When Rebelution, the West Coast reggae-pop band takes the stage at the New Orleans House of Blues on Feb. 27, there will be a face familiar to New Orleanians in the band’s touring horn section. Band leader Eric Rachmany grabbed a local musician to fire up Rebelution’s live shows.
“We’ve always had horn parts on our albums, but the more we progressed, the more we wanted a horn section in the live atmosphere.” Rachmany said. “Once we heard Khris Royal & Dark Matter open up for us, we said, ‘Who’s that killer sax player?’”
Recognizing opportunities like getting Royal in their touring unit is among the smart moves that pushed Rebelution’s 2012 “Peace of Mind” album to No. 1 on the Billboard reggae chart, while peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart that measures sales in all styles of music.
This type of crossover chart appeal is a natural extension of the band’s love of musical variety.
“We have a lot of different genres crisscrossing in our songs. The cool part about reggae music is that it’s so basic. Reggae is certainly our foundation, but sometimes we’ll throw in some hip-hop or rock,” he said.
In addition to hip hop and rock flavors in their reggae-pop, Rebelution released a deluxe edition that was a triple treat for fans. It has the studio recording and an acoustic recording, plus an ambient dub mix for three unique versions of the “Peace of Mind” album.
“The dub album has very little vocals and is mostly an instrumental version, and it’s tweaked for an ambient feel to it,” Rachmany said. “Then, our manager asked me, ‘How easy would it be for you to do acoustic renditions of all these tracks?’ I think it came out pretty good.”
With that much love of musical versatility, it’s no surprise that Rebelution does more than merely recreate their recorded songs from their albums when they hit the road to perform for live audiences.
“We use the album version as a template, and we like to add to it, extend the song, perhaps throw in a few solos, jam it out a bit,” Rachmany said. “I think that’s why people can expect to come back to a Rebelution show and see something a little bit different each time.”
The members making distinct differences in each of Rebelution’s shows are Marley D. Williams (bass), Rory Carey (keyboards), Wesley Finley (drums), and Eric Rachmany (guitar & lead vocals). Khris Royal (saxophone) of New Orleans and Mike Eyia (saxophone) of Los Angeles joined in for this tour.
However, at the Big Easy concert there could an extra horn sitting in due to Royal’s hometown pals.
“For New Orleans, we’re probably going to have three horn players. We’re going to add John Michael, a trumpet player from New Orleans that plays frequently with Khris Royal,” he said. “It’s crazy to hear a full horn section on stage. That adds to the fullness and body of the sound.”
While the mightier horn sound for the New Orleans show will certainly be a thrill for Rachmany, he said he feels very blessed to be in a group that finds excitement the moment they step onto the concert stage.
“Really, the best part of touring is getting on stage,” he said. “We’re fortunate enough to travel on a bus, have a tour manager. Every night when we jump on that stage we feel so energized. It never gets old!”