The Wailers’ tour made its way through the Washington, D.C. area on August 12, 2012 when they played the historic State Theater in Falls Church, VA. Fortunately, on a night when both Don Carlos and The Wailers were in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to speak with legendary bass player Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett about the current tour, his plans for the rest of 2012, and his recent appearance in London with Earl “Wire” Lindo.
I did not have the opportunity to conduct a proper interview with Familyman because he was getting ready to go on stage and time was limited. I apologize for this. However, I was able to get a little bit of news from him. The Wailers are working on new tracks right now and they hope to have new music released before the end of the year. Also, toward the end of the interview, Familyman hints to a reunion of sorts that may include Tyrone Downie, although there was nothing specific.
(MR) You guys are up in Martha’s Vineyard today, is that right?
(MR) Who are you guys playing with up there?
(AB) “ I don’t know the opening act, you know, the name.”
(MR) So what musicians are you playing with now in The Wailers?
(AB) “Well, my son [Aston Barrett, Jr.] is playing organ. I got Keith Sterling on keyboard and synthesizer. Zebby on drums, Cegee Victory, Yvad and Koolant Brown on vocals, Duane Stephenson, and myself on bass.”
(MR) Always the captain on bass right?
(AB) “Yeah, I’m the backbone man.”
(MR) Talk about Yvad and Koolant Brown, are they sharing duties singing?
(AB)” It’s like when it was Bob, Bunny, and Peter. Still Wailers all the way. You know the name Wailers, it means voices crying out from the wilderness.”
(MR) Aston Jr. has been on a bit of a roll lately playing on several albums and even touring with Julian Marley’s Uprising Band.
(AB) “Yes, in his spare time when we are not on the road he’ll play with Julian Marley.”
(MR) But his full time commitment is The Wailers?
(AB) “All the way from birth, yes, it’s The Wailers. His earthday is The Wailers.”
(MR) So he’s a multi-instrumentalist yeah? He plays a lot of different instruments?
(AB) “He is very versatile like his Dad you know? I play most of the rhythm guitar and the drums and the piano and the organ, I’m like the Quincy Jones of The Wailers. Right now we are working on some new tracks. We work on it in the back of the bus while we are on the road. So we are trying to tie together some loose ends before we get it out. We will try to get the new stuff out for Christmas (laughs).”
(MR) Are you involved with anybody else right now doing production or session work?
(AB) “Yes, we have been working on some music for a documentary. John Holt is waiting to do some tings, Duane Stephenson will be doing some tings, and the father of Tarrus Riley, and Junior Reid also.”
(MR) Did you appear on stage recently with Wire Lindo?
(AB) “Yes in London, Shepherds Bush. It was like the old days. We played all the ting for the people, like So Much Things To Say, Guiltiness, Runnin Away, Crazy Baldhead, War/No More Trouble, Could You Be Loved, Pimpers Paradise, Trenchtown Rock, and a Natural Mystic blowin’ through the air (laughs).”
“We need more of this music here, man. There’s too much of this BOOM BOOM BOOM, ya know (laughs). The people want the authentic music. Them don’t want the other music to dominate, ya know? So we play the vintage music.”
(MR) Have you talked with Tyrone Downie at all? How is he?
(AB) “I heard he was in London when I was there but I was leaving and I didn’t really get the chance. I know he is really into producing and he produce a lot of projects and in his spare time he will play a gig. But we hoping to get together real soon to do something special for the people.”
(MR) Well, thanks for taking the time to talk. Have a good show and tour.
(AB)” OK my man. Anytime.”