Good things come to those who wait, but they also come to those who work. Take, for example, Rebelution. Born on the beer-swilling streets of Isla Vista in the early ’00s, the band pushed hard to become the go-to keg-side entertainment for their classmates. And once they did, it was quickly on to bigger and better things. Since graduation, the foursome has conquered national tours, radio airwaves, and huge music festivals with their laid-back reggae grooving and melodic rock guitars. They’ve also earned themselves a strong and unified hometown following, one that will surely be showing up in full force when the band returns to headline the Santa Barbara Bowl on Friday, August 15. The show comes on the heels of Rebelution’s latest album, Count Me In, a sweet, soulful, and positive-vibe-filled collection that the band recorded and self-produced late last year. In anticipation of the guys’ big 805 reunion, we phoned up frontman Eric Rachmany to talk music, touring, and his personal reggae roots.
I want to ask you about the new album. Did you guys approach this one differently? Not really. We just keep doing what we’re doing. Everything we wrote on our own. We chose who we wanted to work with. We got in the studio with our live engineer, Errol Brown, who’s been around for years and years and years. He was Bob Marley’s sound engineer, and he pretty much recorded every reggae artist you can think of. He’s kind of a legend, and just having his vibe in the studio really added to the experience. We recorded it ourselves; we were there for the mixing and the mastering—we were a part of the whole thing. It felt good. It felt like family.
Looking back on college, did you ever imagine that you’d still be playing music 10 years later? You know, honestly, we didn’t even think about it. We were just playing for the fun of it. And Isla Vista was the perfect place to get started—people would just set up stages, and there were so many people just walking around on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s kind of a bummer that they don’t allow [amplified] music anymore, because we owe a lot to that community. People spread the word about us, and we became this kind of hit band in I.V. It was such a fun experience.
What drew you to reggae music at the start? It started when I saw Don Carlos in San Francisco. I’m from the Bay Area, and that was my first reggae show when I was still in high school. I thought it was amazing, and I went home and just started researching as much as I could about roots reggae and dancehall and everything else in between. … We got to tour with him and Slightly Stoopid not that long ago, so I had a chance to hang out with him every day. There’s actually a song on the new album with him called “Roots Reggae,” and it’s kind of a dedication to roots music.
Do you feel like your motivation for making music has changed as you’ve gotten older? No, not at all. I truly love being onstage. That’s the best part of touring, the best part of being in a band. It’s just all about performing and supporting music, and that’s all we have really done for the past 10 years. It’s awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Rebelution headlines the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) on Friday, August 15, with Iration, The Green, Stick Figure, and DJ Mackle. The show starts at 5:30 p.m. Call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for tickets and info.