Interview: Rebelution

Time to add Rebelution to your constant rotation, with their undeniably hypnotic reggae beats! Springtime means cleaning out your playlists of the sad and adding in the happy once again. The band is on tour with friends J. Boog and Hot Rain for the Spring Greens Tour. Rebelution has developed into a front-runner for grassroots, independent and tour driven music groups. Originally formed in 2004, members Eric Rachmany (vocals / guitar), Rory Carey (keyboards), Wesley Finley (drums), and Marley D. Williams (bass) met in college, while residing in Isla Vista, a popular beachside community in Santa Barbara. New Orleans saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Khris Royal was recently added to the group. It was there that the seeds to Rebelution’s future were planted creating inspiring and engaging music that would leave their listeners with the sense that they have the power to make this world a better place. The band continuously tours across the USA, have ventured to South America, Guam, Hawaii, Aruba, New Zealand and Europe, and performed at Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits among others.

Go pull a Mr. Rogers, take off your work shoes, slip on your flip flops, change your cardigan or blazer for your comfy clothes, let your hair down and get ready to dance! I talked to Wesley Finley in anticipation of the show at 20th Century Theatre tonight. What's your first musical memory?
Wesley Finley: My first musical memory is drawing a number out of a hat to see what instrument I would play in elementary school. I got stuck with a French horn and hated it because it made my lips numb buzzing the mouthpiece. I moved to percussion after that and the rest is history!

CM: Did you start off covering other peoples songs or writing your own original tunes
When the band started out we had a few originals but the rest were covers. We had some reggae songs but we also had some rock songs that were fun. At that time we were into Gentleman, Don Carlos and Damian Marley but we also covered Ben Harper, Sublime, 311, and others. We were still finding our voice and how our take on things would be different.

CM: Tell us about your writing process. 
Our writing process these days has evolved due to the fact that we all live in different places. These days our singer/guitarist will send us a new rough song idea, sometimes with lyrics and sometimes without, and we’ll all work on developing our parts at home. I recently bought an electronic drumset so I can play along at home and develop my ideas. Then when we get together to rehearse or have a soundcheck before the show we’ll hash out the ideas and form a definitive structure for the song. The more we play it the more our parts become intricate and change shape.

CM: What gear do you use? What is your favorite equipment to play and record on?
I play on a custom solid-shell bubinga drumset I had made a few years ago. It has no covering on the shells because the wood is so naturally beautiful that I thought it would be a shame to put anything over it. The natural wood look matches the aesthetic we’re going for – we matched the grain of my set to create a kick drum head and bass amp cover, the bass guitar has a natural wood finish, and we have plants up everywhere on stage. I usually use the same equipment live as I do in the studio unless the song calls for a different timbre or tuning. Your tastes change over time but our veteran sound engineer seems to like everything I use so as long as he’s happy I’m happy.

CM: How do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
Balancing this duality is a constant struggle. I’ve just recently gotten a better grasp on it but it hasn’t always been easy. We’re no longer a college band and are attempting to treat this as a bona fide profession so you need to have that mindset to focus and be professional when you go to work and forget all that when you come home to your family and friends. Not dwelling on the stardom will keep you humble around those you care about who didn’t want you to “change”. There is a time to party and celebrate and there is a time to be clear-minded. Know the difference.

CM: What do you want or expect your fans to take away from your music?
We want our fans to leave our shows or finish our albums feeling that they are a better person, the world is a beautiful and diverse place, and that they have the ability to change themselves and their environment for the better. We push a lot of positivity at them and hope something sticks. There’s so much negative music out there that brings people down that we hope to counteract that to some degree. We’re so happy and energetic playing onstage for people that it translates and people leave the experience on a high note.

CM: What advice do you have for an artist just starting out?
In the wake of music cutbacks in schools the future is bleak for young musicians. We always tell kids to play as much as possible and with whomever possible to gain experience. Listen to a variety of music so you don’t pigeonhole your musical direction and promote yourself as much as possible given all the resources available. Always be yourself and stay humble!

Rebelution w/ J. Boog and Hot Rain
20th Century Theatre