A rip current, commonly referred to as a rip tide, is a strong channel of water—faster than any human swimmer—that flows seaward from the shore. When caught in the rip, the ocean floor eludes one’s feet, forcing buoyancy into the depths of the unknown. Though fearsome, while lost in obscurity and letting go, find peace, comfort and identity. In order to escape, remaining calming and swimming along with the deadly current proves essential. If the victim succumbs to instinctual panic, the current can pull him deeper. But once fleeing this dangerous tide, the near-death experience brings euphoria like no other: an overwhelming sense of relief, a breath of fresh air, and a lust for life.
The coast of Wilmington has seen its fair share of rip tides, but not those taking on any other form of nature. The alternative/reggae/rock band Iration, while emulating the sounds of a day spent winding down on the beach, can serve as a (less life-threatening) rip current in musical terms. Their tracks sound deathly enticing, drawing the listener in gently until he’s left suspended in an ocean of incandescent guitar riffs, synths and persuasive vocals. Similarly, to truly escape, one must sit back and relax, letting all worries drift off to the horizon.
From experience, it’s easy to get lost in Iration’s unexpected melodious rip tide. The band will wade into Wilmington on their 2014 Automatic Winter Tour when they’ll perform at Ziggy’s By The Sea on Wednesday, March 5th.
Formed in a Santa Barbara garage, when Iration first started they were just bunch of friends with a shared passion for reggae. Save Kai Rediske (percussion/vocals), the group still consists of its original crew: Joseph Dickens (drums), Joseph King (engineer), Cayson Peterson (keyboard/synth), Micah Pueschel (guitar/vocals) and Adam Taylor (bass). All of the members met growing up in Hawaii, but Iration was established in the college town of Isla Vista a decade ago.
“We’ve grown a lot since then,” Pueschel explains. “We actually didn’t know anything about music. We weren’t even musicians, we just picked up instruments that we thought were cool.”
Pueschel claims that after four years of practice, the band hit the road. “I wouldn’t truly consider us a band until like 2007 or 2008, that’s when the tours really started,” he says.
The reggae travelers have a tradition of going on tour in the beginning of the year. Contrary to their all-cathartic summertime vibes, they take on the responsibility of catering warmth in the colder months, too. Pueschel knows winter can get harsh for some, resulting in heavy indoor sojourn.
“We chose this season to tour [because] we want to give the people a reason to go out, dance, and enjoy themselves,” Pueschel states. However, Iration’s 2014 doesn’t stop with the chill. They’ve joined the Cali Roots Festival and are in the midst of developing a large summer tour as well.
The work and effort put into this past year has been dedicated to their latest record, Automatic, released in July of 2013. A splendid follow-up to its predecessor, “Fresh Ground,“ “Automatic” explores deeper waters of the reggae genre, while staying in the same boat. It’s an album that samples hip-hop on songs like “Uptown” and “Mr. Operator.” It also showcases folk riffs in the acoustically driven “Go That Road,” and revels in vigorous jams on “Home,” “Show Me,” and “Milk and Honey,” all featuring Lincoln Parish (guitarist, Cage the Elephant). The band doesn’t forget to embrace their catchy side either; the single “Back Around” treads the water of another smash hit, akin to “Falling,” off their second album, “Time Bomb.”
Iration doesn’t want to be boxed into a single classification; they see reggae as more than just bright chords and carefree lyrics.
“As far as Iration goes, we are a band that tries to push this genre to different places,” Pueschel confirms. “We aren’t afraid to take these risks. We want to give our fans something fresh and new.”
Opposed to the recirculation of riffs and songs, Iration shows their experimentation live as well by expanding songs beyond the fenced-off “radio friendly” limitations.
Songs from “Fresh Grounds,” a five-song EP released in 2011, were used as an outlet to take on a raw sound. By stripping down the synth and added effects prevalent in their previously well-received record, “Time Bomb,” the band proved themselves as true musicians.
“Our goal was to make songs that were organic and natural,” Pueschel says. “We just used all-natural instruments.”
A reggae/rock band with substance, Iration’s songs don’t just boil down the subjects of getting wasted and forgetting about the trials of today, tomorrow or the past. Pueschel’s lyrics speak of relationships, realization, letting go, and missing home.
“Home is something I think about when I feel like I’m lost on the road,” Pueschel says.”’Dream,’ off of ‘Time Bomb,’ contains the structure of a contemporary love song; however, it’s about a place rather than a person. ‘Dream’ is about Hawaii and where we grew up,” Pueschel says. “But it’s not all about us. I like to think that our songs can be perceived in their own way by many different people.”
These island natives thrive off of the laissez-faire nature of their homeland. It’s a state of mind they like to bring with them on the road and through various college towns around the United States. “We want these kids to let loose; we know how it can get,” Pueschel enthuses.
With guitar licks that bleed positivity, silver-tongued vocals, and choruses that evoke the constant rhythm of swells crashing upon shore, Iration may just be what this college beach town needs.
“We’ve always loved playing in Wilmington,” Pueschel says. “It’s a coastal city ,and we obviously love being as close to the ocean as [we] can be. Whether it’s the Pacific or Atlantic, the sea brings us together. It’s all connected.”
Music and the ocean are synonymous and once the show starts, one may find they are slowly getting pulled into the rip tide of Iration’s sound. Though lacking the deadly consequence, the escape will emit an identical rush: a swarming sensation of peace and inhalation of life, leaving listeners feeling more alive than ever
Ziggy’s by the Sea
208 Market Street
Wed., March 5th, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $18 adv. / $20 day of