John Waite (The Babys/Bad English) Interview By: Rob Smittix
Written by Staff on November 3, 2022
RRX: When I got the message down the line that I was going to talk to you, I thought it was pretty cool because, first, of all the bands that you were in and your solo work is like the soundtrack to growing up years. Which is really cool.
JW: Well… me too.
RRX: What’s going on in your life now?
JW: Well just coming back, we were on the road with Rick Springfield and Men at Work. We did a five in a half week tour of America to back up the release of my new EP of original songs called “Anything.” That’s just gone through the roof, I’ve had a ton of success with that. At the same time released a greatest hits called “Singles,” so we’ve got that going. We did the tour of America, came back and had like five days off in Santa Monica. But I played with the band at a friend’s wedding on day three, I came home day four and on day five I flew to Holland. We did seven sold out shows in Holland. I got to play with Rinus Gerritsen of Golden Earring, who got up and played on “Masters of War.” He’s such a fantastic bass player, I’ve been a huge fan all of my life.
RRX: That’s cool.
JW: Then I flew to England to see my Mum, who is ninety-seven. I went to my hometown for five days then I flew to New York then straight up to Boston and played the county fair and then came home. It been a banging two months then I come home and I’ve got this cold. But everything is going so well, there’s a documentary coming out about me in December on Netflix, that’s going to be interesting too. So, there’s such a lot going on, I’m just taking the time off and digging it, you know?
RRX: Definitely sounds like you’ve been on the move, it’s really cool that you got to see your mom though during that time.
JW: Yeah! You know what I mean, ninety-seven and still kicking. We hung out, took her to lunch and she washed my socks. It was lovely, it was good to see you, Mum!
JW: Then I hung out with a couple of old friends, had a lot of Indian food and it was great. It was good to go home. Lancaster will always be a really great place for me to go back to. I always go back there. It wakes me up, it reminds me of where I am from and it’s a beautiful thing.
RRX: Now obviously you are always on the move, but you have a little off time now. Over the course of all of these years have you ever taken a long-extended break?
JW: A couple of times. After The Babys broke up I went back to England, got married and just didn’t think that I would ever record again. Times like that and after Bad English I went back to Pound Ridge and didn’t do anything for a year. I always did it on my own terms, I don’t dance to the music business. When I want to record I do, when I want to tour I do and if I’m not inspired I don’t. I’m not a part of the big machine. I try to make it so it’s always authentic, I guess that’s why I maintained as long as I have. It’s always from the heart, it’s never been just about the money or the business.
RRX: You can tell too with the music too. It’s so universal in a sense that a vast majority of people that are fans of other types of music tend to like your music as well.
JW: I think if you speak from the heart, people listen from the heart. I don’t really go beyond that, I just work with what I know, like a conversation. I try to talk to people the same way that I write songs. I just say what’s om my mind, put a melody behind it and you have something.
RRX: I agree with that whole-heartedly.
JW: I think that talent is like a burning light and people are drawn to it. I was a shy kid, I was a bass player that sang and could write some songs but I wasn’t looking to be successful on any level other than just being a band and making music. But I think people are drawn to that. Emotional honesty is like a burning vivid light and people are drawn to that and I think I have that. I think I still have it. I’m not trying to be a songwriter and be successful, it’s art and it’s honest.
JW: Sometimes you have a song like “Missing You” that just comes out of nowhere and it did. It wasn’t meant to be a hit and that’s why it was a hit because it was just so unvarnished, this is how I feel.
RRX: “Missing You” has this magic element to it. I mean it really resonates.
JW: Yeah, but I made that up on the spot, it only took 20 minutes.
RRX: No way!
JW: I had no idea I was going to write that. You walk into music, it takes you with it and then you’re free. To sit down and try to write songs I don’t know how to do that, I just close my eyes and away I go.
RRX: Man, that’s something that I wish came to me all of the time, that’s great.
JW: Well, you know it doesn’t come all of the time. You have to wait for it. It’ll tap you on the shoulder and say here I am. You’re a conduit, you’re the messenger and I can’t really take credit for it. You make it up on the spot, look back at it and say how the f**k did do that?
RRX: I couldn’t have said that better. There are people that have known you for years but you don’t know them. Do you know what I mean? Is there anything you would share with people that maybe would surprise them about John Waite?
JW: No, I walk out on stage and what you see is what you get. There’s a sense of connection, of family, history and expectation for something new. That’s my job and that’s what I love and when I look out there at the people, they’re one with me. That’s all I know. I can’t describe it. I’m not so gifted with words that I can describe what that is but it’s the reason I get up in the morning and have a life. It’s seriously important. You look at them and you’re connected, it’s the most wonderful thing you know? To have someone understand you in life is the biggest thing and I feel understood.
RRX: I couldn’t have said it better and I’ll see you at The Strand November 15th with you being backed by The No Brakes Band.
JW: Yeah, we’re still kicking, it’s a wonderful thing. I turn around on stage, look at them and just start laughing, it’s the greatest. So, c’mon man, come backstage I’ll buy you a beer.
RRX: I’m all about it.
JW: I enjoyed the conversation. God bless.