Finding Balance in 'Peace'

Reggae rockers Rebelution blend liveliness, studio craft on latest LP

Apr 17, 2013 at 8:50 am
click to enlarge Rebelution (Photo: Provided)
Rebelution (Photo: Provided)

The first two Rebelution albums found the SoCal Reggae/Rock group going to opposite extremes in how they were recorded and produced.

“Our first album, Courage To Grow, we had this mentality that we didn’t want to do so much on the album that we couldn’t do live,” singer/guitarist Eric Rachmany says in a recent phone interview. “We just kind of wanted to have that same sound. Then on (the second album), Bright Side Of Light, we were like ‘Screw that, let’s make this way more full and with tons of layers.’ ”

With the current album, Peace Of Mind, Rebelution tried a different approach — finding a middle ground between re-creating its live sound in the studio or using overdubs and instrumental/sonic elements that might enhance the studio version of a song but at the expense of being impossible to re-create on stage.

And one can assume that the sonic direction of Peace Of Mind didn’t come together without some careful consideration from the band’s five members.

“The one thing that I don’t know if people know about Rebelution is that we’re really particular about our sound,” Rachmany says. “That one rhythm hit on guitar or piano may be argued about for a full day before we actually figure out whether it’s going to be in or whether it’s going to be out, and sometimes we’ll even listen to the same track, two different versions, and we’ll really, really talk about it.”

The internal debates over the songs and how they are produced seem to be working in Rebelution’s favor so far in a career that started in 2004 when Rachmany, keyboardist Rory Carey, drummer Wesley Finley and bassist Marley D. Williams formed the band in Isla Vista, Calif., near Santa Barbara.

Despite self-releasing 2007’s Courage To Grow and 2009’s Bright Side Of Life, the group has steadily grown its audience (and also saw the second CD debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Reggae chart). 

Rachmany and the rest of the band have been enthused about touring lately, in part because, with the arrival of Peace Of Mind, the group now has more songs than it can fit into a headlining set, giving members a chance to mix up set lists.

“We’ve kind of been debating which songs to play every night,” Rachmany says. “We’ve never really had that situation before where we had to choose between three albums worth of songs. So now it’s kind of like this new era for Rebelution to have the option to play these new ones. It’s exciting.”

The new songs figure to add some variety to Rebelution’s live show.

“We definitely tried to mix it up a lot,” Rachmany says. “I think a lot of this new album has a softer sound. Not to say the whole album, but we definitely tried to explore the softer and the harder and a little bit in between.”

Peace Of Mind does have its share of songs with relaxed tempos, like “Closer I Get,” “Good Vibes” and “Life On The Line.” Such songs are more subdued and contemplative than “Comfort Zone” and “Day By Day,” two tracks that have more of a Rock edge, or even the album’s Poppier tunes (“Meant To Be,” “Calling Me Out” and “Sky Is The Limit”), which all boast especially buoyant melodies.

Music video for Rebelution's "Sky is the Limit":

For Rebelution, the latest album also represents an opportunity to grow as a band in the studio and in how it records music. In addition to the standard Peace Of Mind album, the group also made a disc of acoustic versions of all of the songs and a disc of dub versions (created by producer Michael Goldwasser) of the tracks, resulting in a three-disc edition of set.

In addition, after doing a lot of self-production on the first two albums, for Peace Of Mind, Rebelution brought in different producers to work on various tracks of the main album — Goldwasser, Amp Live (Zion-I), Keith Armstrong and Errol Brown (Stephen, Ziggy and Bob Marley), Yeti Beats (Kool Keith, George Clinton) and Jim Fox.

“Part of the reason for that is because we really enjoyed working with all of these guys in the past (many on the group’s 2011 Remix EP), and kind of felt like they had specialties,” Rachmany says. “A lot of the more edgier songs we sent to Keith. The more rootsy songs we sent to Jim Fox. One of the more progressive songs we took to Yeti.”

With Rebelution poised to expand its audience once again with the new album and a busy touring schedule, Rachmany is relishing how the band’s career has unfolded.

“I really love the way things are going because we get to record music and people get to hear us in their CD player,” he says. “And then when they want to see us live, we get to tour the country and actually see the people that have (gotten) our music every day. So it makes it all worthwhile.”

Free download of Rebelution's "Counterfeit Love":


REBELUTION plays 20th Century Theater on Sunday with J. Boog and Hot Rain.