Soul Asylum & The English Beat

Tuesday, June 28th 2016

ARTIST BIO

“A friend asked me what kind of records I want to make, and my answer was that I always want to make a record that I want to hear that’s not already in my record collection,” says Dave Pirner.  “I think we got that on this one.”

Pirner is referring to Change of Fortune, Soul Asylum’s eleventh studio album, and its first for Entertainment One Music (eOne Music).  The dozen-song set embodies the band’s trademark balance of rocking abandon, infectious melodic craft and raw-nerved emotional depth, boasting a compelling set of new Pirner compositions while showcasing the strength and versatility of Soul Asylum’s current lineup, which teams founding singer/guitarist Pirner with guitarist Justin Sharbono, bassist Winston Roye and drummer Michael Bland.

Three and half decades down the road from the band’s indie-punk origins, Change of Fortune — co-produced by the band and longtime studio collaborator John Fields — is classic Soul Asylum, with such musically and lyrically pointed new tunes as first single “Supersonic,” “Can’t Help It,” “Doomsday,” “Make It Real,” and the title track packing a familiar sonic and emotional punch, while carrying a hard-won sense of survival and perseverance that honors Soul Asylum’s storied history while pointing towards the future.

“It’s more honest than any record I’ve made in a very long time, just because there was no one looking over my shoulder and editing me, which was very liberating for me,” says Pirner.  “It sounds like the vision that I had in mind a really long time ago.  When I listen to it, I think, ‘That sounds like Soul Asylum,’ and that’s as good as it gets for me.” 

Change of Fortune — which features an appropriately arresting cover image by world-renowned wildlife photographer TK — marks the recording debut of the current Soul Asylum lineup, which has racked up a considerable amount of roadwork and honed its combustible musical chemistry since Sharbono and Roye joined in 2012.  Drummer and multi-talented right-hand man Bland joined Soul Asylum in 2005 with an extensive resume that includes work with fellow Minneapolitans Prince and Paul Westerberg.

“I would say, without reservation, that my band is probably the best band on the planet,” Pirner asserts, adding, “That always gets me in trouble, but it’s not because of me; it’s because of Michael and Winston and Justin.  It’s incomprehensible to me that the elements have fallen into place the way they have, but it’s driving me nuts how much I love this band.”

Soul Asylum has been inspiring that level of passion since 1981, when the band, initially known as Loud Fast Rules, formed in Minneapolis.  The band’s raucous live sets and early releases on the hometown indie label Twin/Tone — including the albums Say What You Will, Made to Be Broken and While You Were Out — earned it a loyal fan base and widespread critical acclaim.

Soul Asylum’s indie success led to the band entering the major-label mainstream with 1988’s Hang Time and its 1990 follow-up And the Horse They Rode In On, and achieving a platinum-level commercial breakthrough with 1992’s Grave Dancers Union and 1995’s Let Your Dim Light ShineGrave Dancers Union featured the international hits “Runaway Train,” which won a 1994 Grammy as Best Rock Song, and “Black Gold,” while Let Your Dim Light Shine spawned the hit “Misery.”  The band went on hiatus after 1998’s Candy from a Stranger, during which time Pirner released his first solo effort, Faces & Names.  Soul Asylum returned to action in 2006 with The Silver Lining and released Delayed Reaction six years later.

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be in a band, and I decided that’s what I was gonna do, and that hasn’t changed,” Pirner notes.  “This whole thing is an act of faith, and the worse the music business gets, the more of an act of faith it becomes.  But I don’t give a f—, I’m gonna keep doing this until the day I die.  We’re always struggling to figure out how we’re gonna make this work, but I’m not going to waver. 

“People who feel disenfranchised tend to identify with Soul Asylum,” Pirner observes.  “I’ll look out at the crowd and see people singing along with my songs of frustration and insecurity, and the irony is not lost on me.  There’s a part of me that’s never gonna fit in, but I love being around people who love music, and I’m very loyal to the idea of whatever Soul Asylum is.  The future is bright, everything is good, and if there’s something in this record that can make people feel like things are gonna be OK, then it’s mission accomplished.” 


The English Beat is a band with an energetic mix of musical styles and a sound like no other. The band’s unique sound has allowed it to endure for nearly three decades and appeal to fans, young and old, all over the world.

When The English Beat (known simply as The Beat in their native England) rushed on to the music scene in 1979, it was a time of massive social and political unrest and economic and musical upheaval.  This set the stage for a period of unbridled musical creativity, and thanks in large part to the Punk movement and it’s DIY approach to making music, artists like The Beat were able to speak out and speak their mind on the news of the day, as in “Stand Down Margaret”, things that mattered to them and the youth culture, as in “Get A Job”, and universal matters of the heart and soul, as in their classic hits “I Confess” and “Save It For Later”.

The original band consisted of singer-songwriter Dave Wakeling on vocals and guitar, Andy Cox on guitar, David Steele on bass, and Everett Morton on drums – later additions Ranking Roger (toasting) and foundational First Wave Ska legend Saxa (saxophone) completed the outfit. The band crossed over fluidly between soul, reggae, pop and punk, and from these disparate pieces they created an infectious dance rhythm.

The Beat first came to prominence as founding members of the British Two Tone Ska movement, with their classic first album “Just Can’t Stop It” fitting squarely in that genre. Along with their contemporaries The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness, the band became an overnight sensation and one of the most popular and influential bands of that movement.

However, band leader Dave Wakeling never felt constrained by the movement. Dave has always viewed ska as a springboard, not a straight jacket. Indeed, the band’s sound continued to evolve over their first three studio albums, through the General Public era (a band formed by Dave with Ranking Roger, the toaster from The Beat), and has continued it’s evolution with the forthcoming English Beat album “Here We Go Love”, a PledgeMusic crowd-funded album set for release in 2016, the band’s first new album since 1982’s “Special Beat Service”.

Consummate showman that he is, Dave Wakeling has continued to keep The Beat alive and strong. Dave continues to tour the world as The English Beat with an amazing all-star ska backing band playing all the hits of The Beat, General Public, and songs from his new album “Here We Go Love”.

You just can’t stop The English Beat!

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