An Interview with Michael Franti, Part 3

Once again we hear from musician Michael Franti about his trip to Iraq in 2004. Today he talks about what he’s done since he’s been back and his recent and future travels abroad.
The result of the 2004 trip is a new CD, “Yell Fire” and a documentary, “I Know I’m Not Alone,” both of which came out at the end of July. I sat down with Franti during sound check before a show in Park City last Thursday. This is part three of that interview. Right-Click here to download the mp3. Or, read on for the transcript:
AL: What else are you doing to get your message out?
I work with a lot of different veterans groups, and one website that I like to turn people on to is It’s a group of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq and soldiers who are still there who are posting their thoughts and feelings about whats happening over there. Alot are simple like ‘I got sand in my teeth and eyes’ and some are really very political and some are really sad, but its all great, real-life expressions of what’s happening there.  They’re also a lobby for congress to make sure that veterans when they come home, have access to health care, which continues to get cuts as congress spends more on the war.
AL: Are you campaigning actively for any policies?
I’m somebody who believes in an immediate withdrawal of all troops. We have a failed policy there and to think that we have, we’re there to liberate people is not really the case. We’re there to control the land and the oil. I’m somebdoy who advocates an immediate withdrawal and some people say that well it’s going to bring the country into chaos. But since we first started attacking in 1991 and the sanctions that followed, we’ve done nothing but bring them chaos. And I say the Iraqi people which are very intelligent and wanting freedom for so long, allow them the opportunity to create their own democracy.
AL: What can we expect to hear from Michael Franti and Spearhead in the future?
I’ve been working on another film. Last week I was in Japan interviewing Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors – people in their 70s and 80s who’ve undergone various diseases related to low-level radiation. I’ve also been in Northern Ireland interviewing people there and this spring we’re going to South Africa and Uganda to speak with people there. The film is kind of about forgiveness and how do people get through very difficult conflicts and come out on the other side. I really wanna learn the ways that they’ve been able to move past things in their lives and find love, or in some cases, not find love and what the results of that have been, too.
AL: What did you learn on this trip?
There’s always so much history that goes into situations. So when you look at things on the surface you say, well why don’t people just stop the fighting? It seems really simple, but then you start to understand the history and you realize wow, there’s so many years of this, -but how can we move on? Somebody at some point has to let go, has to say OK, I’m willing to take a risk. And it takes incredible courage to do that. And I’ve seen and been inspired by the courage of those who have been able to move through that, but first it takes acknowledgement of the past and a real telling of truth so people can say, OK, my pain is acknowledged and now I can let it go.

TO be continued…

Related Posts: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 4