Roots of Creation
Contributing writers include Joe Motika and others.
Not just your typical roots-reggae band, Roots of Creation has been bringing their unique contribution towards the genre since 1999. Bringing in elements seen more commonly in funk and psychedelic rock, this East Coast based group can slip into dubbed out cover songs just as easily as extended jams that keep the crowd involved and interested. RoC is currently touring as a quintet with Nick Minicucci on bass/vocals, and saxophonist Andrew Riordan (Billy Kottage, now in Reel Big Fish, joins RoC on Trombone when he can), in addition to the mainstays of the crew Brett Wilson on lead vocals and guitar, Tal Pearson on vocals and keys, as well as drummer/sampler maestro Mike Chadinha.
Roots of Creation has been a staple of the festival scene here in New England and across the country for years now. This year is no different, seeing the band share the stage with such big names as Beats Antique, RJD2, and the Alchemystics at various points throughout the summer. Having not released a studio album since 2006, RoC has instead steadily shared their live performances on record regularly in releases such as their pair of “Live” volumes (Harmonized Records) and audience taped shows on Archive.org
Now, after playing what was widely considered one of their best shows at the Bella Terra Festival in Stephentown, NY, the band has decided to share this live experience with all of us fans with the release of their new DVD/CD box set, “Live at Bella Terra Festival.” Cider Magazine tells us from their preview of the DVD that the “camera work is amazing, and the sound production close to perfect.” A show bringing music this magically creative, and captured on video with such precision, is one that the Roots of Creation could not help but share with their fans. For those in attendance, it will be arrest way to rekindle the spirit of that special evening, and for the rest of us, we will be able to experience a truly inspired performance right from the comfort of home.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Brett Wilson who plays guitar, sings, and writes most of the material for Roots of Creation.
Was the intentions of the band to get this big?
Not exactly. When I first started this band we were playing basement and college parties. I thought all we had to do was write some great songs, play live, let fans tape our shows, pass out some flyers, and build an email list. I learned from the bands I looked up to in the New England Jam scene like Uncle Sammy, Ulu, Percy Hill, John Browns Body, The Slip, Moe, Strangefolk etc. I thought what they were doing in the late 90’s /early 2000’s was success. Although I love those bands. I thought something was missing from the scene: Conscious lyrics, (with the exception of JBB) west coast style reggae/rock, mixed with the jams/grassroots style.
As you evolve so does your idea of success. Reach for the moon and hit the stars I guess.
We are lucky to be where we are and to be able to look up to bands like Slightly Stoopid and tour with larger acts in the Reggae/Rock AND Jam scene. I didn’t realize in the beginning there was such a slow burn to success in the music business. I am grateful for the journey, which has been an inspiration to persevere. We are constantly generating ideas to keep growing musically as a band and continuing to spread our songs around the globe!
Did you think you would be doing shows in multiple cities?
We didn’t really talk about it at first, but we just did it eventually with time. It was a natural progression to branch out of the Northeast after time. Starting with a couple east coast tour, then Colorado/Midwest and then three national tours.
Have you guys had the chance to write any new material recently?
As the songwriter for the band I’m always trying to write new lyrics when I get inspired. I find that while traveling I get a lot of inspiration. I also enjoy collaborating with other writers. We have a lot of unrecorded material that has never been heard and that we perform live, some of it a couple years old and some new instrumental jams that we have been working on slowly.
How do you go about that?
A major goal for RoC this winter/spring is to record our newer material and release it this spring. Our fans have been relentlessly asking for a new studio album and so our idea is to include our fans by doing a Pledge Music Campaign. This allows the fans to really be involved in the process and fund the project, then your fans become the record label. Our fans will make a really cool record label. I know we have a lot of support coming from our fans and they want to help our band’s continued success. The details of the Pledge Music Campaign will be released shortly but our fans can expect to see some really fun incentives to fund the new album including performing at your house-concert, signed lyric sheets, exclusive downloads, and plenty of shout-outs!
Do one of you write a song and bring it to the table, or is it a group effort?
I (Brett Wilson) write all the lyrics to all our songs and a lot of the music, and I always try to keep writing as much as I can. Sometimes these songs start out as my own solo music and then become RoC material. As a band we come up with ideas and arrangements in jam and practice sessions.
Do you have a favorite musician or band that you like to cover?
Last Halloween we dubbed out some Grateful Dead. I think we want to explore that concept some more.
Do you like to make the covers more your own style?
Yes! On all our official live releases we have included covers that we have made our own: “Watchin’ The Detectives” (Elvis Costello) + “You Don’t Know How It Feels” (Tom Petty) + “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” (Talking Heads) + on our newest release “Live at Bella Terra Festival” – “Exodus” (Bob Marley)
You can find a ton of other interpretations of other material by searching for Roots of Creation on Archive.Org
Who are some of you favorite reggae or jam bands on the scene today? New or old.
There are a lot of amazing “New Wave American Reggae” bands on the scene: Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Giant Panda, 10 FT Ganja Plant, Aggrolites, Tribal Seeds, SOJA, Passafire, John Browns Body, Dirty Heads, The Alchemystics, Fear Nuttin’ Band, The Movement, Spiritual Rez, P-Nuckle, and our brothers in All Good :: Feel Good Collective. The whole band pretty much loves Phish and we play with a ton of up and coming talented bands in the jam scene.
Your fanbase seems to keep growing quite readily, is there a reason for this outside of your great music?
The fans spreading our music online and requesting us to play at their favorite festivals, venues and with other bands. Word of mouth is our best friend.
Anything a fan has ever done for you guys of note?
So many fans have opened up their homes to us on the road and gone above and beyond. We are grateful! A lot of fans become friends and vice versa.
Do you have any rituals you do before a show?
We used to do shots in the old days. There is usually an attempt to make a skeletal set list, usually a beginning, middle and end. We let the crowd and vibe of the room guide us.
Anything in particular you do while on the road to a show?
Promote the show from our phones… musically – We usually gear up for a show by listening to our live shows and picking elements we like and dislike. Turning each other on to new music we have recently discovered. We also love to break out our acoustics, share new songs and rehearse in the van. Basically just get inspired to put on the best show possible!
What makes you guys different from the other touring acts in your genre?
RoC has a Reggae foundation mixed with Heavy guitars, big choruses, improvisation, electronic dance and heavy bass vibes. We really are a reggae-jam band hybrid and that’s what makes our sound so unique.
Any words of advice for a younger generation of pickers?
Start a band, get in a van and figure it out. Learn from your heros. Record yourself practicing, jamming and noodling. Build on that. Some of your best ideas will come from the ether.
What show are you guys most excited for on this upcoming tour? Why?
All of them! Although, we are most excited about recording and sharing this new material. Coming back to some of our old stomping grounds of Keene, NH and colleges like Dartmouth/Plymouth are gonna be a blast!
If you had one original song to choose for new listeners to get into the “RoC” style, what would it be? Why?
“Searchin'” – the song combines Reggae/Rock, spiritual lyrics, catchy hook, and a big electric guitar lead jam in the middle.
What is the origin of the name RoC?
Roots of Creation, was taken from the title of a Sublime song on the B-Side of the “Badfish” CD single. I thought it was a dope name for a band. Once they it on their box set it became widely known. Fans call us R-O-C, Roots, and RoC (rock)!
Speaking of Facebook… How does RoC use social media to connect with fans?
It’s amazing to be able to ask fans: “where should we tour?” and have a dialogue with them on Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is perfect for sharing snapshots from the road or posters. Our fans are amazing and we wouldn’t be here without the fans and they are our “bosses” so to know whats on their mind is invaluable Our new website is cool because fans can leave comments through Facebook. Its really turning into the best way to keep in touch with us! We love doing contests and ticket giveaways and giving fans a glimpse into life on the road. Our email newsletter goes out around every other
Speaking of jams, RoC was labeled early on as a Jamband… What do you think about that label?
We embrace the term. We were unsure for a while. I guess after winning the “Best Jamband in NH/VT” award from Cidermag.com you have to be on board. I think Jamband more describes our fanbase and approach to live shows and touring. The festival crowd that enjoys the type of conscious rager that we throw down!
What is your favorite live show moment?
Each one is unique and a gift. Some highlights that standout throughout our career are our annual Halloween shows, especially the two at The Colonial Theatre in Keene, supporting Manu Chao at House of Blues Boston for a sold out show, festivals like Gathering of The Vibes + Nateva + Wormtown late night cabin sets. So many amazing memories of raging! Tal loves it when fans sing along to our version of the Grateful Dead classic “Row Jimmy!”
How about talking a bit about some musical influences…
Currently: I listen to a lot of reggae/rock, hiphop and electronic music. I shared my iTunes gift card with my wife and daughter to buy – Beyonce’s new video album, Iration, Dora The Explorer “Party Favorites”, Jay-Z, The Dirty Heads, Josh Logan, Snoop Lion, Major Lazer, and Passenger. My favorite band of all time is probably The Grateful Dead.
Mike has been delving heavily into The Band and old school funk. I almost bought him an artist we both dig, Charles Bradley on vinyl, for a wedding gift but we went with the old stand by – hand towels – instead.
Tal has been spinning synth wave and loving Thunderbody, The Slackers, and the Brooklyn underground Reggae scene.
Any recording on the horizon and where do you see the future of the band headed?
We are currently recording our 3rd studio album. We have so much new material we are excited to record and release! We will be doing a PledgeMusic campaign so that fans can be a part of the process of making a record and we can raise funds (like Kickstarter). We can’t wait to take this thing to the next level!
06 28 Sat The Driving Range Mason, NH
07 19 Sat Meadowbrook US Cellular Pavilion Gilford, NH
07 26 Sat Uplift Festival Greenfield, NH
08 08 Fri Ocean Mist S Kingston, RI
08 10 Sun Wild Woods Music & Arts Festival Croydon, NH
08 30 Sat The Driving Range Mason, NH
09 07 Sun Catskill Chill Music Festival Hancock, NY
09 19 Fri Autumn Equinox Croydon, NH