With 2011 slowly coming to a close, every newspaper, magazine, and blog worldwide is publishing a Top 10 list of some sort. We thought why not do one of our own? Ever since the release of World War Free this past August, fans have been asking us what inspired the songs on the album. To clarify, it’s more so about the who, so here they are, carefully listed in our very first Top 10 list:
Ahkeenu and Pak happened to be discussing a handful of his teachings at a lunch party one afternoon. Through their ten minute conversation on the pursuit of happiness, the lyrics to “Fall Forward” were written.
9. Former Band Members
8. Belltown (and its inhabitants)
Oh Belltown we salute you! Thanks for being the friendly downtown Seattle getaway where you can buy pleasure to numb all of the pain. Featuring the city’s finest in debauchery, temptation, (insert your own)-ism, and well…a whole lot more. We got to send a big mahalo to our ‘ohana at ‘Ohana – without you, we wouldn’t be here today!
7. Missionaries (any denomination)
They get a big shout out in “Sweep Us Away,” particularly those who made the long trek to Hawai’i in the 1800’s to civilize the savagery of Native Hawaiians. How did they convince the Hawaiians to abandon their ancient gods and adopt the words of Christ? It’s all in the swag – check it!
6. George W. Bush
“Marionettes” was influenced heavily by this Texan, chosen by his producers to front a war-based, media-supported reality TV series that went strong for eight dramatic seasons. Ridiculing the stupidity and ignorance of his perfectly played character made us all feel a little better about ourselves, day in and day out. His captivating presence kept us plugged in for the duration of the program, featuring a big bang in NYC and his coining of many popular phrases, including “War on Terror,” “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” “Homeland Security,” and “No Child Left Behind.”
5. Linton Kwesi Johnson
The Jamaican-born, UK-based dub poet has inspired us with his politically-charged Patois for years. He is the only black poet ever to be published in the Penguin Classics series, and his LKJ Live in Concert with the Dub Band (1985) release is epic. When we first recorded the bass line to “Sweep Us Away,” we didn’t realize that it very closely resembled the bass line to “Sonny’s Lettah,” his graphic account of police brutality.
4. the Service Board
Life-transforming non-profit here in Seattle that puts talented adult mentors, soul-searching high-school youth, and an anti-oppressive and progressive culture in a bus, taking them up to the mountains to shred in the snow. On and off the lifts, there’s magic in the air every time they get together, feeding the homeless at the city’s many food banks, installing public art at neighborhood skate parks, and promoting a message of love and acceptance at all their meetings and special events. The chorus of “First Avenue” was written for a former tSB student.
Pak’s first son, to whom “Morning Son” and “Only One” were written. He hangs out at every rehearsal and has been on stage with us at Bumbershoot and when we opened for Steel Pulse. We live and work to serve his generation of youth. They will lead us to the right way in the future.
2. Mell Dettmer
Our genius friend and producer, who has worked with Femi Kuti, Bassekou Kouyate, Clinton Fearon, and much, much more. Bottom line is the album sounds the way it does because she produced it (just listen to “Pegasus Dub” and you’ll fly off a mountain like you were a horse with wings). And we can’t forget about her signature Echoplex and spring reverb abuse…
Let’s face it. Without her, there would be no band, no album, no nothing. Period. From feeding our minds and bodies before rehearsals, to helping us make crucial business decisions, to involuntarily listening to the same songs over and over and over again, she is our mother figure and the soul of the band. “Love You Better,” written for her, got the band the most radio play in 2011, hitting the #1 top requested spot on Native FM in Hilo and Kona in mid-July. We love you Amy! We promise to rinse off our own dishes in 2012!