Rebelution plays the Newport Music Hall Thursday, March 29. Pep Love and The Green open. Tickets are $17.50/$20. Visit www.promowestlive.com.
None of the four young men who comprise Rebelution grew up with reggae music. And each began college as a music student but ended up pursuing other courses of study. So naturally, they found success as a reggae band. At least when they first started, singer-guitarist Eric Rachmany was taking a songwriting class. "The first couple of shows, we didn't really know what we were doing," Rachmany told The Beat. "(None of us) had never really performed before, but the more we played, we started to figure it out." Indeed. Rebelution is at the forefront of a generation of young American reggae bands and is intent on skewering the notion that a reputation built on playing for university kids in southern California somehow limits its appeal. "Our music is for everybody," he explained. "We have decided that we just have to make music that sounds good to us." All of which is not to say Rebelution doesn't owe anything to its SoCal roots (the members were college students living in the beach town of Isla Vista when they formed the band). "California is kind of this melting pot of cultural diversity," Rachmany said. "We were in college and meeting all sorts of different people. And each of us had our own story as well. "College students are interested in music, seeing it live, and even playing music. So when we would play, if people liked us, they would spread it to their friends. That's really how the band got started." Rachmany said diversity and culture still play a big part in his band's music. "A lot of our lyrics have to do with encouragement and motivation," he said. "Good Vybes (a song from Rebelution's latest release, Peace of Mind) really shows that appreciation of culture and diversity." Which is why, he said, Rebelution's music isn't just for college kids. "What sets us apart is that 99 percent of our fans are not overly into reggae," Rachmany said. "We do reggae, of course, and I love the spaciousness of it. But I love playing just me and my acoustic guitar, and (the band members) all come from different backgrounds musically." Peace of Mind proves his point. Amid the classic backbeat of reggae, you'll hear some softer stuff with string accompaniment, and some straight-up rock n' roll and even some tunes with a Motown feel. The record is also available as a three-CD set, with the original release and additional discs - one entirely acoustic and another remixed in dub style.