Blue Island Tribe
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Blue Island Tribe

Des Moines, Iowa, United States | INDIE

Des Moines, Iowa, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Reggae


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"The 5 Hits of Ecstasy"

Blue Island Tribe have been together for most of this decade, originating in their university days U of Northern Iowa. Mixing Rock and Reggae with an infectious pop aura is what Blue Island Tribe is all about. For all of the positive response their four previous releases have received, Blue Island Tribe truly comes alive in front of a crowd, be it a monster crowd or an intimate house party. Blue Island Tribe's fifth release, The 5 Hits Of Ecstasy (EP), finds The Tribe continuing down their chosen artistic path with a little more maturity and a little more finesse than in the past. The spirit still burns white hot, but the delivery has been refined just a tad.

Down opens with a classic Reggae sound turning into a sound that is a slightly more pop-oriented version of Sublime. The tune is extremely catchy and has potential commercial impact written all over it. Drop Out is a bit edgier, surfing the waters of a broken relationship. The upbeat, catchy vibe of the song stands in stark counterpoint to the subject matter here. Jump And Shout is the most familiar sounding song here, with a definite Red Hot Chili Peppers thing going on. The class of the album is the fourth song, March On. It's a tribute to US troops that was born out of a house party the band gave on a military base in Korea. Apparently the band had written the music previously but didn't have words. The lyrical inspiration came mid-performance in a blur of creative magic. The song does not celebrate the military as a war machine, but celebrates the people who dedicate their lives to maintaining peace through their presence and sacrifice. The album closes out with Ecstasy, which is probably the most pop-oriented. If you remember the commercial and appealing mix of reggae and pop that Eddy Grant achieved in the early 1980's then you have an idea of the sound here. Very smooth and slick, Blue Island Tribe may have found their first true hit here.

Blue Island Tribe continues to spread their musical moments of joy through 200 shows a year, but somewhere along the way they've grown from raw musical creationist to songwriters and artists. The 5 Hits Of Ecstasy shows The Tribe stretching their creative wings and attaining a higher level of musicianship and song craft. A very strong and enjoyable recording that's much too short, but otherwise without complaints.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Blue Island Tribe at or The 5 Hits Of Ecstasy is currently only available as a download through iTunes. A hard copy was originally scheduled for November of 2008 but has been pushed back until March of 2009. - Wildy's World

"The 5 Hits of Ecstasy"

Sometimes an artist comes along and sounds exactly like those artists that were few and far in between. Sometimes those artists are just riding on the coat tails of their predecessors. One artist who is always being mimicked is Sublime, simply because they were so unique. From time to time, artist can take that unique crowning of Rock/Ska/Punk and tweak it just right. Blue Island Tribe is the new comers I'm referring to.
While they have that Slightly Stoopid relax, rough reverb, and rescind sound, these guys have an enjoyable caribbean backbone sound. Accordingly, the vocals are facefront and suped up. From one bar to the next you could swear you're listening to Henry Garza (Los Lonely Boys). Songs like "Ecstasy" have a bouncy blues and punk not often mirrored.
Track one of this 5 song E.P. is "Down". An upbeat shouter at the local pubs lucky enough to have these perform at. Bridging saxophones and simplistically fun chords give way to "Drop Out" which has a mind-numbing intro of neo folk. A vocal tone eerily similar to that of Brad Nowell, in and out out of vocal distortion. Look to "Jump and Shout" for the best vocal performance on this album, and twisting melody of instrumention.
It's only January, but I smell a favorite for Indie Of The Year 2009. If BIT makes it down south, you bet I'll be paying cover charge. - Music Emissions

"The 5 Hits of Ecstasy"

Unlike fellow reggae artists Pepper, who are the emo of reggae, Blue Island Tribe don’t go for the flash and fanfare, they righteously stir the danceable fires with political commentary, like on the smooth vibed “March On.” At the outset of the five song EP, they use taunt, personal lyrics that fill sunny grooves without skirting the big issues. They use songwriting and singing to great effect as a form of emotional armor, as well emotional release. “Ecstasy” sounds warm and at times ecstatic, sensual, and vulnerable- the sound of sweet relief. The music harkens back to old-school reggae, and they fuse social realism with spiritual idealism. Blue Island Tribe build on reggae’s loose-limbed atmospheric mojo, laying down bubbling riddims, and pointed demands for justice. Capable of bringing things down to an individual level, “Jump and Shout” is anthemic, and with songs like these it’s not too early to picture Blue Island Tribe on this years Warped Tour. On “The 5 Hits of Ecstasy,” the band is completely in charge, and glowing with confidence. - Phil Rainone - Jersey Beat

"BIT Adds Grit To Reggae Sound"

Surf & turf: Blue Island Tribe adds grit to reggae sound
By MARY STEGMEIR, Courier Staff Writer
CEDAR FALLS --- Blue Island Tribe's "The Five Hits of Ecstasy" was born in an empty Waterloo warehouse and perfected during summer shows in South Korea and Japan.

It's an EP that almost didn't get made, but thanks to a delayed tour schedule, the members of the band produced some of their best work ever, said bass player Brandon Clark.

"Our Armed Forces Entertainment tour got bumped back and we had some open time," he said. "We had a free month and we took advantage of it."

Instead of enjoying the sun, the six-man band spent May pounding out rhythms in a downtown storage facility. Then, in June and July, the Tribe tested (and tweaked) their new tunes while performing for U.S. military personnel stationed in the Pacific Rim. The five-track album is available now on iTunes and is gaining positive reviews from fans and music industry professionals alike.

"Five Hits," named for the opening drum downbeats in the song "Ecstasy," retains the Tribe's signature reggae style, but infuses that sound with a straight rock sensibility. Guitarist John Schminke masters amazing guitar riffs, a la the Red Hot Chili Peppers, while sax player Garrett Thielking keeps an easy-going jam quality alive with his smooth solos. "Ecstasy" adds a slight swing to the EP; "Drop Out" smacks of punk undertones; and the infectious "March On" lends a tempered hard rock feel to disc.

"When we first started out, the songs were very, very simple," said vocalist James Frey, who formed the band in Cedar Falls in 2001. "Now we're throwing in bridges and more complicated riffs."

And although live music continues to be the Tribe's bread and butter, "Five Hits" shows that the group is learning how to capture its on-stage energy on a disc.

"We've become better writers and we've become better listeners," Clark said. "Things that work live don't always work recorded. So we've started to dissect our music and add things where it might sound hollow in the studio."

The band's newfound attention to detail paid off last month during a show at the Hub, said co-owner Marcus Kjeldsen. The Tribe will return to the club Jan. 3.

"They've got a little bit of a new sound to them, which is fortunate, because a lot of times bands kind of get stuck in one direction or whatnot," he said. "But they're versatile, and the nice thing about this album is that it goes in a different direction and it works."

Tribe members are now spread across the nation, with musicians making their homes in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Des Moines, Dubuque and Cedar Falls. Still, the band remains committed to its fans and each other, Frey said.

"A couple of summers ago everybody went on hiatus, and I had to play with a bunch of hired guns," he said. "Then, when we learned that we got the Armed Forces tour, we all got back together.

"We did the tour and we did the album," Frey continued. "That brought us back together, stronger than ever."

Contact Mary Stegmeir at (319) 291-1482 or - WCF Courier

"Misc. press Quotes"

“It's only January, but I smell a favorite for Indie Of The Year 2009.” – Music Emissions

“The 5 Hits Of Ecstasy shows The Tribe stretching their creative wings and attaining a higher level of musicianship and song craft. A very strong and enjoyable recording that's much too short, but otherwise without complaints.” – Wildy’s World

““March On”, really reminds me of the Red Hot Chili Peppers when that act was at the cusp of becoming famous in the eighties... Blue Island Tribe will be big, I can guarantee it, and if you like any type of rock, ska, or generally good music, this band should be the next you check out.” – Neufutur Magazine

“Just five songs on The 5 Hits of Ecstasy, but Blue Island Tribe pack a powerful punch of island flavor on this record.” – Skope Magazine

“….with songs like these it’s not too early to picture Blue Island Tribe on this years Warped Tour. On “The 5 Hits of Ecstasy,” the band is completely in charge, and glowing with confidence.” - Phil Rainone, Jersey Beat

“Take that one part Sublime, adhere a bit of No Doubt, and slap on a coat of old-school Chili Peppers, and you have Blue Island Tribe.” – Bullz-Eye Magazine - misc.


2003 - The Road To Hana
2005 - Ready and Waiting
2007 - The Essentials
2008 - The 5 Hits of Ecstasy




Blue Island Tribe
"The 5 Hits of Ecstasy"
To Be Released: 3/17/09

Don’t freak out now—the title of Blue Island Tribe’s latest EP The 5 Hits of Ecstasy may be a clever double entendre, but it’s not about drugs. Well, not really, unless you consider the powerful, hypnotic sway the Iowa based reggae-rock band holds over its thousands of fans across the Midwest.

Driven by their mantra “You can’t argue with crazy,” these six ambitious musicians launched the band while attending the University of Northern Iowa in the early 2000s after deciding that the world simply needed more fun. They have since spread the fun on four previous discs and anywhere from 100-200 annual gigs.

And the EP name? Purely exciting and innocent. It developed after drummer Mike Schminke couldn’t remember how several of the new songs—all in their primitive stages—started. The title track “Ecstasy,” whose laid back romantic and soulful exuberance reflects the band’s new sonic vibe after a spell of growth and transition, launches with five hits in unison, so bassist Brandon Clark would always tell him “5 hits of ecstasy.” They added “The” because, well, they can and the other guys—lead singer Frey, lead guitarist John Schminke, rhythm guitarist Kelly Powers and saxophonist Garrett Thielking—couldn’t argue with it.

The 5 Hits of Ecstasy was recorded at Sonic Factory Studios in Des Moines and features key contributions by members of the popular Midwestern based college rock band The Nadas. The EP was mastered by John Mailoux of Bongo Beach Productions, whose credits include Sugar Ray, Dispatch, and State Radio.
“We love all of these songs, but ‘Ecstasy’ is one that in particular shows the maturity and development of Blue Island Tribe over the past few years,” adds Clark. “We’ve all grown so much as songwriters. Our songs in the past have been popular but also somewhat simple, but these five tracks are more refined, with a tighter sound, an exciting edge and more emotional impact. We’ve finally got our sound to where people will know it’s Blue Island Tribe the minute they hear us. There have been bumps along the way for us, but we’re great friends, have a powerful chemistry onstage and most of all, just have fun doing what we’re doing. In fact, we’re having more fun performing now than ever before. We’re out there embracing the moment and having a blast. The crowds pick up on that and have a great time right along with us.”

Even as many of their infectious songs, beginning with the widely popular “No Worries” from their 2003 debut Road To Hana, have been on numerous TV shows and videos over the years, Blue Island Tribe’s live shows have been where the real energy and excitement of the band shines. A major touring force and huge festival attraction everywhere from their adopted hometown of Des Moines, Omaha to Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they played several shows in a summer series at Navy Pier in Chicago, which is one of their main hubs. They also performed 20 shows this summer for Armed Forces Entertainment on U.S. military bases in Japan and Korea and have already been asked to return.
One of The 5 Hits of Ecstasy’s key tracks, the tropically-tinged spiritual anthem “March On,” was partially written, totally extemporaneously, when the band was playing an intimate show in a living room for about 20 people on a small base in Korea. The music for the song had been composed back home, but the song didn’t have lyrics until Frey started singing it and improvising words like “March On…This Is Our Movement…Can You Feel It In Your Soul?” and creating what became a stunning tribute to our troops. The EP is rounded out by “Jump And Shout” (which features an incredible Red Hot Chili Peppers flavored guitar riff by John Schminke); the instantly infectious, edgy rocker “Down” and “Drop Out,” whose upbeat vibe is balanced by pointed lyrics about the end of a relationship.

Frey says, “’March On’ is not advocating war by any means. This song was written as homage to all the excellent people we met and their will to simply ‘march on.’ I can see with new eyes that our military is an absolute necessity, not as a warring campaign but as a peace-keeping entity. With that in mind, we wanted to create a song that would reflect the inspiration of what the tour and the people we met meant to us. So, to all the troops past and present that put their life on the line to protect our freedoms, this one is for you.”

The REAL story of BIT
We decided the world needed more fun.
We wrote some music.
We went on tour.
We played shitty gigs.
We went on tour more.
We recorded.
We played better gigs.
We toured all over the country.
We played with and met some cool people.
We played with and met some not-so cool people.
We wrote more music.
We recorded again this time with a bad ass producer.
We got sponsored by people.
We licensed a bunch of music to T.V. shows and surf vid