred rock n’ roll performer devoted heart and soul to live performance and making sure every fan in the audience left the concert hall just as elated and exhausted as the band they’d paid to see.

After John Lennon’s assassination, December 9, 1980, a bizarre thing happened during one of those furious Baby’s performances when John was pulled from the stage by an overzealous fan during an encore. The freak event seriously injured his knee and the group disbanded shortly thereafter. From the ashes of the Baby’s, however, rose an abundant and prodigious solo career, ignited by the well-received release, Ignition, that featured the single, “Change,” which rode the AOR charts for weeks in 1982, the year a new cable channel that would alter the course of popular media culture called MTV launched. At the forefront of its early play list was the video for the Holly Knight-penned track that in 1985, was included on the platinum-selling Vision Quest soundtrack.

John’s next solo effort, 1984’s No Brakes, did exactly what the title inferred, barreling at runaway train speed to international acclaim and U.S. platinum success thanks to the smash hit, “Missing You,” which did not stop until it reached Number 1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles, Album Rock Tracks and Adult Contemporary charts. The following up single, “Tears” was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.

A long and prodigious career often combines composition and interpretation, like in 1990 when John recorded the Martin Page and Bernie Taupin-penned track, “Deal for Life” for the Days of Thunder soundtrack. But two years prior to that cinematic adventure, superbly performing another songwriter’s work led to one of the biggest hits on John Waite’s illustrious resume. In 1988, a reunion with former Baby’s band mates, Jonathan Cain and Ricky Phillips –along with uber-guitarist Neal Schon from Journey and drummer Deen Castronovo –resulted in the John Waite fronted supergroup, Bad English. And in 1989, the group’s ballad, “When I See You Smile,” – penned by Grammy-winning songwriter, Diane Warren – went to Number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was certified Gold. The album reached Top Five and sold more than two million units in the U.S. alone. Bad English released two albums before breaking up in 1992.

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