One of the things I personally love about the jam scene is its unabashed love of combining musical genres into something beautiful.
Right now, Roots of Creation, who in 2016 scored the #1 reggae album in the country with Livin Free, are absolutely killing it with their hybrid blend of reggae, rock, and “dubtronica.” It’s a wildly unique sound that is setting them a part from the very deep, and talented pool of reggae artists currently blazing through the scene.
Tonight, the band will perform at Jams on the Sand at The Anchor’s Bend in Asbury Park, NJ. We spoke the guys to talk about their unique sound, their tribute to the Grateful Dead known as Grateful Dub, and more.
You have a new record coming called “Grateful Dub” — which you pay tribute to The Dead. What songs can fans expect on that record?
We do indeed! We just launched a PledgeMusic campaign where you can pre-order our new album, Grateful Dub. Some of the songs on the album have been in our live set for a while now – Sugaree, Fire on the Mountain, Friend of the Devil. The rest are just some of our favorite Grateful Dea /Jerry Garcia tunes done in our reggae/rock style. You’ll have to wait until the album drops to see exactly what’s on it!
Some people describe you as having elements of “dubtronica.” Has that been a staple in your sound, or was that something you added during your career? Either way can you talk about this style became a part of the band’s sound?
The Dubtronica sound is something that’s developed as we’ve continued to play. We wove our way through the jamband scene for a while and found that we could play that electro-dancey sort of music pretty well. At the same time we were becoming more interested in reggae and developing that sound and direction of the band. At some point we started combining some of the reggae/dub bass sounds we had found with the dance beats and voila! From there it was a matter of learning how to arrange it to make it sound good. It’s still something we’re working on and it’s a lot of fun to play.
You’ve worked with Bob Marley’s longtime producer Errol Brown — can you talk about the experience of working with such a musical legend?
It was the best musical experience I think any of us have ever had! Errol was extremely humble, warm, and great to work with. He knew what worked and what didn’t, and he knew how to make us tighter in the studio. The thought of working with Errol was intimidating at first but that went out the window as we got to the studio and started working with him. We got to spend time with him and hear stories from all of the incredible artists he has worked with over the years. He was patient, encouraging, and had one focus – to make a great album.
You’ve jammed with a lot of big names throughout your career — what artists were you most surprised reached out to the band to collaborate, and who were you in the most awe of when you met them?
For us it’s been more about artists that were cool with getting on board our projects after we’ve reached out and they heard what we were working on. It was really cool when we were making Livin Free, for Melvin Seals and Ras MG to respond to us and be like “yeah we’re down to be a part of your project, it sounds cool”. Same on this new Grateful Dub project, we have some special guests lined up that really make the album special.
You’ve planned countless club dates, as well as numerous outdoor festivals — which do you prefer to play? And does playing outdoors, like you will at Jams on the Sand in Asbury Park, put you guys in a different and/or more creative mindset than playing indoors?
We really like both. The energy in a packed club can be totally contageous. Outdoor festivals always have their own vibe wether it’s a laid back daytime set or a raging late night set, people are always looking to get down at festivals. For me personally, playing outside with a nice breeze and a cool light show is as good as it gets.
For those who’ve never seen Roots of Creation perform live — what can they expect from one of your shows?
Expect to want to dance! We play a lot of reggae that will make you want to move, and every once in a while get into the aforementioned dubtronica style a bit. Add in a few cover songs and you never know where a ROC set could go! We make setlists, but we don’t always stick to them.
What do you have planned for Roots of Creation for the rest of the summer?
Roots of Creation has spent the summer hitting lots of awesome festivals, it’s one of the most fun times of the year for us. For the rest of this summer, ROC is heading out on an East Coast tour that will have us playing in PA, VA, OH, SC, NC, FL, GA, NY, MA, NH and more. We’ll be playing at some incredible reggae festivals to finish out the summer – Surrounded by the Sound in SC, Garden Grove in MA, and Summer in the 603 in NH!
Roots of Creation perform tonight at Jams on the Sand at the Anchor’s Bend in Asbury Park tonight for free.