BakedLife.com got in touch with Ozomatli's resident stoner and saxophonist Ulises Bella to ask him a few questions about pot, the band, and more. In their long career Ozomatli has gone from opening for Santana and playing protests with Rage Against the Machine to being one of the most popular indie Hip Hop bands out there. Their new album, "Fire Away", comes out next Tuesday, right on 4/20. Coincidence, obviously not.
Baked Life: Where does Ozomatli get it's name?
Ulises: It's a figure on the Aztec calender represented by a monkey. Ozomatli represents dance, the new harvest, and he's a trickster.
Baked Life: Let's get right to it. What do you guys like about marijuana?
Ulises: Well everyone in the band at one time or another has smoked. Actually less guys now, but I guess I'm the "head" of the band still. It's a generous plant that gives so much. I personally dig on the universal aspect of it, and the social one. I've smoked on every continent, except the icy parts, and I love connecting with people and hearing their stories and them asking me crazy shit! Believe me with some of the trips and countries we've done in the last few, call me Indiana Stones!
Baked Life: What inspires you?
Ulises: Life and Real people are first. Then I'd say social and political issues.
Baked Life: Do you smoke weed to inspire your music, to play it.
Ulises: For sure...it's one of the first things that attracted me to herb was the audio aspect of it. But at the same time I try to never depend on it for inspiration. I'd puff quite a bit before playing sometimes but when you realize your on tour in a country that will KILL you for having a sack it's best to summon inspiration from a different avenue.
Baked Life: What's your stance on marijuana legalization?
Ulises: The band is all for it, but I really feel we need to do it right on so many levels. Whether it's making it a useful tool and natural resource, and medicine for the people as a whole to keeping seed stock and growers protected from the ravages of modern day corporate agriculture giants.
Baked Life: I know Ozomatli is rooted in activism. I heard that the band formed for the first time in order to play at a protest. What are a few national and/or international issues you'd like to see taken care of as soon as possible?
Ulises: Issues I feel are important right now. The War and Occupation of Iraq and Afgahnistan, Health Care, Education and resources for working class folks. I also feel deep solidarity for the struggles that the gay and lesbian community has had to fight lately. Internationally I'd say the control of natural resources and divisions of wealth. The deep canyon that divides the haves from the have nots is something that we as a global community must try and change for the positive.
Baked Life: Do You guys read BakedLife.com?
Ulises: I've totally dug on Bakedlife.com.It's very informative and I was super into the Healthy Stoner and top ten NO NO's. Dropping science for the betterment of our fellow stoners!
Baked Life: What's the weirdest or newest part of your lives right now?
Ulises: The Cultural Ambassadorship gig we got is nuts! Nepal, India, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Indonesia,
Baked Life: I'm not sure if you've seen Sebastien Roche-Lochen's "That's how we roll", a photo journal of joint rolling. It features images of Doug Benson, who's known for his documentary Super High Me. He seems to be all about being vocal about pot. To what extent does Ozomatli see marijuana as part of their image?
Ulises: It's never been a big thing in our image, and honestly I'm really cool with that. It's not everyone's bag and I respect that. As a band we have always have been Pro-cannabis and have supported steps to change the laws.
Baked Life: With Coachella coming up everyone is excited about the diverse line ups. People feel there are alot of diverse bands out there right now. What are a few bands you guys are noticing?
Ulises: Balkan Beatbox, Tinarawen, Salsa band La Excelencia, Brownout, and Major Lazer.
Baked Life: Lastly Is there anything you want to say to Baked Life or it's readers?
Ulises: Much love to all. Please cop a copy of "Fire Away" our new album. Which of course is being released on 4-20! And a shout to all the fans and heads who I have puffed with in these 15 years of touring! Peace!
Ozomatli Live at Amoeba - in Hollywood on April 20th, for 4/20