Band: Iration with special guest The Green
Date: Sunday, Oct. 11 with doors at 7 p.m.
Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., www.soulkitchenmobile.com
Tickets: $18 advance/$20 day of, with VIP meet & greet packages and on-stage seating available. Tickets can be purchased at Soul Kitchen, its website, Mellow Mushroom (both locations) or by calling 1-866-468-7630.
Azalea City denizens felt the rocking reggae dub style of Sublime with Rome at Ten Sixty Five. Now comes Iration, from the same West Coast scene that gave birth to Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, The Dirty Heads and others. Last summer’s Hangout Fest introduced Iration’s smooth reggae sounds to the Gulf Coast. At the time, the band was finishing its latest effort, “Hotting Up.” Now it’s returning to the Gulf Coast for its Mobile debut. In a recent interview, vocalist/guitarist Micah Pueschel offered Lagniappe readers some insight into Iration’s new album as well as its roots in the reggae scene, but a style all its own.
Stephen Centanni: Hangout Fest introduced Iration to the Gulf Coast. What were your first impressions?
Micah Pueschel: It was really humid and hot, but it was beautiful. Hangout was awesome. We had a great time. It was a really fun festival. It was our first time doing it, and we just had a great time. It was enjoyable.
Centanni: It seems to me reggae fans are like blues fans. I get the feeling they have pretty strict standards on what makes reggae what it is. You guys have been quite successful on the reggae charts. What do you think about your success with the reggae crowd?
Pueschel: Well, I think our music in particular is not necessarily just reggae music. We’re reggae fans, first and foremost. When we started playing music, we learned by playing traditional roots reggae. So, we know the difference. We’re very aware of that, and we know what we do isn’t that. What I think is great about Iration fans is that they’re just music fans, not necessarily reggae fans only. The people that are strictly reggae fans, if they’re not open to that kind of crossover, then they’re probably going to be like, “This isn’t real reggae.” The people who are open to different styles and experimentation will like it.
Centanni: Last time we talked, y’all were in the process of finishing up “Hotting Up.” It’s been online since late summer. Now the CD version is being released. Why did you wait so long to release it in the CD format?
Pueschel: That had a lot to do with the distribution side of things and the way the deal worked out. We were really trying to get the deal done, but we felt we needed to have the digital release before the end of summer. We thought that was a pretty intelligent date to hit. We decided to release the digital album then, and whenever the physical copies can be ready to go, then they’ll be ready. It ended up being a long wait in between. It wasn’t exactly how we wanted it to, but we were glad we were able to get the digital album out.
Centanni: One thing I like to talk to modern bands about is their use of digital distribution outlets and self-distribution using digital music. What do you think about selling CDs? Do you think you’re just getting them for the very few people that still listen to them?
Pueschel: I think that in the United States it might be going in that direction. Around the world, CDs are still a viable way of selling records. This is the first deal we’ve done that’s had worldwide distribution. It is helpful to have CDs in music stores. So, it is still a viable way of selling records, but it’s not real easy in the U.S. anyway.
Centanni: What does “hotting up” mean?
Pueschel: “Hotting up” is a phrase that is exactly what it sounds like. It’s actually a British phrase that is used to say something is livening up or the tension is growing, or things are bubbling up or heating up. It all means the same thing.
Centanni: Your blog described this album as a “progression of your sound” and your “most complete album yet.” To you, what makes this album so progressive and complete?
Pueschel: To me, it comes from the production level and the musicianship. I think we really played our best on this record, and we really nailed the production we wanted. We spent a lot of time and effort getting the drum sounds and the tones in general right for this record, and we really wanted it to sound good. I think we accomplished that. As far as musically progressive, I just think they’re the best and most complete songs I’ve written and we’ve written as a group. I just think we’re better. Over the years, you get better. Ever since the last record, it’s been a little bit of a jumble. We had a band member leave right before the record came out. It threw the whole balance of the album off a little bit. I think this one is more well balanced and the vision we wanted, and we got to see it through.
Centanni: One thing you’ve got on your website are these “Hotting Up” electronic passports for Iration fans to comment and post a picture on how they are hotting up. What is the most interesting passport you’ve seen so far?
Pueschel: Aw man! There’s been some really funny ones. We have a buddy that’s a doctor that posted one from Eastern Europe, and it was like, “Wish we were hotting up more in Eastern Europe, because we’re freezing.” I can’t remember exactly how it went. There have been some really good ones. People go and take it to the max. We get some cool photos from cool places. There have been some that people have posted that are underwater. I love all that stuff.
Centanni: When you hit Mobile, you’ll be fresh on the road for the “Hotting Up Tour.” With the new album in hand, what are you most looking forward to?
Pueschel: I think with this tour, we’re looking forward to getting into markets we’ve never been to before, like Mobile. It’ll be our first time in Mobile. Basically, it’ll be our first or second time in cities like Birmingham and Tulsa and other places we’ve never been before. We’re excited to be able to play in front of a new crowd. We’ve been touring for so long, and we’ve been almost everywhere. There’s only a few places we’ve never been to. So, we’re going to start building those markets like Mobile, where we don’t have the fan base we do in other cities.