Singer/songwriter Michael Franti, leader of rock-leaning hip-hop outfit Spearhead, has begun work on the Bay Area group's fourth album, tentatively titled "Everyone Deserves Music." Largely written on

Singer/songwriter Michael Franti, leader of rock-leaning hip-hop outfit Spearhead, has begun work on the Bay Area group's fourth album, tentatively titled "Everyone Deserves Music." Largely written on the road over the past year, the album -- which is slated for a September release on Six Degrees -- will include the first tracks on which Franti plays guitar.

Explaining the inspiration behind learning to play the instrument, Franti tells Billboard.com, "On the road, I visited countries in the past couple years where you go to a little village and there's no electricity, there's no place to plug in an amplifier, or a turntable. And I saw people sing songs in other languages with just an acoustic guitar and it was so beautiful to hear. Even though you didn't understand all the lyrics, you could feel the passion. So this last year I dedicated myself to learning to play guitar. And so I wrote a lot of songs on the road just playing acoustic guitar and writing lyrics to them."

Thus far, Franti has begun putting beats to some of those songs. Some, he says, will remain acoustic. Lyrically, Sept. 11th has effected his writing, but Franti says he doesn't plan to discuss the terrorist attacks of that day literally.

"I'm trying to write hopeful songs that can be songs of healing, but I'm also not gonna shy away from the fact that we all have a responsibility to put an end to violence in all its forms," he says. "We have ups and downs and tribulations in life, but it's no reason to ever give up our dream about creating a peaceful world and a just world. I think sometimes we let go of that dream and vision when we get angry or when we get hurt, or when we've gone through some ups and downs."

The group will continue recording through the beginning of February before embarking on a two-month tour that kicks off Feb. 9 in San Francisco. Spearhead will return to the studio in April to finish work on the new album -- the follow-up to last year's critically acclaimed "Stay Human" -- before returning to road this summer, Franti says.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print