UB40’s James Brown:Playing live is our lifeline

By Andrea Clarke
UB40’S James Brown has revealed how he survived falling into the celebrity fame trap after more than 30 years in the business.
The reggae band will play Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on Sunday and after decades of touring, drummer Jimmy says having your “head screwed on” is the only way to survive in the music industry.
“I think at a certain level you travel well, you stay in great hotels, you’re treated like royalty when you go to other countries – what’s to complain about”, he said.
“I’ve got a family and I know you don’t have to sacrifice being a normal human to be in a pop band.
“If you’ve got your head screwed on right or you’ve got enough influences around you to keep your head screwed on right, then you can have your cake and eat it in that situation”.
But the 50-year-old knows how easy it is to lose everything to fame.
He said: “I’m lucky it’s one of those situations, it didn’t have to go that way.
“It can destroy relationships but it doesn’t have to. When you can have a family and not compromise too much, it’s quite a nice feeling”.
The Birmingham native has been gigging with UB40 for three decades and claims the band have got “quite good” at it.
“We’ve done it so much and we’re so comfortable on stage, and I think we’re aware we’ve got a little bit more to us than most bands have got live”, said Jimmy.
“A lot of bands these days are using backing tracks and vocals on tape.
“You can tell we’re happy and we make sure everything we do is performed live there and then.
“And I think we’ve got quite good at if after all these years.
“Playing live is our lifeline, it’s what keeps us going, and we really enjoy it”.
Unlike today’s one hit wonders, UB40 have lasted more than 30 years, churning out hit after hit but according to Jimmy there’s no secret to their success, it’s all about fate.
He said: “It just happened that all our planets have been in conjunction more than once over the years we’ve been around.
“We’ve had hits over that time and if that hadn’t happened then maybe we wouldn’t be here now.
“As individuals we all have an interest in other types of music but when we come together as UB40 we all concentrate on doing reggae music.
“And in the end we do it because we want to do it better and better and better every time. The new album, which is coming out next year, I think it is without a doubt the best thing we’ve ever recorded and I’m very proud of it”.
And Jimmy promises Belfast fans a night they won’t forget.
He added: “Come and enjoy the show. In the end what we do is we play dance music, so you dance and you sing.
“The audience will know a lot of the songs. We’re not doing the pure greatest hits set because we’ve got a great new album to play from but there will be all the old favourites.
“People come, they sing, they dance and I hope Belfast enjoy the show because it’s something we work very hard at”.

Tickets for UB40 at the Odyssey Arena on Sunday November 25 are priced £41.50 and £38.00, are on sale now from venue box office, Virgin & all usual Ticketmaster outlets. Credit card bookings & info: 0870 243 4455 or 028 9073 9074 (Odyssey Arena) or online: ticketmaster.ie or wonderlandpromotions.co.uk