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The Comedy of Errors

Interview: Ziggy Marley

1 June 07 interview: Jared Wilson
photos: Wonder Knack

"Ziggy don’t have average days! But when I’m not touring or making music I go for a run, make some cornmeal porridge, drink water, play football and watch TV"

Growing up with a famous dad isn’t easy. Ziggy Marley is the oldest son of Bob and Rita Marley and nowadays the keeper of the Marley estate. He was taught to play drums and guitar by the legendary reggae master at a young age and despite being baptised as David, it’s the nickname Bob gave him (meaning ‘big spliff’) that stuck. Ziggy’s first releases were with the band The Melody Makers, which also featured four of his other siblings. But since then he’s struck out on his own and recently released his second solo album Love Is My Religion…

Tell us about Love Is My Religion
I think it’s a good piece of art. The title itself tells you about what I believe; the whole philosophy of it is about love. There are a couple of songs on it that veer towards a more political viewpoint, but basically it is all about exploring the human emotional side of life.

How does it compare to your previous album Dragonfly?
Dragonfly was a much more revolutionary album for me. It was much wider in its musical style and this is more tightly knitted together. It’s still quite free-flowing in terms of it’s influences, but I would say that the basics are very tight.

You won a Grammy Award for this album in America…
Yes. This is my fourth Grammy, but my first as a solo artist. The greatest thing about winning it is getting more promotion for the message. It was worth winning it for the statement Love Is My Religion to be mentioned everywhere.

You’re a Rastafarian. How much of a part does religion play in your everyday life?
None really. I don’t see being a Rastafarian as a religion. In the mainstream way of thinking this is a hard thing to grasp because people naturally want to label things and put them into boxes so that they can understand them easier. But Rastafarianism is a freethinking way of life. The basic premise is love. Basically being a Rastafarian means quite simply to love. I speak from my own mind and my own heart. This is not a thing that is written in a book somewhere that I have to follow. We have no manual and really everyone is a Rastafarian whether we realise it or not.

So what’s an average day in the life of Ziggy Marley like then…?
Haha! Ziggy don’t have average days man! But when I’m not touring or working on the music I wake up, go for a run, make some cornmeal porridge, drink lots of water, play some football and watch some TV. I watch a lot of news, I like to keep informed about what’s going on. I’ll read some magazines, play some music and watch some movies.

You did some voice-over work in the Disney film A Shark’s Tale. Was that fun?
Yeah it was fun! I did that song with Sean Paul for that film as well… it’s always fun working with other musicians. I enjoyed it all very much. It was something new for me and I always like to try new things. It helps you to grow as a person. But I’m looking at writing films now. I’m trying to teach myself how to write movies.

Anyone else you’d particularly like to collaborate on music with?

Not so long ago I did a song with Angelique Kidjo. She has a new album called Djin Djin and I’ve done a track called Sedjedo on it. She’s someone I’ve loved and respected for many years and also worked with Peter Gabriel, Joss Stone, Alicia Keys and Carlos Santana on the album. It’s going to be well worth checking out.

Are you still in touch with your old band The Melody Makers?
Yes. I spoke to some of them on the phone only yesterday.

Do you think you’ll ever get back together and play with them again?
Well, we’re talking about getting all the brothers together to form a new band. What we’d like to do is get a band together with the seven sons of Bob Marley in it. That might be interesting.

I guess everybody always asks about your father. I don’t want to dwell on it too much, but you must be really proud of the legacy he left behind…
I’m so happy. I give thanks to my father every day. He has done so much for me and so much for music. He did great work and to me he’s the greatest.

Is it ever weird to think how many young people nowadays have posters of your father on their bedroom walls?
It’s not weird for me. I accept it and am used to it. I see it and I’m just thankful. But my father is my father… he’s my blood. I don’t know how it would be any other way.

Have you ever been to Nottingham before?
No, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard of Robin Hood before at least…

What was the last album you bought?
I bought American Idiot by Green Day recently. I like creativity and I bought it because of the song of the same name. What a cool song - I really like what he says on that. I’m not closed minded at all when it comes to music. My ear is very wide…

You seem quite politically motivated and aware. What do you think to the state of America at the moment?
I think that leadership is lacking. They lack diplomacy and don’t listen to other people enough. Our government are very closed minded about what they want to do and not very respectful of other opinions. When you are a leader you have to be open-minded and listen to others. You need to take the truth and not just go off on your own personal ideologies. America is a great country and I think under the right guidance people all over the world could love America and we could do a lot of good in the world. But the way our government goes about doing certain things creates problems.

What was the last book you read?
Chasing Life, by a guy called Doctor Sanjay Gupta. I buy a lot of books about health and nutrition and he writes plenty of good ones.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?
I think I’ve laughed several times in this interview. I was laughing to myself thinking about getting the seven brothers together in a band.

What was the last thing that made you cry?
It’s been a while since I cried. The state of the world makes me sad generally and I am quite emotional, but I just don’t physically cry that often. It doesn’t come out in tears, but I feel it inside.

You’re quite into your football so I hear…
Yeah I love a bit of football. I don’t have a favourite team, but I like watching the big teams play. I’ve seen a lot of Liverpool games recently and I love watching Peter Crouch. He’s the boy - very entertaining to watch. It will be interesting to see David Beckham in LA next season. It should be good for the game. I tell you at the moment it’s hard to find a game around here. I love having a good kickaround and it upsets me when I can’t find anyone to play with.

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Love. Love is the message…

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