Dave Wakeling, founding member, lead vocalist and songwriter for the legendary ska band, The English Beat, is recording and touring extensively these days in celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary, although at times Wakeling would rather be sipping endless cups of tea in bed with the news on the telly and a close friend nearby. We caught him while on tour in Canada to respond to PopMatters 20 Questions.
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, The Children of Men by P.D. James, The Waves by Virginia Woolf, and Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire always bring on the waterworks. Not tears of joy or sorrow, but gentle, slow tears of acceptance and connection, that you can drink and only grow stronger from.
2. The fictional character most like you?
Since I stopped boozing, people tell me Dorian Grey, although I always liked to think of myself as Thor.
3. The greatest album, ever?
Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live!
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Both a load of rubbish; much prefer looking at the stars and making up my own stories.
5. Your ideal brain food?
Talking philosophy and politics with complete strangers.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I survived 30 years of free beer backstage, despite my best endeavors! I lived to reflect on this insight into my dark side; you learn much more from your failures than you do from your successes.
7. You want to be remembered for…?
I don’t think I’m bothered if I’m remembered or not—hardly seems the point of it all. But if you have to, put me down for compassionate irony.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
The Buddha did a terrific job of describing and explaining the human predicament. I haven’t found any others that compare to his insight and humor.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
None at all. I am thrilled and amazed that any of my tunes could offer enjoyment and comfort to others. I suppose if I could have the trademark on the wheel…?
10. Your hidden talents…?
They are of course hidden, and wouldn’t be hidden anymore if I disclosed them.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My dad told me: “Why stand when you can sit, why sit when you can lie, why lie when it costs the same to tell the truth?” He may well have gotten that from Rudyard Kipling; sounds like one of his.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
The only valuable things in life are free; possessions are never as satisfying as moments, and most often are just a cul de sac to become stuck in. How many miserable uptight millionaires have you met…Miles Copeland, Jeff Kwatinetz?
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
Adidas, Victorinox and Fred Perry feel most comfortable and functional to me, and help support my fragile self image of a sporting man of action.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
I would never dream of eating at the Ritz…too ritzy by definition, and I doubt they make a decent vegetable curry and yellow dahl.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
Here, now, and because there is nothing else ... duh?
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
A spa retreat with a hitman on Prozac does sound tempting, but I think watching the TV news in bed, with endless cups of tea, and a close friend, would do the trick for me. Preferably with a view of the ocean out the window.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Ha ha! Same as the last one; endless cups of tea in bed with the news and a close friend.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Somewhere warm by the seaside. California, the Carribean and Hawaii all work for me.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Well done young sir, awfully proud of you. Then ask if he’s just going to try to revive free market capitalism, or perhaps seek a smarter paradigm that takes into account all our human strengths, weaknesses and foibles.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
On tour in Canada right now, then tour the US East Coast, then national US tour with Reel Big Fish and Hepcat, and in between times recording two new songs: “The love You Give Lasts Forever” and ” Said We Would Never Die”.
Working on getting all that done soon so I can get back into bed and watch the news with a nice cup of tea…ahhhhh!