Interview: We have a chat to Wesley Finley of Rebelution
Fresh off a 14-date tour around the States celebrating their latest release, reggae-rock outfit, Rebelution, is arguably one of the most influential and prominent names in today’s reggae scene.
Since it’s US release, Count Me In debuted at #14 on the Top 200 US Billboard charts, spending 11 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart and ended up as the biggest selling reggae album of the year in the States.
Throughout their 10 year career, the band has released 4 full ablums, ventured around the globe, won numerous titles and awards and played at some of the best festivals in the US.
Being together for over a decade, you could think that a band may fizzle out and lose touch of what their ever-evolving audience craves; However, Rebelution continue to flow fresh and funky tunes into the ears and hearts of people around the globe.
In amongst their busy schedule of road trips, flights and gigs, drummer Wesley Finley kindly took some time to answer a few questions we had for him.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions! Australia is so excited to have you whilst you’re over for Bluesfest. How do you feel about your trip to Australia when I show you this photo?
WF: It makes me sleepy, and hungry for eucalyptus.
How about when I show you this photo? (This is a snake eating a crocodile near Mt. Isa)
WF: It makes me afraid for my life. Good thing I do not resemble a crocodile!
I hope I haven’t scared you away from our beautiful country! You guys have been playing together for 10 years- how come an Australian tour has never come about?
WF: Although I myself have visited years ago, it has taken time for the band’s name to be recognized and the music to be heard. Nonetheless it is long overdue, and I hope we can visit more often.
Is there anyone on the Bluesfest bill you will definitely be breaking it down on the d-floor for?
WF: There are definitely artists playing that I love that I’ve seen before but out of the ones I haven’t I’d say Alabama Shakes, Hozier, and George Clinton. A good mix of old and new.
Do you know much about music from Australia? Are there any Aussie acts you really like?
WF: My best friend who is a dual citizen of the US and Australia turned me on to a few Aussie acts. I grew up on Silverchair, but have come to really like the John Butler Trio and Angus & Julia Stone. And of course within my genre there’s Xavier Rudd, Blue King Brown, and The Beautiful Girls.
Everyone associates Australia with vegemite- have you tried it before? (If not, I will personally deliver a jar to you at Bluesfest.)
WF: Haha I have not! I will gladly try some though.
Congratulations on all you’ve achieved over the years- 2014 saw you release your newest album, Count Me in, which topped the Billboard Charts and managed to land the title of ‘Best Selling Reggae Album’ – something you’ve achieved three consecutive times with your releases. When starting out as a band, did you ever think this level of recognition and achievement would ever ensue?
WF: You can never expect such things starting out as a band, and it would be misguided and foolhardy to think so. Making music together began as a fun hobby but escalated in professionalism with each passing year. We always stayed true to ourselves and the music and it’s paid off.
Looking back at your first release, what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt about yourselves as artists?
WF: That staying the independent course has always paid off for us and let us be in control. We were young but we made good decisions and wrote music the only way we knew how.
What advice would you give to emerging musicians?
WF: Stay true to yourself and write honest music that you believe in. When it comes time to release it, self-promote as much as possible and play as many shows as possible.
10 years together must bring some funny anecdotes – can you think of a standout hilarious moment that’s happened whilst you were touring or gigging?
WF: On tour buses you’re never supposed to go #2, only liquids should go down the toilet. Well one time we had fried plantains and one looked a lot like a turd, so we set it on the rim of the toilet and watched people’s reactions as they came out of the bathroom. It was a social experiment of sorts but it was hilarious.
You’ve performed at amazing festivals including Bonnaroo, Lollapallooza and Austin City Limits. What would be the most surreal gig you’ve ever played?
WF: We played another great festival called Outside Lands in San Francisco a few years back. A flight got cancelled in Philadelphia the night before our gig so we had to spend the night and fly really early in the morning to get there in time. I arrived to the festival in a fog to see one of my favourite bands City and Colour opening up for us while I was setting up my drumset. I briefly got to meet my idol before performing and it was a great moment.
What are your thoughts on the current reggae scene?
WF: Like all burgeoning genres, reggae has really stretched its legs in different directions by taking in influences from other cultures and music styles. Reggae is more popular than ever now, which is a great thing considering it has a great cultural history and promotes honest lyrics and live musicianship.
If you could play a co-headlined gig with any two artists (dead or alive), who would they be?
WF: For the band’s sake I’d have to say Bob Marley and Nirvana, although the later would make for an awkward bill. Marley and Cobain both created incredible, lasting music that influenced us in our formidable years to this day.
If you love your rock, your soul and your reggae, make sure you catch Rebelution in action while they’re Down Under!
SATURDAY 4 & MONDAY 6 APRIL
Bluesfest, Byron Bay
Tickets available via www.bluesfest.com.au
THURSDAY 9 APRIL
The Metro, Sydney supporting Jimmy Cliff
Tickets available via www.metrotheatre.com.au
You can find ‘Count Me In’ store-wide in Australia and online here
Written by Krissy Bryant
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