It could be argued that with the rise of dancehall, reggae music has strayed a long way from its roots. Inarguably, a lot of the new reggae that has managed to make it into the popular consciousness has seemingly lost its way, preoccupied with nights on the dancefloor and the amounts of weed one is going to smoke. But this is reggae and there will always be people making compassionate, intelligent reggae music. At the forefront of the new Roots movement is Hawaiian reggae troubadour Mike Love. His music – released entirely independently through his label, Love Not War Records – is rooted in those traditional reggae/Rasta ideals, while doing entirely new things with sound via his looping-station, powerful voice and ever-changing live configuration. His is the reggae of Love, Peace, Justice and an unyielding admiration for the Earth that we all call home. His YouTube videos have garnered him a worldwide audience of peace-seekers looking for something a bit deeper from their music. Rags Music was lucky enough to catch up with the good homie for a chat before he makes his way up to our home on the Canadian west coast for the first time. If you get a chance to see this guy live, make sure you jump on it. Your ears and your soul will thank me.
Mike Love Western Canadian Tour
1. When's the last time you did something for the first time?
I think every day I try to do something new. It's one of the most important parts of life. Seeing new places, doing new things, experimenting with new things. Even when we're playing music we're always trying to do new stuff. There are some songs that we've played thousands of times and keeping them fresh, being able to keep playing them and be excited to play them, means trying new things all the time. That's life too. If you just do the same thing day in and day out, you become stagnant. Trying and learning new things is so important. I think that's what's what the system tries to get us doing, is having these routines and doing the same things every day.
2. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
There was a couple. I think it was ...And Justice For All by Metallica and Bad by Michael Jackson. That was the first thing I got on tape. I had a cool older sister was into a lot of different stuff and I just sort of followed her.
3. What is your best memory of an elementary or high school teacher?
I had a lot of really cool teachers. One of the coolest memories I have...I wasn't the best in high school. I discovered pretty early on into high school that I wanted to play music and so for a large portion of my later couple of high school years, I didn't really go to school too much. I did really badly in my classes. In my senior year of high school, I realized it was very important to my parents that I graduate. I wasn't really on track to graduate and so I ended up doing a ton of work in all of my classes in the last few weeks of school to make just to get my grades high enough to pass. There was one class, my drama class, on the last day of school I was still not passing and my drama teacher said, “I'll pass you. All you have to do is get up in front of the class and sing a song.” And so I got up and I sang “Imagine” by John Lennon, and passed high school!
4. Have you ever seen or felt a ghost or ghost-like presence?
There's been a lot of spirits that have been in my house. My youngest son, who's actually really bugging me right now, would see a lot of different spirits when he was younger. He would see these coloured orbs. He would always talk to us about them. We researched them and figured out that they were kind of benevolent spirts that were sort of looking after him. My grandpa passed away right around the time my son was born. He knew him from pictures mostly. When he was really little we were playing the piano, my grandpa's instrument – He was a composer and really amazing piano player. Whenever we were at his house or he was at our house he would sit and play the piano. There was one day when my son and I were sitting around, fiddling around on the piano and he turns to the side and goes, “Oh hi, GG!” I said, “Oh, you see GG there?” And he said, “Yeah.” When our neighbour, the old grandma next door, passed away, I think she came into our house for awhile and she was hanging around. He would see her a lot and talk to her. I think that the spirits that are still hanging around are attracted to kids because kids can see them. They haven't been so conditioned by what we believe we can and can't see.
5. I dug back into the archives for a couple of past guest questions, this time both from different Dans. The first is from Dan/FxFarmer of Funkanomics – What means LOVE to you?
Love means family. It means connection. Love is the power of the connection that connects all our spirits together as one. When we're really committed to each other, we're really connected.
6. The second guest question is from Danny of HighKicks – If you could combine two super-hero powers, which two would you pick?
Definitely one would be the power to heal others. And, I think, flying would be pretty amazing.
You could just fly around healing people. I suppose that's kind of what you do now, actually - flying around healing people.
<laughs> I guess I already got my super powers.