ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews

Overcoming the pains of success

ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews

Michael Franti & Spearhead

7pm, Dell stage

Michael Franti was on tour with the Counting Crows and Augustana in July when his appendix almost burst. The resulting surgery kept him off the road for a couple of weeks. At first he complained that playing his guitar was irritating his stitches. Then he used some good old-fashioned American ingenuity to fix it.

"I put some pillows on the back of the guitar with duct tape," he laughs.

The almost painful irony is that Franti's life should've been getting a lot more comfortable. His latest, All Rebel Rockers (Anti-), features his first hit, the bouncy "Say Hey (I Love You)."

"The day it hit the Top 40," he recalls, "was the day I went in to have my surgery. I'm on the surgical bed and the doctors are saying, 'It's a serious infection; we're going to do our best to get it out.'

"I'm thinking, 'Great, after 23 years of music, I finally have a hit song, I've never heard it on the radio, and I'm about to die.'

"Not that I've ever done it for a hit song. I've done it because I wanted to connect to people and I appreciate [this hit] in a way that maybe I wouldn't if it was my first album, the first song I released."

In today's highly divisive political climate, one wonders if he can reach people that might not be open to his message. "I believe today that the issues that we're facing in our country and in the world are not going to be solved by one person or one political party," Franti retorts. "Take climate change. It's going to take the ideas of the grassroots and the resources of the corporate world cooperating with government. It's going to take all of us, including the consumer power and hard work of everyday people.

"Music isn't going to make all that happen, but I think that it helps people see the possibility that the future can be different when they have nothing else in common."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Michael Franti
Big Wheel Keep On Turning
Big Wheel Keep On Turning
Old Settler's Music Festival diversifies

Raoul Hernandez, April 19, 2013

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Michael Franti, Spearhead

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle