Iration's Micah Pueschel Talks Roots, Fusion Reggae, and Their Writing Process

Hawaii-bred reggae rock group Iration take change in stride. Each of their albums explores a different side of their musical influences--ranging from drummer Joseph Pickens' love for Lamb of God to lead vocalist/guitarist Micah Pueschel's penchant for the Beatles--while keeping their roots in traditional reggae. Earlier this year in April, vocalist Kai Rediske announced he was leaving the band in the midst of recording Iration's third full-length album, Automatic, which came out July 2.

They surged forward regardless, going with the flow to push their boundaries even a little further by adding an undercurrent of edgier rock elements to some tracks. The band collaborated with Cage The Elephant guitarist Lincoln Parish, who is also featured on several tracks and helped co-produce select songs on the album, along with longtime studio partner JP Hesser of Castaway 7 Studios in Ventura, CA. Bassist Adam Taylor, keyboardist Cayson Peterson, and dub controller Joseph King round out the band alongside Taylor and Pueschel.

The band's bass-driven grooves, dance-inspired reggae rhythms, bluesy dub kicks and catchy lyrics always please crowds, whether they are opening for the Roots, like at this year's McDowell Mountain Music Festival, or for Sublime with Rome.

Up On The Sun talked with Pueschel about the state of current reggae, incorporating hard rock into Iration's newest album, and on future songwriting without Kai.

The state of reggae today is pretty interesting. We've got Snoop Lion and Eddie Murphy coming back into the mix, and a ton of fusion reggae. What are your thoughts on the current state of the genre?
I think the state of reggae is, um...there's two different parts to that. What people think is reggae and what is actually traditional roots reggae. To me, the traditional reggae is being lost in the whole thing. The more modern reggae bands are fusion type bands from America, like Rebelution--I think those are the bands that are becoming a lot more popular and taking the reins.

So I don't know, Snoop Lion and Eddie Murphy...I haven't heard any of those songs or listened to them. But reggae music is a music that is universal and everyone can enjoy it, regardless of where you're from. I think reggae is in a good place right now, but obviously the older style of reggae, the roots, is being a little lost, but the fusion reggae is booming.

What are three ways that Automatic differs from Time Bomb for you personally?
To me, Automatic is very very different from Time Bomb. It's still us, but what made Time Bomb a popular records was hooks, feel-good music, good rhythms--uplifting, for the most part. But we also wanted to do more songs that were geared to traditional roots reggae and have some rock influences. We wanted to experiment and do some acoustics.

One way it's definitely different is that Automatic is much more diverse and eclectic as far as style. Another way is that the lyrical content is more mature.

I feel like it pushes even further into the band's usual hard rock feel, and is darker and edgier in a good way. Does that derive from your hard rock influences, like your love for Metallica?
Yeah, definitely. We worked with Lincoln Parish and he brought a lot of the rock. We wanted more rock. Every record that we've made has had a different set of influences When we first started out we were really focused on making reggae tracks. With Sample This and Time Bomb it was more pop and reggae.

And then we strayed from that sound a bit with Fresh Grounds. Then with Automatic we wanted to make a record that had all of things we've already done but with more of a rock element. We like rock; we do like Metallica and hard rock music.

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