What informs your music and songwriting?
Largely we stick to a black and white palette. As I’ve got older, I’ve noticed that people filter news differently, depending on how they identify within society. It often amazes me that something that flags up on the world stage concerning black folks is completely unknown by white people, but usually black people are cognisant of what goes on in the white community, because the media and all its outlets are biased that way. Similarly, the LGBTQi and disabled communities suffer a similar bias in this hetero-normative and ableist society that we all live in. Therefore, I like to redress the balance slightly. A good example of this is a song Breakdown, written for our Subculture album, describing the break-up of communities along racial lines unless we are all vigilant in not allowing this to happen, by especially refusing to play into the new alt-right agenda indirectly espoused and led by our new leader of the western world. We listed at the end of the song The Counted those who’ve been killed by police brutality, both in the UK and the US over the past years and particularly more recently. That list is so long that obviously we couldn’t include everybody but we felt it necessary to recount some of the names. For too long songwriters in recent decades have ignored the growing political tensions within society, content to coast along and hope everything will be all right in the end, but it would be a dereliction of the duty of The Selecter to ignore some of these matters. That is why we feel we need to shine a bit of Daylight (the title of our forthcoming album) onto some of these issues.
How have you evolved as a band over the years?
Obviously any band that has been writing songs for nearly 38 years will evolve. The Selecter has always been a bit off kilter. We do not go in for the singalong ska that many ska bands present these days. The Selecter has never been a shy band when it comes to talking about the issues of the day.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We are readying new songs from the Daylight album for our extended co-headline tour with our labelmates The Beat, which will run from the end of September to the end of January 2018 and take in UK, Belgium, Holland, Italy and New Zealand and Australia. Currently we are on tour with Rancid/ Drop Kick Murphy’s co-headline tour in America, where the new songs from the Daylight album are going down very well in the set, with a largely punk audience. Our newest single Frontline feels particularly timely and prescient against the backdrop of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, which happened while we’ve been here and led to the death of a young white female, Heather Hayer, who was viciously run over by a similarly youthful neo-Nazi as she counter-demonstrated this monstrous attack on civil rights.
What’s on your rider?
Fruit and coffee.
Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
The world, as far as I’m concerned, is a surreal experience at the moment. I grew up in the hippy era of “love and peace will conquer all”. Needless to say, if that particular lifestyle model actually worked, we’d all be better off by now. It doesn’t. If you want something changed in society we’ll have to fight for it. Most embarrassing experience was in 1979 when the Selecter’s tour van, an old green Bedford, broke down near the venue we were booked in to play and had to be pushed the last half mile. Not an auspicious start to any gig but we had no money for anything fancier.
What song do you wish you’d written?
Get Up Stand Up – Bob Marley and the Wailers
What’s your worst lyric?
Not sure – they’re all in the waste bin.
Like Big Issue North on Facebook