The past year has been a whirlwind for Grammy-nominated reggae/rock band Rebelution.
It kicked off summer 2018 with the release of its sixth studio effort, “Free Rein,” which fused Rebelution’s classic reggae sound with genres spanning R&B, rock, jazz and folk.
Exploring beyond reggae proved to be a good move, as “Free Rein” debuted at No. 5 on the iTunes Top 100 albums chart, No. 41 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, and the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Reggae Chart.
California-based Rebelution then headed out on a successful summer jaunt. This year, it’s recreating that with Protoje, Collie Buddz and DJ Mackie on the “Good Vibes Summer Tour 2019,” which comes to the Mesa Amphitheatre on Thursday, August 29.
“We’ve been a band for almost 15 years and Arizona was one of those spots that was drivable for us to get to,” said singer/guitarist Eric Rachmany. “It was one of the first places outside of California to get to.”
Fifteen years later, Rachmany finds that not much has changed. Fans still sing along to its music and shows feel more like a family reunion than a concert.
“It’s always high energy in Arizona and it feels like you’re in a sauna for the whole set,” he said. “It’s all worth it though. When I get to hear the crowd sing back to me, that feeling never gets old.”
With “Free Rein,” Rebelution was more hands on, having been involved with every step of the album, from writing to mixing and mastering. “Free Rein” was also a study in experimentation.
“The first couple albums we stuck to the roots reggae and by the third album, we were experimenting,” Rachmany said.
“Our fans don’t just listen to one type of music, so it freed us to try different things. We’re certainly reggae inspired, but I wouldn’t call us a reggae band. It’s nice that we don’t feel any limitations in writing or putting out music. We enjoy making music, but I wouldn’t want to ever be confined to making music just for a certain fanbase. That’s not why we’re in the music business or in this band. It’s nice to feel limitless. We do this for the love of it—not to make a career of it.”
Rebelution has certainly been able to do that, though. The band—which also includes keyboardist Rory Carey, drummer Wesley Finley, and bassist Marley D. Williams—formed in Isla Vista, California, in 2004. After its debut album “Courage to Grow” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Reggae Chart, its career snowballed.
Rebelution’s 2012 release, “Peace of Mind,” debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard Top 200, hit No. 1 on the reggae and independent charts, and was the No. 4 iTunes album overall. The 2014 album “Count Me In” continued the momentum, entering the reggae chart at No. 1 and the Billboard 200 Chart at No. 14.
Subsequently, Rebelution was nominated for a Grammy for “Falling Into Place” and its top five Spotify tracks have garnered more than 120 million spins.
The musicians have Arizona to partially thank for that.
“I feel like we can connect well with the audience,” Rachmany said. “Our message is really important, especially in this day. We like to inspire and motivate through the music. Do I desire to get as big as possible? I’m very satisfied where things are, but I wouldn’t mind it.”