photo by Gabe Kirchheimer

Interview with Rocker T

From his beginnings as the vocalist of the pioneering band Skadanks right up to his modern reggae/hip-hop styles, Rocker T has proven himself time and time again as a force to be reckoned with in the reggae scene. A devout Rastafarian and a accomplished musician, Rocker T took time to answer some questions concerning his past, present and future. Enjoy.

KYLE - Can you introduce yourself to the massive?

ROCKER T - Greetings in the Name of the Most High Jah Rastafari - I-n-I is named Rocker-T.

KYLE - How did you get the name Rocker T?

ROCKER T - Riding on a train with my best friend at the time. My name starts with T and T-LaRock was one of my favorite rappers.

KYLE - How did you get you start in music?

ROCKER T - In the Church Choir when I was three.

KYLE - Youre a multi-instrumentalist playing guitar, bass, melodica, niyahbinghi drum and probobly other instruments as well. What was the first instrument you learned to play and what inspired you to start learning instruments?

ROCKER T - I learned piano from I was 7 till I was 14. I switched to guitar and a couple years later I was in my first band.

KYLE - Can you give the readers a background on Rastafari and how you came to be involved in that movement?

ROCKER T - To giv an accurate I-story of Rastafari is a few books worth of information alone just to start. I think the best thing to say here is that I-n-I hold fast to Haile Sellasie the First and to the Empress Mother Earth. I became involved with Rastafari from the moment I heard the Name of Jah.

KYLE - Do you ever get any slack for being white and a Rasta?

ROCKER T - Yes. People are the way they want to be. It perplexes me that anyone could percieve of any form of racism as being correct, let alone any free thinking human being for that matter.

KYLE - Skadanks was formed in the mid 1980's wasnt it? Can you give us a little history of that group to those that may not know?

ROCKER T - Skadanks was formed in about 85 or 86. Alex - V on Bass, Sam Seigler on Drums and I on Guitar and Vocals. It was a skinhead-ska band in its original conception but as the band grew and members changed AV and I decided that Reggae was the only way to go.

KYLE - What was the ska/reggae scene in NY like in those early days with Skadanks?

ROCKER T - It was like everyone and every band in the scene was a superstar. We were all kids and we were playing gigs and going to gigs all the time and having a great time. Too much racism and facism in the scene gave AV and I a sour taste though. Hence the need for us to play Jah Music.

KYLE - Is there any other Skadanks albums besides "Give Thanks"?

ROCKER T - No. Skadanks appear on the NYC Ska Live (Moon) record and Whole World African was our only single on Edutainer/Elektra.

KYLE - "Give Thanks" was on Elektra which is a pretty major label. How did you hook up with them and how did they treat Skadanks?

ROCKER T - KRS 1 signed us to his Label Edutainer? Elektra but we ended up recording the album and releasing it only on Elektra. And lets just say our contracts could have been a lot better.>11. What happened with Skadanks? - No comment except to say we're all still very good brethren.

KYLE - Can you tell us about the Jah Warrior Shelter High-Fidelity sound system you ran?

ROCKER T - And still run! I have been spinning I-n-I sound since 1990 or so. Right now Myself and Jah Yzer are the main DJs on the sound and we are based out of SFO. A few years back we won the Bay Area's version of a citywide soundclash.

KYLE - Have you played many other sounds besides Jah Warrior Shelter?

ROCKER T - I got my stripes with DJ Rupert, Jamalski, KRS 1, Eruption Hi Power with DJs Puppy Rankin and Commissioner Gordon, BBC II Hi Fi with DJs Rob Kenner,David Raimer and Seaborn, Ki-Om HiFi, and International Hi Power with DJ Daddy B. Besides Ronnie Dread and Smoki who with myself were the main JWS crew before now

KYLE - How do you like toasting on a Sound compared to backed by a band?

ROCKER T - With a band I have more freedom but I luv them both to my heart and soul.

KYLE - Was "Nicer By The Hour" on Stubborn your first solo recording?

ROCKER T - Album yes. First Solo Single was "Jah Everlasting" on PSM Recordings.

KYLE - How did you get hooked up with Django and the Stubborn/Version City crew?

ROCKER T - Ask Agent J. and King Django. Those two are my boys for life.

KYLE - I heard that there is another Stubborn Records album in the works, any truth to that?

ROCKER T - Yes. It is mixed and waiting on the art.

KYLE - Why did you decide to use real instruments and stuff on "Nicer By The Hour" while most of your other recordings utilize digital rhythms and instrumentation?

ROCKER T - So I could be recording all the styles I want to but on different Labels so that the Labels theMselves can benefit from their respective genres.

ROCKER T (photo by stosh1)

KYLE - You also collaborated with Django and the Stubborn All-Stars on the song "Gypsy Song" on their "Nex Music" album, how was that? Is there another Rocker T and Django in a combination songs from that session or just that one?

ROCKER T - I love the Stubborn All-Stars. PERIOD. For real. And King Django and I have a nice tune called Wayfarer's Prayer.

KYLE - And you recorded again with Django and Dr. Ring Ding on the songs "Sound Unity" and "Fight Over God". When and where were these tracks recorded? How was it working with Dr. Ring Ding?

ROCKER T - Lots of fun.

KYLE - What is the Cannabis Cup Band? Who is in that lineup and have you recorded with them?

ROCKER T - It is a band created initially to play at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. G-Moses on Drums, Ricky T on Keyboards, Alex V on Bass, Joe Sansaverino on Guitar, Myself on Vocals, JudaH Eskender Tafari on Vocals, Olivier Rhee on Vocals and Edison Archer on Vocals.

KYLE - Who is in the IRT Band?

ROCKER T - Sheldon Gregg on Bass, Donovan Macka T on Guitar, Ricky T on Keyboards and G-Moses on Drums.

KYLE - Was the "Tru Ganjaman" EP was your first project for PSM Recordings? How did you hook up with Stand Out Selector and the Positive Sound Massive?

ROCKER T - Jah Everlasting was. I was good friends with his Wife and she told him to sign me on his label.

KYLE - Did you know the cover of "Tru Ganjaman" was used as a background poster on the movie Next Friday? Was that planned or a coincidence? (Rocker T smoking a huge spliff in the background of a ganga comedy?)

ROCKER T - Yes I know. It's great! It was taken from a huge pile of possible props for the movie. Supposedly Ice Cube liked it a lot.

KYLE - The "Tru Ganjaman" EP has you standing up very boldly for the legalisation of marijuana. Can you tell the people about legalising marijuana and what you think the proper steps would be to get around to doing that?

ROCKER T - The only way is for people to be involved and to demand that the money they spend be used for a good purpose. And if it is not, they need to cut-off money to that direction. So lots of people have to boycott lots of things before you can see any real difference in any drug war.

KYLE - A few months after "Tru Ganjaman" came out, you released the "If Yu Luv Luv, Show Ya Luv Luv" album which was also on PSM, which was a pretty diverse album featuring dancehall, reggae, hip-hop, niyabingi drums and so on, with you singing and toasting. I heard people say its your best yet, how do you think that albums been recieved?

ROCKER T - It took I to another place. It raised the level for I across the board.

KYLE - Earlier this year, you did a small tour with Lee Perry and Mad Professor, how did that go?

ROCKER T - Wonderful.

KYLE - How did you find Lee Perry?

ROCKER T - My best guess is he's probably sane enough to be crazy and crazy enough to be a genius.

KYLE - You also played the Sierra Nevada World Music festival this year didn't you? How was that experience?

ROCKER T - Amazing.

KYLE - I read on the PSM webpage that you were working on a album with the legendary Glen Adams, can you tell us about that?

ROCKER T - I have released one single with Mr. Glen Adams to date and I hope to finish some songs that we have already started working on.

KYLE - What and who do you think the best songs, albums, performers to come out of 2001 were?

ROCKER T - For some reason I can't think of everything I want to tell you right now.

KYLE - What do you think was the best live show you've ever done?

ROCKER T - There are a few shows at The Wetlands, NYC and on my last tour with IRT that would fall into that category.

KYLE - I guess that about wraps it up. Any last words or promotions or big ups?

ROCKER T - I have also an album coming out on PSM. The Stubborn record is called Who Will Save the Lower East Side? and the PSM record is entitled More Luv. Nuff respect to all crew an crew. An Giv Thanks an Praises in the Name of Jah Rastafari. Namaste.

KYLE - Thanks so much for doing this interview, I really appreciate it. I am quite the fan.

ROCKER T - Peace an Luv.

Stubborn Records
Check Rocker T's "Nicer By The Hour" album
Positive Sound Massive
Check Rocker T's "If Yuh Luv Luv Show Ya Luv" and "Tru Ganjaman" records.

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