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The Record talks exclusively to UB40 bassist Earl Falconer, as the band, undoubtedly the most successful reggae ensemble in the world gets set to release their brand new album titled Who You Fighting For. In mellow, lightly Rastafari-accented tones he tells us about the new music, touring the world, old fans and new and the secret to the band's twenty-five years together.

The Record: Tell us about the new album.
Earl: Basically we've come back to all of us getting into a room together, all live instruments and recorded the whole thing live for a change, something we haven't really done for about five to six years. Basically jamming, coming up to the music, then writing lyrics to it. We actually came up with about 40 different pieces of music and then cut it down to 13 tracks that made it to the album. So we've done a lot of work, but it took less time actually than it usually takes to do this. And it turned out really well. There are about four covers on there and the rest is original material.

TR: Have you begun touring to promote the new album?
Earl: We've just come back from St Lucia, we were at the Jazz Festival there. We're going to Turkey next week, then we've got shows all through the summer in Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark. Then we've got the English tour in November so yeah, we're basically in the middle of touring. It's all just starting up.

TR: Will you be coming to India to promote this album?
Earl: We've been to India before and we're looking to come back. We had a fantastic time, we loved it, everyone does when they come to India. The music out there was really fantastic [I learnt when] I was watching TV when we were there. So I'm sure we'll be coming back in the New Year. The Bollywood awards was a really big thing. The crowd was great! It was a great experience going there for the first time. It was wicked man, we really loved it.

TR: You have very loyal fans. For a career as long as yours that's important.
Earl: Certain fans from England are really loyal. We've got a bit of big fan base in Holland as well. They come out to our tours every year, they come round the studios sometimes. [Laughs] They're lovely people. We really appreciate it.

TR: You've had over two decades to build a fan base that must be an assorted bunch.
Earl: If you get to one of our shows there are people of all different ages. Sometimes there are the mums and dads who originally listened to the music, and then the music kind of seeps down to the kids so we get different ages, we get grandparents, people our own age, we're all early 40s... so it's different depending on where you go in the world but nine times out of ten we have a broad section of fans in the audience.

TR: Technology has completely changed the music industry since when you were starting out...
Earl: The Internet revolution is the way to go now. I'm always on iTunes, always buying music. It's so convenient and so we're looking to tap into that as well.

TR: So you're not, as an artist, wary of the shift towards downloading of music?
Earl: Eventually it will work itself out. A lot of the times if people download a track, if they like it, they'll still go out and buy the CD because they want all the information and things that you get with the album. So a lot of times [the Internet] introduces people to music that they may not have heard otherwise. You can buy a single track so that opens up a lot of doors. You're going to listen to a lot more music than you normally would.
That's my big thing at the moment, it's just great to be able to download the latest tune and you can just go and play it in the car or whatever, straight away. It's fantastic. It's the way of the world and I love it. [Laughs]

TR: What were your musical goals when you started out twenty five years ago?
Earl: Just to learn to play! [Laughs] When we had just started none of us could play. Ali [Campbell] could play the guitar a bit but he wanted to be the drummer. But he couldn't be because he had the best voice. We all started playing around age 19. All the first music we got together was our first LP. We then went on a roller coaster ride, recording, touring, it was all kind of strange for the first five years. It was like learning in the public eye, so it was madness. Now we've been doing this for 25 years.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with UB40 in the June 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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