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By Lauren Wise
By New Times
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Sam Wiley, the heart and soul of Tempe-based The Wiley One, is known around town for churning out acoustic-driven, reggae-infused hip-hop tunes with rapid fluidity. Since 2007, the "No. 7 Kid" has dished out bouncy beats and twangy guitar licks, spreading his sound across the Southwest while, at the same time, striving for ecological responsibility.
"Green" has plenty of connotations for a reggae singer — not to mention on St. Paddy's Day, when he is scheduled to open for Celtic punks Flogging Molly — but Wiley's serious about the green movement.
"I've always been passionate about the environment," says Wiley, an avid snowboarder and surfer. "That mainly comes from my family in Mexico City, where they make wind generators. My grandfather had a hand in placing a lot of the wind turbines you see on the drive to California. So we always grew up energy-conscious in that sense."
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A musician's carbon footprint may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but whenever touring artists use biodiesel fuel, they're actually helping to offset the carbon dioxide emissions created by their sometimes mammoth buses and titanic trailers.
"I just wanted to do something to spread awareness and to help out communities," he says. "We were inspired by different bands that were doing it, like Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, and Dave Mathews. They wanted to educate bands on how they could reduce their footprint when they were on tour.
"And we thought it was a great way to partner with other companies, where we could help them spread their message musically — and they could help us tour. So when we partnered with ACE [Alliance for Climate Education], we were able to tour California for two weeks on a vegetable bus, playing atop it during the day, and then a venue like the Roxy in Los Angeles at night." The shrewd business maneuver worked out, as the band went on to pen the song "Go Green." The tune, about global environmental issues, helped land them a spot in the Hemp Festival in Seattle, where the band performed in front of 80,000 people.
While coexisting with nature remains a top priority, the band has other innovative ideas for the Gardner Cole-produced album Kill It with Love, which was released on February 14 on Phoenix-based label Sundawg Records.
"We're deciding not to print CDs for this album. Instead, we're doing them on flash drives," he says. "So if you come to one of our shows, you can bring a flash drive with you and we'll give you the entire album, all the music videos, lyrics, and album artwork for $5. We'll have a computer at shows so you can just hand us your drive and you'll be set. And if you forget to bring a flash drive, you can buy one off of us with everything on it for $10.
Plans for promoting the new album include a visit to New York later this month (the band's first trip to the East Coast) and making a music video.
"We're all about video," he says. "We want to do a music video for every single song on that record. At this point, it's all about believing in your music and then finding a way to get exposure for the music. That, I think, is more important than anything you can do as a band."