Roots of Creation Interview
New Hampshire-based rock/reggae band Roots of Creation is coming to Baltimore Soundstage this Thursday, March 24 as a part of the Spring Blackout Tour. Ragin’ Randy Entertainment is proud to present this exclusive interview, including information on the band’s upcoming album release, Star Wars and much, much more!
Ragin’ Randy: It seems that your home state of New Hampshire provides you guys with a continuing source of inspiration. What exactly is it about NH that makes you feel that way, and how, specifically, do those things affect your lyrics and overall songwriting?
Roots of Creation: Born and raised in the 603! I love the slogan “Live Free or Die” which inspired the title of our triple album “Livin Free” It’s an amazing place to come back to after touring the country. My friends here keep me grounded and have supported RoC since day one. We used to say we were from “Boston” when we were nationally touring ‘cause some people don’t even know that NH is a state haha and we got sick of explaining it. We made a band decision to rep where we are from and be proud of it… NH has a great local music scene that deserves to be discovered.
NH is my home. We have mountains, city and forest. It’s peaceful and fresh. – Andrew Riordan (Sax, B Vocals)
RR: Aside from your noted influences in Sublime and other rock-reggae legends, what hometown heroes did you look up to in your early stages of the band, or even before then?
ROC: We have been heavily influenced by many local bands! Jam bands are at the other end of the spectrum from Sublime for us, and we all went through some heavy Phish loving phases. Phish is from VT, and that’s pretty close to NH. Besides that, lots of jambands that emerged in the late 90s and early 2000s – Percy Hill and The Slip were two of my favorites. There were also some reggae bands from upstate NY that are still some of my favorite bands out there – Giant Panda, JBB, Thunderbody. – Tal Pearson (Keys)
RR: Speaking of influences, there are certainly some obvious ones that stand out to almost any listener. What influences do you have that might surprise your listeners?
ROC: Pretty much everyone in the band has a lot of influences that are way outside of our sound. We all grew up listening to music in the 90s, so grunge/alternative/ guitar heavy rock is something most of us agree on. I also really like lots of heavier sounds; metal or hardcore or whatever genre a band falls into. Refused is one of my all time favorite bands. The Smashing Pumpkins are a 90’s favorite I can still sing along with. I also like some more obscure indie stuff. A not so obscure example is Low, another band that’s been a favorite almost as long as I’ve had a CD player. They are an incredible band and their live show blew me away – but we don’t do anything remotely close to what they do. I go through a lot of phases and can find myself enjoying pretty much anything at different times. Don’t tell anyone, but I recently became a “Belieber.” – Tal Pearson (Keys)
Funk and soul music. Parliament, Ohio players, jazz. Hank mobley, john Coltrane, classical music Beethoven, ravel. – Andrew Riordan (Sax, B Vocals)
I listen to Top 40 radio and underground hiphop when I’m driving to keep me motivated and study the song structures. Hip-hop influences me lyrically, rappers like NaS, Talib Qweli, Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, and KRS-ONE (to name a few) inspire me to be creative with rhyme patterns and subject matter. – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: I couldn’t help but notice a Yoda quote in your recently released single, “Struggle.” Are you guys fans of Star Wars?
ROC: We all love Star Wars. “Do or do not there is no try” is on a bumper sticker on the back of the van to constantly keep us going and motivated. I was raised with a heavy meditation and yogic background so “the force” speaks to me. In a musical sense you need to use the force to improvise and trust your instincts. Be ready to fall down, get back up, and keep fighting forward like Jedi Knight. – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: What goals do you have as a band (tangible and/or intangible), and are there any goals that you had early in your career that you have yet to meet?
ROC: Our goal has always been to play awesome shows everywhere, so as long as there are places we haven’t been yet, there will be goals to still meet! There are probably some collabs that we would all love to make happen someday if the opportunities present themselves. – Tal Pearson (Keys)
World tour. – Andrew Riordan (Sax, B Vocals)
This is a hard question. My initial goal of playing many of the venues and festivals the local bands I looked up to (as a teenager) played has already been accomplished so it’s all gravy from here. I guess our main goal is to inspire people to do what they are passionate about and join in the love of live music. Hitting (and eventually exceeding) our financial goal to make this new album with our crowd funding campaign on PledgeMusic was a truly humbling and amazing experiance. To be able to interact with our fans and to make fans’ days better with the art you create is pretty epic. In “Struggle” we say “do what you love you won’t work a day” ….touring and recording full time sustainably is definitely a new goal now that I’m a family man 🙂 – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: What are your bucket list venues and cities to play in?
ROC: San Fran – the Fillmore! MSG would be pretty cool someday too. I would love to do a tour in Europe too – there are so many awesome cities and venues there! – Tal Pearson (Keys)
Red Rocks! My mom flew me out to hang with my friend for high school graduation for “reggae on the rocks.” We love and miss the Rockies. We have goals of hitting some huge festivals and touring more internationally. Would love to hit India, England, Netherlands, Jamaica, and more! – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: In what ways are your live sets different from your albums? In what ways are they similar?
Same songs but we stretch out and improv on the material put on the album. Live is heavier and vibey – Andrew Riordan (Sax, B Vocals)
We used to try to bottle lightning and caputure the live energy in the studio. I think we finally took a mature step forward and really focused on the song and recording process to the fullest on this record with all the different versions of each track. – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: Do you have a favorite quote about music?
ROC: “One Good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain” (Bob Marley) Self explanatory! For me, music can erase everything else that’s going on. It’s transportive, timeless, and puts me where I need to be. – Tal Pearson (Keys)
“Don’t play to impress play to inspire” – Bobby Shew – Andrew Riordan (Sax, B Vocals)
“Music is the universal language of mankind.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: You are generally known as a reggae band but it is also known that you incorporate rock & roll heavily in your music, especially in a live setting. What is it about these two styles that gels and works for you as a band?
ROC: The reggae grooves just feel and sound good to us, so what better way to extend them than by adding a guitar solo! Sometimes it’s fun to deconstruct the grooves too, down to a really mellow, controlled sound. That’s a little newer for us, but it sounds really cool to do, and it’s harder to effectively pull off than it sounds! – Tal Pearson (Keys)
Rock n’ Roll is in my blood. My dad played a lot of classic rock and Rolling Stones cassette tapes in the car in my youth. I’ll never forget when he showed me Peter Tosh’s music and the Mick Jagger collabo. Marley really created Reggae/Rock in my mind with his choice in using American blues men on lead guitar. – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: You are about to be touring with a wide cast of characters. How did the Spring Blackout Tour come about, and is there anything specific about the tour that you are most excited for?
ROC: I’m excited for the rolling party that this tour is about to be! And also really pumped to catch all the bands on this tour, I’m actually a fan of all three. – Tal Pearson (Keys)
We can’t wait to hang out with The Expendables Nation, Passafire Army, and RoC Family all together in one venue each night! Tunnel Vision is a great up-and-coming act that recorded their album at our boy’s, Slightly Stoopid’s studio. Every band rocks hard. There will be epic guitar shreddery. – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: Finally, April 22, the big day! You are calling the new album, Livin’ Free, your biggest release to date. That’s a bold statement! What is it that makes this new album so special?
ROC: To me, this album is really special because it has been a long time coming. Our last “studio” record came out in 2006 – a decade ago! So in that time we’ve really honed our sound. Brett’s songwriting and the band’s arranging of those songs has also come a long way – definitely more mature, and we think a bit catchier. So for that reason, this album is filled with the BEST songs we’ve come up with over a long period of time. These are songs that we have mostly been playing for a while, but knew they needed to see the light of day as a studio recording. We wanted to make sure that was done right, and that the songs were treated the way they deserved to be treated as far as recording, production, special guests and more, and I think we’ve done that. We have a collection of music that we are all very proud of, and really excited to share with everyone! April 22nd is just the beginning! – Tal Pearson (Keys)
Tal speaks the truth. It’s BIG because the fans made it happen. We couldn’t let them down so we went hard. Three versions of each song sounded easy in my mind however it was the greatest musical challenge I have ever tackled. We are all really stoked on the double viny frrom the the project as well. Listened to the test pressings for the first time the other day, it truly is a superior listening format. We spent an entire day… mastering the audio in HD especially for the limited edition doublel 12” and nothing beats the sound. The collborations and team effort put into Livin Free makes the future seem limitless for us as a band. – Brett Wison (lead vocals / guitar)
RR: Thank you guys so much for your time!