They’ve been on the music scene for four decades(!) and now Ali, Astro and Mickey of Brit reggae band UB40 have set their sights on Kiwi shores for a string of shows across the country. What’s Hot New Zealand talks to one of the originals, Astro, about getting back into the studio, the thrill of performing live and pet hates.
Congrats on your 40th anniversary and the success of A Real Labour of Love – what was it like getting back in the recording studio? Thank you. It was great to finally get back in the studio to record A Real Labour of Love. They are a collection of songs that we used to sing on the tour buses while touring in the 1980s.
Did you have any idea it was going to be so well received? No, we had no idea because as always it’s the public that decide if it is a hit or not! Obviously we hoped people would love it but nothing is guaranteed.
You’re the lead singer on six of the tracks – which is your favourite? It is really hard to pick a favourite as I love them all, but ‘International Herb’ is about a subject that has always been close to my heart.
What’s the best thing about being on stage? Looking out to a packed audience knowing that the crowd are in for a treat.
How does it feel watching a massive audience singing along with you? To see an audience singing along and dancing to the songs we perform is what I live for. Seeing different generations knowing the songs word-perfect just elates me.
Who has been the biggest influence on your music? Too many to mention but U-Roy was probably the biggest, alongside Bob Marley, John Holt and Big Youth.
What age do you see yourself playing till? Never really thought about it but as long as people buy tickets and I am physically able to get on stage I will be there. Retirement isn’t a word in my vocabulary.
Tell us your No.1 pet hate. My No.1 pet hate is people autograph-hunting in restaurants while I’m sitting with my family. Pushing bits of paper between your fork and mouth!
You’re stuck in an elevator with Donald Trump – what do you say to him? Not fit for general consumption!
Finish this sentence: Red, Red Wine makes me… Feel so fine, it keeps me rocking all of the time.
UB40 featuring Ali, Astro and Mickey
Jan 25, Church Road Winery, Napier
Jan 26, Waitangi Sports Grounds, Bay of Islands
Feb 5, Trafalgar Park, Nelson
Feb 6, Hagley Park North, Christchurch
Feb 8, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North