The venues get bigger but the friendship between Iration and Rebelution remains just as strong as ever. The two bands go back to their days playing keggers on Isla Vista’s Del Playa, and now Iration is opening for Rebelution’s return to the Bowl. It’s the bands’ third tour together.
Like Rebelution, Iration plays sunshine reggae, positive vibe music. With three albums and three EPs under their belt, they haven’t risen to the same heights as their friends, but the two bands have a symbiotic relationship.
“I knew Marley when we were 18 at (Santa Barbara) City College,” says Micah Pueschel, Iration’s guitarist. “We came up at the same time. We’d share equipment. Rory (Carey, from Rebelution) played in both bands.”
The bands would coordinate gigs over the phone, making sure that they were not playing on the same nights.
“We built stages, and they’d borrow our stages. We had sub-woofers, they had other speakers, so we’d make a PA system between us. We’d play a gig then transport the stage down the street to another party. We lost a stage on the 217 (freeway) one time!”
But at that time, Mr. Pueschel is not too sure if either band thought about the future. He says he didn’t think anybody had the “audacity” to think that far. Not even when Iration made their first attempts to record songs, they weren’t thinking of the future.
With members in various stages of graduation, Mr. Pueschel gave it all about a year to see where it would go. He worked a job at Bargain Network, as did nearly every member of both bands, he recalls. “It was the way they did the scheduling, it was the only way to play shows and have a job. A few other guys worked at Brophy’s and Wildcat. Standard downtown jobs.”
What changed everything was “Sample This,” Iration’s 2008 EP co-written with Grammy-winning Hawaiian music producer Charles Brotman. “He gave us a songwriting tutorial for a whole month on Hawaii,” Mr. Pueschel says. “I wrote ‘Falling’ there.”
“Falling” took off on Hawaiian radio and MySpace. Then one of their songs was chosen for one of the first iPhone music games.
“I still write songs to this day using the principles we learned then,” he says. “It really opened our eyes and changed the perspective on songwriting.”
On the other hand, that means that all their work on pre-Hawaii sounds, well, not so good now to his ears. “A lot of it I wish we could wipe off the face of the earth,” he half-jokes. “Just from the production and songwriting standpoint. But I know there are fans out there who love them … There’s something behind those songs that they like though. It is what it is.”
The band will be writing new material in September, and they’re looking to rent a space to do so. Mr. Pueschel has new songs, but says it might be a full album, or an EP.
“I think this new record will be more rhythm-driven. We’re a live band, that’s how we make our living. We want to make music that is conducive to putting on a good show. I think we’re going to go back to basics. ‘Automatic’ (their album from last year) was a departure, but I think we’re going to go back to where we feel comfortable.”