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27th March 2022

Interview: Shane Ramdhany

ReVamp The Inner Screen’s lead writer, Shane Ramdhany, sits down with  UB40’s original members Robin Campbell and Jimmy Brown to discuss their upcoming album, UB45, their inspiration for their musical formula, and how they have balanced evolving as a band while maintaining their signature sound.

Where do you draw the most inspiration from for your music?

Robin: Reggae without a doubt, that’s the music we absolutely tried to play from the Band’s inception.  We were also influenced by the R&B scene of the 60s/70s such as Stevie Wonder.

Jimmy: Yes, reggae represents urban music to us and the city we were born in. However, to others our music seems to represent fun and sun.

Robin: Yes, it was the music of the streets for us. We were only ever going to play reggae.  It was the music we absolutely loved and there really wasn’t a discussion about it, we just knew it.

Who do you see as an influential role model?

Robin: The catalyst that made us seriously consider moving forward with our band was the Bob Marley concert we all went to together in 1976. He played in our home town in the UK and when we came out of that show, everyone of us said, “that’s what we want to do.”

Jimmy: Yes that was our influence, even though our route is a bit different than Bob Marley, we don’t try to sound Jamaican! (laughs)

What do you find most challenging about writing music?

Robin: Being able to say the same thing again, but finding a new way to say it.  We tend to be passionate or angry about the same subjects.  We tend to write the same subjects so the challenge is  in rewriting what has already been said.  The newer members of our band reinvigorate us in this aspect with their new ideas and their enthusiasm.

Jimmy:  And of course we lost our saxophonist, Brian.  He was the guy that wrote most of our original songs.  He died a couple of years ago and that has since been a big hole to fill.  We were second to Brian mostly.

Robin: Yes, he was so prolific wasn’t he? With regard to writing, he used to say “if you can’t remember it the next day, then it is not worth remembering.”

Jimmy: I always liked the David Lynch approach to creativity.  He says you relax, you sit, you think and you fish for ideas.  Sometimes you get a bite and sometimes you don’t.  And then when you have caught a few fish, you can string them together and see them begin to take shape.

Photo Credit: Richard Purvis

How do you like to spend your time when you are not writing/practicing music?

Jimmy: We have all got big families and sometimes you don’t always get to do family stuff.  We (Jimmy and his family) loved the COVID lockdown because every day we were doing something like Star Wars marathons and generally enjoying having the freedom to spend time together.

Robin: Yes, the good thing about the lockdown was that we got to spend more time at home.  When we are home, our time is usually at the studio then back on the road. We are not like normal families, we don’t get to spend that everyday time with our kids.  It was something enjoyable to be in lockdown because I got to know them better. Although I have to admit that I did get stir crazy after 6 months! (laughs).

What would you like to share with our readers about your new album, UB45?

Robin: It is obviously a celebration of our 45 years that we have been doing this.  As a celebration we have done 7 brand new recordings as well as re-recorded 7 classics. We wanted to do this because we wanted to show how well the new singer, that has been with us a couple of years now, performs these songs. He dovetails so well into the band. One thing fans have said to us is how well he sounds even singing the classics.  This inspired us to re-record these songs.

Jimmy: And we are making a point that this is the same band that wrote those songs all those years ago. There is a continuity to the sound from then until now.  We wanted to hammer that home.

Robin: What he (jimmy) says (laughs).  We also have a new keyboard player, Jared Gordon, who has played with all sorts of artists and was a mad fan. He has added incredibly to our sound and vibe on stage.  So it is not just Matt as the new singer, it is also our same horn section that we have had for 30 years.  My son, Matt, is now doing backing vocals and he has grown up with the band and its music.  We have had such organic continuity and it’s wonderful.

UB40’s new album, UB45 is out April 19th.  The band will begin a UK arena tour from November 1st.  Tickets can be purchased here

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