Taken from CANOE (July 23, 2009)
Michael Franti finally scores hit
by LISA WILTON - Sun Media
From the industrial punk of The Beatnigs and progressive urban style of The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy to the global funk of Spearhead, Michael Franti has been behind music's most creative collaborations.
More than 20 years after he first hit the music scene, Franti is just now experiencing his first taste of mainstream success thanks to the single, Say Hey (I Love You) becoming a surprise summer anthem.
"We've never had a song in the Top 40," says Franti, who performs with Spearhead tonight at the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
"I don't know if we've ever had a song in the Top 40,000. It's been a really amazing journey for us."
Franti's latest CD, All Rebel Rockers, was released last year and received critical acclaim and a significant amount of play on college and non-commercial radio. But a few months ago the sunny, infectious chorus and dancehall rhythms of Say Hey finally caught the ear of mainstream radio music directors across the U.S.
"The album has really taken off in the past month-and-a-half," he says.
"I went to a baseball game a few weeks ago and they were playing it there and it was on the airplane radio when I was flying back from England a week ago. It's been neat."
The popularity of Say Hey has resulted in new crop of fans who aren't aware of Franti's illustrious history or reputation as an amazing live performer. "People write to us and say, 'Hey you guys are so cool and so new. Where are you from?,' " Franti says with a chuckle.
"It's been 20 years of overnight success for us ... But I am really glad the song is doing well. I still get excited when I hear it on the radio. I don't take any of it for granted."
Produced by legendary reggae production team Sly & Robbie, All Rebel Rockers was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica.
"The door to the studio would be left open and some people would walk in off the street," he recalls. "They'd listen to the songs and you'd immediately see the response. Do they think it's cool? Are they responding?"