This article was first published on CLUAS in July 2001
The Most Important Band In Ireland?
#kingsativa (yes, they now use the hash symbol as part of their name) are the most important band in Ireland. Okay then, that may be an exaggeration? but only a slight one. They certainly have the potential to be a vital force on a national level and we're not just talking about music here. Where U2 - and Bono in particular - thrive on making a difference on a global front, so too can four conscientious northside Dubliners on a local, but very delicate, issue - racism.
To witness a Sativa gig is too witness an ideal of how a harmonious integration can take place. Black and white mixing effortlessly in the name of reggae music.
Cheeko Nolan, Anthony Kenny and Derek and Damien Clabby were brought together by the music and ideals of Bob Marley. Though disciples of Marley are in no short supply, these guys feel him deep from within and have a natural understanding of their chosen art form. At this point they are probably better known for moonlighting as Catch A Fire, a massively successful tribute act to their legendary idol. Repeated sell-out shows at the Olympia in this guise has not and will not, however, deter them from their priority - #kingsativa. All of the income generated from these shows goes straight towards the recording of their debut album, 'We Did then', which is due at the end of the summer.
Sativa always seem willing to sacrifice any immediate financial gain for the greater goal. 1999 saw the release of their Bullshit EP, which was distributed for free at their gigs and their new double A-side single Where Do You Stand / Saying So Much Things sees all proceeds kindly donated to cancer research - a mark of respect to Marley on the twentieth anniversary of his death at the hands of the disease.
While most people might laugh off the notion of an Irish reggae act, theirs is a brand of alternative reggae steeped in credibility with songs that had The Wailers themselves singing their praises at this summer's Green Energy Festival. It's praise like this, coming from all quarters, that has seen them defying all the odds to break down conventional barriers in the Irish music scene and carving out their own niche in the process.
Sony, among others, have been sniffing around Sativa for nearly a year but expect little to happen on that front. What we have there is yet another example of a major record label with only token representation in this country and even less clout. Bringing their sound to the masses is undoubtedly going to have to be done the hard way.
This could be the start of an exciting era in Irish music.
#kingsativa host a relaxed jam-session every Wednesday in Murky Blues on Parnell St, Dublin