College years are when individuals seek out great friendships, work toward their career goals and have fun doing it. For the reggae band Rebelution, formed in Santa Barbara, Calif., its members found all three.
In 2004, vocalist and guitarist Eric Rachmany found several friends who shared a passion for music, with reggae being a favorite. In addition to Rachmany, the Rebelution lineup includes Rory Carey on keyboards, Wesley Finley on drums, Marley D. Williams on bass and Khris Royal on sax and percussion.
After the guys met through classes, or each other, Rebelution was formed and the first year was spent playing parties and gaining fame in their college town of Isla Vista, Calif.
"One thing led to another, we started playing more and more house parties, backyards, our house," Rachmany said. "We just had fun at first playing at parties and then we started developing this loyal fan base. These clubs downtown were starting to pick up on us and they offered us gigs to play downtown so that's how we first got downtown."
As the word spread about Rebelution and its online presence became known in other communities, the group began to pick up speed. Rachmany said that while Rebelution began in California, it was adopted by Hawaii in the early years as well.
"After Santa Barbara, the first place that really got our music was Hawaii," Rachmany said. "It was simply because this one kid in Hawaii heard us on MySpace, sent it to the radio station, and all of a sudden 'Safe and Sound' became this big summer hit.
"I remember our first show up there with a huge line around the block. We had never played a huge show like that in a club."
Musically, Rebelution stands out in its genre, though Rachmany would like to think the band has a hybrid feel.
"Oftentimes people kind of classify us as a new hybrid reggae kind of sound," he said. "I gladly take that label because we really like mixing in different kinds of music. We're trying to mix it up as much as possible. I think we're just going to keep on doing that, keep on writing, keep on touring."
For a group that creates all its own music, all band members are involved in the creative process, he said.
"We write all our own music," Rachmany said. "Every song is kind of different. Usually I kind of come up with the idea, but the band really helps to arrange it. Oftentimes, someone in the band will take on a song as their project, we get kind of everybody's interpretation."
The band's most recent album, "Peace of Mind," released in January, rose to No. 1 on the independent and reggae charts. For Rebelution, this success was more than the numbers but an appreciation of their dedicated supporters.
"We're just super thankful to have the support from our fans all over the world. I think it made me really proud but I think it made our fan base really proud. I think they see our fan base as a community or like family, and together we did this. It definitely says something about independent music what is possible right now for all bands," Rachmany said.
With fun promotions and contests available through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets, Rebelution is constantly seeking to find ways to connect with the fans.
"I think (social media is) a really fun thing for fans, and it's also really fun for us," he said. "It's hard to connect with everybody. The way that we do that is through our show, and going from town to town and playing for people."
On Saturday, Rebelution will stop by the Canopy Club in Urbana to showcase its updated version of reggae music. Rachmany said those looking to have a fun time should come check out the show.
"I think our live show is a little bit different than our recorded stuff. We really enjoy playing live, I think if people want to get out of the house and let loose, listen to a new style of reggae hybrid music, come out and leave your worries behind and enjoy the show," he said.
If you go
Who: Rebelution, with Passafire and Through the Roots
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 (doors open at 8)
Where: Canopy Club, 708 S. Goodwin Ave., U
Tickets: $17 in advance; $20 at the door; $17.50 at http://bit.ly/RQkqWf
Of note: Must be 18 to enter