"So we just did three versions of every song. An acoustic, than regular and a remix, dub version of every song."
On their way through NYC we were able to sit down with Roots of Creation and talk with them about their upcoming album, jammin' and what it means to really give back to the community. Check out the full conversation below.
RN: You are a tour heavy band with lots of time on the road. Now you are out with Passafire & The Expendables, how has the tour been so far?
ROC: Oh fantastic. A four-band bill, you know running really smoothly and the crowds have been fantastic. Yeah it's been amazing. Everyone has got their fans there and everyone’s fans are intertwining liking everyone’s music and it's going really well. Great thing is everybody is coming out early. Sometimes when you're the support act on a tour everybody doesn't come out early, even if they want to come and see you, they’re used to a certain time. We make an effort to post times out and then people are just coming out. People are coming to see us, our fans are coming out early, Tunnel Vision’s fans are coming out and PassaFire is, you know crushing it. It's a really good package, we are having a blast.
RN: Livin’ Free is due out in a few weeks, what can we expect from this new triple album?
ROC: Yeah, less than 3 weeks. So much, so much music on it. It's kind of crazy. It was a crazy undertaking. It’s been too long since we put out an album. We put out a couple of live albums, so we figured now doing our first studio in a long time, let's really try something that’s really exciting not just “oh people out an album”. So we just did three versions of every song. An acoustic, than regular and a remix, dub version of every song. It was a lot. I thought it was going to be a lot easier. I thought it was going to be crazy. In my mind in the studio I was thinking, okay, you know there's different tricks that you can use to not re-record. I wasn't thinking we wouldn’t have to re-record too much stuff it would just be doing additional mixes right?
RN: Just turn down the vocals and you have your dub track?
ROC: Right or take the drums out or something using the acoustic version, but there were just all sorts of crazy problems. Then our engineer had a dope idea that some of this wasn't working right, we tried to track the acoustic guitar to make the acoustic version. So let’s scrap that idea, so for like half the acoustic versions we used just use one microphone like old school folk bluegrass style and I had to sit, get the chair and we moved the chair around in the room and mixed it based upon where I was in the room and it was a really cool experience and just like one take, no fixing the errors.
RN: Many bands will do a single acoustic track or a few dub mixed, but you put it all on one album. What made you decide to do that?
ROC: I mean we conceptualized it a really long time ago like when we first started recording this album like seven or eight years ago and then ran out of loot because we were funding ourselves and we did a pledge music campaign. Fans came to bat for us and then really once they contributed the pressure was on to like deliver because you can't let them down. They’re your backers, they believe in you. They purchased something they haven't heard or seen, in faith, so you got to deliver.
The backing but also the pressure to really deliver. We had a lot of opportunities to bring our band’s music into situations where we wouldn't be able to normally fit in. On five Slightly Stoopid openings, they wanted something low production so they didn't have another band setting up in front of them. They are our friends, so they were like “roll out with your acoustic, do that”, so I'd play the band songs and turn them (the fans) on and they would come see our band afterward. People started to get turned onto us through the acoustic vibes. We thought it would be cool to bring that into studio. Introduce them to the band too, because they had only seen that and then there is our fans that love all these songs the way that they are and get to hear different vibes and stuff. We're getting a lot of good reactions on some of them, the dub remixes.
Some of them are crazy, one of them we had one guy remix and he changed the key of the song. It was this major song and it turned into a minor key and it's like unrecognizable. It’s still the same structure. I thought he took the drums out and used his own drums. Then I heard one drum fill and I was like that's our drum fill. He sound replaced everything and turned it into a midi track, every single drum. It was pretty crazy. The key changed from a major song. It's kind of a sad song or like a Marley song when he used happy chords, with a sad song. It's just a cool trick to do that you change into a minor key. Then you force some heavy base thumping, dubstep stuff on there during the verses in the choruses that are like four on the floor, it's crazy, like a club track. It's cool.
RN: I love that you reached out to the fans and they were there, funding the campaign to 137%.
ROC: Really cool. It's pretty amazing you know. We realize people want to be involved. Sometimes it makes people afraid to ask even though in certain situations when people want to be involved, they want to help. They want to be part of something. We want them to and it creates this thing and it’s really nice.
RN: A great connection with the fans.
ROC: Yeah totally. It's definitely super strengthened the bond between us and the fans, it’s awesome.
RN: The new album, Livin’ Free features a ton of guest performances including Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band), Marshall “Ras MG” Goodman (Sublime, Long Beach Dub Allstars), Billy Kottage (Reel Big Fish) and Grammy-nominated Pato Banton & Mighty Mystic, how were those collaborations?
ROC: It was amazing. It was just a slow progression. Wasn't really planned out. A lot of this album was just slowly being made and then when we get the pledge thing, it just kind of blossomed where we got some bigger production things where like Ras MG got involved. Our good friend John Philips from Silverback Management hooked us up with Ras MG and Yetti Beats they really transformed songs to a different kind of level that was just really awesome. It was nice. They helped produce a couple of tracks that kind of brought it somewhere where it's almost was were we would liked it to have been, but they helped us really fulfill the goal. Without explaining what the vision is they like were able to hear where the track should go. Being mostly self-produced most of our life, it was really cool to have that experience.
RN: You had all these great partnerships, who would you like to be doing a partnership with on your next album, if you had your pick?
ROC: Damn, it’s endless. Damian Marley would do it first. We get Damian Marley to do a verse and then get somebody from The Dead. The same thing with Melvin Steels. We were big “dead folks” too and some of that scene some of the reggae scene and I love the idea that we had that combination with the album. If we do that again I think it would be pretty cool, so say like let's go big and say Phil Lesh and Damian Marley. You know like as an idea, how funny, but in reality, those were two big influences. There's some big producers I'd love to work with that are so far out of our reach like Diplo or Major Lazer.
RN: We see you reppin’ the slogan “Live Free or Die” ( New Hampshire State Motto) did that inspired the title of this new album?
ROC: 100%. Yeah, I mean we used to be told to say that we were from Boston. We did it for a little bit. For a couple years, we were nominated for Boston Music Award. So we were told by our publicist to say we were from Boston and our booking agent would say we're from Boston. It kind of just like everyone reps where they're from you know? The Cali scene is so strong here. People are so strong with their states like the Colorado scene, the Cali scene and you don't hear anything from New Hampshire. We figured that’s where we are from, that’s who we are. I live on hundreds of acres of land in the middle of the woods. It's a great slogan and it's a great state. It's just real, it's who we are.
"I support doing positive things rather than just complaining about it."
RN: Let’s talk about your live shows. You must enjoy your live shows as you’ve put out a few live albums. I've heard you guys labeled as a “jam band” which I find interesting because we hardly ever refer to reggaes acts with that name, usually The Dead or Phish. What does a live set look like will we get some ten minute songs?
ROC: In a longer set we are actually able to open up. These are package bills, with short sets so we try to still do some of that in there and you'll get some of it. We hybrid the reggae and improv. After these shows it's been really funny because we play 30 minutes sets where we're trying to show our versatility but there's no real jamming. There's a couple of instrumental sections. There's one instrumental song but a lot of the comments that we get from the people "you guys jam so fucking hard man". We say thanks but at the same time it's like we weren't really jamming. There's no question that it's in us because even when we thought we weren't jamming he said "you jam man". We would jump in with our track “Oh Lord” and then we jump into the song “Punk RoC”, which is how it sounds, punk and ska. I think that maybe that one sounds a little jammy because it's instrumental. There's a bunch of solos and stuff, but it’s still that kind of surf/punk, reggae/rock vibe.
RN: When it comes to social and environmental activism you walk the walk, what are some of the organization you have worked with and why do you feel that is so important?
ROC: Yeah, it's something that I admired growing up. Rage Against the Machine and Peter Tosh, people talking about shit that is not right in the music but then it's cool to actually do it in real life too. This is the 5th year of throwing a festival called Uplift Music Festival in New Hampshire. 100% of the profits that come in go to a different charity and different non-profit so it's the biggest thing that we do.
For the album we donated 5% of all our pledges after we hit our goal to Students For Sensible Drug Policy. They are looking to create better laws surrounding non-violent drug offenses, to create sensitive drug policies. Three strikes is getting poor people, minorities or people that can't afford lawyers tricked into the system and stuck forever. They are actually not a danger to society which I think is a really big problem that I really disagree with. Both the prison industrial complex along with the military industrial complex. I support doing positive things rather than just complaining about it.
The festivals are more localized where we pick a local non-profit in like our region. This past year we gave our profits to cancer patients being treated at the local hospital that needed it and couldn't afford it. It didn't go to the hospital, but it went to actual people who needed the help to pay for their chemo and couldn't afford it. We raised about $10,000 bucks to give to them.
There’s always a way to donate or get in touch with how you can be involved. It's local but sometimes you start there. You got to help where you are to make a bigger effect. It's cool because every year is something different. We've always picked something different. This year is cancer patients, the year before was a community center that just helped people with many different things. They even had a free wood pile for people. With winter in New Hampshire for people who can't afford heating they can go there to get free wood. There's so many other things like an organic farm that helps teach kids how to farm organically. They teach the importance of it and then they put plots in the schools and the kids grow it themselves. They eat the food and they see it from beginning to end. It's been a lot of things that have been really fun the last 5 years. It really creates a nice community vibe.
RN: What reggae is playing in your ipod?
ROC: What was the last thing I listened to on my phone? I haven't been listening to a ton of stuff because I've been fighting a bug on tour. The shows have been awesome though like it's been complete silence.
Leading up to the shows a lot of the bands we're playing with, just to get accustomed to it. I did make a “Blackout Tour 2016” playlist on Spotify, so people could like hear it. We've been so immersed in the east coast jam band scene, where a lot of the west coast guys are more into the reggae thing. As for me I’ve been diving more into the reggae/rock scene then I had before. Bands like Tribal Seeds, Stick Figure, all those guys.
We’ve had an awesome opportunity where it's getting pretty amazing. We started off being influenced by the west coast style, Long Beach, Sublime, all that stuff and then people from that scene recognizing you and working with you. We had Josh Kaufman, Sublime’s original photographer fly out. He wants to do our new band photos and he turned me onto like a bunch of stuff that influenced Sublime. From the Long Beach area bands like Falling Idols and Jelly Of The Month Club are the stuff that I've been listening to. It's kind of local stuff. Basically Brad saw those guys playing and was like “that's what I want to be like.”
I'm looking at my recently added. What I have here is Wolfpack, I don't know if you listen to those guys at all. Wolfpack is an amazing funk band, instrumental but really cool, really corky. I have to listen to what my daughter wants most of the time. She's three and a half so it's Dora the Explorer, she's obsessed with this band Walk Off The Earth.
RN: She hasn't gone into sublime yet?
ROC: No she likes the Grateful Dead, she likes Walk Off The Earth, Bob Marley and Roots of Creation. But we're not her favorite band anymore. We were her favorite band, but now it's Walk Off The Earth. We're #2 now.