Iration is here to make waves this summer, and not just with the typical reggae crowd. The California-based group came out with their latest self-titled album just a year ago, and the band is now hitting the road with their “Live From Paradise” tour with Pepper, Fortunate Youth and Katastro for an explosion of different sounds, unique energies and overall positive vibes. What sets Iration apart — and this is apparent with their latest album — is the fact that you can’t pin them down to one distinct category. The group’s sound ranges from the addicting reggae beats and energetic rock vibes to colorful dub and back again — and they do it all on their own terms. Iration guitarist and lead singer Micah Pueschel sat down with Metro to give the scoop on what inspires the band, chat about why music is meant to evolve, and discuss what to expect from their tour this summer.
I wanted to chat a bit about your latest self-titled album that came out last year. What went into making it so unique and distinctive?
So we kind of picked up where we left off with the album we had before this, “Hotting Up,” and we also worked with a new producer. It was a little bit of a different process: We would get into the studio with him and work on things and make demo beats, and then work on writing the songs from that kind of standpoint. With “Hotting Up,” 50 percent of the songs were already written, and we wrote the second half with him. We were figuring each other out and how we work together as a group. So once we finished with that, we kept writing and started to hit our stride. We just wanted to keep writing songs, it didn’t matter what genre it was or what it sounded like. “Iration” was written over a large span of time because we were touring in between and that’s why it’s so eclectic; we were just writing over different points in a two-year cycle. We were just working on [different styles] of songs and seeing where it took us.
You mention not just sticking to one type of genre with this album. Do you think bands and artists sometimes feel pressure to stick to one sound?
One hundred percent. I think you have a core band base that likes you probably because of your initial sound or first records or whatever record that was the most popular that got you started. I think people attach to those things and have a very deep kind of connection to those records and sounds, and so if you start to branch away from that and move to different places, you risk your core fan base getting upset or being like, “This isn’t what I signed up for initially.” You kind of run the risk of people jumping ship. Bands want to evolve, especially songwriters. It is an art, it is an expression, and we are creating, so you never want to just keep recycling the same thing over and over again. That would just be boring and it’s not what it’s about. There’s a fine line. We always say that we will do something but we also know there is a number of people that we sort of have to please with records, so an album has to have a little bit of both.
Since we are on the subject of writing and what fans get out of your music, what do you hope fans take away from your songs rather than it just being beachy reggae music?
I think that’s exactly what we strive to do, not be just recycled reggae music with random beats and random images or whatever. We really strive to make a song that tells a story and has a message, whatever that message may be. What we’re really trying to do is create a connection in whatever way the listener finds it. We don’t try to be uber-specific with songs, we do that on purpose. We want people to take what they will from the songs because we make music for ourselves, but we do also make it as a product that we give to people — people have to connect to it. It’s from a true place, it is our experience, but we try to make it come from a broad subject matter that everybody can connect to, no matter where you’re from. We have songs that have that linear story and then we have songs that are more about a message or a feeling, or love and heartbreak. We try to mix it up and we don’t try to stick to one thing. With reggae, we are adapting our own songwriting techniques and topics.
Micah Pueschel (L) and Adam Taylor of Iration. GETTY IMAGES
Jumping to your “Live From Paradise” tour, how does it feel hitting the road with Pepper, Fortunate Youth and Katastro?
Feels really good. We’ve toured with all of these bands before and we are all really close. We’ve known each other for a long time. We’re four bands that have been in this genre for a while, so it’s very comfortable. Everybody’s friendly and we have a good time. It’s much better when you’re on tour with bands you know and bands that you can hang out with before and after the show. No weird vibes or egos. Plus all of the bands in the package all bring something different.
What would you tell audiences to expect when attending an Iration concert?
Expect a good blend of sounds from the bands, and you can get whatever you want out of the show. If you want to come to the show and dance and get your energy out, you can definitely do that. If you want to come and chill, drink a beer and do whatever you want to do, you can do that and have a great time. The production is great, the lighting for the show is great, all the bands sound really good and bring something different. It’s just overall a positive and good time.