Reggae-jam band Roots of Creation goes for shared experience
April 3, 2009
Steamboat Springs — There’s something to be said for the shared experience of live music.
For Roots of Creation lead singer and guitarist Brett Wilson, it goes something like this: “You can create your own emotion and feelings from instrumental music and improvisational music,” he said about the reggae-jam approach his New Hampshire-based band uses to play shows.
With pop-laced, upbeat songs, a positive vibe to the lyrics, a light show and elements of dub, electronica, funk, jam and dance music, Roots of Creation has forged a sound Wilson said he hasn’t heard anywhere else.
The band is on its third national tour in the past nine months, playing shows in support of its latest release, “Live Vol. 1.” On Saturday, Roots of Creation will bring its song-based, bass-heavy reggae with the occasional instrumental improv section to Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill.
Wilson talked with 4 Points about his band’s unique sound, why he’s never heard it before and how Roots of Creation bridges the gap between three-minute pop songs and extended jams.
4 POINTS: How did your band come up with a sound that mixes reggae, jam and electronica?
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BRETT WILSON: All four musicians in the band have different influences, but then we have the common ground of all liking reggae, all liking Rage Against the Machine and some other rock bands, and all liking Phish. Then we have a lot of diverse influences. : It’s more cohesive than it sounds when I’m explaining it. When you hear it, you’re like, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’
4 POINTS: What makes that sound different from other bands you guys have heard?
BW: I don’t really know any other bands that combine reggae and jam together, so that makes it original, and there’s a focus on writing good songs before we jam on them.
4 POINTS: So what makes that sound unique?
BW: The four people that we’ve combined together to make this band might be something that’s never happened before – as far as our drummer and bass player are really into drum and bass and live electronic and dancehall reggae and up-and-coming indie bands. And I’m more into hip-hop and reggae and some more politically charged music, and that reflects in my lyrics. So it’s a bunch of diverse influences together that may not have happened in a group before. :
There’s a bunch of bands that combine reggae with rock, but I’ve never seen a band that combines improvisational elements with reggae. : Some DJs will mix jungle with dancehall reggae, but still there’s not much improvisation and jam thrown in there.
4 POINTS: Why do you think that hasn’t been done before?
BW: A lot of reggae music is specifically song-based, with three- or four-minute songs, and is really focused on what the musicians are saying and keeping it simple, and really not wanting to stray from that. :
But really where (the combination of styles) makes sense is that we do a lot of dub music, and dub mixes really well with electronic music; they have similar elements of pulling instrumentals in and out and having heavy bass.
4 POINTS: Do the lyrics still play an important role in your songs?
BW: I’d say we do 65 percent lyrics-based songs with a little bit of an instrumental section in them, and then we have a bunch of instrumental songs that we throw in the mix.
4 POINTS: Why the mix?
BW: If you play too much instrumental stuff, it can be overwhelming for people and it might not connect as much, but it depends on what kind of audience we’re playing for. : They’re two separate things, but I think they go really well together.
There’s something that you can’t get from a written song that you can get from something that’s made up on the spot. It’s like reading a novel; there’s room for interpretation. It’s not like watching a movie where it’s all laid out for you. :
That’s why we like to use instrumental and improvisational music and mix it with lyrics-based stuff. In one way, you’re expressing your view on life, and in another way, you’re expressing in the moment.