When Rebelution first hit the music scene years ago the reggae movement was not exactly a huge hit. But as years have gone by and the genre has massively grown, so has Rebelution. The group amassed a loyal fan base almost right off the bat, and since the reggae scene has exploded, so has the band’s sound. Instead of just the normal Marley-Esque beats with beachy lyrics, the California-based group mixes things up with inspirations from many different genres and makes it all their own. Rebelution’s singer Eric Rachmany sat down with Metro to chat about what inspires the band, talk about their summer tour and dive into what makes the group incredibly unique.
Why Rebelution always has the ‘Courage to Grow’
The band has been together for 14 years with six studio albums and countless shows– how do you try and keep the music fresh but still have that signature Rebelution vibe?
The first thing that comes to mind is touring. We play so many shows and we have to find a way to keep things fresh, so mixing up our setlist and finding new ways to engage the crowd. To be honest, when I first got started in this band, I didn’t know how to be a lead singer. I didn’t know how to be an entertainer, I didn’t even consider myself a great musician. So every year I feel like we get a little bit better and we learn a little bit more about ourselves and how to be better entertainers and better musicians. I think the fact that we have to get out on the road and perform in front of other people kind of forces us to find different ways to engage the crowd each summer and really just portray the music in a different way.
What do you help audiences take away from your music?
I think lyrically our message is encouragement and motivation. I want people to listen to the music and then go out and do something great, I want them to feel inspired. We get a lot of people that come to us and they say that our music got them through a tough time— that’s the best compliment that I could ever receive. It’s really our goal lyrically. But musically, we really are reggae-inspired. When people listen to our music they hear the reggae influence but they also hear other influences, and I think that’s what makes Rebelution way different from any other reggae-sounding bands. We have songs that are rock-sounding or hip-hop, or even pop—-on the last album we have a few songs that sound more RnB to me or even ones that have a jazz sounding progression. I think there’s a misconception that all reggae music sounds the same. Although I find that to be untrue, I think that Rebelution is a great way for people to maybe get into reggae music and then go from there.
When you do write, what is the process like? Has it changed at all over the years?
A little bit, we all live in different cities now so when an idea comes to mind we send things electronically. The good part is that we tour so much we are able to get together and practice our sound and bounce ideas off of each other. But the recording technology has definitely gotten a lot better. People have home studios now, and it’s easy to record at home.
Rebelution has some great songs with collaborations with other artists and bands, are there any other musicians you’re itching to work with in the future?
Usually, I end up getting inspired by the bands that we tour with, on this tour we are with Collie Buddz and Protoje. I guess we do have songs with them already on our album, but I do normally get inspired to work [with the bands] after we tour. We had actually been touring with a band called Durand Jones & the Indications and they aren’t on the East Coast leg but they will be on the West— they bring such a Motown, soul and RnB vibe to their sound. It’s completely inspired me to write something along those lines.
Since you tour all over, would you say you feel different energies in different parts of the country?
Yes, absolutely. To be honest, Philadelphia has actually been one of the craziest cities that we have been to. It’s notoriously— I don’t want to say rowdy— but the most energetic. But I’m all about people expressing themselves however they want to in the crowd. I think that when we’re in California people are pretty mellow, it’s not that they aren’t feeling the music, I just think that the East Coast has a different way of expressing themselves— which we love. It makes every show a little bit different. But a long time ago I learned to never judge a crowd by the way they are moving. Me, when I go and see a show I’m not moving that much but I am soaking it in.
What would you tell people to expect when they attend a Rebelution concert?
It’s definitely a big sing-a-long, we have some really dedicated fans. After 15 years of being a band, people know the words to everything— it’s kind of hard to believe. That never gets old to me, hearing the crowd sing back. I think when people come for the first time, they have no idea about the scene. Back in the day, there was no festival for the American reggae-inspired kind of theme, now there are about ten to fifteen of them just dedicated to this movement. So I think some people must just think “Wow, I never even knew this existed”. I think it’s cool for them to hear the interaction in the crowd and the artists.
What does the future hold for Rebelution after this tour?
Well, I don’t think we are going to change much. Our mission and our pattern is really successful and we are truly enjoying it every step of the way. I want to keep trying to make music that is different. I don’t want to stick to one particular sound. We are going to continue to tour because we love doing it and we love performing. We’re probably going to record another album in a year to two years and hopefully put it out real soon.