Rebelution has come a long way since its early days playing backyard shows along the cliffs of Del Playa in Isla Vista. After 15 years of creating music together, the band is preparing to record and self-produce its seventh studio album. But the growth doesn’t end with music making: Rebelution also just put on a music festival in Jamaica and is brewing its own IPA. The band will be stopping at the Santa Barbara Bowl Sunday, June 16, accompanied by Protoje and Durand Jones & The Indications. I recently exchanged emails with drummer Wesley Finley regarding Rebelution’s career, the band’s Isla Vista roots, and making beer.
You guys have been together for 15 years. How have you managed to achieve this longevity? Maintaining a good working relationship and friendship with each other is key to long-term survival of any band. It’s almost like being in a polyamorous relationship — we are quick to compromise, avoid conflict, and try to appease everyone for the betterment of the group. On tour, we play a lot of fun games and activities to keep spirits high and keep in positive physical and mental health. We love group activities like croquet, cornhole, Ping-Pong, beer pong, disc golf, and yoga in addition to doing group dinners on days off.
In Isla Vista, you had a pretty unique setting to form as a band. Are there any specific memories that stand out from the early days there? There are definitely some classic memories from our formative years! I remember having to build our own stages out of materials from Home Depot; extension cords running every which way into different houses — people would trip over and pull the power on the show; Jimmy J, the Tan Man, and Pirate making regular appearances; finding enough people to pitch in on a keg for the party; playing shows with “Danger — Cliff” signs behind my back; sunny midday UCSB shows at Anisq’Oyo’ Park; trying to ride a bike while carrying a 30 pack; getting shut down by the I.V. Foot Patrol and moving the entire show two blocks down … the memories are endless.
In addition to being in Rebelution, you’ve recently done some producing for fellow Isla Vista band The Olés. How was that experience? Is this something you’re looking to do more of? I became friends with The Olés through a mutual friend while I was living in Santa Barbara, and it was charming to see a new generation of bands still doing the Isla Vista thing and carrying the torch so to speak, so I was happy to help. From my own experience being on the other side of the glass and working with other producers, I was sensitive to the anxiety that can come from studio pressures — forcing musical ideas, or art in general, doesn’t usually work out and the performance can come off as awkward and stiff. It’s really important as a producer to understand the musician’s perspective and abilities, be open-minded, know the right times to push them, just let them breathe, or give them confidence so they can execute their best ideas. I really, really enjoyed the experience and would like to do more of it in the future for sure.
Finally, can you tell me about any other ventures coming up with you or the band? We just threw our own festival in Jamaica, called the Bright Side Festival, which was something we talked about doing for a long time. Since it was our first year, we learned a lot, so we are looking to improve upon that experience and being on both sides of the festival as producers in addition to performers. We are also making our own beer called Take on Anything IPA with help from the Hop Concept that should be hitting shelves soon. Other than that, we will be looking to make another album and producing it ourselves, which will be fun.
4•1•1 | Rebelution plays the Bowl, with openers Protoje and Durand Jones & The Indications, Sunday, June 16, at 6 p.m. Call (805) 962-7411 or see sbbowl.com.