The Babys guitarist Wally Stocker talks about new lineup, music and shows, touring in the 70s and more

The Babys guitarist Wally Stocker talks about new lineup, music and shows, touring in the 70s and more
July 17, 2013 | By More

The Babys rose out of the British music scene and had top 20 hits in the late 70s with hits like “Back On My Feet Again”, “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think Of You”.  The guys released five studio albums but broke up with lead singer John Waite going on to solo success and the rest of the band continuing to play with other artists as well as being entrenched in studio work.  This summer The Babys have reformed with a new lineup featuring longtime drummer Tony Brock and  Wally Stocker alongside vocalist/bassist John Bisaha and Italian guitarist JP Cervoni and have released new music in anticipation of playing new shows.  I recently interviewed guitarist Wally Stocker about everything going on, read on….

LRI: Hi Wally….thanks for talking with us…let me start by saying that its nice seeing your name and The Babys turn up in the news feed again. What led you guys to the point where you are recording and working again??
WS: Well, this whole idea was put together by Tony midway through 2012. He was responsible for getting the ball rolling on this and contacted me and asked me if I was interested in reforming the band. We had to go about it the right way if we wanted to use the songs from 30 years ago. We would have to make sure that we could have the songs covered by the right singer. Tony was working with JP the other guitar player and between the two of them they started searching for singers in Los Angeles. After many auditions with various singers, the decision was made to add John Bisaha to the band and there was no looking back at that point.

LRI: I recently spoke with John Waite for an upcoming interview and he was enthusiastic in his support of you guys getting back out there and playing the tunes again albeit with a new singer. Can you tell us a bit about your new vocalist John Biasha and how he fits into the personality of the band??
WS: Yeah John was chosen for his voice and the way that he could sing the songs from way back when. That’s the main reason he was chosen. Other singers that we auditioned would’ve been good for us had we been starting a brand-new project, but we needed somebody who could do credit to Babys tunes – and John does just that. He has a great personality – he’s enthusiastic – he enjoys singing the songs and we enjoy playing with him.

Wally live onstage back in the day,,,,

Wally live onstage back in the day,,,,

LRI: The new song “Not Ready To Say Goodbye” does sound like it could have been a track recorded by the original lineup. Is that important to you to retain a certain amount of that feel going forward?
WS: Yes it’s very important. We made a conscious effort to make the new song sound like it could have been recorded on any one of our previous five albums.

LRI: You have a live gig coming up this Thursday July 18 at Canyon Club. Can you tell us a bit about the show and how rehearsals are going??
WS: Rehearsals have been going very well. The more we get to play together the tighter we become. As far as the show is concerned – it’s a benefit concert for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry and all proceeds will be going there. And it’s also the first concert to debut the new lineup!

LRI: What’s it like to play along side JP Cervoni  – a full time guitarist?
WS: We have the advantage of another guitar player in the band. With JP AND a keyborard player – we have a MUCH fuller sound. The live sound has all the parts of the original recordings. Nothing is left out.

classic Babys cover art

classic Babys cover art

LRI: Back in the day The Babys stood out as not being punk and not being teenybop pop. Is the reported story true that the band name was originally just supposed to be a temporary tactic to get signed to a major but it ended up sticking??
WS: The name The Babys was never a temporary name – it wasn’t some kind of tactic that we were using to get a record deal. It was a name that was chosen. We all knew the style of music we were going to be playing.

LRI: The Babys had a live show that was pretty known as being a little grittier than the studio stuff. As a guitarist…Did you personally enjoy the harder rocking moments of the band as compared to the subtle moments where you may have had to hold back a bit??
WS: I enjoyed every moment. It all came under the same heading. Whether a ballad or a high intensity rock song – as far as studio and live – both are played with the same amount of passion.

LRI: You had hits that were in the upper area of the charts (#13) and also many more in the top 40. Was that type of success, as sweet as it was, also part of what drove the band a bit crazy in terms of chasing it?
WS: Every band out there wants a hit. Everybody is chasing it. What’s the point in doing anything if you aren’t going to go completely after it?

Chrysalis Records promo shot of Wally from the original Babys era

Chrysalis Records promo shot of Wally from the original Babys era

LRI: The Babys have a tremendous amount of killer YouTube clips out there and performed on Midnight Special, Top of The Pops and all of those classic 70s era TV shows….looking back were some of those more fun to do than others??
WS: They all had a different way of doing things – as far as production. We played live on Midnight Special, whereas Top of The Pops were all synced to tracks. Either way – they were all fun to do!

LRI: You toured like crazy with the Babys which included a slot opening for Journey but later you also worked with the Rod Stewart guys and Air Supply guys. Each one of those acts were fairly well known for drawing a large percentage of good looking women out for shows. Of all of the tour stories you’ve amassed which era was the most decadent??
WS: The Babys – no question…

LRI: Thanks again for talking with us and good luck on the Reunion trail…last question….You have worked in many aspects of the entertainment biz over the years and gained a wealth of knowledge. If you could time travel back to the younger you in 1975 and offer him some advice or counsel what would you tell him??
WS: Be a lawyer!  Seriously though – pay attention to the people you are dealing with, and make sure that they have your best interest at heart. The good times certainly outweigh the bad though! I would do it all over again! Hey – I guess I am now!

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Category: Interviews