The Wades: Britain's veteran purveyors of feel good R&B gospel

Monday 1st June 1998

THE WADES are one of the star turns at Devon's Cross Rhythms festival. David Wade spoke to Mike Rimmer.

The Wades
The Wades

Live favourites The Wades have been going through changes since they last appeared at the Cross Rhythms festival. The departure of Denis Wade and their continuance as a three-piece; the high visibility passionate Wembly appearance at the Champion event and the release of the excellent EP "The Feel Good Factor' with the band wanting to make an impact on clubland mean that it's been a busy but exciting time. Currently in the studio recording not one but two new projects, the band have also recently indulged in a little globetrotting, playing in Australia. Reflect for me on the success of the last EP, which was very different from your debut album. 'The Feel Good Factor' was put together as a concerted effort by the Wades to raise the awareness of the Wades' capability to write and produce clean, wholesome songs that would have an impact on the secular music scene, and to notify that market place that the Wades are launching out as a mainstream act. We were also hoping that we would get much mainstream airplay and this would in turn attract the interest of major recording companies. Although it was very different to our debut album, we are now seeing that both sets are going down well at the many Christian functions we get invited to do. Many Christian function organisers are requesting that we include our mainstream secular songs from the EP in our sets, as a way of indirectly drawing the attention of potential decision makers. The EP has become a very powerful tool in gaining acceptability in the international secular music scene. Christian youth also love it because it is mainstream, dancy and lyrically wholesome to their ears. What has been the response? "Dancing Never Stops". "What A Fool Believes" and "When We Learn From This" from the EP have been regularly aired on Christian radio and also featured on several key R&B stations on a daily basis, the most popular station being Choice FM, the number one R&B station in the UK.

The EP has also been reviewed by Blues And Soul magazine, the number one R&B magazine in the country. The launch of the EP also drew comment in the 1997 Mobo awards to the fact that the band had stretched its horizons to a mainstream secular release. It also brought several TV appearances from Sunday with Gloria Hunniford, to GMT breakfast TV show, so in all we are very pleased with the non-Christian music and TV industry response. The Christian music industry response has also been encouraging. We had some reservations as to whether this direction would be accepted, but since its release we have been inundated with requests to perform across the country and internationally at some of the most key events in Christian circles. Namely Easter People, Cross Rhythms, Youth Alive Australia, Christian Music Festival Norway, Evangelical Alliance. UK, Switzerland and Outreach Conference Brazil, to name a few. It has a more clubby sound.

Mike: Has this meant that the band have been working more in clubs over the past year?
David: Yes, the sound is more clubby because we want to reach the mainstream music arena and this also guarantees secular radio airplay. We would like to think the EP is more radio friendly in its musical composition. This has also meant that we have been able to do more non-Christian music club events and raise our profile as one of the UK's up and coining R&B groups of Christian origin, following in the footsteps of artists like Aretha Franklin. Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men.

Mike: Tell me some of the significant events that have happened for the Wades in clubs?
David: We have played at the Hammersmith Palais, playing a Michael Jackson fan club rally with 3T. The event was a bit strange in itself as Michael Jackson himself was not present and spoke to the audience in a pre-recorded taped message and when we did our song, the moment we walked on stage we were greeted by thunderous applause and the audience stayed with us throughout the song and the applause reached a crescendo at the end of the performance. We also had the pleasure of playing at Dingwalls at Camden and the Jazz Cafe and the Adrenalin Village.

Mike: Did you meet 3T?
David: We only had a brief encounter in the reception room as they were flanked by bouncers - we could just about say hello. We did enjoy their songs!

Mike: As well as creating positive music and good vibes in a club, do you have any examples of where the band has made an impact one on one?
David: We did a club venue a while back and after our set three ladies approached us. In the set we mentioned that we were Christians so they came to ask us about our church and faith. They asked for the church address and the next day (Sunday) they turned up to church. They have since been baptised in our church and 10 other members of that family now attend our church but most importantly we have baptised most of them and they are living victoriously for Christ. It is well worth being in a secular environment giving general entertainment and seeing how God can use you in different circumstances.

Mike: What else can be done to reach clubbers for Christ?
David: I believe well prepared teams should be going into these clubs to befriend clubbers in the hope of befriending them and leading them to Christ. I also believe more Christian bands should get into the clubs to preach but to give joy and pleasure to the clubbers then stand back and see how God will perform. Clubbers gravitate to the artists like metal to a magnet; they listen more keenly to what you have to say. We have prayed for so many after club gigs and they really are open to prayer and someone taking time out for them. I do also understand that not everyone is called to this ministry or are equipped.

Mike: Tell me about Denis leaving the band. What was the background to this?
David: As you know we have a church in Camberwell and Denis now pastors the church full time, something he has opted to do as the Wades pursued full time music careers and launched the group in the mainstream arena. It was sad to see him go. But we believe it was the best thing for the group and the church likewise, as we are now all doing the things our hearts desire.

Mike: What about the transition from four-piece to three-piece?
David: Well, as you know, the Wades have been carrying out a lot of concerts without a full band, so harmony-wise it has not been much of a problem. If anything, it has made the unit tighter and more focused. We have also reassembled our band for major concerts and drafted in our niece as a backing vocalist and our nephew is on drums with two keyboardists and one of the UK's top guitarists. Lloyd returns to his first love - bass guitar whilst singing leads and backing. If I may say so, the whole visual aspect and sound dynamics have put the group in a powerful position to compete with the best that the mainstream has to offer, and yes. I believe it is also a powerful tool in God's hands for the reaching of the lost.

Mike: Yours was a memorable performance at Champion Of The World, what memories do you have of the day?
David: It was a great day for the Church and Christian music, which was represented in most of its streams. My greatest memory is the moment before we went on stage, the anticipation, the excitement, the nervousness, the scent of victory over the enemy and his many devices to hinder an historical day for the Church and the passion of all present to make it a day the Lord remembered.

Mike: You're currently recording two projects in the studio. Tell me about them?
David: We want to take the whole mainstream thing to the next level so we are recording some new tracks for injection into that market place, songs that we hope will compete with anything that's out there in the mainstream arena. The EP was a taster; these recordings will be the main dish. We will release them in partnership with the right independent label and direct the releases to the R&B scene. If they are well received we hope it will attract the interest of the majors and if it fails then we will keep on trying until they have to take note due to the underground popularity and success. The second project is a praise and worship one which we hope will be ready by August. This project will be one that we hope will reveal our hearts' desire which is to continually be a service to the body of Christ at all levels and in as diverse a way as possible.

Mike: Is there a danger of becoming schizophrenic working in two markets?
David: Not at all. We look to people like Sir Cliff Richard, Cannon And Ball and Chris Akabusi for inspiration. They seem to be able to complement ministry and occupation well without compromising their faith. If we remain true to all that we are, i.e., Christians, full time professional musos and ministers of the gospel communicating clearly and honestly, then I believe we will remain in sound psychological health!

Mike: What's the vibe like in the studio?
David: We seem to be making good progress in the studio; we are working with two other production outfits who are really hot. It's good to be working with individuals who are just as excited as we are about the projects and music in general.

Mike: How was Australia?
David: It was fantastic! We saw approximately 350 people make decisions for Christ at the concert we played in a 5000-seater event in the main entertainment centre in Melbourne. We also did some radio interviews and a TV show. We sang in high schools and universities during the week, a mix of our own mainstream songs and songs, which shared our faith in Jesus. We also conducted life options seminars and encouraged many Christian Student Union members. As we drove to one university, we also saw, as it happened right in front of us. a car travelling with three female students turn over several times and end up in a gully. We had to stop and rescue them. Two crawled out the upturned car with head injuries and one remained unconscious in the car's back seat. She had to be dragged out and resuscitated and is still in hospital in a critical but stable condition. We all prayed so hard for them all on the spot of the incident.

Mike: You're playing at Cross Rhythms festival, where you always go down a storm. Do you enjoy playing then?
David: Yes. We love the heart of the people and the vibe generated at the event. When you walk around and look in the eyes of the people you see this sort of smug look as if no one ever wants the festival to end, a sort of "so this is paradise" glare.

Mike: How will this year's performance be different to previous year's festivals?
David: We will be playing with a full live band and will be playing a mixed set of mainstream and CCM so all festival attendees will have a first hand opportunity to see what this mainstream stuff is all about. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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