‘Rough and Tumble’ is a fairly apt description of John Waite’s latest solo album. The singer-songwriter, who led The Babys and Bad English, is best known for belting out ballads (“When I See You Smile’) and light-rock (‘Missing You’).
But Waite, 56, has recorded his most muscular album of his career with the help of Matchbox Twenty guitarist Kyle Cook. There are some ballads but Waite is most impressive when he rocks relatively hard.
“It was fun doing something a bit different,” Waite said while calling from Los Angeles. “I have Kyle to thank for a new approach. He co-wrote a number of the songs and he really inspired me. Kyle and I hit it off really well. This was just going to be an EP but there was clearly enough material for a full-length. I think the heavier songs might have surprised some fans but that style of music is closer to me than you would think.”
While growing up in England during the early ‘70s, Waite, who will perform Friday at Havana, loved hard rock. “I grew up loving the heavier stuff by Thin Lizzy and Mott The Hoople,” Waite said. “What I’m doing now isn’t that different from what I loved when I was a kid.”
Expect Waite to deliver songs, which span his 35-year career. “It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already but that’s so,” Waite said. “I have plenty to draw from. I’ll have to play the hits so you know you’ll hear ‘Missing You.’
Waite was surprised that ‘Missing You’ was such a smash. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Waite said. “Missing You’ is a country song based in the blues. It has blues phrasing all over it and then it becomes a pop hit. It’s funny.”
Waite can’t help but notice that many bands from his salad days are reuniting. However, don’t ever expect a Babys reformation.
“There will never be a Babys reunion,” Waite said. “That’s something that I can guarantee. That book closed a long time ago. There’s no need for that band to get back together. When we said goodbye (in 1981), that was it. I’m just going to focus on my solo career. That’s more than enough for me.”