John Waite


John Waite (2006)

John Waite: A complex journey...




This is my fourth John Waite feature interview in the course of running this site. This is my least favourite of all. The first three interviews featured a more enthusiastic JW - and were I think more enlighenting and insightful.
This time around I just felt like there was no passion in John's demeanor. He gives a little insight here and perhaps I just caught him on a bad day, but the JW I remember is the more animated character I talked to in the past.

Previous John Waite Interviews: 1 - 1997 / 2 - 1999 / 3 - 2001





Great to finally talk to you again. It's been a long time.
Yeah, it's been a while.

It has been a long while. You're back in the States after Europe?
Yeah, I got back last week. We already played some gigs so we're just working a lot now. Just banging out the work as much as we can.

Yeah you're concentrating on live work at the moment. You are an in demand performer aren't you?
Yeah. It's something I'm really comfortable with. I just prefer to play live than be home and it gets me out of the house.

<Laughs> That's great. Look, it's been a long time since we've talked. I don't know if you recall but the last time I sort of had any interaction with you, was via a tird party…I had a Jesse Harms track lined up for a site compilation CD, but with your vocal on it. I was told not to use the track or under any circumstances.
Well, I don't think it's a good song, right.

No, look, I think it's a great song. Just about any song with your voice on it is going to be a good song, isn't it?
Umm, yeah, all that period of stuff either got released or it's just not that good, you know?

That's interesting that you should say that because there's a lot of stuff that hasn't been released, isn't there? There was a deal in place at one time with MTM Music for an album of unreleased material. That fell through, so is it now, basically your desire to leave it all unreleased?
Well, I usually put out what I write, but back in that period of Bad English there's a gigantic amount of demos because we couldn't decide on anything so we just kept writing. There's a big backlog of songs from that era because of that. There's not been other periods of my working on songs that… lots of stuff that I don't use.

Are you still aware of the fan demand for more material even though it may not happen?
I don't know really. When we play live it's generally packed and I'm trying my best to take it seriously. I've spent some time here with records that have been on smaller labels or… I've been in the wrong place at the right time and vise versa. It kind of puts you into a place where maybe you don't see things as other people see them.

You get beaten over the head with a baseball bat a couple of times you become wary of throwing down but I'm very keenly aware that the gigs we play is packed and it's been very good for me to see that. I'm very keen to get in the studio and make a record.

Ok. Let's talk about what you're just about to release, the Downtown - Journey of A Heart release… What do I call it, a compilation… an album?
It's not a greatest hits and it's not a new album, it's like something in the middle.

You know how much I love your stuff, mate. I need to hear your perspective on this album because I'm not really sure I get it.
Well we tried to put something in the stores so fans could pick up on things that are on Temple Bar and The Hard Way and we have a duet with Alison (Krauss) which was like, knock me out, I was so in love with her, it was just great. It's a great song. It was like an abstract view of the last few years out there for people that might not be aware of the other stuff and a few greatest hits thrown in there to liven it up.
It's like trying to connect a lot of different dots on one record. It's a dangerous place to be but it was either that or not put something out and just go on the road and I really wanted to make sure that there was something for the fans this summer.

In the meantime I'm working on new material that has a whole different attitude. This is a one-off. This is like a very strange place to be.

Yeah, okay. I actually said to the Frontiers guys, “I think I know what your game is here. I think you've signed John to get him on board and you're going to hit him over the head with what you want him to record next.”
Do you have something in mind, obviously?

Well I do what I want really. I really like their idea of selling my music and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening between me and the audience. I'm not really into the past. The past is beautiful and it's mine but I always try to move forward.

Interesting comment from you there. It's exactly what I was thinking, you pretty much do… out of all the artists I cover, and I do so with a passion… You really do just do what you want, don't you?
I don't know any other way of doing it. It's like singing off-key. It's wrong. There's only one way of doing it. You can see all different sorts of bands doing it for different reasons and they're all valid. I just work through my own life the way I do. I enjoy the hell out of my life and I try to describe it in music.




Do you have a lot of people pulling you into different directions?

Then I'd better not… <laughs>
Yeah, I don't think I'm a pushover. I don't think people can really tell me what to do. I really mean it. That's the bottom line. It's important to me. There's nothing more important in my life. It's either my way and I'm happy with it or I'm totally miserable.

I've obviously got everything you've ever recorded and then a little bit more. So this album to me is, I've got pretty much everything on it, so I was looking for the 2 new tracks here and sure enough my favorite track on the album is “St. Patrick's Day” … easily.
Oddly enough, that was written with Glen.

I knew it! I haven't got the writing credits, John, but I just knew it.
Glen Burtnik, yeah.

You know how much I love Glen…
Everybody loves Glen.

He's an absolute bloody legend but you know what, I said to you in our last interview, the best two songs you've ever written, or at least for me, in the past few years are with Glen, and sure enough, there's another one.
Well all three of them are on one record so you can't really beat that. I was flying to New Jersey to meet him to spend a couple of days working on stuff and there was a picture on the front of the New York Times of the St. Patrick's Day Parade and I just arrived on his doorstep saying, “St. Patrick's Day”. And about 8 hours later we had the rough draft of it. It's the only song that I've ever cut twice. There's 2 versions of it.

Oh, is that right? Where's the other version tucked away?
Underneath the other one. It's a bit of a “Strawberry Fields”, there's both versions actually get mixed together towards the end so it's kind of a strange song.

That's interesting. It's got a great vibe. It reminds me of… it's got a Temple Bar kind of vibe.
Yeah, well it was in New York. I wrote that in New York and I recorded it in New York City -- that was completely at home at the time. I did record some of Temple Bar at Right Tracks so. It was an odd sort of feeling of déjà vu, really.

Yeah. Any other songs with Glen tucked away?
No. We wrote four songs, three of them are brilliant and one is just a pile. We always joke about the one that we never recorded because it is so bad.

It couldn't possibly be.
No, believe me. It was bad. But the other three are so great. That's just the way it is.

They're three of my favorite songs from you and as you said, they're all on this record which is great for those that don't know the others are “Downtown” and “New York City Girl”.
John, there's a lot of players – I haven't got the writing credits – but I've got the musician credits, there's a lot of people on this record.

Well, there's a lot of tracks on it. There's a lot of different bands. I'm playing bass on it. I play bass on “Missing You”, “Isn't it Time”, and “St. Patrick's Day”. Anybody that stood around and could play joined it. It was kind of like a free for all, really.

Did you record the album in one string of sessions?
No, this went on for 6 months. It's in Nashville, New York City and everywhere else. It's been a very complex record really.

I'll get to the “Missing You” duet in a minute, but aside from that track with the obvious country influence there, there is a lot of slide guitar. There's a lot of country influence on some other tracks here.
There's been country all over my stuff since the “Missing You” album No Brakes. “Restless Heart” was a country song and I've always loved country. I wrote “Restless Heart” for The Babys.

Did you really?
Yeah, I decided to wait for the No Brakes album to record it. It didn't fit on Ignition but it fit on No Brakes. Left to my own devices I would probably play a lot more of that kind of music. I mean “Masterpiece of Loneliness” is probably the vantage of that kind of music. It's what I'd prefer to be. I'm not really wild about synthesizers.

And you shouldn't be. You've got a great organic sound which is… “St. Patrick's Day” is a testament to that. I was just wondering whether you're still… if in the last few records Figure in a Landscape and The Hard Way this have been a more pronounced country sound, I was just wondering if that's the direction you're going to head in?
Well it's probably a bit more of acoustic guitar. It all started with Temple Bar being in New York City and being written in my apartment. I couldn't use an amplifier so I used the acoustic. But I prefer the acoustic sound. I've spent my whole life rocking kind of thing and I think there's a whole bunch of other stuff going on. It isn't that my heart isn't in rock and roll; I'm a rock and roll singer with acoustic roots, but then so again is Robert Plant.
People want to compartmentalize you so badly that they won't let you do anything that's un-self-conscious but I mean I don't really look at music as being one thing or the other. It's either good or it's bad. There's plenty of country music that's absolutely terrible.

Absolutely <laughs> There's plenty of rock and roll that is too.





So you've got the 12 tracks; why these 12 tracks?
I've never stopped to really work it out. I have no idea. It was hard to record The Baby's stuff because the originals were kind of strong. But they did have that big echoey kind of sound and it was great to pull them back into a tighter thing. Just the songs that we play live that people would know. We play all of these songs live so that was the basic reason for putting these on the same record.

Okay. And “Highway 61” your second tribute to sort of Bob Dylan?
Well, I just always liked Dylan's stuff. I mean when you are just looking to jam a song in the studio, everything you've done is like a jewel. It's just an approach. It's an experiment. The original is just an amazing thing and we would just get ourselves around a bit in New York.

There's a raw sense of authenticity on your vocal in there.
Well, thank you.

You truly believe the song, don't you?
Well, I always believe what I'm singing.

That's what I love about you, John. There's always that air of passion in your vocals and I think that's what your fans like about you in general.
I give it my best shot.

Stepping back a little bit from Downtown. Just on the Journey of a Heart subtitle. These songs are a very personal set of songs aren't they?
Well, yeah. It was trying to be a retrospective. It's almost like the song “Downtown”. It's like walking downtown in New York and thinking about the past. The songs themselves are just elements of the walk. On a lot of levels it works because of it.

Is it easier to re-record the newer songs or the ones you haven't touched in 15-20 years?
Good question. No, the older ones I was more adamant about doing because I've lived with them a long time and you keep hearing the mistakes. It was amazing how ragged some of the earlier songs sounded and how the edits on the originals were rough. Some out of tune stuff and how it was just a wall of sound sometimes. And yet some of the songs were cut as a 3 piece band and we just went straight to tape. It's pretty hard but it was interesting to go back and look at it with fresh eyes and see how insane some of the earlier stuff was.

Obviously it had an impact on you listening to these songs.
Well, I play them every night so I think they just have a life of their own. It was just interesting to go back and recreate them. It was kind of weird. It was a pretty strange thing to re-sing something you sang 30 years ago.

Yes. You're a little bit older and wiser.

The new record label Frontiers. They've been chasing you for a while I gather?
I've been looking the other way. I've been very aware of them being a force in Europe. I haven't really got a reason to look for a label in Europe so we've been concentrating so much on America. But I'm very happy to be with them, they seem like they're very sincere and hard working and they have a high standard. I mean they're pretty good guys.

Yep. Definitely. Agreed on all points. Is there a U.S. label for this album?

Just Europe?

No release on your No Brakes label?
No I want to do something bigger. The greatest thing about No Brakes was that it was mine and I could just run around America. It was great. But if I'm going to put something out I want to move a lot of records into the stores so it's always there. It's hard to keep things stocked when you've got a small label.

Let's talk about that. You've got the Figure in a Landscape record out. The Gold Circle label went under which was incredibly bad luck timing or whatever. What was your thinking about trying to get the Hard Way record out?
I really wanted to tour. I possess those tapes and I remixed and remastered and I did some new songs and I did it over. I mean, Figure in a Landscape was a raw record. Some of it was really good and some of it I think missed the target. It's the first record I've made in a long time that I thought was patchy. So I was able to take it back and rework it and add the songs that were missing on the first version.

Interesting. I have a similar comment in my review for that album. I think I told you that. That's the last time that we did an interview, I think, the Figure in a Landscape record.
Yeah. I added a couple of acoustic songs which is something that I really wanted to get out there too. And, uh, just completely do it my way.

I love Temple Bar and I love When You Were Mine, and Figure wasn't as strong standing next to them was it?
No, it was kind of a weird one.

So what do you do next, John?
Hit the road. I've got 6 days off and I go back on the road again. We just got back from Holland. We did a gig the night before last in America. We're just really playing, playing hard and hopefully we're coming to a town near you. We're trying to play a world tour this year and get to Japan. We're going back to Europe. I play Rotterdam in about two months. We'll turn it into a European tour attached to that.

Everything's going at once. I hope the Alison duet is a hit because I've got such a high opinion of her.

Sorry, I missed that. Let's jump to that quickly. Why Alison? She does have a phenomenal voice obviously.
Well, she's my favorite country singer. I was laying on my back about 3 months ago listening to her new album and wondering how she does that. A month later I got a chance to talk to her and we went into the studio and cut “Missing You”. It was like a lot of things aligned for that to happen. She's a tremendous person; I really like her. She's just so what she seems to be and she's so gifted. There's only a few people that I could really go up to the mic and sing with. I just think so much of her. She's great.

Was that her choice of cut or yours?
We asked her if she'd like to do “Missing You” and we got a phone call back within the hour and it was like, “Yes.”

Great. It's nice to have that vote of confidence.
I feel the same way about her stuff. It's just one of those great moments that you can't manufacture; it just happened and it's there and it's beautiful.

Any plans to do anything with that song in America?
Well hopefully. When we get a release date. Get an album deal or something for it. I mean that would obviously be the choice single but we'll see. We're playing it all by ear at the moment.

Okay. Talking about all things being redone, etc, it's very nice to see Ignition remastered in the UK. Do you have finished copies of that in your hands yet?
Yeah, they sent me it. I did it with Howard Johnson. He's an old friend of mine. He wanted to do the interview so I just did it. It's one of those things you don't make any money on it or publishing or anything. If anyone asks for it, it's around.

It's a great, great record still today. A wonderful record. Do you have good memories of that time?
Yes, it was my first year in New York. It's very nostalgic for me. It really reminds me of that period of getting to know the city.

There's a great energy on that album.
Yeah. It was at Power Station and Bob Clearmountain and Frankie La Rocka and all those great guys that played on the record.

Fantastic. Last year you said you were writing obviously so the plan is at some point to do an all new studio album?

It's been a while hasn't it? Figure in a Landscape, what was that?
Well, yeah, but I mean if I could get Columbia Records to say, “Let's make a record,” I could just step into that world but I'm just trying to play as many dates as I can and get out the material that I can to people but without a major label it's a bit of a struggle.

Do you think that Frontiers might be a driving force behind helping you? I know they'd love a new studio album, I'm sure. Is the deal with Frontiers a one-off?
Yeah, it's just for the record but I'm sure everyone's very happy about it.

Yep. So they might offer you a deal for a solo album at some point?
Oh, that's how it's done in Europe, is it? I don't know how people do that sort of thing.

I think they'd …or anyone would love to see another album from you in due course. What style do you see yourself…
I don't know. I don't have a blueprint. You see so many bands that sound like they sounded 30 years ago playing the same songs they played 30 years ago desperately trying to make money out of it selling T-shirts and stuff. I find that kind of disgusting. Whatever that is, I want to do the opposite of it.
I kind of know what not to do by looking at that.

Yep. That's fair enough. I'm just wondering if “St. Patrick's Day” is sort of an indication of where you're going?
Oh, I see. That's just me and Frank Filipetti sat down and we had the New York band there and it sort of became that. And it was very difficult to add new songs to this record because some of them have a certain sound whether they produced it or not. It was very difficult, very delicate. And “St. Patrick's Day” sort of fit somewhere between like “Head First” and “Downtown”. It had some sort of sonic relation. So it was kind of… it was hard to get, but it was worth the struggle.

Yeah, I understand. I think it fits in beautifully with the record. I'd have to say, it's my favorite track on there because it's obviously one I haven't heard before and it's great to hear new stuff from you.
Yeah, thank you.

So we'll hope to here more soon!
Well, it will be more. It's just the case of the summer is just on us and we're playing everywhere we can and this thing is going to come out, so we're looking forward to playing and that's really it. I want to just get out there and make a live record maybe and capture some of this.

I heard that might be the plan – a live album next. And there was one other record I saw at least mentioned probably last year, and that's Greatest Hits Plus Two. Maybe that was Capital that was going to put that out?
Oh, I don't know. I really don't know.

It was a best of with maybe two new tracks.
There's no new tracks.

That's pretty much what you've done here anyway, isn't it?
Well I guess. I don't know. Those people never cease to amaze me.

<Laughs> Always somebody clamoring for more, John.

So next up is a live album and then some time later on a new studio album to look for at least.

And right now we've got Downtown to play and enjoy.
Well God bless you and thank you very much.

Thanks, John. Anything you'd like to add, mate?
No. Buy the record. It's good. I'll see you on the road, you know?

God Bless and nice talking to you again.

Thank you for your time.
Thank you, bye-bye.








c. 2006 / Interview By Andrew McNeice







John Waite (2002)


Hey John, how are you going?

I'm very good thanks, how have you been?

Fantastic mate. I don't know if you remembered but I did interview you about 18 months ago... two years maybe.
Well I do actually have a vague recollection, but it's a while ago.

It was a while ago; in fact, it was when… just before When You Were Mine came out.
Oh God, that is a while ago.

So how have you been?
Very good thanks. Very busy, thank God.

Yeah, OK. Absolutely.
Where are you calling from actually?

From Tasmania, Australia.
Oh you're calling from Australia, great. Fantastic.

Any excuse to cover you, basically.
God bless you.

I've been trying to get a hold of you for an interview for about 3-4 months, I reckon. You're a busy man.
Well it's all picked up recently. I've been doing the Journey thing, the Peter Frampton thing. The tour went on… It's been so busy, it's been like the old days, like knocking out an album and getting right back on the road. It's been very enjoyable.

Fantastic. How did you find the experience with Journey?
Well I didn't see much of them. I mean, Neal came out after the show on the last song and played with us most nights, but we were traveling on a different time schedule. We'd get there fairly early in the day and we would be the first on stage and then we'd be gone, you know. And then Frampton would go on, and then Journey would go on, but we were on a whole different schedule and we traveled in a whole different way.

I had a lot of feedback, and they basically said that you blew Peter Frampton off the stage… you should've had more time. But that's just your dedicated fans getting excited, isn't it?
I like that. Well, you know, we were good. We had a tremendous band. Damon Johnson's on the guitar, the guy from Brother Cane, Buck Johnson, no relation, was on the keyboards. Jonathan was playing the drums as usual. We had a couple of bass players move through the band, but it was a sensational live band, really sensational. We played half the set was new songs. We didn't just stick to the Greatest Hits thing.

That's good.
Everyone was on their feet from the word go… it was very intense. I think the other bands might have been a little bit more relaxed, but we were going for it you know.

Put on your show, sure. Any plans for a solo tour?
Well we're looking for some days between now and Christmas and we're going to definitely do as much as we can. We just got back from Holland, we played live in Holland and then I went on to London to do some press and then back home to LA. It's pretty thoroughly busy…

Now you've just cancelled a London date haven't you?
I'm afraid I just got the news yesterday. I'm unhappy about that but…

Yeah, somebody posted on my message board this morning, this is the 4th refund he's had in 4 weeks due to bands pulling out, but it sounds like you didn't pull out…
It's nothing to do with the trouble in the East. It's purely that we had the 1 date and the record company won't underwrite us going for one date, but I would go for one date myself; I think it's London, it's Britain, it's my home. I can't believe we cancelled it, I mean, really… it's not sitting well with me at all.

Good idea mate, I'll put that….
There's a reschedule though, I think we're going to try to put it back in in late January.

Right, OK
And, you know, put a whole string of European dates together and not just do the one. Maybe do like 10 dates, major cities throughout Germany, Holland, France and obviously Britain. I couldn't believe it. I was a little roused about that one, but apparently the powers that be - they control the cards.

Yep. Well I'll put that up on my site.
Would you? That'd be great, because I feel very weird about the whole thing.

At least that way they'll know that you're not personally responsible, and they can just relax and, there's a few artists that've pulled out, unfortunately, that have sort of annoyed some people.
Well this whole terrorist thing doesn't have any affect on me. I refuse to…you know, we fly a lot at the moment, we're doing all these one-off dates and we just got off doing one of those big benefit dates in Dallas. You know, that's how it is. I absolutely will not let it affect where and how I play. It's purely about having 1 date instead of 10, you know.

Yeah, I'm exactly the same. You can't let stuff like that rule your life.
Oh, absolutely not.

You'd never do anything would you? How did the Dallas dates go - the big show?
Fantastic. I mean it was a gigantic show it was like 17,000 a night and we did the electric set in broad daylight and went out later on and did a couple of songs unplugged. We did “Missing You” and “Fly” back to back and took on huge meaning with the crowd I think with it being such a poignant moment really, but it was great really. I had a great time. I met Paul Rodgers.

He's a great singer isn't he?
Yeah, so that… I've never met him before, so that was a big deal for me. It was nice to say hello. But all of the bands were very much about doing a great job and the crowd was on its feet from the word go, it was a big, big show.

Yeah, I would've liked to have been there, but it's hard for me to get away for a weekend flying from here <laughs>.
There's a couple of people who got the big expectations for a Bad English sort of set. Was that ever sort of on the cards?

Not really. I think the fact that Neal and I played together at the end of our set every night was sort of a sign that me and Neal are very good, you know, we always have been, and Deen actually bought me a guitar for my birthday, but I just don't get on with Jon.

You don't do you…
No. It's… John's got his own thing that he does and we've never really… it's just been the weirdest experience for me actually, but yeah, you know, what can you say?

I heard you were working with Neal in some way?
Actually, I'm working on Neal's solo record. We're working on doing a track for Neal's compilation, live solo record that he's doing.
We're working on the song for that right now.

Tell me more about that.
Well, he comes to me and said, “Will I come and sing on a song and write and sing on a song and write with him for his solo… he's got a greatest hits sort of compilation record coming out and he wants me to sing on it and be part of it and write a song with him. I met him last week and we've been hashing out ideas and hopefully that'll be a really great thing.

Excellent. Well, I look forward to that. John, I'm going through a couple of records, and obviously you've got one main record out on the market and a couple of other things that you probably don't have much to do with.
That's right.

But we'll go with Figure in the Landscape, how do you rank it as far as… I mean, you've had two sort of styles with your solo career – your last 3 albums and then probably your first three. How do you rate this?
Well, it's an extension of Temple Bar and When You Were Mine, it's like it's when I started writing songs in the '90s I think it's very personal. I think there's some beautiful songs on it like “Touch”, “Always Be Your Man”, and “New York City Girl” are beautiful songs.

I'm still obviously it's got nothing at all to do with arena rock. I think it's got real value, and it's got depth and I'm very pleased with it. It's just like the last 3 albums, including this one, have been watershed moments for me, and I've felt the work has been very good indeed. Hopefully the next one will be a departure from these 3 and maybe go move back into a slightly more rock thing.

You think so?
Yeah. I'm looking at it. I'm missing… we come out on stage and we do like, what's the 3rd song on the record…

“Thinking 'Bout You”
Yes, we do that - it's like The Who version of that. It's pretty rock, you know. The rock songs on the record that I like the most they're great to play, they're great to play live but “New York City Girl”, for instance, we sing every night… I think I'm writing for the stage more now, because I'm only trying from the best part of the last album to play live. I mean, I love playing live so much, that I'll probably write the next album more around playing live.

I'm a huge fan of your career, - believe me. Every record, I love it, I really do.
God bless you.

Thank you. And Temple Bar, to me in particular is absolutely, as you said, watershed to me that album is intimate perfection; I love it.
Thank you.

I will say… I'll be absolutely honest with you; I didn't rate Figure [in a Landscape] as much as I did the last two.

I hope you don't mind me saying so.
No. That's all right.

But I thought I'd be honest with you, because you can look at my website and see the review and go, “He was full of shit; he told me he loved it.”

But, I do think there are moments on there that… you picked out my two favorite songs actually, “Thinking 'Bout You”… I can't understand why that wasn't a single, the first song…
Well, it might be.

I hope so.
After what was done in Europe, it might be the final choice for the single. These songs were written over the three year period when the Mercury album went down.
I was writing songs for other people, and I think it got more and more abstract; I wasn't really concerned so much with making a giant big personal statement as much as just writing great songs. Even though some of them were extremely personal. And I was looking for writing great three minute songs and it's the first album I've made that I've put out, that I wrote songs for other people as well as songs I wrote for myself. I never write for other people. I only write for myself. So that's the difference I think you're feeling and I understand where you're coming from.

I think you've nailed it. Absolutely.
Yeah, but it's a freer thing in some ways. When You Were Mine and Temple Bar were intensely, intensely personal.

Yes, very much so.
It was so dark, so dark that I didn't want to stay there. You don't want to stay there unless you're going to off yourself, you know <laughs>. I wanted to do things like “Keys To Your Heart” which were like great live songs. “Thinking 'Bout You” is a great live, up song. They have an edge to them. And I was trying to move out of that very quiet moody thing and do something a bit more universal.

Yeah. In fact, I noticed… I actually had a couple of your unreleased tracks in my collection which I'm very proud to have and one of them was the original version of “Special One”.
Ah, great!

And to me, that was like part of the Temple Bar, moody, very dark, and it sounds like you tried to rock it up a little on this album.
Yeah. I think I was very conscious of playing live and I was sick of being a miserable bastard. I was so dark, I cut “Masterpiece of Loneliness”, listened to it, and I was so rattled by it, it was so dark. I thought, man, you've said this, and you can't say it any better than “Masterpiece of Loneliness”

That is an intense song, yes.
Yeah, and that's why it's last on the album. It's so… that could be on Temple Bar, it could be on When You Were Mine.

Yes it could.
It's a beautiful, beautiful song, and I could not have made that at any other time that when I cut it, you know. So the album has… you know what, this album is faulted. It was made so quickly, and I wasn't sure what anybody thought I was going to do, I just sort of had fun with it and it's the first time I made an album where I didn't take the microscope out. I thought, well, it's a small label, it won't go anywhere, have fun, put it out, don't torture yourself. And some of it was so perfect I couldn't believe it, and some of it wasn't quite what I thought I was going to do, but I like that almost it's like a sketchbook. It's like a sketchbook along with like 4 or 5 really finished pieces, and I like the fact that it is a sketchbook.

I really appreciate what you're telling me there...
Yeah, but I appreciate… you're the only person that's brought it up, and I agree with you. I've got to tell you, I really respect what you said, because I agree with you completely.

Oh well thank you. I mean, I'm a completely anal fan that idolizes everything that you do <both laugh>. What can I say?
I don't know, but I understand why you said it, and I take you seriously because I feel the same way, I honestly do.

OK, OK. And of course, like I said, it's not putting down any individual tracks, it's just the way it flows.
Yeah, I know.

You've nailed it, you're exactly right. But then listen, you and Glen Burtnick, what a magical team you make.

Is there any other songs apart from that...
No, I saw him last week in the dressing room at the gigs in Dallas and Atlanta, and I said Jesus Christ man, the 2 songs we wrote together - they're my favorite songs. And I said, how can we possibly only write 2 songs when I've known you for 10 years?" And he said, "Johnny... he calls me Johnny Long... he says Long Johnny Long... he always calls me Long Johnny Long, I have no idea why, and he says, "We only finish the ones we know are good." And I thought, well, how articulate can you get.

"Down Town" and "New York City Girl" are two of my absolute favorite songs.

They are awesome!
Glen Burtnick man, he's a genius.

He's a great guy isn't he? I talk to him every now and then and I e-mail him. A great songwriter and if it took you 10 years to do that and it takes another 5 to do 1 more song then that would probably be worth the wait as well.
Well, I always thought "Bluebird Cafe", even though I didn't write it with Glen, "Bluebird Cafe" off When You Were Mine was Glen's sort of style; it was very deep.

Very much so.
Very much like a novel.

Very much so. I actually like that song a lot; that's one of my favorites off of the album.
Well, I think those 3 were probably the direction I would, if I do get a big budget to work on the next time, it would probably be those kind of songs I'd turn to and the other half will be that white soul... I think I'm going to go more towards rock and soul, but I can't let go of that kind of songwriting because it's significant to me.

It's too good, isn't it?

Well I'm looking forward to you rocking it up a bit again.
Yeah, well if you saw the live show, we only had 40 minutes with the Journey thing, they wouldn't let us do any more, but by the time we got like 20 minutes in to it, the entire audience was on its feet, and by the time we finished the set, it was like manic, you know, it was great.

And I think that the shape of things to come. With a backbeat, I'm almost a black singer. And without the backbeat, it's singer/songwriter. There's a definite choice to be made there, every time. And I love the sex of singing with a beat; I like the sexiness of it. I think it's really where I'm from.

I must be really nice to have the talent to be so diverse.
Oh, yeah. Damon, man, brought so much to the table.

Did you record any shows?
No. We didn't have the budget to do it. We were doing it on a shoe string, you know, we didn't get paid enough money to do it and make it… I could only pay the lads a certain amount of money because.... we were a last minute addition, so we only just kind of broke even, but, you know, it was a very successful tour, but it wasn't our show really, we were just the first band on.

But next time around... this is such a good, good, band. It's absolutely the band that should be in the studio right now, really, but we've got to wait until we really get a chance to finish this cycle of gigs, you know?

So you think you might take Damon in the studio next time?
Oh yeah. I've had a really great time with Damon. Damon's this Southern gentleman; he's like a tremendously hard-edged, thinking melodic guitar player. This modern and young, you know, he's only 35, and most of the guitar players I've played with have been in the 40s, you know, they've been my age. But Damon brings an extra 5, 6, or 7 years of different... but we have an enormous amount in common, and he's a great guy - one of my better friends. If I could look across the stage and see Damon on there, I know we're doing all right.

He's great.

I'm pleased to hear that. There's, of course, a couple other releases in stores at the moment, one of which, well, you're probably about as impressed about it as I am, what do you think of the Live and Rare tracks release?
Well, I saw it in the shop, in Atlanta; I was buying some sneakers in Atlanta before the show...

Yeah, and I went into a record store, and I saw it, and I couldn't remember half the tracks from the "rare" part of it, but I was so disgusted that I didn't even buy it, I mean for like $12 I could've bought it, but I thought, "Fuck you," you know? I mean, this One Way thing has been so bad for me. They release all of these albums, and they don't pay me for any of it. They repackage it, remaster it, and to add insult to injury, they've actually put together an album of live tracks and stuff that I never intended to be released and I think it's all very substandard and One Way can kiss my ass.
I think they're just crap, they're scum.

I'm going to be e-mailing them because I couldn't believe, you obviously haven't read it, but the inside liner notes are just taken from some generic site off the net and they're inaccurate and they're absolutely wrong. They're just crap!
Well, they obviously don't care, they bought the masters or licensed the masters from EMI and they're just doing it for the money and it's substandard stuff. I just concentrate on the... I think Bad English was great and I think the three albums since then have been great, and I'm focusing on that. I have to let go of it, because it's such a mess, you know.

I will make the comment that I love your version of "I Drove All Night".
Oh, I haven't heard it for about 10 years, so I wouldn't know really.

Yeah, well I thought that was really good. It actually stands the test of time, it sounds really good still.
All right!

But the other tracks were, well, they're OK, you know.
Well they didn't make the album. I think it was Rover's Return they were cut for.

Yeah, some of them sound... a couple of them sound like they may have been even earlier than that, Mask of Smiles even.
No, I think Mask of Smiles they used the best stuff and we never overcut on Mask of Smiles.

But there's some doodles that I did... you know, it's just embarrassing for me, you know, I did all these really high profile... the standard is always very important to me.

I mean, The Babys you know, I always fought for the best stuff, and Bad English and Temple Bar and When You Were Mine it's just really incredible to have somebody that you've never even met take your work over and release it sounding inferior. I'm just beyond disgusted and if anybody reads this out there I recommend strongly that you don't get this crap, just move on to the new stuff and stick with what's current.

Absolutely. I was absolutely mortally offended... the guy in the liner notes was just referring to how good the unreleased tracks are - obviously this is self-promoting kind of trying to get people to buy it - but he was saying any one of these tracks could've fit into Rover's Return and made it... he sort of insinuated it would've made it a better, stronger album. And I'm just like...
Oh, crap.

Yeah!! Rover's Return was an absolute track-by-track masterpiece.
Oh God bless you; thank you very much.

Oh it was. It's just a strong rock record.
Thank you. Thank you so much. You know what, I remembered talking to you about 10 minutes ago.

Oh yeah?
Yeah. It all came back to me. I remember doing an interview with you from Madison Avenue.

That's right, yeah.
I was in my new apartment in Madison Avenue.

That's right, it was a couple of years back now.
But God bless you.

Thank you John. It was a lot of fun talking to you then, and I was so looking forward to it ever since. It was great. Tracks like.... just albums like Rover's Return have been like 15 years now and I'm just like, love it to death and I can't...
It means a lot to me.

Yeah, well that's great, that's great. With any luck there will be another 15 years to come.
Well, yeah. I feel like I've got it in me. I really do feel that this last tour has been an education for me. I've never had such a great time on the road, and like I say, the band was phenomenal and the audience was the surprise of my life. I mean, to get that kind of acceptance without having a hit single in the stores - the album hadn't come out, you know.

We'd walk out with this gigantic Union Jack behind the stage, like a 20x30 Union Jack and the band were like... they call themselves The White Trash Mods because they're all from the Southern states and stuff.

So it's like just an incredible hard-edged thing going on in the middle of what would've been like a very arena rock kind of greatest hits evening and we went for it with all this new stuff and I think it was very sincere, very fiery, and the guys played it very, very well, and I think I sang the best I've ever sung, so...

Oh fantastic. Well, I'll tell you, I had numerous people e-mail me to say the show was phenomenal, so it wasn't just you feeling that positive vibe.

There's' been a couple of labels in Europe interested in releasing some of your old demos but it never did quite came together did it?
Well I actually put an album together with about 15 tracks on it. I remixed a lot of stuff, took stuff out of the vaults and there was an agreement, a handshake that they'd release it and.... I was dealing with somebody that wasn't really very cool and it just all fell apart at the last minute. I was very surprised, very surprised that people would be that unprofessional so... it was just something for the fans anyway. It was stuff I wouldn't normally release, but it was stuff that was very good, and me and Shane Fontayne had written two new songs which we put on that record. They were getting a huge amount of stuff, for almost no money. I was doing it just for the fans to keep the name alive while I made this new record. This guy was just the worst, so I withdrew the album; I just pulled it back.

Yeah, OK. Well, is there still a chance that someone else could come along?
No. I couldn't do it now. I'm under contract to release songs for this new company so the chance has come and gone completely.

That's a shame because I'm sure there's some great songs there…
Well, you know, all he had to do was pay for the expenses of it and he would've got like this original album and he... it's kind of cheap, you know. A shithead really. What are you going to do man? I wanted to make it a very high quality album and he didn't see it that way.

OK. What about some of the old Bad English stuff that's still unreleased?
Well that's out. You can get that bootleg I guess. You can get that if you just go to a bootleg store and find stuff that's been written. There's one that's called "World Gone Wild" that's quite good.

Yeah, I know that song.
And there's one called "Hard Rain" that's quite good.

It's a shame the bootleggers get to make a buck on you.
It doesn't matter to me. I mean, it'll only sell about 5,000-10,000 because it's just for the hard, hardcore fans and with my blessing, you know. Have it. It's from me; it's only music. It's not like a major release, it's just songs that I've written and if somebody gets off on it, then they're welcome to it.

I'm sure they would. So your new contract is basically... who's your new contract with? Is it with Gold Circle? Or was that a one-off?
Yes. It's Gold Circle.

OK. So how many albums have you signed up with?
I've got two more to make and we're looking at doing something in the New Year, fairly soon like February run back in. But it depends, if this tour takes off. We're getting heavy airplay now in England on BBC2 and, which is really unfortunate because the garage gig pissed me off even more, but we have a hit in Holland and Germany.

What song have they lifted?
"Keys To Your Heard" is the big single in Britain. Jerry Walken - BBC2. So we're thrilled about that, so hopefully we'll be there in January, February, and do a European tour. At least do one European tour.

But there is now a real.... we just got back from Holland, we played one gig and did a ton of live broadcasts, we're supposedly bootlegged if we can say.
I've got one here.

Oh have you? <laughs>
Yeah, somebody sent me a bootleg of all the live... we did about 7 live broadcasts - unplugged - and somebody sent me a recording of all of them. So I expect any second that they'll be bootlegged too, but that's good. As I say, it's for the fans, you know.

Is it nice for you to have such dedicated fans?
Yeah. Where would I be without them? Between Temple Bar and When You Were Mine and between When You Were Mine and Figure in a Landscape where would I be without them? They've been with me through thick and thin, you know. They're like my family really.

Yeah, you're one of the few, well not one of the few, one of the main artists with a really strong fan base and especially on the net. A good following that started gathering on the net.
Yeah, it's pretty worldwide right now.

Fantastic. And your next trip to Australia is when?!
Ah, the magical question. But actually Gold Circle are very keen on me doing stuff outside America. They're very keen. It's the first record company that I've had that are very keen about that. So who knows?

There's this radio station here that keeps playing "Missing You" and I keep ringing them up and saying, "Look, I'll bring you the new song if you just play it." And they go, "I'll get back to you."
Well, if you make it a hit, maybe I can just come with Damon and do an acoustic set.

I'll keep ringing it, I'll keep hounding them. Every time they play "Missing You" I'll ring them up <laughs>

I'll say, he's still alive, you know, you guys.
Yeah. I know. It's one of my bigger regrets Australia. There are times that I wanted to get down there and then the record company saying, "We can't do it know, we can't afford to send you, and there's no records in the stores, it's only an import and all this stuff and other bands have done it but people like Phil Collins did it because they had enough money to leapfrog the gear because it's a shit big country but God I would love to come to Australia.

Well I'm getting married January 5 and...
God bless ya!

We still haven't got a wedding singer! <laughs>
Hey. You make me a number 1 single and I'll come down there and sing at your wedding.

That sounds good, sounds good <laughs>. Anything else John?
No, man, I think we covered everything. And you were very right about what you said and I appreciate all the details of what you said, and I completely agree with you.

Well, I appreciate it.
Onwards and upwards man.

Onwards and upwards, absolutely. And, you know, anything I can do.
God bless you.

Thank you John.
Well God bless.

You too. I do appreciate your time and your words and everything you've said, I really do.
God bless you.

Thanks John.
I'll see you soon, man.






John Waite (1999)


A year on from my first Interview with John Waite and at a much more likable hour of the day - I caught up with the AOR legend via phone to his new Los Angeles home.

More informal this time around, I really enjoyed this interview and thought John's replies were relaxed and quite funny in places.
See what you think!

Hey John.
Andrew - how are you doing?

Very well thanks. Yourself?
Well I just knocked a big hole out of my guitar, trying to pick it up!
Pretty good though - the sun's shining out here and everything's hunky dory!

It's been a while since we had our last chat.
Yeah, was that the one where it was like 3a.m. and you were sitting in front of a wood heater or something?

That was me!
Hahaha. Are you in the same place?

Yeah, except this time it is a decent hour (midday) and it's summer, so I am not freezing my ass off!
Yeah, it's tomorrow there isn't it?

That's it! So you are in LA now - what inspired you to move out to LA?
Well I was on the second single from my last album When You Were Mine, that single was Imaginary Girl and my manager was out here and they kind of botched that last single - even with all thee radio stations playing it and no body did anything.
So I thought it was worth the trip out here to be with my manger when the second single came out, but the same thing happened again.
I couldn't believe it.
I changed management actually. And I am still here. It kinda grew on me a little.
It was kind of good to get out of the East coast scene for a while.
A lot of my friends are here and a lot of people who were huge Baby's fans in the music business are here also.
A lot of the Baby's success and the solo success like Missing You were in California.
So it's easy to get things done here.

I am a huge LA fan so I can see where you are coming from.
Have you ever been to New York?

No I haven't - next trip!
Just try and see it - just for the spectacle. It's really something.

Toronto is as close as I got!
That's a nice town.

OK - the last interview ended with Temple bar, so we should start we left off last time around.
You got a new deal for When You Were Mine?

Yeah, that was a long time coming. Two years after Temple Bar had had it's day and Imago had gone down.
And it took about two years to get singed to Mercury. It looked like it was going to be great, because my manager had a personal relationship with Danny Goldberg, who was the head of the company. And my ex-manager was head of the A&R department. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake to just whip out an album and get back on the road.
But we had a few problems with a few things and it just kinda got lost.

How in God's name did they fuck it up?
I just don't know. I just don't know. It was all over the radio. We closed out all the stations in the first 3 weeks and it was absolutely on it's way.
But they had priorities for a certain artist there and there was no chance for a video and no chance for a tour.

But it was such a commercial album.
Yeah, it was really made to do this singer/songwriter thing and take a different route. It was very commercialized and very accessible.
We were getting tremendous reviews and interest and all this air play, but you can't motivate a company if they are more concerned about getting other artists on the radio.

I just don't understand that at all.
Well I had seen it before, I saw it a Chrysalis at the end of the Baby's.
The person you need to get in your court is looking the other way. You can't do much about it. They have priorities - it's a business.

So where did that leave your head after that?
Well it did me in! Especially after moving out here. I really just expected people to do what they said they were going to do.
It was kind of crippling really.
But there are worse things in the world than losing a record. You know, there are terrible things going on all around the world. Northern Island is a tragic. Rwanda is a tragedy.
But losing a rock record - that's ridiculous.

That is a nice perspective to put it John, but it is still a shame.
Well it was realistic. Over the last 5 years, I have had some bad luck. I still got to make the thing and work with those musicians. It was just disappointing.
Things go in cycles and it will come back around.

When I talked to you, the tape was in the mail and I wasn't able to discuss the songs with you, so I have to ask you a few questions now if I can?

There was two halves to the album. A rock half and a more softer country feel to the second half.
Well after Temple Bar started to go down the toilet I couldn't stand to watch it, so I jumped in the jeep and drove right across America and headed down to New Orleans. On the way down I was continually writing songs in my head. And seeing that I was on the open road with a lot of Bob Dylan and Hank Williams - I started formulating an idea in my head about doing a record with a reference point of an acoustic guitar and almost being country.
And it started of with When You Were Mine, which is like an idea of looking back at being 17 and the characters in the songs Suicide Life and Bluebird Café are 17 also.
It was loosely based on flashbacks in people's lives with country and also an English roots feel, my story almost - musically.
I was trying to put it together with an acoustic guitar.

Suicide Life was an extraordinary track…
Well that guy, that the song was written about - when I first moved to LA, me and my girlfriend used to go up to the corner supermarket and this guy stood in the doorway.
Schizophrenic I think, but he had this big beard and was filthy - he looked a little like me!! I was better groomed of course, but he had my nose or something!
That always stuck with me. We always used to buy him the odd slice of pizza or something and have a talk to him. He never had much to say, but he wasn't a loony - he was just in a lot of trouble.
And any time I would come back to LA, I would always see him. In fact I saw him last week. I saw him yesterday even.
In all my time, since 1977, he has been living in West Hollywood walking around.
When the car pulled up to him, I almost leaned out and said "Do you know I have written this song about you" - but I don't know what he would do.
Very strange to see him still about.

The music to that track was pretty out there for a John Waite song!
Well I used to write..…well, yeah. The last couple of albums my songwriting has become more descriptive.
There's a song called Encircled off Rover's Return where I use symbolism rather than spelling things out.

The whole album really does tell a story.
Well yeah, I had two years to get all that stuff together, it was interesting.

Show Me How To Love Me was almost a classic Baby's song.
Yeah I wrote that with Jeff Golub. We were listening to Otis Reading, we were into 'I've Been Loving You Too Long' - just a fantastic song. We were trying to get back some of that feel.

So what happened with Mercury in the end then? Did you ditch them or did they let you go?
No, actually it was pretty funny. I rang up the A&R person on a cell phone driving down the 405. I though, this isn't happening.
So I asked if they would consider just letting me walk away as it hadn't happened and I got the call back in about 3 days saying it would be OK and consider myself free.
They were very decent about letting me out of it. It was a mutual thing where it just didn't work at all.

Well they should be decent - they screwed it up on you!!
Well I am trying to be big about this! Hahahaha.

It's not working - fuck 'em!! Hahaha!!

Yeah, don't worry about being big! Screw them!
Yeah, it was a shame to lose the album, but you can still find it in the stores.
It is a shame to lose that kind of a record, but what are you going to do?

At least the fans were able to get it. It never got released in Australia.

Yeah, but the mail order network is very good, fans know where to find it.
Too bad about the wider public not hearing it though.

Yeah I could have used a hit around that point.
It was overdue.

Yeah, they still play Missing You on the radio down here and I feel like ringing them up and saying will you get the fricking new record already!!!

They had a poll down here for the top 10 love songs of all time and Missing You was in the top 10.
Really? Yeah that was a good one. Write one of those and people know you for life.
At the time it came out I think it connected with so many people. It is almost like My Way or something.

Well, When I see You Smile was in the chart also, so you are not doing to badly!
Ok, yeah.

The Falling Backwards best of is a tidy compilation.
Yeah, there wasn't a Greatest Hits album out at that time and I wanted to salvage a few songs from Temple Bar, so it was a good thing.
I tried put a few odd things on there like Act Of Love, but mainly you have to stick with the hits.

I was glad Act Of Love as on there, it's one of my favourite tracks.
We play that live now. The place goes nuts when we do it. A lot of people seem to like that track.

I still love Downtown also. I talk to Glen Burtnik and am always mentioning that track. Any chance of you guys writing together again?
Yeah, we have another one called New York City Girl we wrote last year, It is really great and am hoping that that will be on the next album.
We don't write that much together, we play gigs and all that. And I spend quite a lot of time with him when I see him. But we have only written two really good ones together.

Well, if they are of the quality of Downtown, then that's OK.
Yeah, every three or four years, if they are going to come out like that, I will wait for them.
A very musical guy, is Glen.

I like his stuff a lot.
So mid to late last year, you did some gigs for the first time in a while.

Yeah, we went out and played a few gigs, it was kind of a new start as we changed agency's and we are playing a lot more.
We are going to slot in a lot more, the agency are a lot more interested in getting us gigs and there will be a lot more in the summer, some festivals.

It's great to see you getting out there.
Yeah, it should be a good summer. I am more concerned though in getting back in the studio.

OK sure, so what plans do you have there?
Well not much. I have like 30 songs written. We are talking to two major labels and there is the chance of there being a soundtrack in the very near future.
And we are trying to get that done and get in the studio and finalize one of these deals.
We really do need to get with someone that is going to push it through though.
These past two experiences, I would rather have day job than go through that again.
I am not kidding either!!
I would rather know where I stood you know.

So major US labels?
Oh yeah.

OK, so let's talk about the new tracks. Style wise, where is your head at?
We are trying not to be as country as the last record, that was a conceptual thing, but there is still a lot of acoustic guitar in it. And there is that sort of Americana flavor rather than blues country in it.
But the songs are very pop.
The last two albums were an amalgam of style. American and English views, but we are trying to clarify what we are writing.
I don't think there will be anything like Suicide Life in the new future.
It's very melodic and pretty modern sounding. There is more rhythmical things happening inside the tracks.

Maybe something like Let's get out of here?
No, I would consider that rock with a country edge.

So even more rock than that?
Well, there is a certain strand of Missing You when I do this stuff. Very spare and a similar rhythmic feel to it.
I am trying to write a big record, is what I am trying to do.
Not trying to complicate things, just concentrate on the melodies and the lyrics.
Write songs that are going to have an impact.

All I can say is Please - Guitars!!!
Yeah!! Well there are guitars all over this stuff. Shane is such a great player. We will never go back to the keyboard thing, that's not my style.
I think most of the success I have had come from the guitar.

Fantastic! So when might we see something? Late year?
We met with a major label mid week that want a soundtrack song for them. There is a lot going on I can't really tell you about, but if that goes through and they give us the thumbs up it will probably result in a record deal for the same label. It's a big label too.

And the soundtrack is?
Well, I am getting a couple of scripts sent over to me tomorrow and some video clips. But is a big label, so I hope it goes well.

I will get killed if I don't ask if you are ever going to get to Australia?
Well I say yes, but something always happens. The same goes for playing in Britain.
We are just concerned now about getting back in the charts in America and even Britain. But I tell you what - we are considering gigs in Europe right now, but I would love to do a festival in the UK.

Well it is alternative festivals only downunder.
That's a shame.
Most Australian bands like rock though.

Yeah, but he press love this imported rap and dance shit! Horrible!

I talked to Eddie Money once and he said it is hard for a white boy to make a living these days.
Well yeah, that is true of Eddie hahahaha.
He's rather special.

And I talked to Ricky Phillips, good to see you guys hanging out and talking again.
Yeah, I saw Ricky last night actually.
We always got on, me and Ricky. It was me and the keyboard player (Jon Cain) that didn't and that is putting it mildly!!
I saw him a few months ago and we had dinner.

I asked if you two would work together again?
Oh yeah, what did he say?

He said he would do it in a heartbeat!
Yeah there was some talk of getting the Baby's back together, but there is really no future in it.
I mean they have even deleted some of the early albums now in America. There would be no point to it.
But he would have been up for it.
We still owe Chrysalis something like half a million dollars!

Yeah, charged us for everything they possibly could, you know.

So what do you do with a debt like that?
You leave Chrysalis!!! Hahaha.
You change your name, get plastic surgery and more to South America. Haha.

So they don't send the boys in black suits around then?!
No! Haha. Well, no - John's out at the moment…….I think he's on an Australian tour or something…..haha. And he's not coming back!

They would never find you down here! Fantastic!
Anything I can add for you John?

Well you can give a plug and there's a guy in Scotland with a quarterly newsletter….

Oh yeah, he wants to know when the Mercedes is arriving in kit form?
Hahaha. That's Kev, my old guitar player. He is a great guy.
He has this once a year John Waite trip, where they go and drink beer where I grew up and used to go to college.
It's wild! Grown men coming up from London to hang around Lancaster.
I turn them onto all the best pubs. Just a little bizarre though!

You can also buy T-Shirts on the website - we are making up a new one - Great Set Of Hits…..Think about it Andrew…

Hahaha. Sorry, I get it!!
So what are you going to play on these upcoming shows?
For the first time we are going to go out and play everything we released that we had a hit with.
For the first time in 16 years, we are going to do Isn't It Time.
We are going to play all the hits, but if someone wants to shout out something, we will play it because we know all the tunes.
We are trying to do a broad show to play everything people want to hear.

You know I haven't asked you about the live album coming out!
Yeah, we are in final negotiations with one guy in the band that hasn't given his OK for it. We are hoping to get that OK soon.

What does it comprise of?
Well, it is a live gig from 1982 that contains most of the musicians from the Ignition record - Donny Nosov and Frankie La Rocka and it is a really great show. The 1982 stuff comes from 2 great shows.
Then there is a quick snippet of the 1984 tour and band - Tears and Missing You.

13 tracks from 1982 and 2 from 1984 then?
Yeah, it is surprising how good the band is from 1982 actually.

Well I think that's it John.
God bless, thank you for calling and being interested, I am flattered.
Call me anytime you like.
Nice talking to you and stay in touch.

Thanks John. Will do for sure!!







c. 1999

John Waite (1997)

I am preaching to the converted in describing John Waite as a legend. The former singer for the Baby's, Bad English, and producer of five very fine solo records, is about to unleash his sixth solo record. It promises to break more new ground for a singer who has had his ups and downs, but is currently riding high with enthusiasm.
I chose to leave the interview in it's original format, rather than into a life story, because as a conversation it was relaxed and light hearted - mostly! See what you think.....


John, how are you!
Andy baby!

How are you doing?
I am very well. Thank you. How are you?

Great! It is an honor to speak to you. Thank you for taking my call.
It's all right mate! How's Australia?

Good actually.
Where abouts are you?

I am in Hobart, Tasmania. Almost at the bottom of the earth.

It's about 6am and it's fairly cold. How's New York?
Stinking hot – we are right in the middle of summer, so it's stinking hot.

How are you these days?
Great, boiling also! I have just finished a record, and it is about another 3 weeks until the single comes out so I am watching a lot of videos and going for long walks.

Relaxing before the storm?
Yeah, kinda I guess. It's New York. I am used to it, so I try and keep busy.

How is the new label for you?
Well it's been great. It is a major label. It is like being back on Epic, but it's hipper, because they have got more adventurous acts. I think Mercury is a great company and it is interesting, it is good to be with a major label.
My last record was on a smaller label, 'Temple Bar'. And that was difficult because as soon as I started to have a hit – because I had a major hit with that record in America - but as soon as it went to the top of the charts the record company folded.
It was very difficult.

You sure had some problems with the label.
Yeah, it was a bit hard to take.
But hey, I survived it and at least I got to make a really good record. I love that record, it was a good record.

I love that record too.
Thank you. Thanks very much.
It's great to be back with a fresh start, I am very happy at the moment.

You have some great guys with you on this record.
Yeah, it's the exact same band as last time, only this time around I am producing.
And I used the same engineer as the last record, Tony Phillips.
Tony engineered the whole thing and mixed it for me.
It was very easy to work with these guys, cause three of them are English and two of them worked in Rod Stewart's band for 10 years.
It is like everybody has basically got on foot in Blighty, you know!

With producing the record yourself, did that give you more control over everything?
Well, I controlled the last one. It's just that this time around I was going for a clearer sound. I decided to do what the Beatles did with 'Get Back' and take all the fur of it and lets see it in very black and white terms, and keep everything live. We didn't want any effects on any of the instruments and, all the vocals are dry, and for the most part it is very live indeed.
And there is a slight country influence because I was going for something that was really roots that wasn't going to be rock so much, like blazing guitar solo's and that wall of sound thing. I wanted to get back to something like a cross between Hank Williams and Jimi Hendrix. I am not really sure what I am trying to get at, but I wanted the songs to speak more than the performance. The songs were more important than the ego's involved in making them.

You covered a Hank Williams tune on the last record.
Yeah, well I have had a strong interest in that kind of music for a while now, that song that followed 'Missing You' on the 'No Brakes' album…

'Restless Heart'…
Yeah, its just returning to those kind of roots. It is not such an extension, it's just cutting back the dead wood again.

The lyric quality on Temple Bar was unbelievable, but I will get back to that in a minute. How about on the new album? What style have you been writing in?
I have tried to get away from the first person a bit, but I found myself…'s very much that still. I think 'Temple Bar' was about arriving at an older age and being sort of trying to coexist with all these past lives I have had - being in New York City, being divorced and trying to make a life for myself. And now I think these songs are about arriving at that place and continuing my life. The last album was the beginning of a new life for me. This album has a sense of an autobiographical twist to it, but I did go outside myself and try and write songs about other people.
Which is an interesting also slightly country twist.

Can I ask you about a couple of the titles on 'When You Were Mine'.
Yeah, sure.

'Suicide Life' stands out as an interesting tune.
Is that a necessarily bleak track?
Ha ha ha. It has a double meaning, because the album was originally titled 'Suicide Life', but my manager talked me out of it. And now it is called 'When You Were Mine', which is the single also.

A little more marketable?
Yeah, ha ha. I still would like 'Suicide Life', but I can see his point.
When I was with Bad English I was staying in a Holiday Inn on Highland in Los Angeles.

Yeah, know it well! (One of my favorite LA areas!)
Yeah, just by Hollywood Boulevard. I had been up all night, and I was looking out the window at this bleak smog skyline and the blazing heat outside, and I always have this strange feeling about that end of Hollywood.
I used to go for Martini's at night at this restaurant down there, and pass all these people that arrived in Hollywood and got lost. Even when the Baby's first arrived in Hollywood, there was this guy I kept seeing – a burnt out guy about 33, big beard, straggly hair, obviously schizophrenic, on the streets with no shoes, and I used to buy food for him every now and again. And I used to see him every three or four years. And you begin to wonder where these people exist and how they got where they got to.
Because they were just a baby at one point, you wonder what they felt, how did they get on this strange trip. A lot of it has to do with drugs, and a lot of it is just about being plain fucked up. But that 'Suicide Life' is about people that took the trip and never came back.

'Bluebird Café' – after the reference to the Temple Bar - is that where you hung out during the recording of this album?!!
Pubs that I know kinda thing?! No, Bluebird Café is a small café in Nashville where young hopefuls go play their songs on this stage their, they sort of audition for the rest of Nashville, and it's like where you get your big start.
It is sorta like completely made up, but about some young girls' trip from waiting on tables to getting to the big time.

It sounds like the songs have a real story telling quality to them.
Yeah, I tried to get back to that. I felt the most interesting parts of 'Temple Bar' were the songs that actually told stories. It seems a very 80's rock thing to be just singing cliques and about the same thing all the time.

Even on Bad English there are a few songs like that.
Yeah, I was trying to get that into the writing with Bad English. Actually I was pretty successful with that. I managed to get them to go for that.

How about the cover of the Dylan song 'Just Like A Woman'?
Are you a fan of Bob Dylan?

Yeah, big time! I think one of the albums that I was trying in some way align the sound of this album to was 'Blonde On Blonde', and the Beatles' 'White Album'. 'Just like a Woman' is from the 'Blonde On Blonde' album.
I used to listen to in the morning to see if I could put myself in that head space before we carried off the first song.

Your covers on the last album fitted in well, within the same sound. You know? They didn't sound like they were out of place.
I guess it is the same this time around….

Well it is hard to do a Dylan song. It is just such an enormous challenge. It is normally a train wreck!
You know, I have heard people do Dylan songs and Bob Marley songs and it's just horrendous. I think it is a genuine challenge to any singer to pull off a Bob Dylan song.
I was looking for that kind of challenge.

I must ask you about the last track. A Christmas song?
There is this benefit every Christmas down at the Bottom Line, that Glen Burtnik puts together, and all his friends turn up and they all play. I wrote the song for that.
It has been such a success. It's a country waltz you know.
It is my favorite song actually!

Oh yeah? Well, you have worked a bit with Glen, live and on 'Temple Bar'.
When I talked to him a while back, he had nothing but high praise.

Oh that's very nice of him, he's a great guy.

Did you enjoy working with him?
Yeah, we wrote 'Downtown' together.

That's my favorite song off 'Temple Bar'.
That is mine too. That was as good as 'Missing You' I thought. That was an extremely high note to hit, and there is only a few people that can go into that place and come out with something, and Glen's one of them.

You did some acoustic gigs with him.
Yeah, we used to go out and just play sets of music to people.

Speaking of which, did you record any of those shows?
No, we just didn't have the presence of mind for that. It was a lot looser than you might think. We would just think of something and start playing it.
We used to do a lovely version of Downtown on acoustic guitar, but nope, we didn't record any.

Shame, I would have loved to have head at least one of the gigs!
Well we played this strip club once. We were doing a radio promotion and they put us on the runway of this strip club. It was pretty funny! I would kill for a tape of that! There were some memorable gigs, it was a good time.

'Temple Bar' was a very mellow record, what is the tempo of the new one?
I think there is more, er, rock if you like, there is a song called I-95 that is like completely over the top, very fast.
I am trying to move into a different area, I have played straight ahead rock n roll nearly all my life, and mixed ballads into it.
And played them in a certain way also, and after a while, it's like if something works some bands keep doing the same thing over and over again and hope it makes the same success.
I just feel that I owe the public something else, you know.
If you like the older records, you've already got them. This album and the last album were written in the same style as the first Baby's record as far as song writing goes. But I don't choose to go into certain areas that I have investigated pretty strongly, but again, if you played all this stuff live, it would probably be about 10 notches up.

After the second Bad English album, 'Backlash', it seemed an eternity until 'Temple Bar'. You had record company problems and a long time to fill in.
The lyrics on 'Temple Bar' seemed to reflect where you were at mentally.
Was it a hard slog getting back?

Well with Bad English I finished the record and did a bit of promotion for it and I said goodbye. I said I was going to leave.
There was a big bust up in the middle of the second record about where we were going to go, and I just wasn't going to go into arena rock, I just wasn't.
And it was a very bad time, almost impossible.
We had to start from scratch. We went into the studio with hardly any songs, which was a major mistake, and was hit by the truth. We just didn't have any songs. I was working like 18 hours a day on songs. Being in the studio you know, it was just an impossible situation. I really burnt myself out. I said I would finish the record and I said I would honor all the contracts. I felt compelled to stay through that situation, but when I did leave, I think it colored me in a very bad light, because I walked away from a very successful thing, even though it was shaky, it was me who broke the chain.
But there was no amount of money that would have persuaded me to stay. I took it all very personally, and I was very angry at the situation, but I honored the contracts and I left.
It made me into a black sheep. Businessmen that run the music business don't want to hear about artistic integrity when you are talking about millions of dollars.
They really don't. They think that is like a token fantasy to them, they don't know what you are talking about, when you talk about art. They think art is short for Arthur.
I think I had a hard time getting back on the beam, because it was hard to find a company that would believe in me. You know if you are not going to make them a million dollars and do the expected thing, what god are you to them?
But the guy that was running Imago records gave me a shot and gave me Carte Blanch really. I was really grateful to him for letting me back in the ring, and I the album I made 'Temple Bar', was probably the best album I've made to date.
But that is what was wrong.
I was very aware during the second Bad English record, of what was going on in Seattle. I had a big poster of Iggy Pop tacked up in my vocal booth and stuff, and a big Union Jack. It wasn't like I was on this big trip to become….like, I didn't want it to be arena rock. I wanted to bring something more threatening and dark into that picture, because we had the world's attention and we could have done a lot more to change the mainstream of American music. We had the balls and it was up to the people to have balls to do something, or just go along just like everybody else is going.
Which is something I couldn't and just wouldn't do.

A dark record I think would have been extraordinary!!
It would have been wonderful. There are moments on 'Backlash' that would get there. But it wasn't what they were doing, and I think it says a lot about them that we tried going to some of those areas. But at the end of the day given their choices, they would go straight back to the Journey stuff, and they did.

You always said you would like to do a Bad English live record, as you thought you had a great band. Did you record any of those shows?
No. Yeah that was unfortunate. It was just one of those things that never happened. I though that was going to be our crowning glory, go out on a high note. Even though we only did two records, I thought we would really put out a great live album with like, some new songs on it, but we could never agree on anything. We never shared the vision of where we were going or why. It was hard to do things like that.

So not much chance of working with the guys again?
I don't think that is ever going to happen, no.

What was harder – the period up to and recording 'Temple Bar', or the collapse of the label and the time after that?
Well, that was interesting. No, it was the two years of just sitting there. Cause I had been on tour for a couple of years, I had made two albums and hadn't stopped running. And then I had 2 years of…
I went back into Italy and spent about two months drifting around then I went all over Britain, then I went back to America.
But I was just basically trying to disappear. I didn't want to be making any more records at that point anyway. I think I went Italy for so long because I couldn't speak any of the jargon, it was hard to get hold of me, and it was hard to have a conversation with anybody there.
I just had everybody leaving me alone.

And that was good, eh?
Yeah, yes it was!

Was it hard to find the willpower to get back up and start again?
No, I was always writing poetry and lyrics and stuff, but the music end of it – I was waiting for something to come that was more honest.
I mean the idea of 'Temple Bar' was a very subtle idea, it wasn't grab a bunch of commercial rock songs and put them out, and shake your ass and jump up and down, it was a pretty grown up record.

I think the style caught a lot of people off guard.
It took me a few listens for me. I was like wow – what's this?
Ha ha ha ha.
Wait till you hear the new one!

Yeah, sorry to describe it like that, but after a few listens I was hooked and I love it. It does sound like maybe your most consistent record.
Thank you.

Did you get a good response from it?
Um, yeah. I got like A+ reviews. I got the best reviews of my career. But it being on a smaller record it was difficult.
We got to number 2 on AC (Adult Contemporary) and that is when the bottom fell out. Right near the top of the charts and Imago just dropped the ball, and lost momentum.
That was hard. It was kinda weird to watch that happen. At least I got to make the record.

What is the status of it now? Imago is sort of semi-going aren't they?
Yeah, I don't know what they are doing. They sold the record to another record company who put it out. I was in London last week and you could buy it at Tower in Picadilly for 19 pounds.

Oh dear!
Yeah! But I managed to take three tracks and put them on a greatest hits album I have just released, about four or so months ago. So the best tracks went on the album and you can get that.

I will ask you about a couple of songs on the 'Temple Bar' album.
'Price Of My Tears'….

Yeah, that was about living in an apartment building in New York, just hating the world really.

It sounded like it!
Well you know, you turn on the TV and see these fucking God-awful confessional talk shows, with men wearing dresses and jumping out of windows.
Fucking hell! I would wake up in the morning and then I would go down the corner to an Irish bar called Kennedy's about 12 o'clock, have a couple of pints of Guinness, get some food, go to the movies. I lived a very solitary life.
'Price Of My Tears' was about living in this apartment looking out on this city, sort of in this vacuum.

The other track I love is 'More'.
Oh great, yeah. That is a beautiful song. That is about spiritual yearning. It is about a similar thing. About being caught in this vacuum and it is just all there is kinda thing. I do like that song.

I have heard of a couple of things, but is there many John Waite archive recordings sitting in a vault somewhere.
I have got 14 songs that I recorded before 'Missing You'. When I had got away from Chrysalis, I went into the studio and cut all these sides, and they are 24 track masters. I would like to release them. Possibly I will do another Greatest Hits record for EMI England, and I might include some of that stuff on it.

Were some of those songs featuring Eddie Van Halen?
Oh no, that is on a live track, when Eddie gets up and plays.
Oh, was that the Van Halen rumor?
Somebody told me that in Australia there was a rumor that I had joined Van Halen. Ha ha ha ha.

Yeah that was probably me! Not that I started it, but I heard something to that effect, and passed it along to Gold Mountain.

Okay, how about a comment on each of your solo records.

It's a good album that. It goes back to a period, just a wonderful time for me. I had just got to New York, and I felt like I was on fresh ground and had enormous energy. It reflects New York to me. When I think of it, I think 1980-81, and all the songs were written about New York so I has a tremendous sentimental effect on me. I was living right opposite where John Lennon was shot – Central Park West and 72nd St.

A very live sounding record.
Yeah, recorded at the Power Station.

'No Brakes'?
Great, because I had just come back from England. I had actually gone home and quit the business and gone home and got married.
I came back to work with Gary Myrick, the guitar player. We put a whole thing together in LA and ran with it. We were writing like, a song a day and recording it at night.
So that was like a watershed album, it was great time for me. Also 'Missing You' happened at that time. It all came right. For once it all came completely right.

'Mask of Smiles'?
That was a bit sadder. I had been on the road for year and a half, I had come off…….I think a lot of those songs were kind of, not so much sad – because it was a great time, it was a really good time, but I was nackered.
I was trying to find some sort of time away. I had this tremendous involvement with this really beautiful girl I had been seeing for 6 months, and I was in love with her. I remember being in the Westwood marquee, living in there writing songs, it was a great period. It's a lovely album, but I think at the end of that period, I was just beat.
I had just bought a new house in Westchester, come back from a world tour, trying to keep the band together, cause the band was falling apart.
It was just business as usual really, there is some lovely songs on there. 'Just Like Lovers' is a great song and 'The Choice'.

I also like the track 'No Brakes'. Was that a left over from the album of that name?
Yeah, that was actually written back with those songs that haven't been released yet. It was one of those songs from that period. I had the title in my head, it was a great title for that record, but it just wasn't appropriate to be on it.

And my favorite album of yours, 'Rovers Return'.
Great, yeah. That was just a full out great record actually. I said after that record I wouldn't do another solo record. I didn't think I could better it.
There were just some great songs on that record, and it was done well.
Frank Fillipetti engineered it, and he was co-producer on some of the stuff on it, it was just really great.
But when I came out of that I had no intention of ever going back and recording a solo album. That's why I put together a band, cause Bad English came after that. I just wanted to be in a band. I didn't think I could make another solo record.

Favorite album?

Yeah, out of everything ever!
I think all of them have a place in my heart somewhere. I think 'Head First', the third Baby's album. It is surprisingly good. I heard it again the other day, and I really thought My God! There is a confidence there and a clarity in the writing that is way ahead of its time, for my age. And I think it was strong record.
But I think 'Temple Bar' and this album 'When You Were Mine', these last two I think are the most revealing. But then again, as you get older you try and define your writing and not try and bullshit and use cliques to actually say what is going on. Even if you try and say it in a way that is still not so revealing that it is embarrassing, it's still art. I think I have really cut to the heart of the matter with these last two records. Really cut to the bone.

Yeah, it was a different perspective listening to a John Waite record with such personal lyrics.
Well that is what I am trying to get to. I am trying to get away from the Rock N Roll singer bullshit, and still have the rock n roll heart. But no use the devices given to you by other people. It is a wonderful art form, is rock n roll.
You have to try and treat it with some kind if respect.

And for the future?
I am going to go and throw this baby out, and see if it's a hit.
I think it is going to go quite well.
Yeah, I am going to do a tour and take it as far as I can. I would like to put a large band together, a touring band, very spontaneous, and get out there and play some gigs. Play as long as I can.

Obviously with the new album and bigger label, there is going to be a lot more promotion. Are there any plans yet?
Well, there will be a tour. I will definitely tour. And we are doing 20 dates in about three weeks when the single comes out.
We are going to some unplugged gigs in tiny clubs across America. Just me and a guitar player.
But should the single show any signs of being a hit, I will be out on a full-scale tour.

How about an Australian tour?
You know, that is the one thing I have not done. If I can get down there I'll come. And I think with Mercury at the wheel, they will let me come if I insist.
If we get any kind of response down there, I always said I would come, and there has always been something that has gone wrong.

Well John, thanks for your time today. I will get this interview on line as soon as possible.
What do you think of the whole net thing?

It's interesting, I was talking to some fans in Chicago yesterday, and it is really cool. I try and write back to people who write to me. I sit down and write letters. I usually get about 10 letters out a week, I mean I really do write back. But with the Internet, you can say I am going to talk to so and so, and you can find the number and get hold of them, it's pretty cool.

Have you got an e-mail address?
No, just the management company. I can't type and I haven't got a computer! So I just sit here with the guy and type things out and send them!
But I try and avoid the technology thing here. I am still learning to restring a guitar.
Ha ha ha
I am not kidding either!!

Okay John, thanks again!
Okay, well stay in touch, and let us know what you do with it, we will be very curious to see how it all comes out.

Good luck John.
God bless.

And that was that! Many thanks to Toon for her help. Make sure you are a regular visitor to her great JW web page for more news updates.
Also thanks to JD and the management co. at Gold Mountain New York, for their co-operation.

c.1997 Andrew J McNeice


JOHN WAITE 'Wooden Heart' Acoustic EP Out December 15

Monday, December 15, 2014
News Feed
John Waite will release a brand new EP independently via his website December 15 and coming to iTunes in January.
‘Wooden Heart: Acoustic’ will feature 4 tracks:
The One That Got Away (John Waite / Rick Giles)
A Heart Needs A Home (Richard Thompson)
Magic Camera (John Waite / Rick Giles)
Withered And Died (Richard Thompson)


Friday, June 13, 2014
Podcasts & Radio

John Waite's # 1 Hit 'Missing You' Turns 30,
InTheStudio.Net Celebrates With Career Best Retrospective

(Dallas, TX) -  InTheStudio.NET, the web home for North American syndicated rock radio show InTheStudio: The Stories Behind History's Greatest Rock Bands celebrates the 30th anniversary of John Waite's # 1 single 'Missing You' and album No Brakes.

When you aggregate the many high points from the recorded body of work of John Waite over the last three decades of popular music, his well-known world class singing voice is readily on display, but what emerges is a dedicated, well-read, mature songwriting craftsman who has maintained the highest standards over a lengthy career.

Whether with the woulda-coulda-shoulda-been UK band The Babys ('Isn't It Time', 'Head First', 'Back on My Feet Again', 'Midnight Rendezvous' ); the late Eighties supergroup Bad English (#1 song 'When I See You Smile',  'Straight to Your Heart'), or solo ('Change', 'Missing You' #1; 'Encircled','Downtown', 'New York City Girl', 'If You Ever Get Lonely', a Country hit covered by Love and Theft), John Waite never underestimates the power of a song to tattoo indelibly a memory on your heart forever. Many of these songs are newly re-recorded on John Waite's latest Best, including 'Miss You 2014'.

John shares with InTheStudio program host Redbeard the feelings behind his 1984 # 1 hit 'Missing You'.

'It was really unbelievable... It was the last thing anybody expected, for me to be
number one. YES ! (laughs). 'Missing You' touched a lot of people on a lot of different levels. People who have lost people. People who are obviously breaking up and trying to get on with their lives. But it was amazing how far ranging it was, the emotional range of that song.'

STREAM the complete John Waite program as part of InTheStudio's Medium Rare 'online-only' rockumentary series.

Direct Program Links:

John Waite website: HYPERLINK ''
InTheStudio website:  HYPERLINK '

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