According the Urban Dictionary, “ iration” is the word Rastas use for “creation.” The letter “i” refers to God, you, me and everyone else. It’s around this aspiration for soulful interpersonal connection in which Santa Barbara reggae rockers Iration are creating a much-loved legacy in the California sun.
Aug. 23 | 6 p.m.
MontBleu Resort Casino | Stateline, Nev.
These friends formed in college towns around Santa Barbara and companions have toured together since 2008, spreading an aloha spirit and positive vibes to music lovers around the globe. Their newest single, “Chill Out,” offers a commonsense suggestion for coping with the stresses of modern life over blissed-out SoCal sunshine reggae.
“A big part of it is having those positive feelings inside of you when you go up on stage,” says lead singer and guitarist Micah Pueschel. “We’re all friends. We’ve all know each other for a long time. It’s an attitude and lifestyle that we try to live. We’re trying to keep everything to stay a little better.”
Like several other members of the band, Pueschel was born and raised in Hawaii where music is a part of daily life.
“It’s so much of a scene,” he says. “You grow up singing. You grow up playing music. It’s like a part of culture is jamming, everybody playing ukulele and some people playing guitars.”
Although Pueschel admits Iration has occasionally been on the wrong end of the “Aren’t you just a bunch of white guys who play reggae?” affront, this sort of self-imposed division isn’t something that informs their everyday experience as artists.
“If you respect the culture and the people you won’t have an issue,” he says. “We’re not out there talking about Rastafari and making some faux-political message. In general, our music is on the side of: we want everybody to feel accepted for whatever racial, sexual or religious preference they may have. We want to feel that it incorporates everybody. We’re 100 percent inclusive. We don’t want to leave anyone outside of the circle.”
Connecting with Fans
To help bring this loving vision into action, the band has begun a tradition of hosting a meet and greet with supporters before each show.
“We know the way the music industry is now; it doesn’t make sense to keep this mystical persona that doesn’t talk to your fans and if you see me it’s a special occasion,” says Pueschel. “We started it because there was a desire to have a sort of VIP experience for some of the fans that are very involved and want a little extra. They want to be able to tell us, say something or see it up close.”
“That’s the model a lot of bands are doing now,” says Pueschel. “It creates a stronger bond with your fanbase. It’s knowing we care about the people that make our career go and appreciating them. And they show us how much the music means to them.”
Since Iration tours in almost every state in the nation, they are able to communicate on an intimate level with folks from all walks of life.
“We’ve met everyone from Native American people on reservations, to military men and women that are serving abroad, to veterans and retirees,” says Pueschel “We’re in red states. We’re in blue states. We’re all over the place. For us, it’s very rewarding to talk to these people.”
After an afternoon sound check, they take the time to converse with admirers, listening to personal stories of how music has changed their lives for the better.
“We’ve spoken with cancer survivors and people that are struggling,” says Pueschel. “They all come and tell us, ‘This is what your music has helped me through.’”
Although many of Iration’s signature tunes were casually penned on college couches in Isla Vista, the band’s affirmative attitude and commitment to the road has woven these songs into the very fabric of people’s lives.
“It’s surreal,” says Pueschel. “We wrote these songs back in the day and they helped someone get through something maybe way more serious than what it was originally about. If we weren’t touring and doing these meet and greets, we wouldn’t be able to see these people and touch their lives. The most rewarding part of touring is meeting everyone and getting that feedback. As far as a message, it’s universal: we’re on the side of standing up for everybody.” | montbleuresort.com