Reggae-rockers Iration embrace surf culture and “Bomb Bud”
By Jasen T. Davis
Iration is a reggae-surf-pop-synth band, somewhere between Agent Orange and Bob Marley and Dick Dale. They are a band that creates music that is straight out of Hawaii—where they all were born and raised—with an aggressive attitude inherent to Southern California—where the band went to college. Iration plays music that feels like the sun, the waves, the wind and good times close to Mother Nature and the sea.
CULTURE recently spoke with bass player Adam Taylor who explained how Iration represents not just a unique type of music, but an expression of life based on Hawaii’s surf culture philosophy with roots deep in the heart of reggae. The band just released the Fresh Grounds EP and is scheduled to perform at the House of Blues in Anaheim on April 22 and at The Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura on April 23.
How did Iration begin?
We came together while most of us were going to college at UC Santa Barbara. It was just a hobby, but music had always been a part of our lives. At first we played to have fun. We did Bob Marley covers. It was a way to express ourselves. By the time we graduated from college there was a point where we were making enough money playing so we kept going.
What message is Iration trying to express through its music?
Being from Hawaii, we take the Aloha spirit very seriously. We like to bring a good vibe, a good message that leaves people with a positive feeling. We are a reggae rock band with the fundamentals of reggae music, but with a modern pop twist.
Explain what surf culture means to you.
Surf culture to me means growing up on the beach. We all surf. We are part of the surf culture. I think it means to live it up in a positive way, like being able to appreciate Mother Nature and being outdoors. Living in Hawaii, everything you do is affected by the weather. You are more prone to the elements. Most people there love water sports. It’s embedded in each one of us.
The weather and the sunshine are a big part of our music. We are in Florida right now and I love being here. There’s a strong surf culture here. We really feel at home in the coastal cities. When we are in Chicago it feels out of our element since there’s no ocean.
Iration really feels like a live band, unlike a lot of other groups.
For us, we started in college when people didn’t know our music, so we all considered ourselves to be a live band. Some bands don’t play well live but we rehearse a lot, we try to connect with the audience on an emotional level. A good band has to connect.
On this tour we are covering “Pimpers Paradise” by Bobby Marley and “Bomb Bud” by DJ Quik, which has been a popular song ever since we played it at Cypress Hill’s last SmokeOut.
What do you guys think about cannabis?
Living in California, I have a lot of access to cannabis . . . In Hawaii, cannabis is such a big part of the surf culture. Everyone uses it. It’s normal. Cannabis has a lot influences for us. I smoke out, sure, but not before I go onstage. I smoke out before I play or practice. I have spoken to other musicians who all agree about how it brings out your awareness of music.
We don’t promote it as much in our songs, but the EP Summer Nights is about the summertime, smoking weed and going to the beach. On this tour, before we play this song, we tell them about how the song is about smoking out in the summer, and that usually gets a huge reaction from the crowd. I love to smoke at concerts because it really heightens my senses.
Sons of the Beach
Marijuana has been a part of surf culture since, well, Jeff Spicoli learned how to make a sneak-a-toke out of an empty Sex Wax container. But seriously, according to a 1997 Australian television broadcast (“Billion Dollar Breakers: The Professional Surfing World”), surfers who used marijuana during the ’70s and ’80s “were mostly the rogues of the world, the guys who were looking for something different, something a bit more exciting. The sort of guy who would travel to Tierra del Fuego rather than get on a tramp steamer to London.” Sounds like tasty waves and a cool buzz to us.