High on Reggae Surf Culture with Iration
Iration is a reggae-surf-pop-synth band, somewhere between Agent Orange, Bob Marley and Dick Dale. They are a band that creates music that is straight out of Hawaii, where they all grew up, with an aggressive attitude inherit to Southern California, where the band went to college. Iration plays music that feels like the sun, the waves, the wind and good times close to Mother Nature and the sea.
Bass player Adam Taylor spoke for the band and explained how Iration represents not just a unique type of music, but an expression of life based on a Hawaiian surf culture philosophy with roots in the heart of reggae.
How did Iration begin?
We came together while most of us were going to college at UCSB in Santa Barbara. It was just a hobby but music had always been a part of our lives. At first we played to have fun. We did Bob Marley covers. It was a way to express ourselves. By the time we graduated from college there was a point where we were making enough money playing so we kept going.
What message is Iration trying to express with its music?
Being from Hawaii, we take the Aloha spirit very seriously. We like to bring a good vibe, a good message that leaves people with a positive feeling. We are a reggae rock band with the fundamentals of reggae music, but with a modern pop twist. We added heavy synth and guitars with more rock but lyrics that were more pop.
Reggae is big in Hawaii…if you listen to the radio it dominates the airwaves. Our first CD was very roots Reggae, but our next album had more of a pop sensibility, “Falling” and “Cookie Jar” did well out there, and they are both different songs.
Explain what surf culture means to you.
Surf culture to me means growing up on the beach. We all surf. We are part of the surf culture. I think it means to live it up in a positive way, like being able to appreciate mother nature and being outdoors. Living in Hawaii, everything you do is affected by the weather. You are more prone to the elements. Most people there love water sports. It’s embedded in each one of us.
The weather and the sunshine are a big part of our music. We are in Florida right now and I love being here. There’s a strong surf culture here. We really feel at home in the coastal cities. When we are in Chicago it feels out of our element since there’s no ocean.
Iration really feels like a live band, unlike a lot of other groups out there.
For us, we started in college when people didn’t know our music, so we all considered ourselves to be a live band. Some bands don’t play well live but we rehearse a lot, we try to connect with the audience on an emotional level. A good band has to connect.
It’s also the way you structure your music. We like to start really strong, bring it down in the middle, and then bring it back up and peak in the end. After that, for an encore we play an acoustic and two popular songs. This is all because we want to play music our fans came out to here. We structure our performances for them. You have to walk between playing what you want to play, and what they want to hear.
On this tour we are covering “Pimpers Paradise” by Bobby Marley and “Bomb Bud” by DJ Quick, which has been a popular song ever since we played it at Cypress Hill’s last SMOKEOUT.
I've noticed more than a few of your songs talk about cannabis.
Living in California I have a lot of access to cannabis. I have such easy access that I don’t have a strong opinion about it. But in Hawaii cannabis is such a big part of the surf culture. Everyone uses it. It’s normal. Cannabis has a lot influence for us.
I smoke out, sure, but not before I go onstage. I smoke out before I play or practice. I have spoken to other musicians who all agree about how it brings out your awareness of music.
We don’t promote it as much in our songs, but the EP “Summer Nights” is about the summertime, smoking weed, going to the beach. On this tour, before we play this song, we tell them about how the song is about smoking out in the summer, and that usually gets a huge reaction from the crowd. I love to smoke at concerts because it really heightens my senses.