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Rebelution is coming to Red Rocks on August 23rd, 2014 for Reggae on the Rocks, as part of their Count Me In Tour. The doors open at noon on Saturday, and the music begins at 1pm, featuring the sweet sounds of Iration, The Green, Israel Vibration, Black Uhuru, and more.
A proud Colorado tradition since 1988, Reggae on the Rocks expects a capacity crowd on Saturday to see the hottest reggae group on the planet, Rebelution. Completely independent from day one, the band now celebrates over 10 years of making chart-topping reggae music for the masses.
Their first full length album, Courage to Grow, reached #4 on the Billboard Reggae chart, and earned the iTunes Editor’s Choice for Best Reggae Album for 2007.
Fuck a sophomore slump, in 2009, their follow-up album, Bright Side of Life, became the most downloaded album in all genres in the US, while hitting #1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart, #1 on the iTunes Reggae chart, and #34 on the Billboard Top 200 overall.
Not to be outdone, their third LP, Peace of Mind, debuted at #13 on the Billboard Top 200 in 2012. It was also #1 on the Billboard Reggae chart that year, as well as #1 on the Billboard Independent chart, and #4 on the iTunes overall bestselling albums list across all genres.
So when the GGFam called and asked if I wanted to check out the new record (Count Me In, released June 10th, 2014), maybe catch a local tour stop, and rap out with the band afterwards, I started skankin’ around my office on the spot.
After falling in love with the new album, I took my wife to see the show at San Diego State University on August 8th, and I was able to catch up with the band’s lead singer and guitar player, Eric Rachmany, a few days later to talk about inspiration, motivation, and the band’s upcoming tour stop at Red Rocks – dig it, friends!
JD: Hey Eric, thank you for spending some time with me today. I know you guys just kicked off your new tour – the Count Me In Tour. Can you tell us a little bit about this tour, the opening acts, and the large and passionate fan base that they bring with them, and what the fans at Red Rocks have to look forward to on the 23rd?
ER: Yeah, well where do I start? Right now we are touring with Stick Figure, The Green and Iration. But you know, Iration has been a band since before Rebelution was even born, and we both got started in Santa Barbara on the streets of Isla Vista, which is like right by the college area of UCSB. And honestly, when I got to college, I was wandering around the streets and I heard a band covering Eek-a-Mouse, and I was into reggae music at the end of my high school days so I was already familiar with some roots reggae, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that people knew Eek-a-Mouse down here in Santa Barbara. So I went back to this backyard and I saw 600-700 people packed into this backyard just dancin’ their butts off to this Eek-a-Mouse and it was Iration playing it, so it was at that moment that I realized that I wanted to do the same thing, you know? I want to start a reggae band, I want to do what they’re doin’. So then I met the rest of the guys – Marley, Wes, Rory – and we started Rebelution. So being on tour with Iration is pretty special for us. I mean, we are obviously great friends, but, you know, we both started in the same place, and they really influenced us to start playing our music.
And Stick Figure we’ve known about for a long time. Scott is their singer, and as far back as I can remember, like when Rebelution came out with Courage to Grow, I’m pretty sure that Stick Figure had an album out as well. So Scott was doing everything in his room at that point, recording guitar/drums/bass and vocals, so to have them on tour is very cool.
Obviously, we are huge fans of The Green. Representing Hawaii, they are one of the best bands out there right now. They have four vocalists, and four or five different songwriters in that band so every song is different, in my opinion, it’s really cool to watch them play. They’re just fantastic.
The best part about the crew is that there is a family vibe goin’ on, we all know each other, and I think overall, everybody just wants to make people feel good, we want to put out positive music. Hopefully our fans leave our show with a positive mentality, that’s our goal. I think if you could ask all the bands, yeah, that’s the goal.
JD: And Red Rocks on the 23rd?
ER: We are all excited to play Red Rocks because for one, in my opinion, it is the best venue to play at in the whole country that I’ve ever seen in my short days of being in a band. Colorado is obviously a great place for us, it always has been. We’ve been coming there for maybe six or seven years now, and I think that Iration has played there a couple times, I’m not sure if The Green has. So we’re excited to see their reaction, because as soon as you get on that stage and you look up at the crowd, like literally look up vertically, it’s unbelievable. It’s quite a feeling, it’s a very special place.
JD: Talk to me a little bit about the size of your crowds – how they are growing and evolving – and how does that affect the vibe of the shows? Are there pro’s or con’s to larger crowds?
ER: Yeah, there are definitely pro’s and con’s. The smaller shows are nice because you can kind of get more of a visual goin’ on, both for the listener and the artist. I do feel that you can connect visually with a smaller crowd, but the big crowds are great too because a lot of the time, its summertime, it’s outdoors, and I think that in the bigger crowds there are more people who haven’t heard us before. You know, friends are bringing friends, and I think that Rebelution gets a few more fans out of the big shows, particularly the festivals.
We feel honored to be on a festival like Reggae on the Rocks, because you get bands like Israel Vibration, and Black Uhuru sharing the same stage as us, that’s quite a feeling. You have bands that we were listening to before we were even writing original music. We were covering those guys’ songs. So to headline Reggae on the Rocks is surreal, I can’t even explain it. It feels weird, I don’t know if it’ll ever feel proper. It’s amazing to share the stage with legends like that.
JD: Right on. So I noticed at the San Diego show, and I imagine it’s this way everywhere you go…you guys tour all around the globe, all different sorts of venues, but at that show at SDSU, as I looked around the huge sold out crowd, it was just the full spectrum of society. I literally saw dudes kissing dudes and girls kissing girls, and the sky was thick with great cannabis, and it was all the things that the “establishment” is so afraid of, and are trying to keep taboo. But it was all there in one place, and to me, it looked like it represented the future. And to me, the future looks bright. But why do you think that your music reaches so many different types of people?
ER: Well I think that to a certain degree, there is a mystery around music. The power of music, I can’t really describe it. If I were to just say my lyrics, with no melody, I’m not sure that it would actually get to people. But the fact that I’m singing it, that we’re doing it through music, I think it can reach the soul and get to people in a different way. So I think there is definitely a mysterious power behind music as it is, and not just for Rebelution, it’s for everybody.
Also, I think people want to root for positive music. It’s something that Rebelution is doing, that Iration is doing, that The Green and Stick Figure are doing, Israel Vibration, Black Uhuru, and most people who are playing reggae music. I think that reggae, historically, has been a positive movement. It’s a movement that tried to incorporate that feeling of “One Love”, that we are all the same people, that we should all be treated in the same way. I really identify with that, you know?
But I think that there are a lot of differences in the world, and the differences are beautiful. I feel like if I can convey that message through the music, then I am doing my job as a musician, an artist, a poet, whatever you want to call me. I just want people to be accepted, cuz that’s all I want to be in life, is to be accepted, like everybody else. So that’s what we want to talk about, and that’s the stuff of reggae music, that we all deserve to be treated with respect.
I feel like if I can convey that message through the music, then I am doing my job as a musician, an artist, a poet, whatever you want to call me. I just want people to be accepted, cuz that’s all I want to be in life, is to be accepted, like everybody else.
-Eric Rachmany, Rebelution
JD: When you talk about being a lyricist, or a poet, or an artist, you guys do travel a lot. You have so many shows each year, when do you find the time to rehearse or to create new music? Is it always on the road, or back home when you find some downtime?
ER: It’s both. Sometimes it’s on the road, sometimes back home…sometimes it’s on an airplane. Sometimes it’s a late night at 5am, or right when you wake up at 8am. It depends on what we’re seeing too, you know, we meet so many different people from all around the world now, and although we don’t really get to witness these sites, we don’t get to get out and play around too much, we do get to meet the people, and you get a great understanding of culture just meeting people and talking and hearing stories. That’s inspiration right there. I feel very fortunate that motivation does come through because we do travel so much. And yeah, traveling does get tough, but it’s all worth it when you get on stage. The energy comes out as soon as you step on that stage with your band.
Red Rocks is a great example of that, because it has those natural acoustics. I’ve never been to another venue where my voice sounds so full and so resonated. I can take off my earpieces at Red Rocks and I can hear myself. I can’t say that about too many other venues. It’s pretty amazing.
JD: Well, the whole show blew me away, start to finish, but if you could talk to me about your two horn players – the trumpet player and the sax player. What do Khris and Zach bring, and how have they helped your sound evolve and take it to the next level?
ER: Yeah certainly. Well Khris we met in New Orleans a few years ago. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been playing with him for three years now, but his band Dark Matter was playing at the House of Blues in New Orleans and we were blown away by his skill. So then we asked him if he wanted to play with us part time, and he plays with a lot of different people, not just Rebelution, but it seems like he is around most of the time these days.
He is probably the most skilled musician that I have ever played with. He brings that jazzy style, you know, growing up in New Orleans, he was exposed to a totally different type of music than the rest of the band was. He plays keys, he plays sax, he plays the Electric Wind Instrument – or EWI for short – it’s got kind of an electric sound but looks like a clarinet. There are not a lot of people who play that, from my understanding. At least, not as well as he does. We all just get along as people. Khris inspires the rest of the band to keep on playing music. He definitely feels like a permanent member of this band, and we all love playing together so it’s a great relationship.
Zach I met just in the past year. He was actually in the same house as a few friends of mine and he happened to play trumpet. I saw him play, and he said he was into reggae music and I think it’s really important to get along with the people that you are making music with. That’s why Rebelution has been a band for ten years, because we all get along so well, we are all such good friends. If you’re not good friends, I don’t know about the longevity of a band cuz you have to see these guys every day on the road. You have to communicate and work on new material, find time for recording and writing songs together. Zach is great, his influence is more like ska reggae. Kind of like the old style. So when we were in the studio with Errol Brown, he was our engineer for this last album, Errol really identified with Zach’s style because Errol was recording a lot of that ska in Jamaica.
So it’s really cool. Everybody has their own influences and together, it creates this hybrid reggae sound that we have.
JD: It sounds like you guys pull your inspiration from one another, and your motvation from your fans – do you have a brief message you can give to your fans in Colorado, and tour stops yet to come?
ER: Our plan is to continue to write and record music, and play live. We love doing what we do, getting up on stage and playing for people. It never gets old, it just gets better and better. We feel like we are not able to do this without the support of the fans. Colorado has been a very special place for us. Outside of California, Colorado was one of the first places to be down with Rebelution’s music, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to be back there sharing the stage with some reggae legends.
JD: Very cool, man. Eric Rachmany, lead vocalist and guitar for one of the hottest bands in the world today, Rebelution, thank you so much for your time today. Much love from the #GGFam
ER: Alright, cool. That was awesome, thank you!
Obviously, I cannot recommend the Count Me In show highly enough. The amazing vibe of the crowd is matched only by the outpouring of passion and love that all of the bands on the ticket bring to the stage.
Much love and respect from me and the entire #GGFam and #4pieces fam to the guys in Rebelution for keeping it Grimey with us on their smokin’ summer tour.
Rebelution is :
Eric Rachmany – Vocals / Guitar
Rory Carey – Keyboards
Marley D. Williams – Bass
Wesley Finley – Drums
Khris Royal – Sax, percussion (touring member)
Zach Meyerowitz – Trumpet (touring member)