“The last year has been pretty bizarre… we haven’t performed,” Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany told American Songwriter. “We’ve been a band for 16 years now and I can’t remember a summer where we didn’t play a show. This is all new territory for us.”
It’s true—since first forming in 2004, the reggae band Rebelution has spent year after year playing impassioned live shows for a growing community of tight-knit fans. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the band began acquainting themselves with the same uncertainty that musicians across the country came to know all too well. For as hard of a time as it’s been, however, the pause offered wasn’t all bad… in fact, for Rebelution, the quarantine gave them a chance to regroup, reconnect with their creative roots and even get working on some new music for the first time in a long time.
Now, on March 26, the band is putting out their first single in nearly three years: “Satisfied,” a groovy, roots-reggae-inspired tune that serves as an ode to the sense of camaraderie among their fans that Rebelution takes such great pride in.
“No matter what we do during the creative process, we’re always thinking about how we’re going to perform it live,” Rachmany said, explaining the band’s inspiration for the new single. “In fact, when I’m writing, I’m thinking about being on stage with the microphone in my hands, the light on me and the music blaring. I think about how the audience will react. No matter what, I’m always thinking about that scene; that spotlight and the connection with the audience.”
It’s that devotion to their live sound that makes a track like “Satisfied” rich with the organic chemistry of a well-tuned band. From the roots reggae backbeat to Rachmany’s impactful vocal performance, delivering a message of care and collective support, the song is almost begging to be performed in a live setting.
“A lot of the lyrical content has a lot to do with what I was just talking about: imagining being on stage, singing in front of a crowd,” Rachmany continued. “The lyrics are welcoming to the audience. As much as Rebelution has grown over the past few years, we still feel like this close-knit community. There’s a lyric in the song: We hold our own and our footprint shows that our one is worth a million. We really feel like the energy our fans put out is worth that much. Even though it feels like a small community, we have such a big footprint. Sometimes, I feel like we need to spread this message and our music to everybody possible and get as big as possible. To tell you the truth, when I get in front of our crowd, it can be a tiny crowd and it can feel really satisfying. I think satisfaction is there no matter what. That’s really what ‘Satisfied’ is about.”
Along with this new release, Rebelution has also been busy raising awareness and money for something else they’re passionate about: cannabis. Err, more specifically, they raised $20,000 through a one-night-only virtual performance for the Last Prisoner Project, advocating on behalf of those still incarcerated for cannabis offenses.
“Ever since the founding of this band back in 2004, we’ve been pretty big cannabis activists,” Rachmany said. “A lot of that had to do with the music we were into–I got educated about cannabis by the music I was listening to. Because of that, I feel like educating the listeners through music is a very successful tool. So, with the Last Prisoner Project, we knew we wanted to get involved because there are non-violent cannabis offenders still in prison and we feel like they should all be out. It’s something that should’ve always been legal. And, for us, we actually have our own cannabis product that we make a little bit of money off of… so, immediately, it just didn’t feel right to be making money off this knowing that there are still people in prison for doing basically the same thing.”
Rachmany makes a good point here—despite the fact that legal marijuana is quickly becoming a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, tens of thousands remain behind bars for non-violent, marjiuana-related offenses.
“There’s a lot of people making money off of cannabis,” Rachmany continued. “Slowly but surely, it’s becoming more normalized—which we feel should’ve happened a long time ago. Unfortunately, though, there’s a lot of people still locked up. So, we just want to do our part to try to get them out.”
This desire to “do their part” is a fundamental aspect of Rebelution’s message. In a way, that’s also what keeps them focused on their live show, on spreading love to their community. At a time when there’s an unprecedented amount of uncertainty for so many, just the sheer act of enjoying music in a live setting can be a radical expression of catharsis and joy… which is why Rebelution is itching to get back out on the road. If all goes according to plan, they’ll be heading out on tour by the end of summer.
“We’re planning on doing our tour,” Rachmany said. “We’re hoping that people stay safe and that the pandemic slows down. We just can’t wait. It feels like something’s missing in our lives—we miss performing, we miss connecting with our audience. When I think about the song ‘Satisfied,’ it’s really about that, about seeing our fans rejoice in the moment with live music. So, we’re pretty excited. Obviously, we have new music with this single coming out. The future looks promising.”
That’s true too—for the music world as a whole, the return of live music is an incredibly exciting prospect. Yet, Rebelution and their unwavering commitment to their craft is indicative of the musicians’ spirit on a wider scale. Through good times and rough times alike, the bottom-line always stays focused on one thing: sharing their art with their community.
“For a band like Rebelution, who’ve been around for 16 years, we have no intention to slow down at all,” Rachmany said. “If we can’t perform live, we’re going to keep recording and writing music. Just like we always have.”
Listen to Rebelution’s new single “Satisfied” below:
Photo by Sam Medina