David Hinds of Steel Pulse Continues His Sturdy Brand of Socially Conscious Reggae

Categories: Bands We Like

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A zeal for social justice has long been essential to Steel Pulse's flavor of reggae music, and some 42 years into their music career, it shows no signs of letup. The Birmingham, U.K., reggae band, led by singer and main songwriter--and only remaining original member--David Hinds, are in the process of recording their 12th album, their first since 2004, and one of the issues he's tackling this time is George Zimmerman's trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Talking to Hinds at a Lake Forest recording studio, where he's tracking down horn parts, he is quick to turn the conversation to the trial: "American justice is in the balance with the outcome of this trial," he says. "It's not about right or wrong right now. It's the shenanigans of the lawyers that's going to probably wrap this up, as opposed to the truth, so to speak."

His meter quickens and his brummy accent grows more intense. "The wound was immediately fatal," he continues. "But there his body was, yards away from where the assailant was allegedly having his head beaten. All that is going to have to be explained. They're lucky I'm not the lawyer out there."

Now 57, Hinds still harnesses the same rigor and passion he had as a teenager in the mid-1970s, back when the English Caribbean clubs wouldn't book Steel Pulse because of their overt political bent. Back then, Hinds found kinship in the burgeoning U.K. new wave/punk scene, sharing bills with the Clash, the Stranglers, XTC and the Police, and the band rose to fame on the strength of punk-tinged reggae songs such as "Ku Klux Klan," penned in protest of the National Front, the European right-wing group that piped slogans such as "Keep Britain White," an obvious affront to a band composed of English-born sons of immigrants from the West Indies.

His newest batch of tunes includes a reworked version of "A Who Responsible," from the band's 1982 True Democracy record, with an updated spin connecting it to the Zimmerman trial, as well as an original tune dedicated to Martin titled "Put Your Hoodies Up for Trayvon," on which his son, Orange County-based rapper Baruch Hinds (a.k.a. Terror Dreezy), raps.

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