Attack (Scottish Daily Record 11th June 2004)
WHEN Massive Attack frontman 3-D awoke one morning to find himself being arrested, he thought he was having a nightmare. And, in many ways he was.Under his real name,Robert Del Naja, the 37-year-old was arrested by police on February 26 last year, allegedly as part of a crackdown against child porn on the internet. Detectives seized computer equipment in the raid, which came within weeks of Del Naja's vocal opposition to the waron Iraq, just as his involvement in the anti-war movement was making some embarrassing headlines for the government. After a six hour grilling by detectives, Del Naja was released on bail.Then, a month later, while Massive Attack were in Australia as part of their world tour, the charges were quietly dropped and he was an innocent man once more. Having awoken from this nightmare, Del Naja is, unsurprisingly, in no hurry to relive the experience. He denies he was the victim of any conspiracy, but asserts: 'It was such a strange, surreal experience and, as you know, there was no truth in it whatsoever. But to be caught up in it at all was absolutely bizarre. The whole thing was very frightening, especially because of the subject matter I was dealing with on our album 100 Windows. Onone song, Sinead O' Connor sings about protecting children. It was like being in a bad dream where you become the central character. I'm just glad no-one believed it or took it seriously. The experience was no fun whatsoever.' He continues: 'I don't want to add oxygen to anything that isn't real. There are a lot of worse things that happen in life. At the moment rape and murder are going on around us on a greater scale, so what happened to mewas small-fry compared to some of the things that are going on.'
Just six days before his arrest, the Record ran an article quoting Del Naja lambasting Bush and Blair, as well as bands like Coldplay, for failing to join the anti-war bandwagon. He is still pretty angry that few of his colleagues in the music industry signed up to the movement. 'It's strange,' he says. 'A lot of people were absent and, like, vibrantly absent, if that makes any sense. A lot of the people we contacted were those we would have assumed would have had little hesitation, if any, in getting involved.To this day, a lot of people have remained quiet on the war and subsequent events. But not at any point did I think I would be stitched up. Never in the slightest. No-one I talked to was interested in the arrest. 'It was a collision of various different things that happened and there is a gleeful web of cynicism. 'The police probably thought it would be great to bring down a hypocrite, especially if I am a threat. It was Kafka-esque, especially with the subject matter Sinead and I were dealing with.' The idea of bringing someone down who apparently stood for something must have been appealing. He adds: 'But I relied on the truth andhad faith in the truth to get me out of that very difficult situation.' With his name temporarily besmirched, few would have blamed him if hehad decided to retire from the anti-war brigade for good, but Del Naja has decided to speak out once more. 'You have to understand that since that time, I have travelled the world and done 100 shows with 100 different messages to many different people in many different continents,' Del Naja, who topped the charts with Massive Attack's fourth album 100Windows shortly after his brush with the law, explains defiantly. 'My ideals and views have never changed. I amdue to collaborate with CND, Greenpeace, Stop The War and Amnesty International. I'll never change.'
Meanwhile, he has thrown himself back into his work. Massive Attack are NME stage headliners on Sunday, July 11, at this summer's T in the Park festival at Balado, near Kinross. He'll be joined on the date by band cohort Neil Davidge, while Massive Attack's other member Grant 'Daddy G' Marshall has returned after 18 months of paternity leave. Also onstage will be long time collaborator Horace Andy and Scots singer Dot Allison. Clearly relieved that the subject has turned back to music, Del Naja laughs nervously before admitting Scotland holds only positive memories for him. 'T in the Park always has a glorious vibe,' he beams. 'It is always wicked and I always have a great time there.We did T in the Park quite a way back and I came back up in 2001. I wasn't playing, I just came to hang out with some mates because it is such a brilliant festival.We watched some bands and spent a great weekend in Scotland. Festivals are so different if you are playing to going there to camp out as a fan of the music. I love sleeping over because it is like removing yourself from one reality and creating another. My memories of festivals are like dreams just wandering through the crowds and avenues of different people selling and offering and showing things and, of course, the music is great. Whereas if you are playing, it's dealing with getting the coach backstage, getting your passes and being moved around by all these security people.Then seeing a band and trying to get back in time to do the gig.' He added: 'It's all fun though. I'll have a few drinks beforehand, but just a few, because I can't get too mashed up.'
Massive Attack have also just been confirmed for theT in the Fringe festival at Edinburgh Corn Exchange on August 19.
'I've never done that before,' says Robert excitedly. 'It's going to be a right laugh. I hope to be able to hang out because I have never had the time to check out the fringe properly. I popped up to see a film opening once and got totally wrecked. It was a great night. It'll be a theatre gig, which is the exact opposite of aT in the Park gig. The contrast between the two is going to be really interesting.'
As well as the dates, Robert is already hard at workon a new album, but insists he will not touch on Iraq. He believes his art and his politics should remain separate entities.
'We never start an album with a particular subject because it is risky even with an event like the Iraq war,' he explains. 'You have to be careful because you can be too literal. As a person, as a citizen and as an artist or musician, your views can be different.You have to appreciate that a lot of people have their own views.You don't want to be constantly ramming your views up against people.'