The English Beat

Dave Wakeling calls from his tour bus. His band the English Beat, the U.S. version of the Beat, is on the road and passing through New Mexico. He is the only member of the popular 1980s British 2 Tone ska group to have relocated to America. Here, he reinvented the band with a changing flock of young talent, including drummer Rhythm Epkins and bassist Wayne Lothian from General Public, a group Wakeling started in the 1980s. 2 Tone is a fusion of ska, punk, and reggae, named for 2 Tone Records, a British label.

The original English Beat was founded by Wakeling in England in 1978. It would eventually split into two major groups, Fine Young Cannibals and General Public. Even though he’s lived near L.A. for decades now, Wakeling’s London accent is undiminished. He says that he’s been getting positive reviews with the current Beat lineup.

“We’ve got probably the best crew I’ve ever had.”

“Save It for Later” off of Special Beat Service was the Beat’s longest-running hit. It was a real driver of a song with celestial guitar chords built from an uncommon tuning — in this case, an accidental variation of GAD DAG (conventional guitar tuning is EADGBE).

“I screwed up,” he says. “Instead of tuning GAD DAG, I tuned the D up to an A,” thus, GAD AAG.

Wakeling wrote the song as a teenager in Birmingham, about feeling like a kid put upon by grown-up expectations. That, he says, was the adult point of view. But from an adolescent point of view, the song had a hidden meaning. It contained a prank made by running the words “for later” together to make a new word: fellator. “This was the main point, really. It was how many times you could say fellator in a song” — he laughs — “and have it on the radio. In over 30 years, I’ve actually got quite a lot of mentions of the word.”

Past Event

The English Beat

  • Saturday, June 5, 2010, 9 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach

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