Passafire, Iya Terra
1214 Williston Road
South Burlington, VT, 05403
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 7:30 PM
This event is all ages
Nearly two decades ago, SOJA began as high school friends in a D.C. area basement teaching each other to be musicians and play roots reggae music. Today, the 2x GRAMMY-nominated eight-piece band, with over 7 million online followers and over 300 million Youtube views, headlines concerts all over the world for their massive dedicated fanbase. Even with their continued success, SOJA always wants to remember their time together in that basement inspired by each other’s contributions and ideas.
The feeling of true magic, collaboration and brotherhood that started it all is still evident today in their music and each night at their live concerts. For their latest studio album, Poetry In Motion (Oct 27 2017), it was essential for SOJA to consciously go back to the beginning and recapture that same sincere, collaborative magic sparked 20 years ago.
“For your whole life money is the thing you’re scarce on,” frontman Jacob Hemphill says. “Then once you get busy enough time becomes the thing you’re most scarce on. So spending time at home becomes your most valuable commodity and then the collaborative process starts taking place over the phone and email instead of in person. For Poetry In Motion we asked ourselves, ‘What if we went back to the beginning and wrote, arranged, recorded and produced the entire thing together?’ All eight guys in one room to create something special. That was the approach to this record – to make something we truly love and did all together.”
The band set up at Haunted Hollow Studios, Dave Matthews Band’s studio, near Charlottesville, VA. The idea was to live and work together in one place, investing all their energy into the process. They spent three months in the studio over several sessions in late 2016 and early 2017, spending hours sitting on the back porch discussing music and life. Everyone showed up with new ideas, new instruments and new gear. The band enlisted Rob Evans, Ivan Guitierrez and Mariano Aponte to co- produce the songs, and there was an open-minded sentiment throughout. “It was a learning and experimenting process,” Jacobs notes. “We got the exact thing we wanted from it.”
The album’s 11 tracks embrace reggae completely, focusing on what the genre does best. They referred often to their 2009 album, Born In Babylon, to remind them of where they came from and how they’d like to go forward. Poetry In Motion is the beginning of a chapter, but it’s also a return to the past. It’s a revitalization of what made SOJA so special to begin with. It’s about eight guys in one room making reggae music that truly means something.
“We’re going back to our roots and what we do best,” Jacob says. “We’re remembering why we started this band and the magic of what we’ve built. We were lucky enough to create our own family and we picked every brother by hand. This album feels like we’ve had an amazing family reunion. It’s a blueprint for our future.”
Poetry In Motion continues the band’s belief that music should speak for people and uplift them. The album looks at the world today and asks why it feels like something is wrong when so much exists around us. "Fire In the Sky,” propulsive and upbeat, takes the positive outlook on humanity while “Life Support,” a more introspective song, tackles the negative outlook. All the other tracks fall somewhere in the middle, as Jacob and the band grapple with the human condition, unafraid of big topics and essential life queries.
“The definition of the title is three-fold,” Jacob says. “I’m poetry, the band’s motion. The human race and the animals and plants that are spinning around on this Earth are beautiful – it’s poetry flying through the universe in motion. And then, thirdly, we are this beautiful poetry but we keep moving away from it. Right now it feels like we’re moving in the wrong direction and it’s scary.”
The album poses questions but never takes on a definitive reply. SOJA isn’t offering an answer. Instead, the answers are out there for each listener to find on their own. "There’s no periods on anything,” Jacob notes. “I give hints and glimpses, but my own opinions on the human condition change every year. Sometimes I’m climbing, sometimes I’m sliding. So maybe I’m not the right guy to be answering questions. But I can ask all these questions that matter and help people. I’m out there fishing for the next person.”
His ultimate goal with each song is simple. “How do I make the human condition come into this song?” he says. “How do I relate to the biggest family of all time? That’s all I’m ever really trying to do.”
SOJA’s energetic, impassioned live performances have a similar effect. Averaging around 120 shows a year for the last decade, SOJA has toured with acts that include Dave Matthews Band, 311 and Incubus, and engaged a massive international fan base of die-hard followers at festivals that include Bonnaroo, Hangout Festival, Wakarusa, Cali Roots, Summerjam Germany, Woodstock Poland, Personal Festival Argentina, Ziget Festival Hungry and many more. Their live shows offer people a chance to look both inward and outward, and feel part of a global community, particularly since SOJA has headlined shows in over 30 countries. For SOJA, everything is about connection, whether it's with the world around them or within the band. “Nothing worth doing in life can you do by yourself,” Jacob notes. “We’re in this together.”
Jacob Hemphill – Vocals / Guitar Bobby Lee – Bass
Ryan Berty – Drums
Patrick O’Shea – Keyboards Ken Brownell – Percussion Hellman Escorcia – Saxophone Rafael Rodriguez – Trumpet Trevor Young – Guitar / Vocals
"It's all in our minds / Planted over time / Grew into a vine / That became intertwined" – from "All In Our Minds"
This lyric is the source of the title to Passafire's fifth studio album, Vines. Though it wasn't written with this intention, it was in retrospect that the band members – singer/guitarist Ted Bowne, drummer Nick Kubley, bassist/vocalist Will Kubley and keyboardist Mike DeGuzman – realized that it aptly described the current state of the band. Vines is a record that finds its makers at a creative peak, thanks in large part to the comfort of the current line-up, which has been solidified for a few years. They have grown up together, and over the years, as their individual stylistic preferences have changed, they've intertwined until the music becomes stronger like vines growing around each other. These four have become a super tight unit, which has led to a comfort level on stage and in the studio that Passafire has never achieved before.
Formed in 2003 in Savannah, GA, by Bowne and Nick Kubley, Passafire has built its strong reputation within the U.S. reggae scene through constant touring, along with a series of self-assured, largely self-produced records. In 2006, Will Kubley joined, replacing the band's second bassist. Trained as a guitarist, Will switched to bass, bringing a fresh approach to the band's reggae/rock hybrid, with equal parts one drop, frenetic slap bass and plenty of electronic treatments to come up with unique sounds. Of course, it helps the rhythm section rank among the tightest in the scene to have two brothers who grew up sharing a room now sharing the duties of drum & bass. DeGuzman came on board right before the recording of the band's last release, 2011's Start From Scratch, after catching the eye of the group while playing with The Expendables during their Winter Blackout Tour in 2010. He sat in for one tour then quickly became a key member of the quartet. While he played on Start From Scratch, much of the music was already written before he came on board to record it, so he feels like this record is the first to have his full involvement in the writing, arranging and developing of the songs.
Bowne and Nick Kubley attribute the band's incessant touring schedule as a product of coming from Savannah. "While there is a music scene in Savannah with a number of good bands, it just doesn't get the same support as other cities because of age restrictions at the shows," Nick says. Bowne says, "Once we could hit the road, we started doing that, because it was just easier to build a following and learn the live performance ropes in other towns."
While the roots of the band lie in Savannah, the group has split to live in different corners of the country; DeGuzman lives in Chicago, where he is from, while Will Kubley has moved to California. They overcome the distance by spending more than half of every year on the road together. (Touring life, along with the band's drive to succeed, is captured neatly on the song "Go": "Workin' hard every night for the right to be the kind of thing that everybody likes to see.") It may seem strange to speak about a tight unit that lives this far apart, but that is just one of the many contradictions that seem to fire up this band rather than drag them down.
For example, a band that tours this much would normally be expected to road test songs and then hit the studio once they have an album's worth of material. Passafire instead carves out time at home in songwriting sessions to work up completely new material for albums, which they later begin to work into the live setting. "We like to capture what we do live and show it in the songs," DeGuzman explains. "The songs were written to show what we are capable of in the studio, while leaving room for further exploration in the live setting."
Passafire has secured their place in the exploding U.S. reggae scene, yet musically they are often far apart from many of the bands in the community, with a growing emphasis on alternative rock and prog rock elements. Their lyrical content is often outside the norm as well, avoiding standard party themes, preferring to craft songs about love, the fight for good over evil, the relationship with man's best friend, and, yes, even aliens in the propulsive "Souvenir." And while at least half the band grew up enamored with long instrumental jams from bands like Umphrey's McGee and Phish, it's interesting to note the short, tightly structured songs on Vines, which eschew noodling and soloing for powerful yet understated efficiency.
The recording process for Vines was a bit different. Guitar and vocals were recorded at Bowne's home studio over a three week period, after drums, keys and bass had been laid down at the legendary Sonic Ranch studio in El Paso, TX, where the band's last two albums were recorded. "I was able to geek out at home," says Bowne, "and try things that I might normally feel self-conscious about around other people. It was a very different experience from being on the clock in a room full of people listening to everything you play or sing." Will Kubley benefitted especially from this process, as he sang lead on two songs ("Phony Imposter" and "Stowaway"). Bowne says, "I think his vocals sound more confident on these songs, which is a direct result of him being able to run his own session behind closed doors without any of the self-consciousness that exists when there are producers, engineers and other band members all secretly critiquing every single syllable of every lyric. Sure, we are performers and are used to performing in front of people, but making music is a private thing that, like art, is not finished until the artist himself approves of his own work."
Once the recording was done, the band brought in Paul Leary (of the Butthole Surfers), who had produced their last record, as well as releases by scene mates Sublime, Pepper, and Slightly Stoopid, to do the final mixes. Former John Brown's Body soundman Jocko Randall mastered the record, which was rather appropriate since all in the band credit JBB as one of the main groups that got them to form a band and work as hard as they have. It's apropos after all these years, that Passafire is now on Easy Star Records, sharing the same label with their musical inspiration. In keeping with the DIY mode that dictates much of their work, Nick Kubley, who studied art in Savannah, drew the art for the album cover.
As for how their fans and peers will react to Vines as Passafire travels further into orbit away from the basic tropes and confines of the reggae scene? DeGuzman says, "This is our family, our friends, and our fan base, but I like to think they are growing with us." Just a few more vines to intertwine and strengthen this complicated, beautiful foundation for Passafire
As the genre of Reggae music is continuously evolving, Los Angeles, California, based Iya Terra has found a way to take the messages of traditional Roots-Reggae and seamlessly mash them up in a today version. The young group of musicians have chosen the name Iya Terra, meaning “Higher Ground,” as the launching pad to create positive, conscious music while spreading messages of anti-establishment, simple living, and a healthy lifestyle. Their modern approach to the music, high-energy performances and full sound add a new dimension to traditional Reggae that appeals to an audience of all ages, opening the doors for them to be labeled as one of today’s leaders in the “New Roots” movement.
Lead guitarist and vocalist, Nathan Feinstein, along with lifelong friend and bassist, Nick Loporchio, began their musical journey to spread a conscious message to the masses while singing songs on the sidewalks of UCLA in the summer of 2013. Since then, the band has gone on to add longtime friends, Luis Tovar on keys and Danny Monar on percussion in the spring of 2014, while also acquiring drummer, Blake Bartz, in the fall. Most recently, the band completed their current lineup with Nick Sefakis joining on rhythm guitar in March of 2015.
The band’s first recorded release consisted of a 6 song self-titled EP that dropped in the spring of 2014. After receiving a great response and several requests to put out more music, Iya Terra released their first full-length album, “Full Circle,” on April 14th, 2015. Produced and engineered by the award winning, JP Hesser, the 10-song album debuted at #4 on the iTunes Reggae Charts and #12 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. Recorded at Castaway 7 Studios in Ventura, California, “Full Circle” is host to several special guest appearances by some of the hottest rising stars in the modern Reggae scene.
Iya Terra set sail on their first tour in August 2014 with good friends, Ital Vibes. The “Link Up Tour 2014,” presented by Ozzie of We Should Smoke and constructed solely by Nick and Nathan with no additional management, proved to be a huge success in the next step of the band’s musical voyage. Following the tour, the band sought out guidance under Rude Entertainment Productions and since then, has shown no signs of slowing down. Since acquiring the new management in November of 2014, Iya Terra has been relentlessly playing shows all throughout the Southwest region of the United States while also reaching new areas thanks to generous invites to play several music festivals and joining on multiple tours running along the west coast such as the Kingston City Tour with New Kingston (Brooklyn, NY) and True Press (Monrovia, CA), The Youth Rising Tour with Synrgy (San Diego, CA) and Ital Vibes (Carson, CA), and most recently, a run with Tribal Seeds’ own, Gonzo with Beyond I Sight (Redondo Beach, CA) and White Glove Service (Fresno, CA).