Q+A with Third World

Photo courtesy of Third World, via Facebook

Third World was formed in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1973, by guitarist and cellist Stephen “Cat” Coore and keyboardist Michael “Ibo” Cooper. Now, nearly 44 years later, Coore and original bassist Richard Daley are still forwarding the project that spawned hits such as “Try Jah Love,” collaborated with psychiatrist Frederick Hickling and performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder.

Currently Third World is at work on a forthcoming album with producer Damian Marley. Though the band is not touring, Third World made an appearance at fall LEAF on Saturday night.

Xpress: How far along are you with the recording process?
Richard Daley (bass): Pretty far. We’re quite pleased with where we are. We’ll release next year sometime.

Does it feel like a celebration when you put out an album 44 years into your career?
Daley: This one is very special. When we started, it felt like just another album. Our relationship with [Damian Marley] goes back before he was born because we’re good friends with his mother and obviously Bob Marley is his father. He grew up in our midst and he expressed a desire to produce his uncles, which is what he calls us. It’s like a dream fulfilled. He’s very talented and we find it a distinct pleasure working with him.

While Damian Marley stays true to the roots of reggae, he’s also branched off and created a unique sound. Does he bring that to your recording?
Coore: I think he’s more looking for our sound, for what he can do to help our sound. I don’t think Damian is the kind of person who would want an artist he’s producing to necessarily portray him or to try and wear his shoes, as it were. I think we ourselves are looking for some of that edginess that he and [his brother] Stephen [Marley] have brought to reggae. It’s a Third World style because from very early days we were wanting to mix different styles, which is what they are actually doing. It feels to me as if it’s a very similar thing happening. It’s very cool.

At this point on your career are you still surprised by aspects of the music-making process?
Coore: Over the last two weeks, we’ve had a workshop-session with each other. It’s something we haven’t done for a long time and it felt so new. It almost felt to me like it was the very earliest days when it was a kind of excitement and passion I felt. Every single day you can learn something new in the music business. There’s never a predictable moment. It’s a business of glorious uncertainty.
AJ Brown (vocals): I believe, with four different minds coming together in terms of the song writing part of it — other band members also contribute in terms of creating rhythms — but for me, being able to collaborate with three other creative minds is exhilarating and always a joy. It’s good to be able to work together and bounce things around.

I’m fascinated by the collaborative process, which is so much a part of what music is, unless you’re a solo artist.
Maurice Gregory (keyboard): I think it’s better, different minds coming together to create. Not [just] one idea. Different spices.
Coore: And even if it’s a solo career, you’ll find a lot of time that behind the scenes it’s collaborative writing.

As a band you’ve collaborated with different musicians and writers.
Daley: For decades. Maurice [Gregory] is a keyboard player and a very active producer, producing artists in Africa and all over the world. [Gregory worked on the Grammy-winning Morgan Heritage album Strictly Roots.]

Is the bringing in of new influences part of how you’ve kept Third Word fresh for four decades?
Coore: It’s one of the components. Acceptance of people’s personalities is one of the things that keeps you knit in any organization. Because if someone really pisses you off, you find you need to lose that knitting. Things get free. So you have to put that in perspective. One of the things that has kept Third World together all these years is that we could live with each other in a dimension that is just unreal. It’s quite extraordinary for me that [although the band members] live all over the place, we still come together in a family feeling that is very special. We treasure each other’s friendship.
Brown: There’s a certain amount of commitment that is exhibited among the members. We have certain goals that we want to see happen. I’m working with a set of musicians who are so talented that it’s a joy to perform with them. That’s what I’m looking forward to every time.

There’s something special about hearing reggae outside. Do you prefer performing outside as opposed to in a concert hall?
Norris Webb (keyboards): We like performing for people who actually enjoy the music. It doesn’t really matter the weather. However, on a chilly situation such as this, it can complicated. But when the music starts to play, you forget about the temperature, you forget about the weather. You’re really not paying attention to that. As long as we’re enjoying the chemistry flowing between the audience and ourselves, it keeps us warm.


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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