Iration- Interview at SunFest
Interview by Empress K and Sheldon Robertson. Photos: Empress K – Reggae Reflection.
Iration is an alternative/reggae group of musicians formed in Isla Vista, CA. A deep-rooted reggae influence is fused with elements of rock and pop to create smooth original sounds that keep listeners’ feet moving, hands swaying and hearts beating – “We’re all about luv”, states the band. The group is made up of members Joseph Dickens (Drums), Joseph King (Engineer), Cayson Peterson (Keyboard/Synth), Micah Pueschel (Guitar/ Vocals), Adam Taylor (Bass), and Michah Brown (Guitar / Vocals). All members met while growing up in Hawaii but formed Iration after reconnecting in Santa Barbara, CA. They have since released three full-length albums, Automatic (2013), Time Bomb (2010) and No Time for Rest (2007), as well as three EP’s, Fresh Grounds (2011), Sample This (2008), and New Roots (2006).
With only a handful of shows currently remaining on Irations’s successful three month “Tales From the Sea” tour, we caught up with lead singer Michah Pueschel after their afternoon set at SunFest in West Palm Beach, FL on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015.
IS: Welcome to SunFest! How have you been enjoying Florida?
Thank you very much. We love Florida. For us, when we go to the East Coast it’s as close to home as we can get so we really like it.
IS: Is this your first time performing at SunFest? It was a great show and the fans came out in full support today.
Yes, it’s our first time at SunFest and we were very happy; it was awesome.
IS: We see that you’ve been touring since 2008 and I’m curious to know how being on the road has changed your life as well as the whole band’s life?
The touring life is definitely a difficult one. It’s not as easy as people may think it is. We are on the road for months at a time; it’s difficult to have a “normal” life. You have to have partners or people in your life that are understanding to that and are able to be ok with that. It’s a different lifestyle. Obviously when you live on a tour bus or van and tour around and spend your days in different cities every day, it’s a different life style for sure.
IS: We also see that you will be touring the festival circuit as well as having had your own individual shows. How do you prepare for a festival like SunFest versus an individual show from a set list perspective?
We don’t really prepare any differently. One thing when you are doing a show like this in the middle of the day, we don’t have a light show that’s going to go along with it so you have to get the crowd to be interactive in a different way. You can’t just rely on visual stimulation; you have to be able to interact with them and get the crowd going in different ways.
IS: Well we definitely saw that today. There was a lot of band and crowd interaction and the fans were engaged; everyone knew the lyrics and was singing along.
IS: How have the band dynamics changed since Kai Rediske left in 2013? How have the fans responded?
Well, honestly the fans have been great. It’s been different, but we have Michah Brown who added a whole other thing to the band – another guitar player, which for me it’s something I really felt very strongly about. He’s a great singer and he’s a great performer in his own right. We don’t feel like we had to take a step back at all. We just kept rolling and moving forward and we actually just saw Kai on a show just two nights ago in Atlanta – we still remain great friends. He’s doing his own thing so that’s good.
IS: We noticed on your website that you have a meet and greet package for the fans. What inspired you to create that package and how has that been working?
Well that’s just part of the music – the way the music world is now in the music business. We know how important our fans are; we know how important it is for people to show up to our live shows. We know that you have to be able to play live music to play the songs in a live setting. It’s just another way for us to interact with our fans and show them appreciation and give them an opportunity to be more involved with the band. That’s just how it is now-a-days. Bands need to do that with their fans and that is part of what it is. It’s interaction – It’s building a fan base and making that more of an interactive experience.
IS: Agreed! We see that a lot and fans really appreciate it. Are you able to do Meet & Greets at a festival or just at individual shows?
It’s been a good thing. We had a meet and greet [today] but it was organized by the festival. So it’s a separate thing; it’s not something we would organize or charge for. It would just be something that goes to the VIPs at the festival.
IS: We haven’t made it to the merchandise tent yet. Do you have merchandise here at the festival and what do you have?
Yes, we are selling merch. We change it up every time. We have a brand new line almost every tour for every cycle that we go through. And whatever we don’t sell on tour goes up on our website online. We generally have themes of nature, and the ocean. Obviously we are island guys so that’s big.
IS: Speaking of themes, we have heard your style described as “Sunshine Reggae.” Is something that someone coined or something that the band uses to describe Iration? What’s your take on that?
We didn’t coin that [term]. It was somebody else that coined it. Someone that wrote an article that coined that term and it was just taken from there. We just describe it as Reggae Rock. That’s the most fitting description of it; we come from a lot of original Roots Reggae bands. We don’t consider ourselves a Roots Reggae band; we are not a Roots Reggae band, we are more of a hybrid thing, but we owe a lot of our musical sensibility to those bands like Black Uhuru, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Don Carlos, Steel Pulse – people like that, that are the greats of Roots Reggae. They are the people that showed us how to play music, and we just try to put our own thing on top.
IS: We saw that you just released a surprise single on 4/25. Can you tell us more about the single and your upcoming album?
Yes, it’s a song called “Reelin”. We just wanted to get it out because we feel like the way that the music business is now and the way that the model is, you have to just continuously put music out there to keep people interested and keep them invested in your band. We have been working really hard on this record and we feel really good about it. The time came and we had an opportunity to debut it on radio stations in California and across the country; it just made sense to put it out. It’s not for sale yet, but we are letting people stream it online.
IS: Do you have a title for your upcoming album?
The album is called Hotting Up. It has that theme of summer and it will be released in the middle of summer.
IS: Are you featuring any other artists – Hawaiian, Cali or Jamaican artists on your album?
We aren’t on this record. We are not saying we won’t do it on re-mixes or following up with that. We do have some tracks with some artists that we just didn’t get finished in time for the release. Eric from Rebelution, possibly JBoog, artists like that who are our friends and they are in the same kind of genre. We don’t have any Jamaican artists on the record. We do have a horn player that is from the band Capital Cities. He plays for Capital Cities, a big pop act. His name is Spencer Ludwig and he plays horns on one of the tracks on the record. When we got into the studio we didn’t have a lot of time to get it done so we did not have the luxury of be able to bring a lot of guests onto it.
IS: Are you actually writing a lot on the road, or recording any music while you’re on tour, or is that just too hectic?
Not really, no, we don’t. I know people that do, but for us, it’s just too hectic. We’re pushing a new record right now, so we just finished up in that mode. I’m going to wait for a while for the next kind of thing [that] happens.
IS: Have you ever been to Jamaica either as a musician or as a tourist?
Yeah, I went as a tourist when I was in college. Obviously, I was already a big fan of reggae music so that was something that was cool for me. We mostly did the dancehall scene; we saw a couple of big Dancehall concerts with Beenie Man and Elephant Man, Sizzla and guys like that. So that was cool; it was a cool experience. We were in a big, giant crowd with of a lot of people. I think the concert went to 5 or 6 in the morning; It was crazy. We had a great time. Yeah, we love Jamaica.
IS: One of our local [Florida] musician friends who goes to Hawaii on a regular basis says that there’s a pretty big Reggae scene in Hawaii, and it has its own distinctive characteristics. Could you address that?
Yes, well, the local music in Hawaii is characterized as – the term is “Jawaiian”, because it is Hawaian Reggae. They do “raggas” and spit verses, and they have Dancehall sections in the songs, but it is decidedly “islandly”, Hawaiian, and it’s decidedly more pop… It’s kind of an interesting blend of music but that’s what we grew up on; you grew up hearing that, that was the radio sound. There’s a great Reggae scene, and … actually, right now people are starting to hear it. There’s bands like The Green and JBoog, and there’s a band called Ooklah La Moc. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but they are an amazing Roots Reggae band; a huge influence for us. So yeah, there’s a lot of bands coming out of Hawaii doing really, really cool stuff.
IS: If somebody went to Hawaii, and they could go to only one place to hear Jawaiian music live, what would be the place?
Jawaiian music? It would have to be on Oahu somewhere. Probably Republic… that’s like the one venue, our friends run it. Yeah, I’d say Oahu would be the place to go.
IS: What does the rest of your Tales From the Sea tour look like?
We only have one more week left. We have tomorrow off, then we go to Asheville NC, and Charleston, SC; then we come back down and do Big Guava then Tampa and Reggae on the Block in Orlando.
IS: And you are also on the Hangout Festival and Cali Roots Festival?
IS: What’s the best experience so far on your tour and why?
It’s hard to pick the best experience; there have been a lot of great ones. Selling out in NY at Irving Plaza was really cool since it’s such an iconic city and being from Hawaii, it was NYC! And selling out in Washington, DC at the 9:30 club was also a great experience.
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