Shortly after “Bright Side of Life” dropped in 2009, the major labels started sniffing around Rebelution. The funky, rootsy reggae band’s second album was selling. It was all over the iTunes chart. It topped the reggae music chart and peaked at the No. 3 position as most downloaded album.
Despite inquiries from the corporate rock world, Rebelution decided to stay independent.
“The last thing we would want would be for somebody to come in and change what made us Rebelution in the first place,” drummer Wesley Finley said. “We’re successful for pursuing our sound wholeheartedly, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s not to say that we aren’t open to collaborating with other artists and producers, so long as we share the same vision of the musical result.”
However, Rebelution, which will perform Wednesday and Thursday at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, held on to creative control, and it’s worked out as the band has reached another echelon.
Rebelution might not be a household name, but it’s headlining sheds and large theaters around the country.
“We love playing live,” Finley said. “Our singer Eric (Rachmany) has been known to call audibles onstage. Sometimes we’ll extend a jam and dub it out, and other times Eric will start singing lyrics borrowed from other songs. When that happens, the rest of us will look at each other and just smile as if saying, ‘Hold on, here we go!’ ”
The mellow Santa Barbara-based band is touring behind “Count Me In,” its latest album which dropped two weeks ago. It’s a collection with deep grooves and rhythms.
“It was different with this album,” Finley said. “It marked the first time we all lived in separate cities, so we formed initial song ideas through sound checks and sending ideas online and practicing at home.
“This enabled us to really absorb the songs and think about the direction we were going to take each one. We experimented with more electronics and layering on this album to make sure the songs were where they deserved to be.”
Expect Rebelution to be on the road for a solid year behind “Count Me In.”
“It’s going to be incredibly busy for us,” Finley said. “Starting with this summer, this is a huge pinnacle for us with the release of our new album and our largest headlining tour to date. We’ll ride this out for the next few months and then do some big festivals like Lollapalooza and ACL before going overseas for some international gigs.”
Rebelution, which also includes bassist Marley D. Williams and keyboardist Rory Carey, has four albums to draw from when it makes up its setlist.
“It’s a good situation to be in,” Finley said. “We never knew it was going to work out this way. We couldn’t predict which way this would go when we formed (in 2004). We’re from different coastal California cities with different musical backgrounds, so we have varying taste and ideas, so our sound became a hodgepodge. But it became something that is fresh and unique. You don’t see that a lot today since a lot of bands just take from another, but we’re about doing our own thing, and the great thing is that it’s working.”