PHF: How did you originally become involved with The Wailers?
Family Man: The music bring us together. In the early '70s, Bob was living with his mom and dad over here [in the USA]. After a while he came back to Jamaica. He was going to get ready to get back into music again. I was just having my first recording then released... He was trying to get all his favorite musicians to vibe with him, so I was called upon. He heard some of my production, what I did, and asked 'Who played this music?' They say, 'The man they call Family Man.' He sent out someone to search for me. I went there and see the man and the man say, 'You they call Family Man?' I say, 'Yeah.' So he say, 'Is it really you play all of those sounds on bass? You got to be the right man, then.'
I tell you, we been together from that time. We went out to negotiate contract and we hit the road in '72. I was on the road with Bob from '72 straight up until he die. I was musical director...
PHF: What does the title of your recent release, "Cobra Style," refer to?
Family Man: The way we arrange music and play, we say it was always 'Swing and Sway.' The movement of the cobra. It's also one of my recording labels for many, many years, in the early '70s, long before the movie came out with Sylvester Stallone called 'Cobra.'... It was always Cobra. So I decided to compile these various artists and give it the title of my label, 'Cobra Style.'
PHF: When you are out with The Wailers, what is it that you'd most like the audience to experience or take away with them?
Family Man: Love is catch the vibes of what is out there. When involved in music, you have to listen to the Top 10... whatever is playing, what everyone is listening to and promote it. So when you create your music, you try to be right there with a little inversion and taking it to the next stage. We want to reach a wide audience. We want to be in the Top 10, too. We say it must be bubbling in the Top 100.
PHF: Here in America we don't hear much roots reggae on the radio. What do you think it would take to bring the conscious music back?
Family Man: You know that the reggae music is the heartbeat of the people. It is the universal language. No matter what culture. We take the music and the message. Reggae music carries the message of roots culture and reality.
PHF: Do you think to really get back to the Top 100, it would take another charismatic person like Bob Marley? Or will the music just come back around?
Family Man: As you know, Bob Marley was very positive, a great force, but he would not make it without the music. Both of them packaged together. The way we create lyrics, we create out of the environment, what taking place and heard and the knowledge of what we will say, the half that never been told. We kind of break it down simple so even a kid can understand. Then we move the music within certain calls and certain tempos and certain riffs. A riff is what give the true feel. That cannot be written in music. When you writing music, you can only write in bars and the time, but you can't write the feel, the riff. That's the magic. That's the 'king music,' Jah Jah music.
PHF: Do you think that even on your instrumental music, the dub cuts, the message of it comes through the rhythms and riffs?
Family Man: Also which is [created from] inspiration. When I create some of these music at the time and I try to put out some of them on singles, they say the music was too advanced, like it was ten years too early. So I held it back for a while. Within six or seven years time, one of my musicians came into my rehearsal studio and [hears] that I am creating this different kind of reggae sound. He gets involved with it and takes it out into the studio... and gave it the first computer sound, what called 'Get Flat' and everyone listen to it and love it and catch on to it... everybody get involved with it, at home and abroad. But we stick to the roots music. We say some is leaves and some is branches, but I and I is the roots.
PHF: When someone is listening to the dub album at home, what would you hope they are doing while listening?
Family Man: One good artist always inspire someone other. So if you are going to be following energy, you've got to be following the right thing. So when you listen to it, it give a certain kind of mood and feeling, simple, and that will inspire them to even go further.
PHF: What kind of mental state should someone be in when they come to a Wailers show?
Family Man: Come in with an open mind, open and pure and absolved and cool vibes. Cool energy. As Bob say, 'One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.' And they're also getting words of wisdom, knowledge, and overstanding of roots culture and reality, and the message for all humanity, mankind.
PHF: Who is in the band now?
Family Man: We got myself, Family Man Barrett, Earl 'Wya' Lindo, Alvin 'Secco' Patterson, ' Glen DaCosta, saxophonist who play with us over the years, Ian Winter on keyboards, and the drummer is Rashasha, he's an African guy replacing my brother, Carlton Barrett. We have two ladies who do backing, Olive Branch and Mary Jo, she is from Cameroon. The lead singer is Gary Pines. He's from Jamaica, too, but lives in Brooklyn.
PHF: Any upcoming plans for the band?
Family Man: Sure. At the head of the year, I think we will be doing a live album and three various studio albums, with various artists from overseas, from America here, and one with some great artists from Jamaica... And of course, one will be of The Wailers themselves...
PHF: What else do people need to know?
Family Man: Over the years... we've been promoting the Bob Marley and
the Wailers catalog, nonstop. No one does that, not even the family of
Bob does that. It's The Wailers Band... We keeping Bob Marley and the
catalog live over the years, making a lot of dough for the high level
recording labels... But as you know, we still have a little legal battle
out there. Let them know that now that we see the light, we will stand
up for our right!