The English Beat goes on at Belly Up Aspen |

The English Beat goes on at Belly Up Aspen

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Singer/guitarist Dave Wakeling and The English Beat will play Belly Up Aspen on Monday, Dec. 7.
Ryan Kremkau/Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: The English Beat

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Monday, Dec. 7, 10 p.m.

How much: $18

Tickets: Belly Up box office;

Thirty-three years after the last English Beat album, frontman Dave Wakeling is putting the final touches on a new one from the pioneering Brit ska and new-wave band.

Asked what made him want to make a new record after so long, Wakeling laughed and said, “There have been some late nights in the studio when I’ve asked myself the same thing.”

He’s been on the road with a new lineup of the band for the better part of a decade, including several at Belly Up Aspen, where The English Beat returns tonight.

“I didn’t want to make a vanity record,” Wakeling said. “I’ve been touring around America these last years reintroducing people to the band. And we’ve done 160 shows a year, most of them sold out.”

The band bred a new generation of English Beat fans and found there’s an appetite for new songs from the band behind hits like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “March of the Swivelheads” (perhaps best known as the theme song of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”). An online crowd-funding campaign for the new record quickly overshot its goal.

The PledgeMusic push, which funded the album and sent 10 percent of donations to Doctors Without Borders, made Wakeling take a more thoughtful approach to recording than he did during his major-label runs with The English Beat and spinoff General Public.

“It gives you an extra sense of responsibility, because when a record label gives you six figures, it doesn’t feel like real money,” he said. “Now, it’s like a fan giving you money to make a record. You feel a responsibility to put out a real quality product and to spend the money wisely.”

Wakeling said he’s bringing the band into the studio next month when this tour wraps and plans to finish the record — titled, for now, “Here We Go Love” — and release it as soon as this spring.

“I think it’ll come out as soon as we finish it,” he said.

The English Beat’s set lists these days cover the classic catalog, from “Save It for Later” and “Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret” to “I Confess.” “Twist and Crawl,” with its dense, rapid-fire punk lyrics, always proves the biggest challenge at altitude here in the mountains.

“I like doing that one because I want to see if I can remember the words,” Wakeling said. “That’s a particularly tough one in Aspen. That’s the closest I come to snowboarding.”

He’s also been mixing in some General Public songs and a new one here and there. Based on fan reaction, the new stuff fits in comfortably alongside the old.

“We started playing it, asking people in Aspen and elsewhere what it sounded like, and they said, ‘It sounds like The Beat,’ he said.”