In conversation with British reggae pop band UB40 as they play in Bengaluru
It has been 37 years since UB40 sang Food for Thought, their first single. Since then, the Birmingham-based reggae and pop band have released 18 albums, over 60 singles and have toured the world extensively. “We visited India on a brief tour earlier. Last time, we were here to play for a Bollywood awards ceremony. But that was about two decades ago,” recalls James Brown, the drummer, adding, “We didn’t have a lot of time to go around. India is a place we wanted to tour properly for a long time.” Well, that’s exactly what the band is doing now, as they head to Bengaluru tonight for a gig organised by Cleartrip.
The band, who got their name from an unemployment benefit form they had to sign, was formed in 1978 and is known for hit songs that almost define the ’80s, namely Red Red Wine and Can’t Help Falling in Love. The band have changed their line-up many times but have never lost the essence of their sound. “We have always had a recognisable sound that comes from the chemistry of the players together. We started making music to show our love for reggae and that remains. So, really there isn’t a lot of change from the early days,” confides James. The band currently has, along with James, Robin Campbell on guitar and vocals, Earl Falconer on bass, Norman Hassan on percussion, trombone and vocals, Brian Travers on the saxophone and Duncan Campbell also on vocals.
The band have been around for so long and their songs have matured from Signing Off (1980), their first album to Getting Over the Storm (2013), the newest. James believes this is the best the band has ever sounded, “Being a musician, your technique develops constantly. You get better over time and that is the beauty of being a musician.” As for their future plans, James has some exciting news for fans, “We are nearing the completion of recording our new album. It is going to be a traditional reggae album,” he signs off.
Tonight. At Catholic Club, Museum Road, 6.30 pm. Tickets (Rs. 3,000) on cleartrip.com