Nine years have passed since General Public first disbanded.
Though the sound waves have been silent until a few months ago, the band - composed mainly of vocalist/guitarist Dave Wakeling and toaster (a reggae term for the one who chats and encourages the crowd to immerse themselves into the show) Ranking Roger Charlery set aside their differences and decided to give it another try."Each time we ran into each other, the ice seemed to thin more and more," said English native Wakeling from his home in Dana Point, Calif. - midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. "We kept bumping into each other, and our bands played opposite each other about seven or eight times. I approached him and told him he could come stay at my house the next time he was in town."
General Public, Burning Spear, Pato Banton, (Third World's ) Bunny Rugs and Lucky Dube will appear at the all-day Planet Reggae '95 festival Friday, Sept. 1, at the University of Utah's North Ballif Field. Gates open at 10 a.m.
The next time Charlery got back to town, he phoned Wakeling and stayed at his house. Charlery was in a band called Special Beat and Wakeling was fronting his own Free Radicals.
"It was rather pleasant," said Wakeling. "Instead of political talks, we mentioned to each other the notion of writing songs again. So I quickly turned on my amplifier and we went from there."
The union of Charlery and Wakeling actually goes back to the English Beat, the late '70s group known for blending Jamaican toasting and English punk. By 1984, the musicians offshot to form General Public. The band released its debut " . . . All the Rage" and the follow-up "Hand to Mouth" before calling it quits in 1987.
"We had problems with songwriting philosophies," stated Wakeling. "Roger wanted to form songs around drum machines, and I preferred picking up my acoustic guitar. The main problem I had was not being able to feel the passion of the music if I didn't play it myself. There is no "passion" button on a machine."
But as time passed, the wounds healed (and drum machines became more sophisticated).
"I learned that machines can be used to assist you," said Wakeling. "I recorded the new album with a lot of help from the machines. They helped me keep my voice consistent throughout."
The album has perked the ears of the curious and fanatical who have attended the shows in mass.
"We still have a loyal following, but the times have changed," confided Wakeling. "I don't find it a joy watching someone getting their ribs cracked in a mosh pit. Don't get me wrong, I understand angst and such, but the moshing is something I don't find amusing. Back during the punk years, the slam-dancing was more cooperative and fun, now it's become demented, and its velocity has reached terrifying proportions. I do like the NFL and boxing matches. If I wanted to see those events, I'd stay home."