At 61, San Fernando-Valley-based Brit Dave Wakeling knows how surreal it sounds to have not one, but two, viable versions of his old ska-punk juggernaut The English Beat. One features vocalist Ranking Roger; the other, which released the rollicking “Here We Go Love,” its first new studio album in 36 years, is anchored by the signature soulful rasp of the man himself. He financed the comeback through a PledgeMusic campaign, which wasn’t around when the group splintered after only three albums in 1983. But Wakeling had bigger existential questions on his mind during a recent phone interview, like “What kind of person are you? Do you make your own hummingbird food mix, or do you pay $11 for $2 worth of sugar because you can’t be bothered?”
So you’re at a home and garden center right now, buying what, exactly?
Critter supplies! Because I’m on tour a lot, I can’t really have a pet. So I have this great garden, where I’ve got this kind of Dr. Doolittle vibe going on with the critters. So I spend a lot of time in my garden, and critters either find me funny or attractive, because I’ve always got a lot of them hanging around me — hummingbirds, squirrels, field mice, mockingbirds. They all come and visit, and I make sure they have food available.
Skunks are always fascinating.
We’ve had some passing through. We did have an opossum family, and they’re certainly amazing to watch, and when they open their jaws, they’ve got more teeth than a lawyer. When my friends come round to visit, they go, “Ugh, vermin.” They’re appalled, so it’s up to me, Dr. Doolittle. And it is a bit scary, you know. The squirrel will take a nut from your hand, but if it sinks its claws into the end of your finger, you can’t get your finger back. Nature is not to be messed with.
Anything scary show up, expecting a meal?
Not really. Magpies are about as exotic as it gets. But you sit there, having your coffee, and it’s very peaceful. But when you think about it, everything out there in the garden is looking to kill something and eat it, while simultaneously worrying that something is trying to kill and eat it. It’s this endless life and death struggle.
Who tends the garden when you’re touring?
My son Max. I water the plants three times a day, he’ll water them four. But I think it’s a great life lesson for him, as well — learning about nature in 112-degree heat, with the fear that you might kill your dad’s plants hanging over it all. That’s great preparation for life, that is.
IF YOU GO
The English Beat, with Dave Wakeling
Where: Cornerstone, 2367 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
When: 8:30 p.m. Sept. 21
Tickets: $29 to $34
Contact: (510) 214-8600, www.ticketfly.com