Bristol’s Talisman reformed in 2011 and have just released third studio album I-Surrection – their first since 1990.
Produced by Rootikal’s Dave Hill for Mike Darby’s Sugar Shack Records it harks back to the sounds of the 1970s when they first started.
After a chance encounter with the band backstage after Talisman’s performance at England’s One Love Festival in August, Angus Taylor improvised this interview with guitarist Dehvan Othieno and bassist Dennison Joseph.
How did Talisman get started?
Dennison Joseph: Good question. Well, Talisman came off another band that was going on in the early 70s called the Panthers.
Dehvan Othieno: Actually two of them: the Cavaliers and the Panthers. We were both in different bands. Both bands broke up and the two of us came together and became Talisman.
Dennison Joseph: We joined together and that’s how it started.
Who coming out of Jamaica and England inspired you at the time?
Dehvan Othieno: Gregory Issacs, Dennis Brown, I’d say obviously Bob Marley… but the Wailers. Because the most important thing the Wailers did for reggae was to take it over that barrier from what they call strictly roots and introduced rock guitar and all those other things which then made it easier, more acceptable to the mass media. Between him, Chris Blackwell and the Wailers, they gave reggae that expansion. For the youths in England who didn’t really have that grounding in the roots in Jamaica, that was very big for us.
Yeah, to add more songwriting rather than just building rhythms. Who outside of reggae music inspired you musically?
Dehvan Othieno: James Brown… most of the black American R&B because they were the ones who were actually doing conscious music at the time. Around about the 70s those were the only people who were doing what we call conscious music; spiritual music that talked about being oppressed, that talked about being poor, that talked about being kept down by governments and corporate societies and things like that, so we looked to them. The same way they influenced from America to Jamaica, the same influence came to the UK as well.
Dennison, who inspired you to pick up the bass?
Dennison Joseph: That’s a big question for me. Just finding myself. Finding myself and what my ancestors used to do, because coming from Africa, the music creativity is inside of us. Then one day you’re just inspired to want to play music, to want to be artistic, to want to express yourself, and then you see other people doing the same thing. So for me, I just wanted a chance to be on stage and to do something for when I get to 70 years old rather than doing the gardening and stuff like that. So I think inspiration is a big question, so it needs a big answer: to be inspired. It’s already inherent inside of you, it’s just for you to pluck it out and then hopefully you have an effect on people.