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Taken from Heckler Magazine (August, 1995)

Michael Franti
in the Area



by Matt and Sonny


Matt- Alright first question, how was Spearhead formed?


Franti- Well when Disposable Heroes broke up I went out to Philly to work with Joe "The butcha" Nicolo because he was a fan of Disposable Heroes.I went out there for a couple of weeks hung out and started recording some stuff. After a while I met Mary [Harris] who was a singer and a drummer then she came in and started singing on some tracks and I liked her a lot so, she brought her friend Liane [keyboards] in then I sent Zulu out to Philly to meet me 'cause he was in S.F. From there we just pretty much keep adding new people 'till we got our band all together.


Matt-I heard that there is an interesting story behind the name spearhead.


Franti-Yeah well you know,the head of a spear is the first point ,it's cutting into the future,you know,and spearhead takes it's name from Chief Shaka who reinvented the spear for the Zulus. He took it from a long spear that you throw to a short spear that you use in a hand to hand style combat.When we do our music we try to ..


Zulu-Get in close to you.


Franti-Yeah and we try to re-invent the way we do things, just like that. We invent the tools of the struggle.


Matt-In comparison to your older projects, The Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes, it seems like Spearhead has a much more subtle approach to getting your message across to your audience.


Franti-Yeah, in some ways a more subtle approach .If you really want to reach people you can't shout at them.If you shout at them then they turn their heads, but sometimes they shout with you ,but if everybody in the room is shouting along with you, then that means that I'm the only one thinking. I just wanted to write songs this time around that people could just listen to and enjoy.And maybe some people are just in it for the entertainment, then other people have a higher level of thinking and they want to dig deeper for the jewels that are hidden in those lyrics.


Matt-Is that something you are going for now, or...


Franti-Well we don't ever stay with one thing you know, even tonight you will hear stuff that's different from the record, different versions, funkier stuff. We're a band so it never stays being one thing.


Sonny-Do you like it better having a band now as opposed to using samples and shit?


Franti-Well we had a guitar player and a drummer in Disposable. I like having a band just because it's more free you know what I'm saying? We can stop in the middle of a set and come back and get the audience involved.


Matt-I've read that you said Spearheads' mission is to help develop the moral and spiritual sides of hip hop.Do you want to elaborate?


Franti-Well I don't know if I actually ever said that. [ laughter ] I've seen that written somewhere , but you know it's like we keep saying that we have a five year plan for the future you know what I'm saying? Comin' to the year 2000 and there is so many people in hip hop that only wanna deal with what they see. You know what I'm saying? Not with what they believe. They want to talk about whatever it is they see on the street, they are not trying to deal with what they believe in. In Spearhead we deal with what we believe in.


Matt-There has been some diversity in your projects ranging from the aforementioned Beatnigs to the collaboration with William S. Burroughs . Do you feel at home now so to speak with Spearhead? Have you finally found what you've been looking for musically?


Franti-Yeah well it's always the search for new things, so I never feel like you really ever find a home. You know what I'm saying? You find that you lay a groove and you lay a foundation for where you are going. Still, once you've found yourself in the middle of the river you still have to make turns in that river. So that's it. We're on the journey but we keep changing , going from side to side around each corner.


Zulu-If we get too circular we get lazy. We not working hard enough. We never stop work. Spearhead the most work. Spearhead at 9 o'clock has got what regular people do in 24 hours [chuckles all around]


Sonny-What do you guys like to do for fun?


Zulu-Jump out of planes, skiing.


Sonny-Whoa! You ski?


Zulu-Yeah and this is Jamaican talk about this skiing business not the bobsled. This is different. Right! ?


Franti-Well I've got a son so a lot of my down time is spent hanging out with him and the other kids in the neighborhood.


Matt-How old is your son?


Franti-He's 7 and a half almost 8.


Sonny-How did you guys get involved together?


Zulu-I and Michael?


Sonny-Yeah.


Franti-He used to be underground general. He ran all the underground parties in S.F. You know the warehouse shit . From about 83' forward.


Sonny-And you're from Jamaica, right?


Zulu-Yeah defiantly.


Sonny-What are you all about?


Zulu-Peace, understanding, compassion, justice. Yes, right over wrong. Reality is the most important thing. No distractions.


Matt-Are you guys and the rest of the band one big tight knit family ?


Franti-Pretty much yeah . Especially compared to some of the other bands I've been in .A band is a volatile situation. Your work is about emotion and expression of emotion. Not everybody has the same emotions at the same time, so you try to make a collaborative effort.


Zulu-Well there is 7 of us in the band and 11 of us travailing and 2 gorgeous women to keep the rest of us in check.


Sonny-How are you guys feeling tonight?


Franti-Feelin' good.


Zulu-Beautiful, gorgeous, magnificent, brilliant, excellent, just totally, totally...


Matt-All around positive?


Zulu-All around positive!


Matt-Any bands you guys are into right now?


Franti-We're just checking out everything in hip hop right now. The biggies and the smalls. Um..The Fugees . We just got done touring with them we like them a lot. Local groups like The Invisible Men and stuff like that.



So that's it . Spearhead went on stage that night and kicked much ass It was one of the greatest "good vibe " shows I've seen in a long, long time. Keep an eye and an ear out for Spearheads new video for the song Hole in the bucket
[slaveship remix] from their debut album Home. Much respect to Michael Franti, Michael Zulu, and the rest of the Spearhead
crew. And a big thanks goes out to Teresa at Bill Adler Promotions and Joy from Capitol Records for setting this up and just for being so damn cool.


Hugs and kisses, Matt and Sonny

 
 

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