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Spiritual Rez: Bringing The American Edge to Reggae.

January 22, 2014

spirtual_5Reggae tunes, crazy feet and happiness filled The Blockley in its second to last show before closing forever a few weeks ago.

Responsible for all the euphoria were the rock-reggae band Spiritual Rez. Hailing from Boston, this seven-piece group traveled five hours to perform hits from their second and third studio albums Rising in the East and Nexus including “Vex,” “One Light” and “Alone Again.”

Spiritual Rez’s style is what would happen if Matisyahu and Bob Marley had a musical baby – inspired by heavy and energetic rock, and laced with vibe-worthy reggae rhythmic tones. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise since the the guys met in a Bob Marley class in Berklee College. In fact, that’s their go-to spot when recruiting new members.

Our Niesha Miller met with a few of the Spiritual Rez guys outside the club as one shivered while eating what looked like a potpie?

How did Spiritual Rez come together?

Jesse (bass player): We all met in college, Berklee College of Music in Boston. We were all in the same dorm room and started jamming in the basement there. Came up with the band name in the dorm room, as well. Me and Toft. The clue to what the name means? We were in our dorm doing something (laughs) and the name came out. We were talking about spirituality. We were smoking a little. So Spiritual Rez was born. And then we started crafting the music in the basement. And here we are today.

What are the advantages of studying music in college?

Jesse: The networking, number one. All the people you meet there are the people who can help you with your career because you’re meeting the next group of people everyone’s talking about. Networking, I think, is the musical education.

Toft (lead vocalist): Agreed. I always tell people if you don’t want to go to Berklee but want the advantages, just move near it. Just meet people who are involved in it. And if you can go, GO, because it’s better if you’re immersed in it. It is awesome just to meet the people, be surrounded by musicians, and everyone’s got that common goal to create music and make it a profession in their life. Instead of like, “Oh, I think I want a band but maybe I want to do something else.” It’s all about who you meet there.

How do you guys cater more to your rock ‘n’ roll influences?

Jesse: I think we’ve always done it live and we always played with this rock energy live. I think the crowd really likes it. Within the last couple years, we had the freedom to really play whatever we want and do what we want. And what we really want to do is play rock-reggae, bring that American edge to reggae instead of trying to do something traditional. We really want to try to invent a new style, while blending reggae and rock. That’s what we’re interested in.

What brought Spiritual Rez together?

Jesse: I would say what brought Spiritual Rez together is Bob Marley. Hands down. When we first got to Berklee, there was a class that just started up called “The Music and Life of Bob Marley.” I enrolled in the class and I was able to find more out about his life in detail and really listen to the songs. And then having to learn the bass lines, getting inside the music, I just fell in love with all the stuff and what he stood for.

Muhammed: Because I’m still going to school, I’m still doing that one this semester. I just finished it.

Jesse: We met a lot of the players through that class. It’s actually one of the first places we go looking for new members because we’re friends with the instructor. If we need any of the instrumentation, we just go to him like, “Hey, have any trumpet players? Have any keyboard players?” They’re being trained to play reggae there, so it’s a good place to look.

Does Bob Marley influence positivity in the band’s music?

Jesse: Absolutely. Even in my life. I think when one experiences positive and negative things throughout life, clearly we like the positive ones more and we want to see more of that happening. So we bring that in our show and hopefully it spreads because happy people are contagious.

How did you make your new forthcoming album Apocalypse Whenever relevant today?

Toft: We got a song on the record that talks about going to the dubstep show, people getting too fucked up and making mistakes. It’s called “Decisions” and it’s about making decisions. Decisions define you. Rather than talking about decisions that isn’t associated with the times we intentionally put things in that say, “This is what we’re talking about now.” Talking about the dubstep party. We’re talking about people taking too much drugs and dying. This is real. We played a big festival, Camp Bisco in upstate New York, and a bunch of people died.

What would you say are the statement tracks on the new album?

Toft: The whole thing really is a statement in itself. It’s all about listening to the album from beginning to end. I would say that a stand-out everyone’s-gonna-like-it single is the love song “Agapoula Mou.” There’s a music video for it online, and that one is something you can get into. Everyone will like it. And then there’s other ones that’s really stretched out. We have the song “Don’t Be Afraid” on the album. We also have a video for that. It’s like a seven minute long song and it comes down and it has a big don’t-be-afraid epic chant moment, and maybe it’s not something that the average listener is gonna sit down and listen to the whole thing, but at the same time it’s something that the real fan, or the real music lover listens to and it’s like, “Yes! I feel that.”

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