Roots Of A Rebellion released their latest studio album today, Shapes of a Soul. The Nashville, TN jam band is heavily influenced with Reggae Rock and more. If you had a chance to catch the live stream from California Roots Festival you were able to see their incredible live show. Lead singer Austin Smith was kind enough to spend some time answering questions about the new record and more.
Before we jump into the new album Shapes of A Soul I want to get in to the evolution of Roots of A Rebellion. What are some of the struggles and obstacles this band has faced? Also, what are some of the growths individually or as a whole?
The constant struggle of balancing the road life with the home life. We all have other day jobs back in Nashville that are luckily flexible with us leaving town for a month or so to be on tour. Obviously being away from family, friends and loved ones is a big struggle and sacrifice but not just for us but more importantly for THEM---the fact that they support us going on tour spreading our music is something very special that I try not to take for granted.
It seems there's always something breaking on the van or trailer. Just yesterday we noticed a nail in one of our brand new tires on the trailer. We've had some scary incidents on the road. Tires blowing out, breaks going out while we're going down a mountain, and last summer our entire van caught fire and exploded before our very eyes. Luckily no one was hurt, we saved all of our irreplaceable instruments and to top it off our Roots Crew family, friends, and fans helped us raise enough money to buy a new van!!
We have grown individually in numerous ways but most evident is how we communicate with one another. We respect each other a lot and we are always willing to listen to each other’s perspectives with an open mind--able to admit when we're wrong. That has helped the band mature as well.
Shapes of A Soul has a lot of meaning, not just in the name of the album but within the record itself. What would you say creatively when sitting down to write the album were you hoping to accomplish with this record?
We really just wanted to capture and create the best songs we've ever written in the best way possible. Our producer Craig Welsch really helped us break the songs down and build them back up.
The new album has some wonderful guests’ artists making appearances throughout. When asking these artists for their contribution to a song do you already have an idea of what track you want them on? What is the process and approach for these guest spots?
Marco knew he wanted to feature Roads from Tropidelic on "Get Better"from the start because both of their journeys towards sobriety inspire each other to this day.
Troy and I thought featuring Ted from Passafire on"Creatures"would really take that song to the next level and luckily he was into it when we sent him the rough board mix after the tracking session. His verse might be my favorite lyrics on the entire record."Do it cause you love it, you don't really need a reason. Music is the flag and I'm pledging my allegiance. But I can't wait to be back home."
I actually wrote "Mirrors"all by myself but from the moment I came up with the chord progression I was thinking of our friend Jo'shua Odine from Nashville because it just reminded me of his style. Luckily he really dug it and he decided to just sing one of my verses rather than re-write his own which made me happy even though I told him he could and should write his own verse if he wanted.
Featuring Nate Silas Richardson's tasty guitar licks on "Lions' Den"is all thanks to our producer Craig Welsch who thought that song could use a little something extra and reached out to his friend and fellow member of 10ft. Ganja Plant (and formerly John Brown's Body) to really spice it up nicely!
When writing an album like this how much self-analyzing is there? Do you find this deep look within that it can be an eye-opening experience personally?
My life is pretty much self-analyzing at all times--for better or worse. I'm really hard on myself. To this day, I really don't like listening to the sound of my voice and I know I'm really not a great singer. But I've always loved writing songs and it's been a real treat writing songs with the other four songwriters in this band. Helping each other come up with the best song possible is where it's at!
Being under the microscope of the studio is a very eye-opening experience that is both exciting and terrifying. Luckily, we have a great relationship with Craig and this record was a lot of work but a lot of fun as well.
Individually or as a group what are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a musician? Is it the performing and being out on the road or maybe the creativity of writing songs and expressing yourself?
The most rewarding aspect of being an artist/musician/songwriter is connecting with people through expressing my own struggles and successes in songs. Inspiration is where it starts and ends and really never stops. Hearing that our music has helped someone through a tough time is really what keeps me going.
I also love meeting people I’ve never met before, seeing places I’ve never seen before and sharing it all with this band of brothers on the same mission of spreading peace and love through music.
Can you please share with us a song off the record that speaks to you the most and why?
I don't know. I really love it all. Top to bottom it's a fantastic representation of the shapes of us all in this band.
I can only assume when creating a new record more songs are written than what is on the album. Did you guys have more than 15 songs prepared for this album and how do you decide which make the cut?
Haha yea we actually demo'd 40 songs and with the help of Craig and some other team members we narrowed it down to these 15 songs. It was quite the process and we really had to trust Craig throughout it all because it was some really tough decisions!
Roots of A Rebellion are playing California Roots this past weekend. What is the feeling like getting the call and knowing you will be playing such an established festival in this scene?
Cali Roots was amazing! What an honor and an absolute pleasure to play their 10th year! So much inspiration, so much positive, family vibes with all the bands, fans, and working hands behind the scenes!
What can we expect from Roots of A Rebellion the rest of the year?
Hopefully this album goes #1 and gives us enough fuel in the tank to keep on trucking taking our music across the country--spreading Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect through music!!
Many thanks for taking the time, anything you would like to share in closing?
Thanks for taking the time and hope to see you out on the road! Think global, act local!