Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rebelation Q&A

An interview with Tony Devenish
By Gabe P

Continuing our conversations with musicians on the Do The Dog Music Label we did a quick Q&A with vocalist/guitarist Tony Devenish of the band Rebelation. Another long running UK band, Rebelation have shared the stage with such bands as Bad Manners, The Selector, The Slackers, and Laurel Aitkin to name a few. This 10 peice group have 4 releases under their belt featuring dual male and female vocalists complimented by a powerful horn section. If you have not heard them you are certainly missing out.

Rebelation have been around for quite some time. How would you say the band has developed over the years?

Tony: Yeah, we've been around a while! We first started back in 1994, which is crazy to think that's 14 years ago! The band has grown in personnel over those years and the sound has developed naturally with that. We started off as a 4 piece and had a more of a punky-folk vibe with the reggae.

I'm the only one left from those days! But I think it's unusual for a band that has as many in as we do and has been playing as long as we have to have all it's original players. As the sound and personnel developed we've developed the sound into what it is today, which I'd say is pretty much trad ska, reggae and rocksteady. I don't consider Rebelation to be a retro band though, I'd like to think we bring something progressive to the genre too. And I think it's difficult for that not to happen as we're all culturally affected and the culture I've grown up in is different to one from 1960's Jamaica, obviously!!

What about the U.K. ska and reggae. What changes have you noticed over the years?

Tony: There have definitely been some changes over the years but it's funny how things go in cycles. When we started out the scene we were involved in was the festi scene.The bands that we go and see and play with would be bands like Back to the Planet, Scum of Toytown and Culture Shock/Citizen Fish and the like, we'd called it 'ska punk' back then. We'd also be big into the roots soundsystem scene in the UK with people Jah Shaka and Aba Shanti being the big ones.

The 2 Tone thing was definitely big then and has always had a hold on the UK scene. But then the US led ska punk invasion happened and most of the ska scene was made up of kids really digging that sound. I think that really killed the scene in the end due to overkill really. There were some good ska punk bands but most, if I'm honest, were pretty bad. It got to a point where kids thought that 'ska' was punk with horns. It used to really piss me off. After it died off a bit bands started getting more trad and there are some great trad bands around. It would appear that the scene has come full circle from when we first started out.

There are bands that are doing the old UK style of 'ska punk'. Bands like King Blues, Dirty Revolution and The Skints are kinda doing that sort of thing. There are some old die hards now around still who have been for years as part of the Do the Dog stable, like Smoke Like A Fish, Pama Int and The Splitters as well ourselves who are still doing it.

Any funny things that have happened to you guys?

Tony: There are many tour stories that I could tell ya but the I may need to protect the innocent! And some of them would probably have us banned from entering the USA and we would love to come and tour there sometime! But there have been customs issues crossing borders, fights, people forgetting passports, seeing the only ferry leaving as we draw up to the port, driving fast through Holland with no brakes on the van to get our ferry in heavy rain. In fact, timing and Rebelation don't really go very well together.

There was a time where we had a show in Amsterdam and we arrived at the port in the UK and just missed the only ferry that morning. So our only option was to drive another 3 hours to another port that had more regular ferries. We ended up having to drive through North France, Belgium and Holland to get to the show and we got there just as the support band was finishing. There seems to be a theme with Holland and stories but another time we'd driven through the night after a show to get the ferry back to the UK only to find that the ferries had been cancelled due to bad weather. So while most of the band slept in the van a couple of us went to the port cafe and as we were sitting there all these really hot girls started arriving. Now at the end of a tour, no sleep etc, this was quite a surreal experience, because these girls were seriously hot.

There must've been 50 or more of them. Apparently it was some model school from Holland on their way to London. So we rushed back to the van to tell them. None of them believed us, they thought it was some elaborate ploy to steal the beds in the van. To this day they still refuse to believe.

Another story that no doubt will be told many times was when we were on tour at the end of last year with The Slackers in the UK and Ireland. We had just done a show in Dublin and were on the road in a people carrier (thankfully The Slackers had our gear), on the way to Belfast straight after the show. We hit the motorway and lost control of the vehicle and it span around and rolled 2 times landing on the other side of the central reservation facing back towards Dublin. Amazingly we all survived with very little injury and the tour continued. Very sacry though. We're very thankful for still being here.

Has it been hard to keep the band motivated and together over the years? How have you endured?

Tony: It is hard for some but if someone's had enough of the travelling, the hours in the back of a van in some off place then fair do's. It's really important to keep the vibes positive and when negativity's crept in then normally that person's been destructive and leaves. The core of this band's been together for almost a fair old time now and we're pretty solid and it's the vibes and understanding that we have of each other and what we're trying do and the absolute belief is what keeps it going. It's either belief or plain stupidity!! Ask my wife!

For more info and to sample some sounds check Rebelation on Myspace
To buy their music visit Do The Do Music

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