The first time I listened to the reggae-inspired band Rebelution I was driving with a friend down to the beach. It was summertime. She played the song "Heart Like a Lion" and I remember just how deeply I connected with the music.
I remember how much I needed to hear those lyrics in that exact moment: "So don't turn your back on yourself, cause there's nowhere to run / You know your life ain't a practice run." I couldn't get the tune out of my head.
That was 10 years ago, and I've been listening to them ever since.
Their music has carried me through life's highest highs and lowest lows. I love that Rebelution has always been vocal about embracing personal mastery, diversity, inclusiveness, and amplifying marginalized, underrepresented voices. Their music keeps the important conversations going, ones that encompass more than simply peace, love, and good vibes. It brings people together, not just as fans, but as a community.
On July 17, Rebelution released their Dub Collection album, which features 15 dub versions of fan favorites. Each track is deeply textured and takes on a life of its own with the bass and drums pushed to the fore. I had the pleasure of first listening to it on my patio in the early afternoon sunshine. In that moment, everything seemed like it was going to be alright.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the band's frontman, Eric Rachmany, while he was laying low with his family in Santa Barbara to discuss his perspective on the times we're living in, the band’s new Dub Collection album, making space for creativity, and what he’s most looking forward to when Rebelution can start touring again.
Check out the interview below.
As an activist for social change, what's your perspective on these times we're living in?
Eric Rachamy: Well, it's certainly a wild time. In Rebelution, we've always touched on different topics. People always ask us about the band’s main theme, and I can never really tell them because I feel like every song and every album kind of has a different story.
Right now, I'm really proud of the people that are out there seeking equal rights and justice. The solidarity is pretty spectacular. I mean, that's a big part of our music.
I’ve always felt like our music is for everybody.
I just want people to stay safe and make smart decisions. I'm not sure when wearing a mask became a politicized thing. But, you know, I guess from my perspective, I just want to encourage people to deeply listen. I feel like people are so stuck in their own ways that people have forgotten to listen to, you know, everybody's voices and just be a little bit more understanding.
I'm really proud of a lot of our listeners for speaking up and just saying ‘I'm here to listen.’ And that's really what our message is ... people coming together and listening to each other’s stories and where people come from. It’s a great time to continue being vocal.
You guys aren’t just out there spreading good vibes, but you have this opportunity to educate people, which I think is equally as important, right?
I love my job because I get to share a message and educate people through an art form. It’s really difficult for me just to simply talk about something, but if I can express myself through a song, I feel like it actually gets through to people a little bit easier. And then people say, like, I'm just gonna open my ears and be open to things. I feel like we really turned a lot of heads in that regard. Whether it's our stance on cannabis or just a stance on embracing diversity and kind of just opening up a little bit. I'm not super vocal on my social media, but every once in a while, I will speak from my heart. And, you know, this is an opportunity to really have solidarity with people that are looking for equal rights. That’s the way I look at it.
The reality of a summer with no concerts has long since settled in. Typically, you guys would be out on the road right now playing sold-out tour stops and festival dates here in the U.S. and around the world. What’s life like being at home? How have you guys been impacted by the pandemic?
It’s definitely given me a lot more time to be creative and write the next album. I've been working really hard at home, just doing that and concentrating on my little home studio here. I think for Rebelution, it's not as tough as some of the bands that are just trying to get started. I can't imagine if this was 15 years ago, and we were just getting off the ground playing backyard parties and trying to get our name out there. Let’s see, we’ve toured every single summer for the past 13 years, so this is definitely a weird time. Something feels off that’s for sure.
Yeah, the music industry is already really volatile. Rebelution is well-established at this point, but that’s not the case for many musicians starting out.
A lot of the younger acts can't do that right now. So, I really feel for them. Thankfully, there seems to be more streaming opportunities for people who are performing at home. We do live in a time where people can still kind of get the music out there. I'm sort of taking and making the most of the situation and using this time to write, write, write. I’m really enjoying all the new stuff we’re putting together at the moment. We’re fortunate that the band has 15 years of history and ways to keep us afloat. It’s one reason why I tell people that I don’t think we’ll ever stop performing. I mean, unless we’re physically unable to. This is what we live for.
The new Dub Collection album was just released on July 17. What has the fan feedback been like so far?
Fan feedback for our new Dub Collection album has been really great. It’s been positive. Honestly, the only negative feedback had nothing to do with the album. People are just hungry for some new material. I’ll take that.
Kyle, our guitar player, remixed and mastered this album and put a lot of work into it. It’s a celebration of six albums that you could play from front to back and kind of just have on in the background and not even pay super attention to it. I love that about music. It just kind of puts you in a trance. I grew up listening to reggae and dub has always been a part of that experience. I love hearing the main track followed by a dub version. I often tell people that music speaks its own secrets. With dub music, there’s mostly instrumentals and cool effects coming in and out, which tells a story in itself. It has an ethereal aspect to it.
I’ve given the album a few listens and it’s for sure a chill vibe.
Thanks! Yeah there are certain songs that we felt were going to be better for a dub format. We have a lot of die hard fans that know our catalog completely and I think it’s gonna be something that people play, especially fans who love the early Rebelution stuff.
What is the band most looking forward to when touring picks back up again?
For me, it's expressing myself, I can do that through writing and just playing at home, but I miss that aspect of our lives when we’re performing on stage for people.
One of the things I miss most about touring right now is looking out on the crowd and seeing different age groups and different races.
It's incredible because we started out playing to a college demographic, which was like 18 to 22-year-olds. Now we’re playing for those fans and their grandparents.
I love being home with my family but I also want to be out there giving 100 percent focus to something. Every time I hit the stage, I get into the art form, so that energy, that rush is something I really miss. There's just no better feeling than expressing yourself. I never get sick of playing our songs live, especially when I get to hear the crowd sing back to me.
I’ve been to a few of your guys’ live shows and they are definitely one big sing-a-long. Your fans know the words to every song.
That never gets old. I’m proud of every piece of work that we’ve done. I try to imagine where I was when I wrote a particular song. It’s like a memory that I get to relive while listening to it or performing it. We really take our time when putting out new music. We don’t rush it. We're doing it for the love of it. Our fans might get impatient waiting but before we put out new material, we make sure it’s music that we like. To any fans that might be reading this, we definitely have new music coming at you.
What’s inspiring you right now to write? How are you making space for creativity?
It's difficult to write at times, but when I do write something and I love it, man it just makes it that much sweeter. We have seven albums now and I want to make sure that we do something unique and different each time. Music is infinite. I never want to do the exact same thing. When I do find that creativity, or finish that song, it feels so good. A lot of our music is motivated by the people we meet on the road and their encouraging stories. We put ourselves in their shoes and write from their perspective. So, in that regard, it's been a little difficult to find that creativity. I miss hearing stories about where people come from and who they are. Not to mention, spending the summer touring with amazing acts.
Having space from things must be really nice though, right? At least, in terms of experiencing a renewed energy, whether it’s taken on purpose or not?
One of the greatest things about music is finding inspiration no matter where you are, no matter who you're around. Because when you do find inspiration from a different source, a different energy, or a different silence, it’s so much fun. I think that's what I'm always searching for and maybe why it takes so long for us to write new stuff. You know, we're not the kind of band that has like tons and tons of B-sides that we've never released. We put months and months into each song and have produced some incredible magic.
Reggae music seems to continuously evolve without losing its core identity. What’s your take on the scene in 2020?
A lot of people listen to Rebelution and they say, ‘Oh, you know, you guys are my favorite reggae band. You guys got me into reggae.’ And I'm really honored when people say that. I just hope that they understand where our influence comes from because there's so many sub genres of reggae music. I think Rebelution is an example of a band that has so much going on. Sure, reggae is a big part of us but we like to mix it up. I feel like all of us are really giving props to reggae. We’re collaborating with some of our favorite roots and reggae musicians, we're touring with them. We want the world to know, specifically people in this country that these are our teachers, our mentors. These are the people that have influenced us. We wouldn't be a band without these people. So, I'm actually really proud of the scene. I love the message. I feel like we're preaching positivity through our music. I can't say that about a lot of other genres. I encourage everybody that’s coming up to give props to the people that have influenced them, given them guidance, and the gift of reggae music.
Marijuana legalization was a movement born from the work of social justice activists beginning decades ago. Any thoughts on where the movement is headed?
Honestly, I can't believe what we've accomplished. I mean, listen, I first learned about cannabis through the music I was listening to far before there were articles coming out about the benefits of it. I've always looked at cannabis as an incredible medicinal and spiritual tool. With Rebelution selling our own cannabis products and knowing that there are people still in prison for doing the same thing when it shouldn’t have been illegal in the first place, that just didn’t feel right. We felt like the Last Prisoner Project was the perfect organization to link up with to help these people get out of prison.
I never thought that cannabis would be legal in California. I knew that we were part of a movement that felt right but I feel like we've accomplished so much and hopefully we were able to change some people's minds about cannabis. I know a lot of family members of my own that were really fearful of cannabis because of years and years of misinformation. Yeah, I’m super proud of the movement.
What’s currently on your playlists? What’s vibin’ with you right now?
I’m all over the place. I wake up to hip hop and then move on to jazz. Right now, I’ve been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd, which is one of my favorite bands because the creativity from those guys is just incredible. There's so much simplicity and complexity all in one song. It’s mind blowing. I’m also listening to some R&B soul throwbacks.
Any advice for your fans while they navigate these uncertain times?
I just want people to become passionate about listening to other people's perspectives. Put yourself in their shoes, and whether it's a political issue or whatever it might be, just be more understanding, patient, and more compassionate.
I think it’s important to respect your neighbor and those who may have a different opinion than you. And understand that diversity is a good thing. We can all learn a lot from each other. That is and will always be Rebelution’s message. Let’s continue to embrace our differences.
To stream Rebelution's new Dub Collection album or check out their rescheduled Good Vibes summer tour dates for 2021, visit the band's website here.
Dub Collection Track Listing
1. Attention Span Dub
2. City Life Dub
3. Feeling Alright Dub
4. Green To Black Dub
5. Hate To Be The One Dub
6. Inhale Exhale Dub
7. Lazy Afternoon Dub
8. Legend Dub
9. Mirage Dub
10. Moonlight Dub
11. More Love Dub
12. Roots Reggae Music Dub
13. Settle Down Easy Dub
14. Suffering Dub
15. Those Days Dub
Rebelution is comprised of Eric Rachmany (vocals, guitar, and songwriter), Marley D. Williams (bass), Wesley Finley (drums), Rory Carey (keyboards), and touring members Kyle Ahern (guitar), Zach Meyerowitz (trumpet), and Eric Hirschhorn (saxophone).
Featured Image Credit: Sam Medina