The first two Rebelution albums found the reggae/rock group going to opposite extremes.
“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. We just kind of wanted to have that same sound,” singer/guitarist Eric Rachmany said in a recent phone interview. “Then on (the second CD) ‘Bright Side Of Light,’ we were like, ‘Screw that — let’s make this way more full and with tons of layers.’ “
With its current CD, “Peace Of Mind,” Rebelution tried a different approach — finding a middle ground between re-creating its live sound in the studio, and using overdubs and 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 said. “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 seems to be working in Rebelution’s favor so far in a career that started in 2004 when Rachmany, keyboardist Ron 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 saw the second CD debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s reggae chart.
The band’s currently headlining tour takes it into theaters or large clubs in virtually all of the markets it will play. On Thursday, it will play the State Theatre in Portland with supporting acts J BOOG and Hot Rain.
Rachmany is enthused about touring, in part because with the arrival of “Peace of Mind,” the group now has more songs than it can fit into its headlining set, giving it a chance to mix up its set list.
“We’ve kind of been debating which songs to play every night,” he said. “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 said of “Peace of Mind.” “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.”
With Rebelution poised to expand its audience once again with “Peace of Mind” and the group’s busy touring schedule still in high gear, Rachmany is relishing how the group’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 said.
“And then when they want to see us live, we get to tour the country and actually see the people that have (listened to) our music every day. So it makes it all worthwhile.”
Alan Sculley is a freelance writer.