Hailing from the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara, California, comes an interview with a member of one of the highest rated modern reggae bands of this generation. Back with their second full-length album, Bright Side of Life, bass player Marley Williams sits down to chat with me about the album, life on the road, family, and more. Sit back and enjoy the vibe. (All photos by yours truely, and my homegirl Caitlin)
Marley: Sorry I called you a little late. I got caught up in some…afternoon activities *laughs*
Flak: Oh man I got you, it’s alright! So what’s going on? I saw you guys at West Beach (Music Festival), how was that for you?
M: Oh man, West Beach was a really good experience because you know, it’s the hometown, and friends and family can come in, and a lot of great bands. And Twin Productions always takes care of everybody. It’s good to be home, and get to play, don’t have to play and then travel.
F: Exactly. You can just go home for the night or whatever.
M: Yeah for sure.
F: Did your folks come out for this one or…
M: No my folks didn’t come up for that one; usually they come out to the NorCal shows, cause that’s where they live.
F: Oh they don’t live down here?
M: Nah, well I grew up in Mendocino County, 3 hours up from like, San Francisco. So they go to San Fran shows, Reggae Rising shows, Petaluma, and sometimes Santa Cruz too though.
F: Tight man, well I only have a few questions for ya today, not too much.
M: Yeah man, no problem.
F: Well first off, what got you into bass?
M: Umm, well I think that everyone listens to music differently, and some people have an ear for, you know, focusing on melodies, higher notes. Some people like lower notes; bass, and some people like percussion or vocals, so you know everyone listens for a certain element of a song.
Mine was bass, so it was kinda like hip hop and reggae…groovable songs, and the bassline was so simple, but it would keep people moving.
F: Yeah I agree. I’ve played bass for ten years myself, so I’m with ya.
M: Yeah so you know exactly what I’m talking about! *laughs*
F: Yeah man, it’s like a groove thing for me. I dunno it’s like it was the one thing that always stood out to me in a song so I understand what you mean.
M: Yeah for sure, I’m in.
F: So what got you into reggae though, you know?
M: Umm…..well my parents for one, named me after Bob Marley…
F: I figured that heh…
M: Yeah they listen to reggae music way before I was even in the picture so you know, I was blessed to be named Marley and to listen to good music and have that in my background. And you know, songs always remind you of memories, and there are a lot of good memories with reggae music playing in the background for me, so it’s kept going on until this day.
And you know I’m always drifting to other genres here and there…I always stick with reggae, but I’ve really learned to appreciate hip hop and rap.
F: What’s your favorite album right now?
M: Ohh that’s a hard one…you know I don’t really go by albums much anymore. Songs just kind pop out of the blue and it’ll be my jam you know what I mean?
F: Hah that’s a really good answer.
M: I find myself listening to a lot of Snoop Dogg lately, some of his older stuff.
F: Yeah we just saw him in concert the other day, and he’s got that new album coming out, Malice in Wonderland I think.
M: Yeah… well I’m more into the older stuff where everything was with Dr. Dre.
F: You mean like the 92’ shit?
M: Yeah man the 90’s! Everywhere it was Tupac, Biggie, Dre…and rap music was always good to dance to. And on the reggae side of it I always am listening to Bob Marley, Damien Marley, Julian Marley, Collie Budz (he goes on to name a few others I couldn’t understand…all those afternoon activities…), and a lot of dancehall artists.
And we’re just making it you know, with the bass, groovable. You know, people can relate to the beat so they get a message.
F: Yeah I agree. And you were talking about blessings earlier and families, so how does it feel to be blessed with being on the top of the charts forever? I mean, you guys are doin’ it in the reggae world.
M: You know, sometimes I don’t even think about it, but sometimes I’m like “I’m the luckiest man alive!” You know, I didn’t expect it. It was always just “let’s work hard and play good music, put out a good message, and be a source to have fun and listen to good music”. But I never thought that I would get this high, and I’m really stoked for it, and for everyone who supported us you know; our band mates too and our friends…
F: Good. But as always, there’s gonna be haters. What kind of haters do you guys experience, with you being a white guy in one of the most popular reggae bands in the world?
M: You know… I don’t really think about it. It rarely enters my realm…I know it exists…you know, all kinds of headspaces that are negative out there, and I just choose to ignore them. You know I think sometimes maybe I’ll be like…not even knowing that they’re going on because I just don’t care for it. I might be ignorant to the situation…I’m guilty of that.
F: Yeah, but sometimes there’s thing that you can afford to be ignorant to.
M: Yeah man, so I don’t really know about that. *laughs* I think a lot of people at our shows, we’ve developed a pretty close fan base, and it’s been very personal; being more of an underground band, and I think a lot of people who come to the shows, are representatives of that mind space (the no-negativity). We don’t like to trip on anybody, judging anybody, because this is about a certain movement that’s about everybody, that’s above Rebelution, that’s above people. It’s about the reggae spirit that started you know, as far back as Africa, as far as Jamaica, and that fused into the US and Europe; and we praise that spirit so hopefully we have those vibes around.
F: Right, and see, I was listening to your guys’ album today actually, your newest one and wondered, do you get to write the bass lines for that?
M: Well a lot of the bass lines are written by Eric. I guess a lot of em are started by ideas that come from Eric. There’s some that are written only by Eric, and others that we collaborate, where sometimes he’ll start it. But a lot of the bass lines are ideas based off the melodies of the guitar. He wrote a lot on this album, compared to the last…and on this one we let him get a lot of his musical expression out cause he’s feeling it right now and he’s a good musician. The bass lines are definitely co-written by me and Eric.
F: Oh ok that’s awesome. My favorite songs on the album are Too Rude, Dubzilla, and Bump, you know those three in a row? What are your favorites though?
M: Oh of those three?
F: No I mean of the whole album…your favorite song on the album period, or even your favorite group of songs.
M: Actually a song Eric pretty much wrote everything on was More Than Ever. And I think the way that the melodies go into each other, would catch…more than a lot of other songs. So yeah that one’s really fun, I know you just mentioned Too Rude, and that’s a good one too. I feel like it’s one of the last songs we put on the album, it was sitting on the backburner and it came out good, and it had a new style…a new flavor to give a ‘to be continued’ to see what’s going on with album after this one.
F: Right and I definitely think it was a good song to put on the album. I did a review of your album when it first came out, and I loved it, I mean… it was a good groove (Too Rude) bass-wise…and message-wise. Very message worthy…and I think that’s important. It’s the key thing about reggae that I think a lot of people don’t understand. It’s not about whose in the band, what color they are, whatever with all that other BS…it’s a message thing, and how you groove to it.
F: And it’s good that you mention stuff that was on the backburner, or to be continued, but what’s next for the band...well personally, and for the band?
M: I think what’s next for the band is a lot of touring and trying to play in places that we’ve never played before. Always writing new songs, and always trying to improve our skills, and play as tight as we can. And really it’s a joy to part of a musical…you know… outlet for everybody and ourselves.
We’ve been talking about a Europe tour, Guam, Hawaii, and possibly Aruba. So you know, we’ve been touring the US four times in the last year or so, and we have another big trip coming up in January. We’ve been establishing some really good crowds, and having a lot of fun at these venues with everybody and enjoying everything as much as we can.
F: Yeah and I was backstage with Jordyn (the band’s publicist extraordinaire) at West Beach, and we couldn’t even get on stage to see you guys because there were so many people there supporting you, so it was good to see.
M: Yeah it’s…its crazy and I can’t wait to see what’s next, but I’m trying to make the best of the ride and have fun.
F: Well one more question man, can you give me something that’s…you know, behind the hype…something that people don’t really know about you? Something personal…doesn’t have to be too personal, something that we don’t know though.
M: *lets out a heavy laugh* Ummm…..
F: It can be anything man, like listening to a certain type of music, maybe a Brittney Spears song that’s your favorite song…
M: Lemme think….lemme think of something cool… *long pause* hmmm.
F: I know it’s tough, but I always end my interviews with this one.
M: How about…when I was 15, I had hip surgery?
F: Hip surgery? For what?
M: I had a growing disorder. I grew too fast, so that’s a fun one for bass, cause you’re always moving your waist. So now I’ve got a pin in my hip! *laughs*
F: So you’ve gotta stay away from the bass magnet or else you’re in trouble? Hah!
M: Heh, man there’s gotta be something cooler than that!
F: Shit well you tell me!
M: Man…fun fact…dang man I dunno, I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I’ll text you!
F: *laughs* fair enough man!
As of now, Marley hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but I’ll get back to you on what is behind the hype for this young groove master. Stay tuned for next year’s interviews, as they will be MUCH more frequent!
Until next time my friends,