Mainstream rock music has a tendency to be homogeneous. It can be occasionally difficult to separate oneself from the norm, but can ultimately prove to be a true treasure if done properly. Music is expansive and enticing, and should reflect the artist and their ethos. Hawaiian/Californian reggae-rock group Iration are aiming to prove just that.
Iration, comprised of longtime friends Micah Pueschel, Micah Brown, Joseph Dickens, Cayson Peterson, and Adam Taylor, foster a unique sound that simultaneously feels accessible and palatable. They have curated a vibe as well as a sound, notably sticking to their roots and never compromising their sonic integrity for the sake of mainstream ideals. They are lucidly emotive both in instrumentation and in lyricism, and offer a matchless ability to harbor a freshness that feels as warm as sunshine.
Atwood Magazine caught up with the group’s guitarist, Adam Taylor, following a performance in Philadelphia on September 18. Happily true to themselves and their music, Iration know how to whisk their audience away to a dreamlike place; one that is reminiscent of their island upbringing. They have successfully managed to achieve a unique and intriguing relevancy, and it has ultimately become something bigger than themselves; something that does not merely pigeonhole them as just a reggae band.
Listen: “Time Bomb” – Iration
A CONVERSATION WITH IRATION
Atwood Magazine: You guys have been a band for almost ten years, or around ten years—
Adam Taylor: Yeah! And we’ve actually known each other longer than that; we were all friends growing up. We were all musical individually, but it wasn’t until we left Hawaii for California to go to college that we kind of started playing together as a hobby.
So how would you describe your sound then, versus how it’s evolved now?
Adam: I think it started very traditional, roots reggae. We were covering a lot of music like Bob Marley.
Were you a cover band?
Adam: Yeah, but it wasn’t even to play for people. We were just playing in our garage for fun, and just learning songs. But yeah as we’ve progressed, I mean, California also rubs off on you. A little more rock n’ roll, a little heavier guitar—so that added a little bit more of a rock element to the way Micah [Pueschel] sings and writes. I think he’s more influenced by that music, so you get a little bit of that element as well. I think nowadays, you’ll hear a blend of all of that.
We’re not so definitive in what sort of genre we are, and we kind of just create according to how the song is.
Yeah. And like you said, you’re from Hawaii, then you moved to California for school. They’re both very beachy places, very outdoorsy places; how do you think that reflects in your music?
Adam: I mean, I guess that’s kind of what inspires you creatively: what you’re going through. We live by the beach, and our lifestyle is pretty nice and easy, so I think that reflects. And touching on what I said [before], starting with that traditional, roots reggae, a lot of that content matter was very serious. We liked that sound, but we didn’t really identify with those kind of issues. So it’s basically taking an element of that sound and creating something unique and making it our own.
The internet, from what I’ve seen, has kind of decidedly made your genre “sunshine reggae.” Would you agree with that, or is there any other genre that you’d maybe want to explore? Do you like your sound as is?
Adam: We like our sound. We’re not so definitive in what sort of genre we are, and we kind of just create according to how the song is. It’s not like we’re only going to make a certain type of music, and as we evolve and grow, I definitely want to jump into other genres and explore. I think that’s what’s really cool about music, is that you’re not really limited to anything. You can kind of see where it takes you.
Do you think you have an overarching theme with all of your songs, something you tend to sing about more often; or do you try and write a different variety of things?
Adam: I think earlier, you know, when we were younger a lot of the themes of the earlier albums were “all about love.” I think that came out in a lot of our earlier work, and I think now that we’ve matured musically and with age, we’ve started going into different musical topics. So I don’t know, I think when they say “sunshine reggae,” too, that’s just the type of sound, I guess, but not necessarily a theme.
I get that. Do you have a favorite song that you have?
Adam: Right now, I’d say “Reelin’,” which is the first song on our album, Hotting Up. It kind of just encompasses where we’re at as a band. It has a high-hitting beat, and the flow of the vocals, and I think just the way the song is, it’s a good song to play someone to show them what Iration is.
Listen: “Reelin'” – Iration
And if there was any instrument that you could incorporate into your music that you haven’t yet, what would that be? How would you fit it in?
Adam: We’ve kind of just started using a trumpet player, so I think kind of exploring that more would be really cool. At a show [recently], we had a trumpet player for the first time, and it added a really cool element. We have two or three songs that have trumpet on it, and so it was cool to actually be able to play those songs live. So I think if we explored using brass more, that’d be something that could maybe help our sound out.
It’s a group effort and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.
If you could describe your sound in just one word, what would you call it?
Adam: Oh, um…Easygoing.
What’s your favorite part about making music, and why does music matter?
Adam: I think my favorite part is — a lot of times, I think of it like a recipe. Making a dish, there’s a million ways to make it, and a lot of times, the five of us are [creating] and someone will give a suggestion, or someone else will, and your suggestion might not always take and you might go with something else, but in the end it creates something that you all put in. So I think that’s the coolest part, it’s a group effort and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. And I also like that you can take songs that you’ve already created and totally restructure and rework them, and present them in a different manner. I think that’s a pretty cool part as well.
I’m proud that we’re accepted and not just pigeonholed as this reggae band.
What drew you into getting into the music industry?
Adam: I literally didn’t have any desire to get into the music industry. I think we’ve always individually been very musical, and the first time we actually played for anybody we were just in our garage jamming like we always do. It was really hot, so we just opened the garage door, and people just started stopping by. So, it kind of just started like that; but at first it was just a desire to make music with friends. I figured once I graduated [from college], that I would have to get a normal job, but then the band was started to experience a little bit of success, and here we are today. In the beginning, there was no “okay, we’re going into the music industry.” It just happened.
Listen: “Falling” – Iration
Cool, cool. So what are you most proud of with what you’ve accomplished?
Adam: I’m most proud of getting to play these big rock festivals like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Bottlerock — just because we’re usually kind of different from a lot of rock bands, and I’m proud that we’re accepted and not just pigeonholed as this reggae band. I’m glad that people take it for what it is.
Do you prefer festivals over an intimate, solo show? Or do you like solo shows more because they’re actually coming for you?
Adam: I think the solo shows are easier, because yeah, the fans are there for you. But I like the spontaneity of the festival; you kind of do a throw-and-go, and a lot of the fans are just discovering who you are. It’s cool to win over new fans.
So now looking into the future, where do you hope you’re going to go moving forward? Do you have any expectations of where you want it to go?
Adam: I want to just keep progressing. We’re just putting the finishing touches on an acoustic album, and that’s something that we’ve never released before, so I’m really excited for everyone to hear that. It’s cool because we took existing Iration songs, and stripped them down and reworked them; some are the popular songs, some are songs that didn’t really get the attention we thought they deserved. We’re trying to present our music really bare and stripped down.
As Iration treks forward in their musical journey, it will be exciting to see where their path ultimately takes them. After more than ten years together already, it’s safe to say that the group is comfortable with themselves and with their music, and will do nothing to compromise their integrity. Their matchless sound and apparent love for music allows for the group to continue transcending time, and through their inimitability, they will undoubtedly withstand the ever-changing indie rock world. Iration’s music is certainly “like a recipe,” and an excitably palatable one at that.
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cover photo: Iration © 2016
Hotting Up – Iration
:: Iration 2016 Tour Dates ::
11/11 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Novo
11/18 – Oakland, CA @ The Fox Theater
11/19 – Del Mar, CA @ Del Mar Racetrack