Dave Wakeling has been talking about making a new English Beat album -- the ska-punk group's first since 1982 -- for several years. Now he's ready to make it a reality, thanks to crowd-funding.
Wakeling, who co-founded the group 35 years ago in Birmingham, England, and now resides in California, is planning a campaign via PledgeMusic.com that will turn the 20 or so songs the current incarnation of the group has been working on into a release. But he's wants to make the incentives more attractive than usual for fans.
"I think I've got some smashing secret ideas about how we can make it a bit more entertaining, a bit more fun," says Wakeling, 57. "It's bothered me sometimes when I see those campaigns that are like, 'Oh, for an extra $50 you get to meet me.' If someone's bought your records for 30 years they should be able to say 'hello' without having to pay for that privilege, you know?
"So I'm trying to come up with stuff that's more original and one-off, actually give somebody a chance to do something that is an occasion and something that's special. I'm still working on them, but I'm not going to tell you any of them yet."
Meanwhile, Wakeling says he'll be happy to get the material out, finally. He's been road-testing the songs for a few years now, and he knows the English Beat audience is anxious to be able to finally have them in some form better than dodgy YouTube videos.
"People are asking for them, which is a good sign," Wakeling says. "We'll play a song and people will go to the merch table and ask for a CD of it. For a long time I just was putting my head down, playing the best shows I could. But now it's the right time to put something out.
"You're better off, I think, to wait and not start making records until somebody asks for them. If they start asking, you know it's not just a vanity project, right?"
The English Beat performs Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22. Call 248-540-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.
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