Interview: Eric Rachmany of Rebelution

Rebelution – 2 shows, December 30 (sold out) and December 31 2013, New Year’s Eve, at the Majestic Ventura Theater.

Before sound check for their show tonight (Dec 30) at the Majestic Ventura Theater, I got to talk to Eric Rachmany, lead singer, for Rebelution. He waxed nostalgic about his time in the 805, his first show at the Ventura Theater and what the band’s philosophy is all about when it comes their music.

Just a sample:

Polly Hoganson:  How you doing?

Eric Rachmany:  I’m Great!

Polly:  How’s the tour going so far?

Eric:  It’s been great, we had a little bit of time off we’re recording our next album for the last couple of weeks and then we just played a couple shows in Santa Cruz. Then we have these Ventura shows and then we have a couple shows in Orange County.  We start our big tour in February.  That’s like our winter tour.

Polly:  I saw your schedule, it’s pretty gnarly.  It’s exciting you’re criss-crossing the country then you’re also making time to go to Thailand?

Eric:  Right Yeah, we have a festival to play in Thailand on March 1st

Polly:  Have you ever been?

Eric:  I’ve been to visit but never to play.

Polly:  That’s cool.

Eric:  Yeah

Polly:  I was on your website and you have the video “Skys the Limit” posted.  I really like that song by the way. 

Eric:  Oh Cool

Polly:  You have a great voice.

Eric:  Thank you

Polly:  It was directed by Marley (bass player) and  it looks like you shot a lot in Isla Vista.

Eric:  We did, we thought it was probably a good idea to go back to where we got started and just kind of feel the vibe of Isla Vista while we were filming the video.

Polly:  Whenever you come back to the 805, is it nostalgic?  Does it bring back memories for you guys?

Eric:  Definitely, you know we spent a pretty substantial amount of time here both while we were in college and then actually after we all finished school we all stayed in the Santa Barbara area for a few years. Although we weren’t here a lot of the time we were touring this was still our home base and you know when we got dispersed to different parts of California now but Santa Barbara will always be our home.

Polly:  Now when you got started in ’04, does that seem like a lifetime ago? Or does it seem like yesterday?

Eric:  It feels like yesterday.  It really does.  Time has flown by it’s really hard to believe it’s almost 10 years ago. That’s actually mind blowing to think about. We’re just having so much fun with what we’re doing.  We love performing we love playing and recording music and when you have fun doing time flies by that’s the truth, haha.

Polly:  Haha!   Well looking back through the years and where you’re at now is the journey what you thought it would be?

Eric:  You know I think since I was a little kid I always thought the music I was apart of would be exposed to the world somehow.  I didn’t really know what it would take to do it. So I feel like that has happened and I’m thrilled that I’m playing music for peoples.  I can do this for a living. But I didn’t really know what it would feel like or the steps we would have to take to get our music out to people around the world you know?  I think with Rebelution we played so many shows starting from Isla Vista, playing small clubs to festivals, outdoor venues and amphitheaters now I think we’ve done so many shows that we are confident in what we’re doing and although 10 years have gone by very fast it’s been a nice, slow progression for the band so I think in that regard we feel very comfortable in what we’re doing.  It’s not like we’ve had this huge jump in success.  You know we’re an independent band and we do everything our selves. We’re kind of rising slowly but surely. We’re really happy with that.

Polly:  That goes to my next question in that you guys are pretty DIY.  Is that the direction where you think the music business is going?  Bands are pretty much going to do their own thing?

Eric:  You know, I think the music that we play isn’t really typical for the music industry latch on to.  That’s what I think a lot of the bands we’ve come up with both in the Santa Barbara area and around the country that play similar music to us, are all independent as well.  I think the bands just like us we do it for the love of the music, we do it to spread a positive message, to bring happiness to both ourselves and to the crowd, to the people.  We like staying independent there’s no pressure,  we write music that we love and that’s what it’s all about.  It’s not about making money for us it’s about you know staying positive and keeping a big smile on our faces as we get older. You only live once and we’re trying to live that way. Haha

Polly:  Haha, there is that philosophy that if you do what you love and eventually you’ll reap the rewards.  So it sounds like you’re time is at that point. 

Eric:  Yeah, and I understand it’s really hard to make a living out of this business and the music industry is really cut throat and that’s another reason to stay independent.

Polly:  Right.

Eric:  And It’s also I don’t need a reminder as to why I’m doing this.  We get out there and we play the music that we love and it’s always been that way since day one.  And while we’re happy doing what we’re doing there’s no reason to change our philosophy, change our sound, we do it because we love it.

Polly:  I’ve always been fascinated by how a group of friends get together and form a band.  How did it come about that you guys in college decided to hey one day, let’s make music.

Eric:  Yep, I was always into music when I was a kid. I started on piano then moved to guitar. Once I got to Santa Barbara City College I took this songwriting class. I just fell in love with it.  I don’t know.  The first thing they make you do in class is play one of your own songs.  I’d never done that before and I never thought of myself as a singer.  I always thought of myself as a musician/guitar player and I got up and sang a song and I listened to everybody else and I was able to form some friends and felt really comfortable at it.  And it was through that music dept at City College that I met our bass player Marley and we both shared a love for reggae music and we figured that out in a relatively short amount of time.  Then he found our drummer Wes in another music class us three got together and then we met our keyboardist Rory along the way and then we were jamming a lot of classic reggae tunes like Sublime, this was the kind of music we all related to at the time.

Polly:  Sure.

Eric:  And then we played a show wow this is the most fun we’ve ever had and we just kept on doing it.  Next thing you know we’re writing original music and I think it’s because of that one songwriting class that I gained that courage to you know sing, because I’d never really done that before.

Polly:  Well you’ve got a great voice.  I love your voice.

Eric:  Thank you

Polly:  Any tips for up and comers, that you know you would recommend?

Eric:  Just what I was touching on earlier you just have to love what you’re doing and not think about the rewards, like you were saying if you love what you’re doing the rewards will come.  It may not be like a monetary thing.  It’s important to just play music for the love of playing music.  You should never really forget that.  It is I understand it’s very difficult to be a musician full time but yeah, but from my experience it is possible to be an independent band and to play music for a living.

Polly:  Sure.

Eric:  We worked really hard played multiple shows.  I think it’s important to get out there and perform live.  Nowadays it’s very difficult.  The major record label would never go over with us basically what we do.  We’ve always wanted to do it ourselves.  It’s definitely possible.

Polly:  When you listen to music, when you’re on the road, who’s on your iPod?

Eric:  Haha good question.  To tell you the truth I’ve been writing so much because we’re preparing for this next album so um I’m not really sure who I listen to.  Obviously I’m a big fan of reggae music, once in a while I’ll check out what music is coming out of Jamaica and around the world.  A lot of the times I’ll start listening to stuff I used to listen to whether it’s hip hop, rap, metal, punk rock, there’s folk music, oldies, I’m a big Beatles, I love everything.

Polly: The last record that you guys put out, “Peace of Mind”, what was the evolution of and the thought process of putting out a triple record? (A regular record, an acoustic version and a dub version). That’s pretty ambitious.

Peace of Mind albumEric:  Yeah,  I think it was our love for different types of music that we decided to do that.  We always talked about doing an acoustic album but the idea stems from our good friend and manager Dean who said what if we released it all together?  I thought it was a great idea and I love playing acoustic.  It was relatively easy when we went in the studio we were just free with it and had the acoustic album in a few days.  I think we’ll try and do something like that in the future.

Polly:  Well it’s a great record and I appreciate the acoustic aspect of it.  To see what it sounds like without all the bells and whistles.

Eric:  Yeah, haha.

Polly:  You guys did a really good job.  I did see that you posted some pictures that you guys are in the studio now.  Going to hear anything new and different?  Or pretty much, you follow the same formula, but try and change it up here and there?

Eric:  Yeah.

Polly:  Going to be along the same lines?  Or are you bringing in more cow bell?  Haha.

Eric:  Haha, yeah well it’s actually confidential information.

Polly:  Haha!

Eric:  It’s really hard to explain. PEACE OF MIND was probably our most creative album to date.  It had a lot of different styles of music.  This one I think is different but it’s similar than that it’s got a different style.  I really can’t describe it.  But I think everybody will be happy. There’s something for everyone I think is the best way to describe it.

Polly:  That’s cool.

Eric:  But I think it’s the most thrilled I’ve been about recording an album ever.  I think that’s got to say something.  But like I said earlier we love doing what we do.  It feels good the way we recorded this.   The vibe and the energy that went into it, I think people will be into it.

Polly:  I’m sure they will.  You never let your audiences down and that’s why you guys are so popular.  You’ve got a sold out concert tonight (Monday, December 30, 2013 Ventura Theater).  That’s exciting.  Two nights at the Ventura Theater.  You must be excited about that.

Eric:  Definitely, yeah, a little funny story.  The first time we played the Theater we shared an opening slot with Iration they kind of started in Isla Vista as well.  Whichever band sold the most tickets was the one that would get direct support from the artist Yellowman (headliner) I ‘m pretty sure Yellowman didn’t bring anybody.  The Theater relied on us and Iration to sell all the tickets. It’s funny just thinking about that and fast forwarding to right now and playing 2 nights at Ventura Theater and how we remember our first start there.

Polly:  It must be a great feeling.

Eric:  Yes, it is. It’s a legendary spot for us.

Polly:  Eddy Numbskull is bringing you back to Ventura.  You guys collaborate a lot? He’s a good friend.  A great guy that puts on a quality show.

Eric:  Definitely, we always had a pretty good relationship with Eddy. For a long time now, and he’s been promoting our shows for several years.

Polly:  I  see you’re super popular in Guam.

Eric:  Oh Guam. Yeah.

Polly:  It’s funny because my parents are from Guam.

Eric:  Really?

Polly:  Yeah, I wanted to know if you had any of the local cuisine while there. Haha.

Eric:  We had a lot of amazing fish while I was there.  I forget what other local stuff.

Polly:  Red rice is big, BBQ Ribs…

Eric:  Yeah, Guam, the first time we went to Guam one of our songs was a big hit.  I think it was “Safe and Sound” and it’s still to this day probably one of the most amazing shows we ever played because we were a small band from Isla Vista and all of a sudden our music became this big hit on this island and we played a show for about 6000 people.

Polly:  That’s awesome.

Eric:  That was an amazing feeling definitely.

Polly:  And they love to party and they love to dance.

Eric:  For sure.  We went to a small Chamorro village and it was spectacular going to this small village and seeing how people had been living for decades and the culture. It was amazing.

Polly:  A lot of great musicians, bands started in the 805 some still make their home here like Ozomotli, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, all those guys came up through the 805.  What is it about this part of California that makes it such a fertile ground for live music?

Eric:  Yeah, I think the college town is big for us.  Because there are a lot of people we played to. Isla Vista all jam packed in a small community.  All the students were young and they were hungry for music.  Typically it’s the younger crowd that comes out to see live music.  They are searching for different types of music.  A lot of people visit Santa Barbara. It’s a beautiful place.  You have the coast, the ocean the mountains.  You can see all sides.  Santa Barbara is a perfect way to describe California. Santa Barbara and Ventura too is both warm and cold.  I think that California in general is a melting pot.  There are so many different kinds of people here.  It’s also a spot that you get a lot of people from down south and up north coming to this area.  It’s a place that makes people happy.  You want to rejoice.  You want to be surrounded by the arts,  the music, dancing.   In that regard it’s a great place for that.

Polly:  Now both nights are all ages shows.  Is it important for you to always get the music out to all ages?

Eric:  Yeah, I like to it’s preferably to a 21 and up show.  We think our music relates to all different kinds of people. It’s funny I have grandparents that listen to our music and little kids, like our cousins, 2, 3 and 4 years old that fuss when our music doesn’t come on in the car.  Yeah, I think we’re trying to spread a positive message and there is a lot of negative music out there we hope we’re getting people on the right track.

Polly:  I really love your music.  It is feel good music and it is for the ages.  Any New Year’s resolutions?

Eric:  Haha, that’s a good question.  I got asked that question last night.  Just keep writing music. Just keep on being creative.

Polly:  I sure appreciate your time.   Have a great show tonight, Happy New Year.  Travel safe, looking forward to hearing your new stuff in ’14.

Eric:  Perfect, thanks so much Polly. Appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

(See photos that took at the Monday night Rebelution show:

Eric Rachmany – Vocals / Guitar
Rory Carey – Keyboards
Marley D. Williams – Bass
Wesley Finley – Drums
Khris Royal – Sax

Interview – Lee Koch

Interview with Lee Koch

Ventura Rocks sat down with Lee Koch just after his sound check before his show at Zoey’s recently.Lee Koch

Ventura Rocks:  Ok, let’s just get this out of the way right now.  Now do you pronounce your last name?

Lee: Cook, like C.O.O.K.

Ventura Rocks:  Doesn’t look like that at all.

Lee:  Not at all. K.O.C.H., but I believe I’ve come across other people over the past few years that spell and pronounce their name the same way.  I never thought I’d meet another person who spells and pronounces their name the same way except my family.

Ventura Rocks: And where are you from originally?

Lee: Temecula, California.

Ventura Rocks: Do they have a big music scene there in Temecula?

Lee: No. Not at all!  There are touring acts who play like at the casinos around there, but that’s about it.  And then there are bar bands and cover bands, but there’s no venues like Zoey’s here [in Ventura], where you can pay ten bucks and see a really great band you’ve never heard of.

Ventura Rocks: Right!

Lee: Actually one day my wife and I hope to do something like that some down there in that area.

VR: Your own club?

Lee:  Keep in touch with Polly and Steve [Zoey’s owners].

Ventura Rocks: Absolutely!

Lee: They’ll show us how to do it out in that area and guide us.

[At this point Nicole Koch stops by and gives hubby a kiss.  Nicole is pregnant with their first baby, and she is glowing! After Nicole walks away Lee is now glowing as much as his wife.]

Ventura Rocks: Your first?

Lee: Yea.  We’re about halfway, she’s due February 1st.

Ventura Rocks: (Don’t you love when the man uses “we” when referring to pregnancy? Their love for one another is almost tangible!)  Wow! Congratulations!  Do you know if it’s a girl or a boy?

Lee: No! We’re going to wait. We like surprises.

Ventura Rocks: You crazy kids.


Ventura Rocks:  Well that’s awesome.

Lee: Yea, we’re excited.

Ventura Rocks: How long have you been married?

Lee:  Two and half years.

Ventura Rocks: Well that’s super cool.

Lee: Yea, a lot of pivotal happenings going on right now with music, and obviously a baby; it’s good; it feels like you’re really living life.  After being on the road, and then getting that news and doing that whole surreal TV thing!

Ventura Rocks:  So tell me how the “TV thing” came about.

Lee: Well actually I had stepped out of music to pursue a bakery with my wife and my older brother.  I have friends who already run one in Temecula so I worked there to educate ourselves so one day we could open one of our own.

Ventura Rocks: Now are you a baker or a business people?

Lee: Neither.

Ventura Rocks: (laughs) I’M A MUSICIAN!

Lee: Yea! But we just wanted to try a different avenue and we’re both hard workers and we thought we’d collect some business savvy along the way.  We already learned how to bake decently.  And then The Voice came along with an email from a guy who manages the runner up from the first season.  His girlfriend saw me do a show at Zoey’s, she bought a CD and brought it back home to him and said, “You gotta listen to this guy”.  At that time, his artist, Dia Frampton, was doing really well, she had an indie sort of voice and she ended up taking 2nd place on The Voice.  So her manager sent me this email, and I wrote back and said, “Thanks anyway, but I’m getting into baking and I’m not really going to perform music anymore.  You know, I’ll always write, but not perform anymore.

Ventura Rocks: You were really thinking you’d never perform again?

Lee:  Yea, I had actually quit.  I performed my last show at Zoey’s as a performing musician.

Ventura Rocks: Wasn’t that hard?

Lee: Kind of, but I never get too hung up on stuff.  You hear people say that they’re going to make it no matter what, against all odds, and that’s great, more power to them. I love hearing success stories.  But I don’t really beat things over the head.  I kind of do it until it gets exhausting.

Ventura Rocks: Do it as long as it feels right?

Lee:  Yea, I think I just felt stuck doing the local bar scene and I had come full circuit.  I love all those places and I’m so happy I got to meet all the great people I had, but I think I was just done after five years of doing it. I did an album I was really proud of and I said I did my music thing, now let’s see what else I can do.  I’d still do music for myself, my family and my friends.

Ventura Rocks: So you said no to The Voice.

Lee: Yea, I said no, and then he got back to me again and he said it seems like you have nothing to lose, why don’t you  try it out and maybe it will get you a couple of cool shows and sell some CDs from it, and get you a little bit of exposure.  So I said, Yea, he’s right, it would probably be fun and what if I actually got on TV; that would be a trip!  Something to tell my kids. And so it happened…barely, by the skin of my teeth.  There were 120 people that it got whittled down to that did the blind audition. I probably was like the 90th person to go and by then I thought all the teams would be full, but I grabbed the 48th spot out of 48th.

As soon as I made it onto a team, Nicole and I agreed that that was kind of the push we would need, the exposure we would need to get back into music and give it one more go. For all that to happen and to not try to jump back into music, it would almost be arrogant in a way.  Oh yea I could do this, but I’m not gonna… you know, people would kill to get that kind of exposure.

Ventura Rocks: Absolutely.

Lee:  It would almost disrespect the people that have been so supportive of my music by not pursuing it again.  And I thought, that’s not really my style. A lot of people had my back and a lot of people really supported me during the show. So the only thing to do, and the right thing to do would be hit the road again.  We hit the road in March, so that we’d be cross country while my episodes were airing, and that’s exactly how it played out.  A lot of people recognized me because the show was fresh, and I got to play a lot of venues that I would not have been able to otherwise. I pulled The Voice card and even if it’s not my idea of validation of good music. It’s still other people’s.  If someone famous tells them it’s good, then they believe it’s good. If that’s how they think of me as a good musician, then I’ll take it and I’ll go play for them and share my original stuff.  That was my main goal, to get my written stuff out there.

Ventura Rocks: What size audiences have you been playing for?

Lee: Some festivals with about 1200 people, but I’m use to 50-100. So anytime there’s a few hundred people, that’s a good size crowd for me.  I’m still an unknown in the industry for sure, even after being on national TV.  A lot of people are on national TV nowadays, it gets played up and a lot of the other contestants are like, “As soon as I get on NBC, I’ll be famous.  It’s surefire.”  But I didn’t’ think that going into it. There were a lot of people that were let down as they were getting eliminated, but I was totally content because I knew I would just run with the momentum until it stopped and then hopefully we had built our own organic momentum.  That’s kind of where it’s going.

Ventura Rocks:  You already had so many people who believed in you.

Lee: Yea definitely, the fans I do have, are super supportive, they’re like super fans…but not in a weird way like where they stalk me. I know most of them personally and they have become friends, some of my best friends these days are people that we’ve met at shows.  We just kept in touch and they really connected with my lyrics we usually have a lot in common, it’s just really cool.   So I just got to show some respect to them by continuing to do this music.  Like I said, I will always write, but I’m going to keep recording and performing for those people who want to come out; they really long to hear me play these songs, which is really flattering.

Ventura Rocks: You have a new project you’re working on now?

Lee:  A new album.  I’m going to go in next month where I did my debut album with Jesse Siebenberg and use pretty much the same formula, I’m going to introduce about 10-12 new songs. And we’re just going to build them with some great musicians that we know and some new ones who have freed up recently.

Ventura Rocks:  So the tour is wrapping up?

Lee:  The tours been great.  We’ve been on the road since March; we went up to Alaska, across the South to the East coast and back to do this West coast tour for the last two months.   So from March until now, mid September, we’ve only been home for about a month.

Ventura Rocks: You’re wife has been on the road with you?

Lee:  Oh yeah.  That’s the only way we’d do it. As long as we’re together whether it’s baking or music, we just want to be together, and now with our little baby.  Any extra money that we raise from this fundraiser that we’re doing through Kickstarter, which is done in four days…

Ventura Rocks:  How far are you away from your goal?

Lee:  We’re two-thirds.  We’re at 16 grand, we need 24.  If we do go over, by the grace of God, we’re going to put it towards a small motor home and take the baby out after the next album is done, and just keep doing this as a family.  And whatever musicians are brave enough to come along with the baby…we’ll see!

Lee Koch Note:  Lee made is target on his birthday 46 hours before the deadline.  Total pledges after all was said and done were $25,360.  Looking forward to the new release and watching Lee hit the road with family in tow…as long as it feels right.

We hope it’s for a very long time.