Pop Quiz: Michael Franti

Aidin Vaziri | Michael Franti’s seventh studio album, “The Sound of Sunshine,” won’t arrive in stores until later this summer. But the Oakland native and his band Spearhead, fresh from playing a string of arena dates in support of John Mayer, are already back on the road giving fans a taste of the new material. Judging by the cheery title track and second single “Shake It,” it looks like the group will have little trouble repeating the Top-20 success of last year’s hit, “Say Hey (I Love You).” The album was partially recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with producers Sly and Robbie, and finished with a portable rig while the band was on tour with Mayer.

Michael Franti
Q: You recorded most of this album while on the road with John Mayer. Is he really that boring to hang out with?
A: He’s actually pretty fun to hang out with. We were in the middle of writing this record and “Say Hey” kind of exploded on the radio. Normally we would have just gone in the studio and finished the record but this offer came along so we said, “Let’s go!”
Q: Was it difficult making a record in NBA locker rooms?
A: The only hard thing was pushing the recording equipment in and out of the arenas. We were playing to 95 percent of people who don’t know us, so we decided to play mostly new songs since they didn’t know the old favorites. Every day we would play a new song and then go in the locker room of whatever NBA or NHL franchise we were in and rewrite the songs once we figured out what worked and what didn’t.
Q: So this whole album is totally geared exclusively for John Mayer fans who show up early at concerts?
A: I wouldn’t say that. I would say it’s geared for people. It’s geared for music listeners. We look for universal elements in the song.
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