Interview: Iration

Interview: Iration

Before one of the many festival dates Iration has lined up for this summer, the band coordinated an exclusive interview with The Pier. We knew that a new album was in the process, and nearing the light of day, so it only seemed fitting for a quick catch up with the band Iration. A straight to the point, routine fifteen-minute interview was slated, but the discussion kept rolling on through all corners of the Reggae-Rock music scene.

Among the topics discussed, the highlight revolved around all the new facts about Iration’s new, full-length album release, the production within the album, guest appearances, as well as a studio mishap. Iration also shed some light on the upcoming festival circuit they are playing, focusing on California Roots and Wakarusa, while sharing the stage with plenty of household names.

We also dove into the early days of Iration, even before Micah Pueschel, Kai Rediske and Cayson Peterson joined the band, playing their first show outside of Santa Barbara, CA, with Pepper. Along those lines, Micah also gave us some information on the latest happenings with Pepper!

However, all of these topics were discussed after I jumped in Iration’s tour bus, and interrupted Micah from watching a Fleetwood Mac DVD prior to their show in Mesa, AZ. So, without further interruption, here is the full-length interview with Iration! ENJOY!

The Pier: It is awesome to catch up with Iration again! It truly is a pleasure that you guys were able to take the time out for this interview. So, let’s get right into this! There is a new album in the works and you guys have been spreading the slogan “#All About Luv.” Is that going to be the name of Iration’s next album?
Micah: Oh, man! This is definitely an exclusive! We haven’t said anything about it…

Colin (Iration’s tour manager): Exclusive… Hot shit! Hot shit!

Micah: (laughs) Yeah, we haven’t announced anything yet or put it out there, but the album is called Automatic. It is actually a name from one of the tracks on the album. It is a song that is really an ode to the fans. It makes sense for us and we like the title of it. This is the definition of the term automatic, what it means to us, and the actual definition for us. The definition is operating devoid of external influences. It is just us doing what makes us… what exactly is Iration. It is what we think the definition of our band Iration is. This is the music we want to make that defines what we do. It is a very definitive thing that we do, all the things that we do together: the rock and roll, the reggae, there are the catchy love songs that we do. All of that has come to make our signature sound.

The Pier: Along with the signature sound that has become Iration today, for recording the band used vintage instruments and even vinyl for drum tracking, almost taking a page out of classic rock and roll. What led you guys to utilize that process?
Micah: Yeah, in the Fonogenic Studios, actually Rami Jaffee’s studio from The Wallflowers and Foo Fighters, his place had all of these cool vintage instruments and had an old vintage drum with goatskin or sheepskin on it. We actually broke it on that video we have on YouTube. Joe D broke it when he was hitting it! And, Rami was kind of bummed about it.

Cayson: Well, he kept saying, “Hit it!” while we were tracking it. We were in the hallway and Joe D was hitting it. Rami said to him, “No. No. Hit it!” (laughs) “Hit it hard!” Joe D just smashed it! (laughs)

Micah: It was supposed to be hit with a mallet, but we used a regular drumstick. So…

Cayson: Yeah! It was just shattered straight through the hide! (laughs)

The Pier: Just another day in the studio with Iration, wrecking an old school drum! In the studio, you guys linked up with Lincoln Parrish, Cage The Elephant’s guitarist. How did that connection come about?
Micah: Our manager, Mike, met him at a tech conference in San Francisco, and [Lincoln] was kind of looking to explore working with new artists as a producer. He is a young guy. He is only twenty-two-years-old. He wanted to get into the producing game, a little bit more, outside of just playing with Cage The Elephant. So, they met up there at the conference, and we then became good friends with each other and kind of went from there. All of us as a band, we all decided we wanted this album to have a proper rock sound. We wanted to make songs that were proper rock with a crossover type of sound.

The Pier: So, is this album going to be a true Reggae-Rock album?
Micah: It is more like…the rock is rock, and the reggae is reggae. There are a couple songs that have a little bit of the crossover feel to it, but it is more like us. When we want to play rock, we do a proper rock song that is in your face. For the reggae songs, we definitely treat it like a true reggae song.

The Pier: Nice, just a little bit of everything! Now, how many tracks are going to be on the new album?
Cayson: 14!
Micah: Yeah, there are 14-songs on the album. We also included “No Time” and “Undertow”, which were songs that we put out last summer. They were free songs that we had given away, but they were never available on iTunes or anything like that. We figured we would throw them on the record. It will still be a $9.99 album, but you are going to get 14-songs. So, it is kind of like a bonus for everyone.

[Editor’s Note: Throughout the evening and during their performance, Iration revealed and played three of their new songs featured on Automatic including, “Back Around”, “Porcupine” and “Show Me”]

The Pier: As a band, you guys have taken the title “No Time For Rest” to heart. It seems like Iration is always putting out new music!
Micah: Yeah, this is our third full-length album. We have done three EPs and two full-length albums before this. No Time For Rest was the first one in ’07, then we did Sample This, Time Bomb was after that, then we did Fresh Grounds.

Cayson: I think that we have found out over our career, that everything tends to take a step up once you release an album. When we did Time Bomb, we went from playing a certain level of shows after that album circulated to a whole different spectrum.

The Pier: Well, you guys played Lollapalooza in 2011. So, just that exposure had to be a huge boost, as well!
Micah: It was pretty cool. The only other reggae bands, or any band that was near our genre, were guys like Nas and Damian “Jr Gong” Marley, and Collie Buddz played in the dance tent. So, those were really the only reggae bands for that whole festival. It was cool since we were one of the very few bands that were out there doing it.

The Pier: Now, speaking of tours and festivals coming up, let’s talk about the California Roots Music and Arts festival. This is your second year playing. Between the two of you, we might need at least three hands to count how many bands you guys are pumped to see, let alone perform with, right?
Micah: Oh, man! We are just stoked to be there! All of those bands are our friends. When we booked the show, we looked at the lineup and said, “We definitely want to do it!” just for the fact that we want to play along with all of our boys, you know? The Expendables, Pepper, The Green… those are our friends outside of just music. When we go to Santa Cruz, we are hanging out with The Expendables. They come to our shows. When they come to Santa Barbara, they stay at our house. Pepper, same thing with those guys! We are all brothers! And, The Green, when we go back to Hawai’i, we are hanging out with those guys.

Cayson: It seems like the last time there was a lineup like this one was West Beach in 2009. When we played that festival, it was huge! I mean Rebelution was there. Pepper was there. Slightly Stoopid was there. This year should be pretty similar.

The Pier: Well, the lineup this year is huge! Hawai’i is represented pretty well, too. Thinking back to 2007, or even a little later, there were only a few big-name acts from Hawai’i touring nationally or on the mainland. Really, it was only Pepper, Natural Vibrations and you guys. Now, you look at all these artists blowing up like Anuhea, J Boog and The Green, like you mentioned…
Cayson: Those guys are just such talented musicians. They have a good formula, and it works. They just flow. They deserve all the recognition for their work.

Micah: I mean, I like to think that is how it goes, you know? With musicians from Hawai’i, I feel that is the way it goes. We all take care of each other. Pepper took us out on our first national tour. We then took The Green out on their first national tour. Now, they are moving up and shooting up there quickly, and making great music. If you are a good band and make good music, you deserve to be noticed and put in front of a crowd. SOJA took out Anuhea for their tour, and that was a big boost for her. That is just the way it should be! When you make it to that next level, you take along those bands and kind of show them the way, and get them in front of a crowd.

The Pier: It is similar to what has transformed since the very first Law Records Tour nearly five years ago with Pepper bringing Iration, Passafire and The Supervillains out in front of massive crowds. All of those bands are now headlining their own tours from coast to coast. If that tour happened again today, it would be pretty tough to get a ticket in any city.
Micah: Oh, yeah! We remember it too! We talk about that all the time! It is a brotherhood, really. We still talk about the first gig we ever played outside of Santa Barbara with Pepper at The Vault in Long Beach. We were just talking about how nervous we all were. We were the first of three bands to go on. Josh Fischel was there, and he was going on right after us.

Cayson: That was the first time we played a big venue, too. We were all backstage looking around at each other and just saying, “Holy shit! What’s going on?”

Micah: Yeah, we had our own dressing room and all that stuff. “Holy shit” was literally all we were saying to each other! (laughs)

The Pier: It’s safe to say you guys have come along way since then. Jumping back to the album, are there any guest appearances featured? I know you guys have had Lexo The Great jump onstage for a couple songs, any studio collaborations?
Micah: No. Unfortunately, Lexo is not on the record, but we did have Lincoln Parrish play on a few of the songs he produced with us. So, he added in his guitar. Then, we also have Rami Jaffe playing keys on one of the songs. Then, we have Jessy Greene, a woman who has played strings on numerous albums. She is featured on our song “Porcupine”, and she plays live with the Foo Fighters and Pink, Atmosphere, Wilco and all these other huge bands.

Cayson: She is such a badass! Such a professional, just the way she came in and just dropped it all in a couple hours. It sounded so great! I would have liked to have her on the whole album! (laughs)

Micah: Unfortunately, artists of that caliber cost a lot of money. So, you can’t just have them on every track, but to have her on one song is a special treat. For us to work with Grammy-caliber musicians, people that have won Grammy’s, numerous Grammy’s and playing alongside the Foo Fighters, playing with Cage The Elephant… those bands are at the pinnacle of rock and roll, right now!

Cayson: In that studio, the middle hallway that divides the practice room from the recording space was just layered with platinum records on all the walls. Some of the biggest records you could ever imagine! Like all the Foo Fighters’ biggest records, [Rami Jaffe] played with Macy Gray, so all of those are up there… even Stevie Nicks!

The Pier: Is that why you were watching the Fleetwood Mac DVD earlier?
Micah: Yeah! (laughs) I love Fleetwood Mac! I grew up listening to them. My mom always played Fleetwood Mac’s music, so I love it!

The Pier: Obviously they were a huge influence growing up. What were some of your other big influences growing up on the islands? What else did you guys listen to?
Cayson: When I was growing up with my older brother, who actually used to be in the band awhile back, we used to always listen to punk rock. We were just little fucking surf groms, listening to Pennywise and a whole bunch of different punk bands.

Micah: I haven’t heard their new album yet, but I talked to Yesod from Pepper, and he said it was really, really good!

Cayson: Pennywise used to be, literally, my favorite band! They still are the shit!

The Pier: With you guys based in southern California, along those same roads and same venues, Pennywise has planted their flag in plenty of So Cal hot spots over the years, especially in Hermosa, Redondo and Huntington beaches.
Cayson: We have played our fair share of shows at Saint Rocke and The Shore.

Micah: Killkenny’s and Patrick Malloy’s in Hermosa Beach were some of the first gigs we ever played. At least those were the first spots we hit outside of Santa Barbara. The South Bay has been really good to us.

Cayson: The Lighthouse was another spot we played at!

Micah: Yeah! The Lighthouse was our first, official outside of Santa Barbara show!

The Pier: What was the first venue Iration ever played at?
Micah: It was Velvet Jones.

The Pier: Wow! So, you guys played at a pretty nice spot for your first show!
Micah: Yeah! It was an Isla Vista thing. The boys would play Isla Vista… We were not even in the band yet. Neither one of us even played with them yet. It was just them playing reggae covers.

Cayson: It was just Adam, Joe D, my older brother, and a couple of our other friends.

Micah: And, Rory Carey from Rebelution was the keyboardist! It was just all of those guys jamming, playing reggae covers. I would come up and just hangout and watch them play. They started playing at Velvet Jones, just as a local night, and they were packing it! Everyone would come out and support the boys! It just went from there.

The Pier: What year was that?
Micah: 2004? 2005?

Cayson: 2004. Because, I was still living in Hawai’i at that point. I moved to Santa Barbara in 2005, or the summer of ’05. That was right when I joined the band. That’s also when Kai got into the band full time, too.

The Pier: And, basically, since your first album, Iration has been touring nonstop ever since.
Micah: Yeah. 2007 was when we went on our first west coast tour with Natural Vibrations. Then in the spring of 2008 we went on our first, full national tour with Pepper, and that was the memorable Law Records Tour!

The Pier: When you guys got your start, Pepper signed Iration to their own Law Records, but you also have your own record label now: 3 Prong Records. Is that still under the whole Law Records umbrella or completely separate?

Micah: Oh, yeah! Definitely still part of the family. This next record will come out on our own record label called 3 Prong Records.

The Pier: Going back to tour; Iration’s most recent show out here in AZ took place at The Roxy Lounge, and it was packed in there pretty tight! Literally, there was a line wrapping around the block. Fans were just trying to get in anyway possible, even without a ticket! I checked the calendar that week, and Social Distortion had back-to-back dates at the Marquee, was that why The Roxy Lounge was the venue of choice?
Micah: Oh, I know! We normally play the Marquee Theatre, it wasn’t because the venue was already booked, but we actually owed The Roxy a show. The Roxy in L.A. really helped us a lot. They helped us grow so much in Los Angeles as a band. They would give us shows, and pay us probably more than what we deserved to be paid in the early days (laughs), but we’ve had a good relationship with them. They believed in us from the start, and they helped grow us as a band. When we kind of grew out of The Roxy in L.A., and we have pretty much grown out of The Roxy in Arizona as well, after playing the Marquee and selling out Martini Ranch, those are all nice spots to play, but like you saw, it was overflowing. So, we said, “We owe them a show”, and did the show at The Roxy Lounge to give back, it’s an overpay, it was only a 21+ show. The crazy thing was the show sold out three-weeks out from the date. The venue held on to a certain amount of tickets, and it was only a 280 cap on the venue, too. It’s small, dude. The Roxy in L.A. holds about 500, or a little under. But, it was a great show, either way!

The Pier: Just the name “The Roxy”, there is so much tradition that comes along with it. If there is an opportunity to play at The Roxy, especially on the Sunset Strip, a band can’t turn that down!
Micah: Oh, it is a legendary place! There is so much history there. When you go into the green room, there are pictures of Bob Marley, Guns N Roses, …

Cayson: Yeah! There is a picture of Bob in the green room, the exact room you’re sitting in. It is just a sweet place to be in and perform at.

Micah: And, Guns N Roses, all these wild photos, huge bands… The Foo Fighters, when they released their latest record Wasted Light, they played The Roxy for their album release show, and then they did Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara. It was a $5 ticket; first come, fist serve.

[Editor’s Note: Iration’s drummer, Joe Dickens entered the back lounge of the tour bus to join the interview]

Cayson: The Roxy, for up and coming bands, over the past fifty-years, or however long it has been opened, it has been like a musical Mecca.

Micah: If you’re a L.A. band trying to make it, or starting to tour L.A., you either play at The Roxy or The Troubadour….

Joe D: “When The Roxy opened in 1875…” (laughs)

The Pier: So, it seems like Los Angeles is still the place to be to make it big in the music industry. A couple of local bands, Katastro and VeraGroove are getting ready to set up shop in so Cal to reach a new audience.
Micah: Yeah, that’s what we heard. We have been catching up with Corey from VeraGroove earlier today. He said that they were heading out there too. There is a whole next generation of bands that are coming up. They are on the whole group with Seedless. Seedless and those guys are on the rise. It will be fun to see.

The Pier: You guys are actually linking up and playing with Seedless for Summerfest in a couple weeks, which is for a really good cause too!
Joe D: We played that gig a few years ago!

Micah: Yeah. It is for autism and to raise awareness for that, and it is hosted by a high school in Santa Clarita, CA. We played it a few years ago, right before Shwayze, The Knux, and a few other big bands played around our time slot…

Cayson: There was also the band that had the “Like a G6” song…

Joe D: It was Far East Movement! (laughs)

Micah: Yeah! The show was filled with all these bands that blew up and got huge! There were a lot more pop acts. This year’s lineup, with us headlining, it is a whole bunch of reggae bands playing with us. Seedless will be there playing with us again. We have been playing a whole bunch of shows with those guys.

Joe D: Definitely! Those guys are on our radar and in our sights for support. We love playing with them!

Cayson: They have been putting in tons of effort, and playing shows with us all the time.

The Pier: We were lucky enough to catch the New Year’s Eve show this past year at the House of Blues in Anaheim with Micah Brown opening up alongside his all-star backing band, Seedless as direct support and you guys, Iration, kicking off the New Year. That was hands down, one of the best shows I have ever seen.
Micah: It was a really memorable show! We always have a blast with those guys!

The Pier: Thinking back to that show, you guys played a couple cover songs. I want to talk about that. What are some of your favorite songs to cover live? I know I heard Weezer at the NYE show. Billy Idol has been covered, and I want to say UB40, as well, and a few others…
Micah: Yes! We played Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” that night. We are actually going to play that tonight, as well.

Joe D: We like all different types of music. So, really whatever flows that night, or if we enjoy a particular song during our own jam sessions, we will play it live for the fans.

Cayson: “I feel like making love”… (laughs) We played that one on New Years, too!

[Editors Note: Kai joins the roundtable discussion as the laughter continues…]

The Pier: We got tons of information about the new album, but what about a date? Is there a release date set in stone at this point?
Micah: The date is not officially set, yet.

Cayson: Late summer I would say, to be sure.

Micah: Yeah, I would say August, just to be safe.

The Pier: Awesome! That’s just another big-name band releasing new material for the fans. We have billed this year as “The Year of the Fan”, since it seems like all the big-name acts are releasing new material. With Rebelution and SOJA already putting out new music, Slightly Stoopid has been locked away in their studio getting set for a new release. The Dirty Heads have a new album coming out in June. From everything we have heard at The Pier, Pepper has a new album in the works, as well…
Micah: Yeah, I talked to those guys recently. Pepper has been recording with Matt Wallace, who has produced a bunch of hit records with Maroon 5, R.E.M., and all of these other giant bands. He is a total proven badass. I know those guys are really trying to hit it with this record. So, that is kind of why they are keeping it all under the wraps.

The Pier: Well, I’m sure all the Pepper fans out there will be happy to read that gem. One thing that really propelled them, and a lot of other reggae bands in southern California was KROQ, the airplay they give many reggae bands, and even hosting shows at nearby Hollywood Park. Pepper actually just played Hollywood Park a couple weeks back. Talk about what that platform has done for so many bands in the reggae scene, and how it launches bands to a new level.
Micah: Having a song on the radio always helps. The first time we played a show at Hollywood Park, the talent buyer at the park actually hit us up, you know? The first time we played it, there were a few thousand people there. Then Rebelution did it, and there were over 5,000 people there. We ended up doing it again, because it was so successful. The second time we did it, there were five, or six, thousand people there. It was a huge show! Then Pepper played it, and it was outrageous! Rebelution just recently played at Hollywood Park again, and there were 10 or 15,000 people just raging! SOJA is doing it pretty soon… I think everyone has taken notice to that type of show. The ticket price is so low, the park can afford to pay the bands what they need to be paid, without having to worry about ticket sales. As long as people are coming through the door at the park, they are going to keep it going.

Cayson: It is like a casino environment, too! It’s right after a race, next to the track. Everyone is outdoors, you know? It is a perfect environment for a concert.

Micah: The beers are cheap! The gambling environment is there…

Kai: It literally is a casino! (laughs)

Cayson: The one thing that I like, and is really unique for the show… It is only us. It is our show. There are no opening bands, or anyone to warm up the crowd. It is just our band. It is our show. It’s like a showcase for us to play for all of our fans, and everyone else that shows up to the track. So, that is super cool!

The Pier: That is pretty rare to see along the concert circuit, these days. Now, we talked about the big California Roots festival in a couple weeks. What are some other festival dates Iration is playing this summer that you’re getting excited for? I know I saw you are on the bill for Wakarusa along with everyone from Slightly Stoopid and SOJA to G. Love and Matisyahu…
Micah: Wakarusa is going to be a good one! Slightly Stoopid is on that one. SOJA is playing that, as well. Tribal Seeds will be there, but I think they are playing on a different day then us. We play Sunday. Last year we played Wakarusa, and it was a great experience for us. We were onstage watching Thievery Corporation… it was pretty mind-blowing to see them play in front of over 35,000 people. Really, it was unbelievable! Last year, it was our first time ever playing in Arkansas. So, it wasn’t the biggest crowd for us, but there still was a sizable crowd before we started playing and throughout our set. It is definitely a navigation process for the fans with all the different stages set up. Last year we played before John Brown’s Body and Toots and The Maytals, which is a really good slot, but this year, I feel it’s going to be different. Playing before Stoopid, SOJA and Matisyahu, and all those bands, I think a lot bigger crowd is going to line up and stay in front of that stage, and come for the Sunday show.

The Pier: And that is no shot at John Brown’s Body or Toots and The Maytals, both are pioneers in the reggae field. With the lineup this year, each band has a gigantic following, while headlining their respective national tours. I’m sure the fans that witness Sunday’s show at Wakarusa will be more than delighted with each band’s performance. Wrapping this interview up, another big act you are playing a festival with is Snoop Dogg. It will be right down the street in Santa Barbara too. Does it get much better than that?
Cayson: Oh, dude! That show is going to be one of our best shows ever! Seriously! (laughs)

Kai: I think we are all super excited for that one!

Micah: It is pretty funny! We have always gone to that show at UCSB. A few years ago, The Expendables played there, and the place went nuts! Then Rebelution played there, and it was another great experience. So, we were all kind of looking around, hoping we would be next! This year with Snoop Dogg, I think we just got lucky! (laughs)

Joe D: It’s true! We’ve been looking to play this show for awhile now. It’s a local show at the college campus, AND it’s with SNOOP!! (laughs)

The Pier: Well, I figured I would end it on that note! It looks like another big crowd for tonight’s show. I appreciate you guys taking the time out for the interview. We certainly received a few goodies to share with the fans. There are plenty of great things on the horizon in the reggae scene, and I think you shared just about every one! It was a pleasure! Thank you, guys!
Iration: Oh, no problem. Thank you! It will be a great summer for us, and we look forward to sharing it with everyone at our shows!

Iration Links:
Iration Editorials
Iration Show Locator
Iration Website
Iration Facebook

Interview By: Kris Siuta
Photos By: Jenni Anspach, Kit Chalberg, , David Norris, Sergio Gonzalez

Video: Iration announcing the title of their new album Automatic as well as summer festivals they’re playing!

Video: Iration performing Turn Around stripped down at the Moboogie Lofts in Denver, CO