MC: In listening to the songs on the new record, especially “We Are More” and “We Are The People,” there are powerful social and political currents are work.
Marley: Yeah, in past years I was trying to stay away from that a little bit. This time it’s something that’s inside of me that I wanted to get out. It’s important to me to give a message on this album because of the way the world is going.
MC: “We are the People” has a line, “we are not donkeys or elephants,” clearly an observation on the two-party system in the United States at this time.
Marley: I’ve been living in America for 10 years now, right? It really fascinates me how gullible we are as a people to be divided in such a way by the political machinery––that divides us not for our benefit but for their benefit. The division of the people doesn’t help the people; it is there for the political machinery and the media who makes money from the division of the people. It’s just so obvious to me, coming from Jamaica, where the division of the people was a prime experience of how people with money made others to fight and hate each other simply because of a certain political faction wanted to be in power.
MC: “We are the people, we are not corporations,” is another one of the lines. You sing about lack of trust and faith in the power structure. What do you see in this culture that relates to these lyrics and what solutions might you offer?
Marley: I want the people to wake up to what’s happening here. I can’t believe the people of America are being used by the same tricks that happen in less affluent countries, because it’s the same thing. It benefits those who use the division and emphasizes and exaggerates it, to achieve their own objectives that have nothing to do with what the mass majority of people need. It’s so obvious to me—wake up! God! It’s disgusting what’s happening.
MC: These messages will no doubt resonate in this election year. We note that you have an extensive touring schedule this summer, especially with large-scale festivals. How big is your band?
Marley: There are 10 or 11 of us. It is a good-sized band. I wish it could be bigger. I wish I had horns because I have horns on the record. But there are limits that we have.
MC: Reggae works well in large open-air locales where that communal vibe certainly in evidence.
Marley: Reggae music is spiritual music. It’s vibe music, not angry and not offensive. The rhythm and the beats are meditative and spiritual and the messages are constructive. I think people relate to all of that. It’s joyful, not morbid or negative energy.
MC: Do you have opportunities to watch other artists at the festivals?
Marley: I love hanging out, seeing what’s happening, standing side stage. That’s what I do. That’s one of the fun parts of the festival—to listen to some of the other musicians. The younger generations of reggae musicians coming up are learning from what’s come before.
MC: You have a song on the new record called “Marijuanaman.” You also developed a comic book around this character. How did this evolve?
Marley: I’m a comic book fan, I’ve been reading them since I was a boy. In my mind I am still a little boy––my mind, my spirit and my outlook are still fresh––I’m still learning, I’m a kid.
MC: A kid with an expansive family too, including your new baby boy.
Marley: We have a new edition, Isaiah. I love seeing those creations. It’s a miracle and it amazes me how life comes and the strength of my wife and of women. We have to respect them and treat them with love. It’s an honor to see life being created and nurtured.
MC: You recently did an acting gig on Hawaii Five-O. How was that experience?
Marley: It opened my mind and expanded who I am. The acting thing is an art––to put aside my ego and play a part that’s not me.
MC: How do you find the creative spirit in Hawaii?
Marley: It has been an inspiration for me for a long time, ever since I left Jamaica. It’s been a sanctuary for me, a connection to the island energy.