Fly Rasta! Ziggy Marley secures family business and spreads gospel of Bob on his new tour
Ziggy and his siblings Sharon, Cedella and Stephen were also bonafide stars, topping the charts that year with such songs as Tomorrow People and the number-one single Tumblin’ Down.
Ziggy has since gone solo, recently released his fifth solo album Fly Rasta – which marks a return to his reggae roots with 10 new songs, featuring the first single I Don’t Wanna Live On Mars – and has won six Grammy Awards (can you believe his father Bob Marley never won a Grammy in his own lifetime?). This week I chatted with Ziggy about the new album, growing up Marley, and what fans can expect at his upcoming Montreal concert at the Olympia Theatre on June 15.
POP TART: How do you feel when you travel and see your father’s iconic face looking back at you on T-shirts around the world?
Ziggy Marley: It’s nothing. My father is my father. Him being on a T-shirt doesn’t really impact me. I don’t think about it.
I recently interviewed Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro, and we talked about how sometimes it was difficult for her to grow up as a Castro because of her family name. What was it like for you to grow upwith your family name?
Ziggy: [Pauses] Um, well, I’m a boy. When there would be situations, I grew up kind of tough. So nobody could really do anything to us that [Ziggy laughs lightly] that we couldn’t handle!
How fun was it to make the Marley Africa Road Trip TV series with your brothers in South Africa?
Ziggy: It was a great adventure, travelling [on motorcycles] in South Africa during the World Cup. We love football and we love Africa, we laughed and joked around, but we always had each other’s backs.
What kind of themes are you exploring on your new album Fly Rasta?
Ziggy: The human condition. Most of the songs are personal but the song I Don’t Want To Live On Mars is a love song that explores the earth and environment, and the political conversation about global warming.
Can we save ourselves?
Ziggy: It’s a possibility. Yet I don’t think we’re engaged enough. I don’t think we’re unified enough at this point in time [to save the planet]. Things will need to get very bad [first].
In your estimation, how is the business of reggae doing outside Jamaica?
Ziggy: Most of the work has [already] been done by people like my father, Burning Spear and Dennis Brown. The establishment of the music has been completed. I think what we have today doesn’t take away from its roots, but keeps it fresh. I also think reggae music does not get radio airplay or promotion as we would like. But we keep making the music so the message will be there for eternity.
The Marley family estate rigorously protects your father’s name. Any thoughts about Fabian Marley claiming to be your half-brother?
Ziggy: (Chuckles) My father was very open with his children. He didn’t hide any of his children. My mother who was his wife knew all of his children outside of the marriage. I knew all of my siblings outside their marriage. My father would never hide one of his sons. Ever. So I think that Fabian might have some kind of mental issues. But definitely he is not my half-brother. My father introduced me to all of my brothers, were they by my mother or not. He would never hide his sons. Never.
What can we expect from you and your band when you headline the Olympia?
This has been a really fun tour, and it’s a good mix of old stuff, new stuff, and a couple of my father’s stuff thrown in for good luck.
Ziggy Marley headlines the Olympia Theatre (1004 Ste-Catherine E) at an all-ages show on June 15, beginning at 7:30 pm. Advance tickets: www.olympiamontreal.com