Rebelution – The Front-Runner For Reggae Music

Rebelution, the UC Santa Barbara alumni band, has quickly established itself as a premier producer of grassroots reggae music since 2007. From their self-produced 2007 record Courage to Grow through 2014’s Count Me In and 2016’s Grammy nominated Falling Into Place releases, Rebelution’s popularity continues to soar with each release.

Peace of Mind was recently named iTunes’ Reggae album of the week, and SPIN spoke to Rachmany about its various themes and content.


Rebelution first formed in Santa Barbara’s Isla Vista college community in 2004, when a group of friends turned their mutual passion for Reggae and Pop/Rock music into an actual band. Following an indie EP release and consistent touring schedule, their 2007 full length debut Courage to Grow catapulted them to wider popularity with massive downloads and radio play throughout Southern California helping propel it up the Reggae chart to #4 position.

After years of touring and album releases that earned top spots on iTunes’ Reggae Chart and #13 on Billboard’s Top 200 charts, the group expanded their audience even further with 2009 album Bright Side of Life which took top honors on both charts – iTunes Reggae Chart and Billboard 200 chart respectively. They also established their own label 87 Music in partnership with Controlled Substance Sound Labs; peace of Mind made its mark by reaching 13 on both Reggae and Independent release categories of Billboard charts simultaneously – solidifying their place among Billboard charts both Reggae and Independent releases categories.

Rebelution’s music stands apart from most reggae artists by emphasizing positive messages of love and unity through lyrics that focus on social criticism or religion. Their soothing style and thrilling live performances have become a fan favorite at festivals and venues nationwide.

Their latest album, Free Rein, continues to solidify their position as one of the must-watch bands today. It boasts songs such as “Celebrate” and “City Life,” while also including more laid-back tunes like “Patience” and “Healing.”

Reggae music was introduced to America through London’s multiracial inner cities, popularized by artists like Steel Pulse, Aswad and UB40. This new genre of lovers rock combined Jamaican ghetto themes with UK culture and Cockney dialect in songs sung in high-pitched falsetto.

Rebelution has taken this musical hybrid and developed it into their own distinctive style that’s both enjoyable to listen to and dance to. While they remain true to reggae’s deep culture, Rebelution have added touches from yacht rock, hip-hop and dub into their soundscape for added variety and an eclectic sound that draws upon all genres.


The band draws inspiration from their varied backgrounds and influences, beginning in 2004 in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara as college students; bassist Marley D. Williams, percussionist Wesley Finley and keyboardist Rory Carey all attended University of California Santa Barbara as students.

Reggae music is characterized by slow, soulful rhythms with upbeat messages in its lyrics, typically played on acoustic instruments like guitars, pianos and acoustic drums. Additionally, this genre draws upon elements from other musical forms like rhythm and blues, jazz, mento (a rural folk form combining religious hymns with secularized calypso and traditional African rhythms), calypso, calypso as well as traditional African folk rhythms to name just a few. Additionally it utilizes call and response vocalists respond directly to instrumental parts in songs they’re performing live.

Reggae music is an extremely popular form of musical expression and features numerous styles inspired by Caribbean musical cultures, particularly Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Reggae’s distinctive spirituality and message of peace has long been associated with Rastafarian movement and cannabis herb used as sacred plant. Furthermore, its long tradition includes social criticism.

Rebelution has quickly established itself as one of the premier reggae bands of modern times, drawing an avid following. Their shows have featured at prominent venues like Red Rocks and Greek Theatre; as well as major festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits. Rebelution’s fourth album Count Me In was released in 2014 featuring collaborations with Black Uhuru’s Don Carlos and dancehall star Collie Buddz.

The members of Rachmany have varied musical interests and are always seeking new ways to express themselves musically. Drummer Wesley Finley draws influence from bands like Circa Survive and Thrice while Matt Velasquez is inspired by hip-hop and funk music. Rachmany’s 2-year-old cousin has taken an immediate liking to Rachmany’s songs and often requests that her parents play Reggaeution while driving him around town.


Rebelution has achieved so much in their 16 years on the music scene: chart-topping albums, hundreds of millions of streams, GRAMMY nomination and performing at such prestigious festivals as All Good Music Festival, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits – as well as selling out Red Rocks Amphitheatre headline shows, The Greek Theatre performances and beyond!

Yet despite their increased fame, their sound remains true to reggae’s roots. The band members – drummer Wes Finley, bassist Marley D. Williams, and keyboardist Rory Carey – share an intimate bond, each contributing their unique musical sensibilities and influences to create something truly amazing.

Finley integrated hard rock into “Simply Captivating,” while Carey brought his blues sensibilities to “Bad Company.” Eric Rachmany demonstrated his deep belief in root reggae with “Celebrate” and “Old School Feeling,” two songs that show his expertise as a singer/guitarist/percussionist/composer/performer.

The band has made sure to stay true to the culture that gave rise to reggae music. They collaborated with producers from its origin in Jamaica when recording albums, and have even hosted Jamaican artists during performances alongside them on several occasions.

Though prejudice against white hip-hop performers remains, diehard reggae fans don’t hold it against them so easily. Many of the genre’s greatest artists, including Bob Marley and Black Uhuru are descended from African nationalist Marcus Garvey who is revered as a god by Rastafarian religion. Therefore, although Rebelution may face greater skepticism due to being white reggae acts they quickly put forward evidence that their talents can compete on an equal playing field with any other act in Rastafarian culture than other white reggae acts.

Glide recently celebrated the release of their fifth album, Falling Into Place, by speaking with lead vocalist and guitarist Eric Rachmany during a quick phone call from his home in San Francisco. Eric shared with us some insight into his early days in music as well as their unique sound development before taking us into their studio to hear them record new material for this record.


Rebelution has experienced nearly every success a modern musical act could possibly want since its formation 16 years ago: topping charts, selling out amphitheaters and stadiums, earning GRAMMY nominations, founding their own festival in Jamaica… Their latest chapter: In the Moment. Due out on June 18 as part of a joint release from NYC-based Easy Star Records and their own 87 Music label.

The album is an ode to that magical moment when distractions fade and real relationships form between people face-to-face. Additionally, its title track serves as an anthem for their home city of Santa Barbara where many fans connect through shared sense of purpose and community spirit.

This album marks the third full-length release for the band since their initial debuts of 2007’s Courage to Grow and 2009’s Bright Side of Life. Their previous albums explored various aspects of their sound, but In the Moment is more subdued compared to their earlier efforts; lead vocalist Eric Rachmany wrote most of these tracks without input from Marley, Carey or Finley using digital recording ideas sent via computer to him for collaboration.

As they recorded In the Moment, the band found common ground in their desire to remain true to themselves and the community that had so strongly supported them over the years. A few tracks take more personal approaches: for instance “Celebrate,” an ode to those fans who have rallied behind their health struggles is included on In the Moment; similarly, their rendition of Bob Marley’s classic tune “More Than Just a Woman” celebrates humanity in general.

Rebelution’s 2017 tour will hit venues like Philadelphia’s Electric Factory and Denver’s Fillmore, showing that their seeds planted back in 2004 have still grown strong. They continue to expand their horizons and have established themselves as one of the premier grassroots, independent, touring driven bands that leave audiences inspired. Their music speaks for itself: Plant a seed and watch it sprout.