Outerviews: Doug Wendt (2)

High Times (1998)

Wendt: Do you remember the first time you smoked herb?

Scratch: It make me feel real glitzy and I don't know what's happening. I want to say it took me on a trip, a strange trip. And I was no longer on this planet Earth. It take me into space and I want to come out of it. And I get out of it. I afraid of it and I want to say whatever it is, I try it again. But the trip was nice. It teach me wisdom and knowledge and understanding, and put me back on the planet Earth to stand on solid ground. You say whatever you want. You ask the Earth because the Earth have all the powers. If you think Earth didn't have the powers, how did Earth grow the trees and the plants and the flowers? And how does Earth feed the animals? So then he send me back to Earth after the trip to understand that the Earth is the lord. Then if you want or need anything, why don't you knock and ask the Earth?

Wendt: So herb was a revelation?

Scratch: And a revolution.

Wendt: What's the difference between Jamaican herb like Lamb's Bread, Goatshit, and so forth?

Scratch: Sinsemilla. Lamb's Bread. Cannabis. Collie. Marijuana. Tampi. Any name it have it is the same. It just named herbs. The herbs, green herbs. Green collie herbs, green marijuana herbs or green ganja herbs - it's just the green genie you talking about. Yeah, the genie exists and the green ganja collie is the genie. The green genie Godeenie! He makes the wind blow, the grass grow. He makes the school bell ring and the people sing. The tree of life - ganja! Hallelujah. Jahovia. Jah Rastafari.

Wendt: You wrote a song called "Bushweed Corntrash". What's that?

Scratch: Well, people used to get different vibration off the weed. The weed we normally did plant, we didn't maintain properly or give good treatment to turn into a good smoke, so it become a bush weed. It didn't get any mental support. So they put it with corn trash and smoke it as one vibration. What you put in, you get out. You didn't give anything, so it become bushweed. And you put it with corn trash and you smoke it. And say it was fucking up your brain.

Wendt: What was the idea behind the song "Herb Vendor"?

Scratch: Me get a message from a different planet to deliver down here to the Earthlings. I extraterrestrial it to the Earthlings. I make it on music so the Earthling can hear this message. (Sings) Dub it Iyah. Dub it Iyah. Yeah, hit the collie. Hit the collie 'til it swell your head now. Do it Iyah, do it Iyah. Yes!

Wendt: How is the herb in Switzerland?

Scratch: It's okay and I think they don't fight against herb. They don't put herbs amongst the drugs. They don't rate herbs like drugs. Put herb always above that. Think about that.

Wendt: Will there ever be an Upsetters reunion?

Scratch: There won't be any more Upsetter band. I once planned the Upsetter band. The Upsetter was so upsetting that it upset even I. They wanted to take over the whole thing. They was upset and they become Wailers. So I give them all the things that wail and put all that is upsetting away. I put their alcohol away, I put their rum away, and I put their massive dreads away. They were all too dreadful for me. Anything that is upsetting to me I must get rid of, that's why I'm the Upsetter. I must not be upset.

Wendt: Are you rebuilding the Black Ark studio?

Scratch: I did want to, but I discover it will bring back the destruction that was around me. And even death. My power is to stay alive - not to encourage death. So the Black Ark studio won't be coming back. Anything that is a problem to me my object is to put it away, get rid of it. I don't care how powerful it was, even if it was the power of the world - it have to go.

Wendt: What inspired your last album, Who Put The Voodoo 'Pon Reggae?

Scratch: What inspired me is that some of us are unbalanced, and for us to get balanced we'd have to go on track. So we create a big boom like a big dance track for the people to follow. It wasn't meant to be called reggae. I didn't have a name for it at the time, but the government wanted to call it reggae. So something to mix up, through money. And because something go mix up, I don't want anything to do with the name reggae. But whoever love it, I will bless them and say take it. I don't want to have nothin' to do with it for reason more than one. God bless you for loving the reggae, but I don't want to discuss anything about it. See, I'm following Emperor Haile Selassie's footsteps. He didn't give Egypt for nah reason, he give it up and I have to give away reggae for a reason as well. I don't want to be a kaput. Okay? I send you a prophet, and the music would not save the life of the prophet.

Wendt: Are you talking about Bob Marley?

Scratch: If you say so. I didn't say so. I said I send you a prophet. If the reggae didn't save him, how is it going to save me? The people love reggae and I love reggae still. I don't hate reggae and I don't want you to think I throw away reggae. I love reggae. It become a giant and cannot be controlled anymore. 'Cause of the force it bring upon me. I have to burn the Black Ark studio and leave Jamaica. Otherwise I wouldn't be here. They want my reggae tapes. When you are alive you are nothing, but when you are dead you is worth something. So I was supposed to be dead and be a legend, then my reggae tapes would sell more.

Wendt: Is that a flaming sun leaf on your shirt?

Scratch: Fire, yes. Sparkling fire. Fire revelation. Fire mean the revelation of a prophecy.

Wendt: And fire burned down the Black Ark studio you built.

Scratch: Yeah. Fire come as a witness again.

Wendt: This had to do with Island Records turning down your Roast Fish Collie Weed And Corn Bread album when you were at the height of your powers.

Scratch: That album! That's what caused every fucking thing.

Wendt: And then a couple of years later, you released "Judgement Ina Babylon" with Chris Blackwell on the cover as a vampire.

Scratch: When he fight against Roast Fish Collie Weed And Corn Bread, it did create power. What else could I call it but judgement? I couldn't call it justice. If I call it justice I would have killed him instantly. You understand? But that would be against the rules of the cosmic laws. You have the cosmic laws and the cosmic energy. The cosmic energy don't want you to do that because the weather want to watch. And if you spoil the weather's fun and the watcher don't watch 'til the end, the watcher will charge you for spoiling the weather's fun.

Wendt: Last night at your show you said "are you deaf? I will make you deaf". Why do you want to make people deaf?

Scratch: I will make them undeaf. I mean, if you are closed, I will make you unclosed. And if your brain is unclosed, I will open your brain and open your mind and open your hearts, open all your parts! Then if you open your past with your ears so you're hearing, I come through your past and give you a present into your future. Through your ears I speak. Could you hear me if you're not havin' the ears on? If you could not hear, then you could not hear me. And if you could not see then you could not see me, could you?

Wendt: We can shut our eyes, but we can't shut our ears. Our ears are always open.

Scratch: Always open. Even when you dream. Even when you have vision you hear something else sing.

Wendt: You often make references that you're crazy or you're eccentric. I think you know you're not really crazy. You use it as a way to keep people at bay. Isn't that what's really going on?

Scratch: Look, I'm surrounded by people with wasted brain. And when I send out my beam, my scannin' beam, and go into their wasted brain and see no part of the wasted brain that I require, I'm bored! But when I scan the brain and see brain that are not wasted, brain that can be put to work or put to use to bring forward a creation, I would be really interested in it. Then I won't be bored.