It's difficult not to like something called "sunshine reggae" -- even for those who aren't the biggest fans of Marley dreads, Nag Champa and barefoot romps.
Iration embodies the description of sunshine reggae perfectly, a mix of dub, reggae and rock, and the band's live shows pulse with an undeniable Hawaiian/California positive energy. Easily understood, since members Micah Pueschel (guitar, vocals), Adam Taylor (bass), Cayson Peterson (keyboards), Joseph Dickens (drums) and Joseph King (dub controls, live sound) all hail from Hawaii but no live in breezy San Diego.
Since 2006, Iration has released three EPs and three studio albums, the latest of which was released in summer 2013. Automatic was received well by fans and critics, even though longtime band member Kai Rediske, the only other vocalist who also played guitar, had just left the band a few months prior.
Iration never seems to stop working, whether it's the band's constant touring or incessant songwriting, or putting in work just to take the time to relax.
Up On the Sun talked with frontman Micah Pueschel about new music in the works, the legalization of marijuana, and being a fan of Justin Timberlake.
You guys will be playing with a lot of reggae rock bands like Pepper and then hip hop group Atmosphere and Rebelution. What do you think is the common thread between the bands on the bill?
I think that the common thread is that three out of the four bands have a reggae element obviously. Atmosphere has really made their name as a more underground grassroots hip-hop group. I think that's the same as all of us; the grassroots style and independent bands. We've built our fan bases on good music. I love all those bands.
So are you currently working on a new album since Automatic, or just touring?
We haven't started recording anything but we're always working. I've been writing and we've been coming up with ideas. We've been playing some new stuff but nothing's fully ready yet. The goal is to get something out next year but that's not concrete.
Do you feel that the new music you're working on is another step in Iration's evolution, or tied more closely to the sound of Automatic?
It's hard to say. Automatic was such an eclectic album that, I don't know I f there was any real discernible sound or style that made that record, but I think that record was more defined by the fact that it was so eclectic and so many different things were happening. The new stuff has almost been a throwback to Time Bomb -style, where it is more beat-driven and has more...it's not as dark I would say. Some of Automatic's tracks were darker. So this new stuff seems more light and fun to play.
Is there a reason for that? Were you going through stuff during Automatic?
Yeah I think every song has a dark and light side. Some of my favorite songs are sad songs or songs that sound...there has to be a balance there. I know some of the songs were sad but had a bright side. That's just what we were going through while writing material. We've always been that way; we always write with real life emotion and feelings and experiences.
Since Arizona is going back and forth so much with legalized marijuana bills, I have to ask about the legalization of marijuana since it's such a fixture in reggae music. What do you think is the most positive aspect of the legalization?
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Well I think the positive is that hopefully it can boost the economy wherever it is happening, as well as there are people out there who really rely on it and need it medically to make their lives better. I don't really feel like there's a whole lot of negative besides abusing the system. There's so many things we have that are legal that are so much worse for you. It's just one of those stigmas that's built up with a lot of propaganda that's not true. I applaud any state that is willing to push for something new and to try new things and expand and be progressive. I think that's what we need in America, is to be a little more forward thinking and think about the future a little more.
What are some of your favorite acts in music today?
I love the Arctic Monkeys...I like a lot of different stuff, old and new. But as far as right now...I like Kings of Leon. I like hip hop, too. I like Justin Timberlake. I don't discriminate against different genres. You have to respect songwriters and the way they work.