John Waite: ‘American music was a gigantic influence on me’

Samedi 8 Mars 2014

John Waite will sing at the Frontiers Rock Festival at Milan on May 2014. He has been kind enough to answer my questions.

You grew up in England in the 60s. What were your memories of the music of your teenage hood? I guess it was an exciting period.

American music was a gigantic influence on me. Cowboy music morphed into rock seamlessly. I was " in " the moment I heard country music like Brenda Lee and Marty Robbins. It was exotic and sexual before I understood sex! It still moves me on a profound level. The Beatles were like a door opening. I went through.

Which musicians had a major influence on your music?

I can't honestly name one artist as a major influence. It was all around me. My brother is a great guitar player. He had the only Fender guitar in my home town of Lancaster. The blues was like finding a key. I always had the same phrasing so when I heard those singers I knew I was one of them. Singing is really about emotional honesty. Over singing is soulless. I understood Paul Rodgers the first time I heard him. John Lennon and Paul McCartney too. Women singers draw me in. I think they are more emotional.

You have been more successful in the US than in your own country. How did that come about?

There was little or no interest in The Baby's in England when we set out. It was America or bust. It was the home of rock and roll so it seemed natural to try for it. There's a huge amount of music comes out of Britain. I think we were ahead of our time.

What was life like for a rock star in the 80’s?

I spent the 80's in NYC so my 80's were pretty hip. I was young and there were all the things going on that young men go for. Sex, drugs and a lot of laughter. Great times!!!!

What memories do you have of the Bad English period and do you think that a reunion is possible?

Bad English was a compromise and uneasy. I've never looked back and thought I would put it back together. Same with the Baby's. I've had more success being solo. I don't do anything just for the money. I'm clear about what I want to do. It's not good for the soul to compromise.

You toured with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. How is Ringo? And what is the atmosphere in this all-starr band?

It was intense to play in the All Stars. It was sometimes very political. It was fun to meet Ringo but I'm not really an "employee". I hope he was happy with what I brought to the picture. I treat everyone the same. If you're a waiter or the Queen of England I treat you with the same respect. That's how I live.

You recorded a new version of Missing You with Alisson Krauss. How did that happen?

I recorded with Alison because she moves me. I love her.

Your last studio album Rough & Tumble is in line with your former records. There has never been a major style change in your career. Is it because you have found you niche?

The style of music I play is unchanged because it's all I know. I don't imitate other people. It's my greatest strength really. I can't bullshit. I can only give it to you one way.

Your songs age well. What is the recipe to write and record a timeless song?

Honesty is everything in music. If you're just trying to write catchy songs you're worthless. The mainstream is awful. Music is a mirror. It's the most universal way to communicate. Plato said music can change politics. " Give Peace A Chance" gave world a voice to stop the war in Vietnam. Not bad !!!!

On 3 May 2014, you will sing at the Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan. Could you tell me more about your gig? Will it sound like what we can hear on the Live All Access Album?

I'm looking forward to bringing the band to the Frontiers festival. It's the same band that played on All Access. It's the best band I've been in. I fully expect to rip it up !

Is there a chance to see you live in France soon?

We are looking for more gigs in Europe. France would be great. I'm European so it means more to me than you may think. I also have a Greatest Hits album coming out next month so touring is on my mind.

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Boris Plantier