This year’s KJEE Summer Round-Up will be a hot one, as headliners Iration bring their newly revitalized and fiery reggae-rock sound to the top slot of this annual summer tradition. Backed by Fitz and the Tantrums, Wolfmother, The Strumbellas, and Fmlybnd, this will not be the first time the S.B.-by-way-of-Hawai‘i band joins KJEE’s rock rodeo, but they’ve never been this big before — in band size and in appreciation alike — and their music has never been hotter.
Their latest album, Hotting Up, is their most brazenly hybridized strain of good-vibes music yet, with up-tempo rock beats bumping behind dubby guitar strokes. “We wanted to make something that wasn’t just for people that are quote-unquote ‘reggae listeners.’ We wanted something for people that are just music fans,” said guitarist/vocalist Micah Pueschel, adding that the new songs were written with the explicit purpose of injecting more energy into their live shows. “We really wanted to do something that lifted and helped add to the whole catalog as far as shows go, something that just offered a different feel than the songs we’ve previously done.”
The fresh sound is also an expression of the band’s newly increased lineup, with six members adding different layers to the sound. Their ever-changing array over the years has made Pueschel appreciate how “being in a band is a fragile thing,” and he credits their longevity to their ability to work as a team.
Coming from the 808 state of Hawai‘i, Pueschel said the group gravitated to the small-town feel and abundant outdoor opportunities of the 805. Though they nowadays find themselves a world away from their origins as an I.V. party band, Pueschel said they’ve never forgotten their local roots — it’s what keeps them grounded.
“We are so grateful to have what we have, and we worked it from the bottom to get where we are,” he said. “What’s important is understanding the work and the time and energy we put into building something. We weren’t given anything. It wasn’t any sort of overnight thing; we’re just in touch with where we’re from and how we got here.”
Iration et al. plays the 12th annual KJEE Summer Round-Up on Friday, June 3, at 4:30 p.m. at the S.B. Bowl (1221 N. Milpas St.). For more information, call (805) 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.