Interview: Mystic Roots

Interview: Mystic Roots

Serving up an original style based in reggae, hip-hop, and dancehall (with overtones of rock, funk, and ska), a Mystic Roots Band live concert guarantees not just at music for your ears, but also a high-energy show and powerful experience you’ll never forget. This Chico, CA based group brings a brand new sound while embracing the nature of roots reggae wholeheartedly and performing it with smooth vocals/harmonies, energetic freestyles and beat-boxing, all over a solid groove. The music and lyrics are catchy and upbeat, yet with a powerful, positive message.

Mystic Roots Band are no strangers to the reggae/rock/hip-hop scene. Forming over a decade ago MRB has released 2 full length albums with Constant Struggle & Cali HI which features a slew of guest appearances that include Barrington Levy, Pato Banton, Zion Thompson of The Green, Jah Mar, Shayne T & More. MRB also spent 3 years as the backing band for reggae legend Pato Banton. The Pier caught up with Mystic Roots Band and were treated to a special appearance by Marty Dread to find out what’s in store for MRB and their new studio release “Camp Fire”. Enjoy!

The Pier: It’s good to see you guys again! Considering Marty Dread is joining us, we want to ask Marty how he and MRB came together? It’s a similar relationship we are all used to seeing when MRB was backing Pato Banton.
Marty Dread: Actually, I have known Coot for quite a while, even back before he was backing Pato. We just happened to have the same booking agent and they packaged us together with Inner Circle. This package is called the three generations of reggae. It included Mystic Roots, Myself (Marty Dread) and legends Inner Circle.

The Pier: Marty, you recorded a song in 2006 with Mad Professor titled “No Ice in Paradise”. Being from Hawaii where there has been and probably still is a meth epidemic going on, what inspired you to write such a eye opening song about something that is ruining our youth. Was it more of a personal experience that persuaded you to write this song?
Marty Dread: Unfortunately, I see it every day. I have seen Hawaii go from such a chill and amazing place where herb was king, to when “Operation Green Harvest” took over and they started taking everybody’s herb. That’s when Ice infiltrated our island and took over and it’s much cheaper than herb. That’s when everybody switched. I seen that drug tear family’s apart and destroy my community and nobody was saying anything about it. But yeah, Mad Professor blessed me with the rhythm to that song and together we created “No Ice In Paradise” which was picked up by the “Dog The Bounty Hunter” show immediately after we released it. There is even an episode titled “No Ice in Paradise” so that is pretty cool. This tour has been ten plus years in the making. I have been wanting to tour with Mystic Roots and it has finally all came together. This is the fruits of our labor and we are blessed.

The Pier: The Mystic Roots Band is heading out on a world tour as we speak. Tell us more about that.
Mystic Roots: (Coot) We will be in Japan for two weeks and then we will be in Guam for a weekend and then we will go back to Hawaii and meet back up with Marty to do some shows around the island. Cali Hi World Tour! (Nick MRB) The world tour of our movement is a little different than another reggae band might be doing. We are teaming up with Armed Forces Entertainment and we are going to be performing for the troops on Air Force bases around Japan and Guam. (Coot) The cool thing about it is that we are playing on military bases where both Nick and my father both did their military duties. My dad was in Guam at Anderson Air Force Base where we are going to play. It’s so crazy! (Nick) Things are finally coming full circle ya know. We feel like it is our duty to play here and give back to the men and women of our armed forces.

The Pier: You have two albums out “Constant Struggle” and “Cali-Hi” and waited 10 years to release your sophomore album “Cali-Hi”. What was the reason in waiting this long for your second release and will your fans have to wait that long for the third release?
Mystic Roots: Good question! HA! The gap between Constant Struggle and Cali-HI was definitely not intentional. After the success of Struggle, we started touring massively, playing almost 200 shows a year going all over the states. That is how we picked up the attention of Pato Banton, who signed us on as his backing band for three years, in which time we recorded the album “Positive Vibrations”, which is a collection of his big hits played by us, the Mystic Roots Band. So basically during those first eight years we were so busy touring and working both for Pato and on our own that we never had any time to record an album! We dropped a few singles, made some appearances on compilations and I released a single and full length LP as “The cootdog Project” which was just a hip-hop album featuring Shock G of Digital Underground, and a whole heap of underground emcees, but no full length MRB record. And No, our fans do not need to wait another 10 years! We are following Cali-HI with our third full length studio album entitled “Camp Fiyah” (Camp Fire) only one year after Cali-HI, due out this year! This album promises to be a much more cohesive sound showcasing exactly what we are right now, roots/rock/reggae music with the vocals of Katherine on top, three piece harmonies to back that up, a little hip-hop flavor and the hard hitting drum and bass, screaming guitar lines and tasty horn sectionals you’ve come to expect from our current live show.

The Pier: Tell us more about “Camp Fiyah”!
Mystic Roots: (Kat) I just want to let The Pier and our fans know that our 2011 release “Camp Fiyah” will be out by December at the latest! Coot let’s tell them about the two different possibilities of our release! (Coot) Alright, so check it out. We are thinking about releasing a double album and having two discs worth of material. There will be a “Camp” and a “Fiyah”. “Camp” will be everything that you hear us play live. Not a live recording but everything our fans hear us play live that will be produced. The “Fiyah” disc will be all re-mixes. Look out for the club, hip-hop, dub step and house versions of what is on the “Camp” disc.

The Pier: Sick! So who can we expect to hear re-mix your songs?
Mystic Roots: (Coot) Nick and I both produce and plan on working with Mike’s producer J Beats. Mikey, The California Kidd, is on tour with us now. A sick hip-hop emcee from Yuba City. CA. We plan on working with dub step producers Damon a.k.a. AZ Red Smoke as well.

The Pier: Not many bands can say that they are part of the Skunk Records family. How did the relationship with Cornerstone R.A.S. develop?
Mystic Roots: (Coot) I actually used to work there! I was an intern in the office for a year and then became a full time employee and was always trying to show the bosses my music and peak their interest. Every day I was sending out Slightly Stoopid and Pepper CDs and working on Sublime material as well and it was like my dream to one day have our CD in the same family! After we paid our dues and did a lot of touring, we got signed with Pato Banton and then we were approached by TLC to do a reality show on the band. Finally the guys at C.R.A.S. stopped seeing Mystic Roots as just “Coot’s band” and actually figured that we were a group worth looking at! So they let us donate a track to the Sublime Tribute Album, with our version of “Don’t Push” and then from there they re-released our classic, “Constant Struggle” in 2005 (6 years after original pressing) and finally Mystic Roots was in stores nationwide on the same label as Pepper and Slightly Stoopid, so we finally felt like we “made it” (laughs).

The Pier: Your live shows are very energetic. Do you guys ever plan on capturing a special night for a live recording?
Mystic Roots: Yes! Our 1st album was actually just that, a live show recorded in the back yard of a huge Chico college party! The album was called Chico Style and we only printed 500 copies of them! I have got to find my copy somewhere! Ha… But yes, we are currently recording every single show on this tour with hopes to put together another live collection!

The Pier: Definitely something to look forward too! Coot, I overheard someone at one of your shows recently that they would like to hear you beat box with Matisyahu! What do you think about that?
Mystic Roots: (Coot) Dude, I love Matisyahu and honestly I would take any challenge to Flow Lyrics against anybody who would challenge me on the mic. However, I consider myself a humble beat boxer, not a battler. Many artists have me beat on beatboxing and I know that Matisyahu would have me beat. If he wants to get down on some lyrics he can come at me (laughs). I come from an older school man. Like guys like, The Fat Boys, Run D.M.C, Doug e Fresh and Biz Markie. I love Matisyahu and have played a couple of shows with him, so if he is reading this I’d like to say get at me bro!

The Pier: It was great chatting with you guys. Best of luck on your Japan tour!
Mystic Roots: One love.

  • Read The Pier’s official album review & star rating of Cali HI by clicking HERE
  • Mystic Roots Links:
    Mystic Roots Website
    Mystic Roots Facebook
    Mystic Roots YouTube

    Interview by: Chad Hillje
    Photos by: Kit Chalberg

    Here’s the official music video to the song “Lonely Road” from Mystic Roots album Cali HI