Taken from Metro.co.uk (August 27, 2008)
Five questions for Michael Franti
by RICHARD SMIRKE
Michael Franti came to prominence in the early 1990s as the frontman of hip-hop group The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy. Since 1994 he has fused hip hop, funk and reggae with his band Michael Franti & Spearhead, who release new album All Rebel Rockers on September 8.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
You have toured almost non-stop for 20 years. Where do you find the energy to continue?
I try to take care of myself. There was a time when I first started in music where every night was a party. Now my party time is when I'm onstage.
All Rebel Rockers was recorded with revered production duo Sly & Robbie. What was that like?
It was just amazing. I've always loved reggae, but because I'm an American artist I always felt like I couldn't make a reggae record. Sly and Robbie said: 'Michael, reggae is not a nationality, it's a rhythm. As long as what you're putting on top of it is you, you're not trying to be somebody you're not.'
Following the war in Iraq you travelled to the country to play to Iraqi people. How did they react?
It was a really enlightening experience. At times it was very sad and I left with a great deal of anger. But in the end I felt inspired by the people there and their willingness to keep going.
Was it a scary experience being an American in Iraq at that time?
I was very scared. Especially before going there I thought: 'Man, what would it be like to be held hostage?' So we just tried to play music, be positive, go about our business and not live in fear.
You're generally known as a very serious artist. What's your favourite joke?
My favourite joke is our current American president.