Musician David Hinds is the founder and front-man for Steel Pulse, the world’s leading reggae band. For over forty years, Hinds and the band has brought conscious music and a message of equality to fans all around the world. Now, with the timely release of Mass Manipulation, their first album in over fifteen years, Hinds is back with a message of love, peace, and justice. We caught up with the legendary singer, a favorite of the late Bob Marley – to ask him about what makes the band relevant now.
What is the new album about, and why now? Why the title “Mass Manipulation”?
Well, look at the times. We are probably in the worst place that humankind has ever been. The planet burns, and our politicians look the other way. We had to do something. And that’s what this album is about. It’s about waking people up to the predicament we face, as individuals, as communities, and as a planet.
Mass Manipulation is about the state we find ourselves in – and by we, I mean all of us. Turn on your television or check your Internet. Almost nothing about the dangerous predicament the Earth is in. No mention of the failure of our governments and public institutions to check the climate crisis. Instead, we’re off to another war. That’s what this album is about. We explore the various themes of injustice – the rise in hate around the world. And the media? Fake news everywhere. We could never trust the corporate media, but now everything must be fact-checked – twice.
So what’s the answer? Can music make a difference?
Of course. Music is a part of our cultural life – and it has always been a channel to get a message through. The radio is dead – almost everything on the airwaves is morally and intellectually bankrupt. But that doesn’t mean we can’t sing our songs and get them out to the fans. Over the years we have built a huge grassroots following – and these fans stay with us through thick and thin. Music is a way to give meaning and purpose to our everyday lives – not just through melodies, but also through the conscious message. That’s what we have tried to be about, these past forty five years.
So you are marketing justice and peace?
That’s a funny way of saying it, but yes, we feel like that’s the point. Everyone must become an activist now. Or we lose our future. Just take a look at Australia. The prime minister denies climate change and pushed the coal lobby. See what that gets you?
Add to that the message of hate we see politicians pushing across the world. White nationalism, bashing immigrants. What is the point of this? America was built on immigration, sadly. And now the government there continues to roll back all environmental friendly laws to continue the rape of the Earth. Why? Tell us why, Mr. Politrickster? They sold the planet and our future, for a few pieces of silver. Should we, the people, just sit there and accept this future? Of course not.
Let’s talk about the songs and the themes on this album. You cover revolution, racism, poverty, police brutality, human trafficking – and end with a positive plea for a “Higher Love.” What went through your mind when you planned this album?
An album like this is not an overnight thing. It took shape over the years. Of course, we have always been about love, peace and justice. Without love there is no justice, and without justice there can be no peace. That has been a fundamental thread that runs through all our work.
We start with a song called “Rize.” You can’t make the world better by sitting on the couch. Get up, meet up with others, get organized. If you want True Democracy, you will have to fight for it.
So much for fallen soldiers
Don’t let them die in vain
So much for freedom fighters
It’s now that we feel your pain
So much for so called justice
A martyr’s sacrifice
Got gunned down during the protest
Demanding our equal rights, equal rights, hey
The world’s gone mad. That’s what it seems like – and it won’t fix itself.
— FixCapitalism (@capitalismfix) September 4, 2019
At the end of the day, we share many things in common. And that’s what we must focus on. Do we want a world of brutality? without life? without hope? That’s where we are going, if we don’t rise up. Smoking ganja isn’t going to increase justice in the world. You have to act.
The narrative is simple. Without respect for all forms of life, we won’t have a future worth living. The kids know this, and that’s why we have Greta Thunberg and friends standing up.
The First People show us the way – they are struggling to save the Earth from destruction – around the globe – from the Amazon to Australia to Hawaii. We must heed their warnings or perish. The rebellion is here and now.
On the social justice front, we see Colin Kaepernick fighting and sacrificing everything for the truth. The NFL has failed.
Thank the rebels. Without them there is no progress.
What is needed now is something more.
We can’t keep polarizing people. Reggae is about unity – and that’s why we did the remake of “Higher Love” – the Steve Winwood song. By adding the “Rasta Love” vibe, we feel the song is more relevant than ever.
We take our own advice. Get on the road and try to spread the word – it’s time to take back our Planet. To promote justice not war. Democracy is hard won, but easily lost. Keep the faith, and fight for it.
Thanks for your time.
INTERVIEW by Christian Sarkar