Ali’s infectious vocals on such classic songs such as One in Ten, Red Red Wine, Don’t Break My Heart and Can’t Help Falling In Love catapulted him into the nations hearts and brought reggae to the UK mainstream.
As lead singer with the world-renowned group UB40, Ali Campbell has sold over 60 million records worldwide, toured across the globe, notched up four number No. 1 world-wide singles, over 40 Top 40 UK singles, released 24 studio albums and received an Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement.
Over the last 18 months, Ali and the band have toured across the world in countries ranging from Australia to Europe and Africa to the UK.
We caught up with Ali, to find out what he has been up to since we last spoke and about his upcoming show at London’s IndigO2, where he will be playing one date only on December 6th 2013.
Are you still based in New Zealand, or have you moved on from there now?
I was based in Ponsonby in Waitamata Harbour for 13 weeks, filming New Zealand’s Got Talent. We were the most watched programme in New Zealand. It was lovely to work with the very lovely Rachel Hunter and Jason Kerasene, who is a delightful geezer. I had a great time but my band were left idle, so I found myself flying to South America from New Zealand every other week to do shows. I loved it, but don’t expect to be doing it again. After all, I’m a recording artist and touring musician, which is essentially my real job.
You mentioned when we last spoke, that you would love to go on a ‘red, red, winery tour’, taking in places such as South America, South Africa and New Zealand, picking out particular countries that are known for their fine wine and you were going to incorporate a show in a vineyard. It sounded like something that would be a hoot, how true was that, or were you just kidding?
No, I wasn’t kidding. I am still looking for someone who will promote it. There isn’t a main central body that could organise this. Obviously, there are winery tours of Australia and New Zealand, but at the moment it would be hard to organise. I am trying my hardest to make this happen.
Over the last 18 months, you and your band have toured across the world, in countries ranging from Australia to Europe and Africa. What has been your favourite moment of that tour, so far?
I’ve got to say, playing to 100,000 shiny happy people in Sumba in Angola was pretty cool! But we’ve just come back from Maui, which is probably my favourite island in the world. We are enjoying travelling the world as we always do, promoting reggae music as we always do and drinking fine wine, as we always do!
We know that your fans in the UK are very excited about the fact that you’ve got a show coming up at the Indig02 in London, on December 6th, what can we expect from your show?
I love playing the Indig02, it’s a great gig and we do it every year. This year, I will be showcasing some new songs off the new album and I know that my fans will love it.
What does performing in front of a home crowd mean to you?
That’s why I love playing the Indigo2, or the 02 in Birmingham, because they are my hard-core fans and they let me get away with murder.
What do you miss about the UK, when you’re away?
My family, my kids and my wide. I don’t miss my brothers and I don’t miss the rain.
In June 2009, you released the album Flying High, which achieved success, hitting the top twenty in the UK charts and receiving some of the best critical reviews of your career to date, can we expect a new album from you at some point?
Yes, imminently. I’ve been at Rack Studios in St. John’s Wood and I’ve recorded with the Dep Band, which is the best album to date. I can’t wait for my fans to hear it. The album might be called Rhythm Methos, or it might be called Silhouette, os maybe something else. It will be out early next year on Cooking Vinyl records.
You are famous for your love of reggae music. What other type of music are you into or that has influenced you, that we may not be aware of?
I grew up like everybody else, listening to The Beatles and I was a massive Jackson 5 fan. I was the same age as Michael and could sing every note of every Jackson song. I love Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Motown in general, but the music of the streets where I grew up in Birmingham was reggae.
For people who are new to reggae music, who would you recommend for them to go and listen to first?
The quintessential reggae album of all time is African Herbsman by The Wailers and produced by Lee Perry. Next, I’d advise them to listen to Nutty Dred from Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1975. To get an understanding of toasting Toasting Lone Ranger M16 and anything by Big Youth.
Ali Campbell will be performing live at IndigO2 on 6th December 2013. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.axs.com/events/242113/ali-campbell-tickets?skin=indigo2