SXSW: Capone shakes out his dreadlocks to discuss the new doc MARLEY with Bob Marley's son Ziggy and daughter Karen!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
For reasons I can't quite explain, I love interviewing musicians. While I rarely get nervous or starstruck by directors or actors I've admired my entire life, for some reason musicians get me closest to tongue-tied I ever get during interviews. After seeing the great new documentary by director Kevin Macdonald MARLEY at the SXSW Film Festival, when I was asked if I wanted to speak to two of Bob Marley's children--Ziggy and Karen--I jumped at the chanced and immediately panicked.
As much as I've always been a great admirer of Bob Marley's music, I was also an early and continued fan of Ziggy, who helped keep his father's music alive in concert since his earliest years as a performer. If memory serves a full third of the first Ziggy Marley show I ever attended featured his father's songs in the setlist. Neither Ziggy or Karen are featured much (if at all) in the documentary, but they helped select Macdonald for the task of combing through family footage and photos to piece together Bob's complete story. And although the family wisely exercised no creative control over the final cut of the film, they were clearly struck and moved by its content.
Ziggy and Karen's accents are pretty think, and I tried to preserve their speech patterns as best I could. I had a tremendous time talking to these two great people. Please enjoy Ziggy and Karen Marley…
Capone: Hello. I’m Steve. It’s great to meet you.
Ziggy Marley: It’s good to meet you, brother.
Capone: This has got to be a very interesting experience for you, doing movie press. Or at least something new for you, yeah?
ZM: Yeah, for sure.
Capone: There were a couple of different directors that had been attached to this before Kevin [Macdonald]. Why did you decide Kevin was the right fit to tell this story?
ZM: I think Kevin had the right amount of distance and a realistic look on the topic of Bob in terms of who we were exploring. He wasn’t like this super, super famous person or artist that felt some strange connection to Jamaica and the culture. He had a good balance of that. Do you know what I’m saying? Having done documentaries before and being a good filmmaker and having known about Bob, but not having been like a fan of Bob like “I love Bob Marley! Let me do this!” So, between the two extremes, Kevin was a good balance of that, yeah.
Capone: He is a great documentary filmmaker and he knows how to take a very big story and make it very simple and understandable. Did you talk at all with him when you were having your initial discussions about how the film was going to be put together about balancing the life story with the music, and how much music would be featured in the movie?
ZM: Not specifically, but we always knew that music would be of course a very important part of the film. I think the general idea of what the film, when we spoke about the film, the overall picture was, “Let’s make something definitive. Let’s make something that connects with people and shows Bob in a realistic light as a man and as a musician and try and get everything out there. Let’s not try to hide nothing. Let’s not try and sugar coat this life. Let’s show people the truth.” That was the foundation, and everything else kind of organically was put into place.
I gave comments on the first cut, then saw the second cut and gave comments. Kevin had enough space to be the director and wouldn’t have to listen to everything I said. Maybe I would say something, and Kevin would say, “No, we do it this way.” I would say “All right, because I trust what you are doing.” I’m not the director. Once we laid down the foundation, I think everything else just fell into place on what it became.
Capone: When you turn over all of that material to him—however much material actually came from your family—was there anything that he used that maybe you hadn’t looked at and that you were surprised when you saw it in the movie?
ZM: There are things in the film. A lot of the things were the stories, not necessarily within what we turned over, but some of the stories that were told that we didn’t know about. Karen can tell you more, you know?
Karen Marley: Yeah, some of the stories like I didn’t know much about [Bob's time in] Germany. I didn’t know much about [the origins of Bob's] skin color. I didn’t know about him going to rehearsal in a cemetery.
Capone: That’s a great moment.
ZM: That was a comedic moment for us.
KM: Yeah, and I liked it when they went to the plane and he was like “Is it going to be the Concorde?” Even in that time, he still had his laughter. He still tried to remain as positive as possible. Yeah, so that stuff was pretty emotional.
ZM: Most of the surprises came from the stories, actually.
KM: Yeah, the stories behind the songs.
Capone: Do you remember the first time you saw a cut of the film just what your overall reaction was?
ZM: The first time was sad. I laughed, but then the sad part came in, and it got me sad and I remember that. But that’s what I loved about it. I said to Kevin, “It’s sad for me, but we have to keep at it.” And that was when it was about three hours, and then he cut it down and I said, “Kevin, you cut out some of the sad stuff! You’ve got to keep that emotion. I want to feel what I felt the first time. Keep that stuff that made me really sad. That is the stuff that I feel people will get connected to.” It was sad. To tell you the truth, it was really sad the first time, because like Karen said, I didn’t know a lot about the German experience. They kept that stuff away from us, and in some ways I was angry too at some of the people around him. I wish I was around. When I see that, I wish I had been a big man and I could have been there to kind of set things right.
Capone: Make sure he took care of himself more?
ZM: Yeah, you know. I wish.
Capone: In growing up, how often were you around him when he was recording or rehearsing?
ZM: I was around. I mean, I have vivid memories. I have memories from when I was young too, just being around there, being at Hope Road [the compound/commune where Marley lived], being in the studio., being at concerts. Me and Stephen going up on stage, being around, at the time. When the shooting happened, we were picked up in front of our house by the cops and sped to the hideout up in Strawberry Hills there where he was. We went to Nassau with him, all of us went with him when he left Jamaica, and after that being around the preparation for the One Love concert, being around those thugs and those murderers and killers.
ZM: I mean it’s like I was around this camp. It was a revolutionary thing that was happening though, because they were talking about revolution. They were talking about taking the powers away from the politicians who were manipulating the youths to fight against each other. So it was a very charged atmosphere I remember as a child, being around these guys and knowing them and then loving us, because these are Bob's kids. It was interesting. I remember all of those guys. Yeah, man, I remember them. You know Dick Tracy?
Capone: Yeah, sure.
ZM: You know how those guys had funny names? It’s the same thing there. [laughs] They had a guy named “Lip.” Had a guy named “Take Life.” “Take Life,” that’s the guy’s name! I mean imagine the characters there, you know? [laughs]
Capone: When you were younger, were you aware of the enormity of Bob’s influence, both musically and spiritually?
KM: For me that came later, because I was eight. So for me, that part came later.
Capone: How did it hit you? How did that make you feel?
KM: I don’t know, I find it pretty amazing. Yeah, I find it pretty amazing. Every now and then, you walk into a store and you hear his music randomly or just see it on a t-shirt or kids, young kids, are listening to it. It’s amazing for me.
Capone: [to Ziggy] And I’ve paid to see you perform many times over the years, and you’ve always play many of his songs. Is that part of the way that you honor him, by keeping his music alive?
ZM: I don’t think about it that way. I do it, because I love his music and as an artist myself, I really like Bob. I really Bob Marley and I’m saying that not because I’m his son, but I’ve become an artist and his songwriting. He’s a great artist, man. He’s a great artist and he influences me continually as an artist, so I love playing his stuff.
I do feel a connection between his stuff and my stuff, like I will sing one of my songs… People probably don’t realize it though, but my setlists, there’s something going on in it that people don’t realize. They just go and they listen, but there’s always something that connects it. Like I’ll do one of my songs, like a song called “Justice,” and I segue into “Get Up. Stand Up,” because they are related. So I add his music to my setlist in a way that there’s a connectivity there and a continuation about what he said and what I’m saying now. So that’s how I do that, you know?
Capone: With a lot of his albums, they put out these bigger deluxe sets. Are there any recordings that are still yet to come, either live or otherwise that the family is prepping maybe in conjunction with the movie or separately?
KM: Well some of the music in the documentary is actually new stuff, and there’s going to be a soundtrack.
ZM: The soundtrack is going to be a double CD, which is going to be different than “Legend,” which everyone knows. So it’s going to be like the anthology. Just like the movie is musically, and there’s a few stuff that I’m still sitting on. I’m not prepping them yet though, but they're there for the future. They're there.
Capone: It seems like a lot of the live recordings, the bootlegs are everywhere, they always have been. I’ve got a lot of those, but I like when you guys put them out for real.
ZM: That's cool.
Capone: Thank you so much. It was really wonderful to meet you all.
ZM: Thank you. Thank you.
KM: Thank you. Going back to what we were saying regarding the color of his skin.
KM: [Our mother] just had no idea that that was an issue for him. I just want to clarify, because it was running through the film.
Capone: I think that’s pretty clear in the movie, too.
ZM: Yeah, I didn’t know either though that that was a whole issue.
Capone: The thing that surprised me the most was…there was that clip in there about him talking about not really caring that much about money. I know he gave a lot of his money away to people, but worldwide domination was definitely one of his very specific goals too. He wanted everyone to love his music and some people might see that as a mixed message, but can see how it all kind of goes together.
ZM: If you understand that he came from farming where you don’t need a lot of money. He doesn’t need a lot of money. It’s not like he went to the supermarket and spent loads of money.
Capone: He lived in like a commune basically.
ZM: Basically, yeah. Simple. He was simple, yeah.
Capone: Yet he wanted that message in the music to hit everybody, which it did. He succeeded.
ZM: And still continues to do.
Capone: Well thank you so much. It was great to meet you.
KM: Pleased to meet you.
-- Steve Prokopy
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April 19, 2012, 1:50 a.m. CST
by raging bullshitter
April 19, 2012, 6:36 a.m. CST
Just watched a rerun of BBC's great show 'Classic Albums' on Zappa's 'Overnight Sensation / Apostrophe' - Really a blast. Great cameos from Gail, Moon & Dweezil, as well as some of the great sidemen & ladies who played w/ Frank over the years including Steve Vai, George Duke & Napoleon Murphy Brock...
April 19, 2012, 7:25 a.m. CST
April 19, 2012, 7:30 a.m. CST
April 19, 2012, 7:59 a.m. CST
... whiny fucks who have nothing to add to a thread except to express that they don't like the subject matter. douche bag
April 19, 2012, 8:53 a.m. CST
Always curious how they got along with the rest of the family. I had a class and hung out a bunch with Rohan at University of Miami back in '94. He played on the football team (#2), everyone who knew him called him "rat".. Drove a badass chevy Typhoon.. Was a hella cool guy, looked like his dad.
April 19, 2012, 9:08 a.m. CST
by Kaneda Burton
That's ok. We do. And we who are not built on hate and miserable self-loathing will not judge you for listening to the Twilight Score.
April 19, 2012, 9:22 a.m. CST
Every insight we can get into the man is most welcome. That's the truth. With that in mind, I will be sure to watch this flick through Bob Marley sunglasses and listen to the audio through Bob Marley hemp headphones and sip a refreshing Bob Marley iced tea while wearing a Bob Marley hoodie and then stuff it all into a Bob Marley backpack.
April 19, 2012, 11:36 a.m. CST
by Nerd Rage
they all lack a basic knowledge of Bob's music and message. Then you have those who feel threatened politically or socially by the message itself.
April 19, 2012, 2:57 p.m. CST
Both their music sucks.
April 19, 2012, 6:19 p.m. CST
hipster's garcia = pete wentz. lol.
April 19, 2012, 9:55 p.m. CST
They don't interview many of the children mainly because they weren't old enough to have any memories of him. But they do interview a lot of the mother's of those kids and talk a great deal about how all of the women got along with each other and Rita. There are no stones unturned in this movie.
April 19, 2012, 10:39 p.m. CST
That's all. <p> Sit down and read the song lyrics without listening to any music. Realize how far ahead of his time he was. How clearly he saw the injustices of the world. How many of them persist to this very day. <p> A lot of great musicians who created great music died ahead of their time. I mean, who wouldn't want to hear what Jimi Hendrix would have created for the next 30 years. But it's only with Bob that I wish he could have lived longer so we could all have experienced what the power of his message might have accomplished if given enough time under his personal control.
April 19, 2012, 11:57 p.m. CST
the cynic in me keeps saying if he had lived, the anti-marijuana establishment would've gotten to him eventually and somehow destroyed his reputation and buried his legacy to make way for madonna, new kid$ on the block,Gang$ter rap, $pice girl$, britney $pear$, nicki minaj, ju$tin beiber and one direction....Team $imon Cowell kids, music is for FUN, NOT for thinking!!
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