Dave Wakeling has cause to be annoyed at Australia, but thankfully he isn't. The frontman of the English Beat – the seminal two-tone ska group – was the victim of some rather zealous work by his Australian representation in the late ’70s. "We were trying to decide what to call ourselves internationally, y'know?" he says down the line from Idaho. "We were definite that we didn't want to have the word 'British' in the title, there was all these negative connotations to the term at the time. Then we get a phone call from Sydney to say that our label down there had decided we were taking too long to come to a decision, so they'd decided we'd be called the British Beat. I just decided then and there: ‘Sorry, but I'm never coming to Australia!’”
Thankfully the Englishman is only joking, because (properly dubbed) The English Beat are heading to our shores. The only proviso is that they have to survive their current US tour. "We're in the midwest of America at the moment and we just escaped the big fires in Colorado, then we got out of Ohio just before the place flooded. Needless to say it's great timing to be heading Down Under!" It will be worth the wait, he promises. "It just seems like a fantastic way to visit, because the band are in fine fettle at the moment. I think that by the time we get there the new album's tracks will be shining bright."
Those new tracks will be on show at the Australian shows, and there is no indication the Beat have been tamed in their later years. Wakeling sounds something of a warning that’s got us excited: “It’s horrible if the security at your show make all the people sit down – you can get away with discussing the tragic and horrific parts of life if people are jigging away." When that happens, it's a feeling he loves. "There are nights where I feel very expansive when I'm singing, and I can see that energy flashing over the crowd like a fire. If it's done just right we're like a centipede with a thousand legs, involving everyone. It does feel like an honour to be able to pull people together. You can be sure there'll be plenty of drama Down Under."