Roots of a Rebellion
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Roots of a Rebellion

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Rock Reggae




"Bonnaroo 2016: First band is Nashville's Roots of a Rebellion"

Nashville-based reggae rockers Roots of a Rebellion have been building a steady local fan base for several years and relish the chance to play in front of their biggest and most eclectic audience yet at Bonnaroo.

Accolades for Roots of a Rebellion include being voted Best Local Band by Nashville Scene readers in Best of Nashville 2015. Local radio station WRLT-FM Lightning 100 jumped on board the band’s first EP, 2012’s “Inner Light,” as well as subsequent 2014 full-length album “Heartifact” in 2014. - The Tennessean

"Must-see performers at this weekend's Hangout Fest"

Who: Roots of a Rebellion

When: Friday, May 20, 11:30 a.m.

Where: BMI Stage

Why: Hangout is the ideal setting for ROAR, a reggae-rock Nashville-based group of wild, young musicians. Wake up at around 10 a.m., grab some breakfast and a spiked coffee and enter the rasta zone. - The Tennessean

"Album Review: Roots of a Rebellion – A Brother’s Instinct"

Artist Background:
Roots of a Rebellion (ROAR) is a 6-piece reggae rock band out of Nashville, TN. Combining elements of roots reggae, hip hop, and rock, the group is a true testament to the scope of talent performing out of Music City, USA. Prior to 2016’s release of A Brother’s Instinct, ROAR independently released their debut album Heartifact (2014) and an EP titled Inner Light (2012). The band has shared the stage with reggae mainstays like The Wailers, Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, and SOJA. ROAR was voted “Best Local Band” in Nashville Scene’s Best of Nashville 2015 Reader’s Poll.

Album Review:
For Roots of a Rebellion’s sophomore release, the Nashville-based group successfully opted for a rootsier approach than their debut album. A Brother’s Instinct pairs a vintage reggae sound with youthful spirit. The message of the album is overcoming struggle, and embracing a life of peace and love. Sounds familiar? Certainly. But A Brother’s Instinct still comes off as refreshing and original.

With a number of band members stepping up to write and sing on the album, A Brother’s Instinct connects from many different angles. There’s the clean, horn-driven reggae rock track “No Control,” which is sung by guitarist Austin Smith. “No Control” is followed up with “Stronger,” a song featuring conscious hip hop rhymes and an infectious trumpet line. In a leisurely flow, keyboardist Jeremyck Smith details an inner struggle of handling praise, letting out, “instead of being so stuck in my head, being so set in my ways, I learned to be cautious of praise, but came accustomed to homies sugarcoating my shortcomings, hidden intentions keep me like what you really want from me?”

“Peace & Love” is a relaxing tune with a sweet guest verse provided by Dan Twifford of Floralorix, a fellow Nashville reggae-rock group. It’s quite overt that ROAR enjoys stepping away from the mic at times, and getting lost in a jam. On A Brother’s Instinct this is best exemplified by “Half Full,” a trancy roots medley of melodica and trumpet. It’s not every day that a reggae band attempts to incorporate harmonica into their songs, let alone succeeds at doing it (John Popper’s solo on Rebelution’s “Closer I Get” comes to mind). But that’s exactly what ROAR does on “Dread Culture.” The song also contains my favorite lyric of the album, when Jeremyck offers, “cause I play piano they comparin’ me to Chopin, I’m so deaf to haters you should call me Dreadthoven.”

“Rebel Lion” has a great chorus, but the verses are rather boring. Each song really grew on me except for this one. A Brother’s Instinct closes with the instrumental “Rebel Reprise” and a dub version of the opening track with “Dub Control.” The latter breaks down its original track to the core before timely turning up the chorus. It brings the album full circle, allowing listeners to march out to the dub track, or start the whole thing from the top.

Overall, the album’s biggest downside is its length. At just 29 minutes, A Brother’s Instinct is half the running time of their debut album Heartifact. With one song being a dub version and another a reprise, A Brother’s Instinct seems a lot more like an EP rather than a full-length album. Adding at least two more songs would have been ideal.

However, for what music did make it on to the tape, Roots of a Rebellion brought forth a fun and entertaining selection of music. The group effort dynamic really kept the album fresh throughout, each song possessing a unique appeal. Influences like Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, Passafire, and John Brown’s Body are evident on many tracks, but A Brother’s Instinct definitely stands out as distinctly Roots of a Rebellion.

Written & Reviewed By: Brian Winters

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution] - ThePier.Org

"12 must-see Nashville concerts this June and July"

When: Saturday, July 9

Where: Exit/In

Why: I’ve written about these cats before, and know that they’re back for a co-headline with Backup Planet to celebrate the release of their new record A Brother’s Instinct. ROAR is coming off performances at Bonnaroo and the Hangout Music Festival, so needless to say, they are on their way up. Don’t miss them playing this legendary room. - The Tennessean

"We Chat with ROAR's Austin Smith Ahead of Their Show Tonight @ Exit/In"

Tonight marks the third installment of Jammin’ on Elliston Island, a quearterly reggae show put on by local troubadours Roots of a Rebellion over at Exit/In. The show tonight will also feature Sun Dried Vibes, Floralorix, Jo’Shua Odine and Nature’s Drummers, and is only $10. Additionally, the event has partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, and fans who donate 10 cans of food (or more) may attend for free.

In anticipation of this exciting performance, we took the chance to sit down with Roots of a Rebellion’s (henceforth ROAR) singer, Austin Smith. We talked about life on the road, playing with legendary acts, and a whole lot more. Check it out after the jump!

NO COUNTRY: Earlier this week (on Feb. 4), you performed with popular reggae act Passafire. Care to tell us about that?

Austin Smith: Yeah, we’re actually playing with them again tonight in Athens, Georgia.

What was it like getting to share the stage with such a legendary act?

It was awesome. It was a Wednesday night in Birmingham, where we haven’t played in a few months, if not four or five. [Passafire] hadn’t played there in a couple of years, but there were a good 50-60 people there, really getting down. It was awesome vibing with Passafire; they’re all really good dudes, really helpful, and great musicians.

Just the week before that show, you guys got to play with iconic acts Rebelution and Katchafire. How was that?

Yeah, we got to play with them at Marathon [Music Works]. That was sweet, and the same thing: those guys were super chill, super good dudes.

Sounds like ROAR are having a pretty good week then.

Yeah man, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s kind of surreal. They’re all bands that I’ve listened to and have affected not only my music, but really my life. Now being able to meet with them, hang out with them, have them listen to our music and vice versa – it’s pretty cool, I’m not gonna lie.

Based on what we’ve seen, the reggae scene here in Nashville has come along quite a ways, and you guys seem have been a big part of that. Would you concur?

It feels good to hear you say that [laughs]. We’ve been at it for almost five years, this summer. Nothing happens overnight, but when you do something you love and you believe in it enough to make the sacrifices, all that other good stuff is just a matter of time, really. It’s just a matter of doing it and finding the right people to do it with. People who are like-minded, willing and able.

All that hard work definitely seems to be paying off. You guys have the next Jammin on Elliston Island coming up, yes?

Yeah we’ve got Jammin on Elliston Island on Saturday [,February 7, and] it’s just $10.

What else does the band have coming up?

We just got announced on the Waka Winter Classic at 12th and Porter on the 21st. We were one of five bands selected, and the winner of that gets to play Wakarusa this year, so that’s definitely next in our sights after Jammin on Elliston Island.

Last year, in 2014, you played 110 shows. What’s it like getting to do something you love on such a regular basis?

It feels great, it’s honestly a dream. It’s a constant ride or journey filled with ups and downs, and every night is different. Some nights, you’ll be expecting one thing, and you’ll get thrown a total curveball, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. But yeah, being able to play 110+ shows, it’s a total blessing. We just want to hit the road as much as we can. We’ve all got other jobs that are helping pay the bills because, well, being a six piece band and doing the kind of music we do, it’s not the most commercially viable. It is what it is.

Actually, a band we toured with in 2014 and are bringing to Jammin at Elliston on Saturday is called Sun Dried Vibes, and they tour heavily. I think they played 240 dates in 2014. I just know how busy we are with 110 shows; I can’t imagine doing double that. It’s some serious dedication.

That’s incredible, they must be quite busy.

Yeah, but the coolest part has been becoming friends with them. Being able to play and open up for bands is one thing, but being able to hit the road with a band is something else. We were able to do a couple 3-4 day runs with them at the end of last year, and we were switching up who’s riding in what van [laughs]. We got to know each other on a real personal level. It’s beautiful.

How would you describe your writing process?

It’s very communal, and also very private at the same time. Every member of band, all six of us writes – well, really all five of us, since our trumpet player Justin [Smith] writes but hasn’t really brought any to table as of yet, at least full song-wise. Everybody else is pretty much a songwriter that has full songs that have brought to table as ROAR songs. At first it was for me to sing, but now we’re getting to the point where they’re singing their own songs. They’re finding the confidence and the strength to really improve in that department, which only helps all of us to grow and develop as musicians, singers, and songwriters. That’s really the goal.

I was pretty much the sole songwriter and singer at the beginning of the band, but as we’ve grown, it’s shifted. I’m always down to sing other people’s lyrics and hear other people’s ideas. If they can feel it, I can feel it – we’re all one and the same. Now we’re at the point where everyone has 10+ songs individually, and that’s just ten thoughts they’re willing to bring to ROAR. There’s this huge sense of creativity and inspiration present in Nashville, both in Nashville in general and especially within the reggae community. There’s a fire, and it’s burning and being passed along everywhere we go, in more metaphors than one. But yeah, the writing process is very interesting, a mystery.

Do you think the shift towards a more communal writing process, rather than you writing all the songs, has altered the tone of the band?

Oh yeah, definitely. It’s totally different. In fact, we’re releasing a brand new single this Saturday for Jammin’ at Elliston. It’s a song that Jeremyck [Smith] wrote, and he’s also the lead singer on it. That’s going totally different for people; he’s had a verse here and there, just like Adam [Quellhorst] had a verse on our song “Time” off Heartifact. There’s actually four different singers singing a verse in that, but this one is all written and sung by Jeremyck, and we’re backing him up on it. It’ll be different, but I’m excited to hear how people respond to it. Live, people have been really vibing with the song and the message. It’s called “Stronger”, and it’s just about staying strong and not letting the crap of this world and this life get to me or you. We just need to surround ourselves with positive people, who will help us get through the strife.

Anyways, yes: it has really changed our sound. Even the message or direction of the band has really been changing as well. Jeremyck and Adam, the keys and bass players, are really getting serious about Rastafari. I’m only vaguely familiar with Rastafari through my passionate discovery of reggae music, but it just gives this fire that’s burning behind reggae music and always will be, no matter what anyone says. In the genre, you see a lot of jokers and clowns; people who don’t really take it seriously and approach it as the “cargo shorts chill bro” who only sings about smoking weed. I don’t know. Even though I’m not a Rasta, I definitely respect Rastafari and have a lot to learn from it. One heart, one love, one people. It’s been very interesting. If you had told me five years that we would be opening up for Rebelution and Passafire, I would have pooped my pants. We were just four friends in a basement, learning and teaching each other something new. That’s kind of been the vibe of the band since the start and it’s what’s going to keep us moving forward. It’s a transparent approach. It’s so freeing and great to be able to write our own parts, bring them to the table, and even if we make mistakes, we’re at the point now where we don’t even really need to communicate those mistakes. Everyone knows what they need to correct individually, and we do it accordingly.

That sounds like a great band dynamic. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Is there anything else you’d like readers to be aware of?

Just that Tennessee reggae is on the rise. A lot of people think of Nashville as country, blues, or even indie rock. We’re here to say that Music City holds all kinds of music, and we’re happy to represent another side of it. It’s not just reggae, but it’s definitely rooted in reggae for this community. We believe reggae is the king of music, and the most spiritually uplifting kind of music. So yeah, if I wanted readers to be aware of one things, it’s that.

Roots of a Rebellion, Sun Dried Vibes, Floralorix, Jo’Shua Odine and Nature’s Drummers will perform tonight, Feb. 7 at Exit/In. The show is 18+ and begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are $10.

Like this: - No Country For New Nashville

"[Ticket Giveaway] Rebelution w/ Katchafire and Roots of a Rebellion"

Though Roots of a Rebellion (whom most fans refer to simply as ROAR) is the youngest band on the bill, this local group definitely has their act together. Since graduating from the Belmont University music crowd a few years back, ROAR has become a favorite up-and-comer in the national reggae scene. The group has scored several festival slots and played shows all across the country, due mostly to their penchant for putting on fantastic tunes and an engaging live show. We’ve always enjoyed catching these guy’s performances around town, and this one definitely won’t be one to miss. - No Country For New Nashville

"[Review + Photos] Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue w/ Roots of a Rebellion 11.28.14 @ Marathon Music Works"

Becoming a staple in the scene over the last four years, Roots of a Rebellion are about original as local bands come in Music City, mixing elements of jam rock and reggae with extended dub breaks. Coming in a couple songs into their set, I was happy to see them playing even tighter together than I’d remembered from previous encounters. Chatting with my photographer over some Long Hammer IPAs, we both felt some King Tubby inspired vibes. They brought out a harmonica player for the last number and jammed it out for a good fifteen minutes without pause; reggae middle Tennessee style. - No Country For New Nashville

"Trombone Shorty w/ Roots of a Rebellion @ Marathon Music Works 11/28/14"

Roots Of A Rebellion shouldn’t be strangers to purveyors of this little rag, and they also aren’t strangers to the stage at Marathon having most recently opened there for Slightly Stoopid and Tribal Seeds. When we think of the smooth stylings of Roots Of A Rebellion, we think dubby, horn drenched reggae party jams that will perfectly suit the fun vibes to help you work off some of the previous evening’s Thanksgiving feast. Check out their video for “Giving Tree” below, just to get an idea of why you need to be there on time! - No Country For New Nashville

"August 2014 Album Releases"

Amidst touring along the east coast earlier this year, Nashville’s Roots of a Rebellion have been busy inside Castle Studios recording their debut full length album. After four years of writing, recording, performing, and much anticipation, Roots of a Rebellion released Heartifact on August 8th. A follow up to their 2012 EP Inner Light, this record features 13 new tracks that the band believes is a good snap shot of how far they have come over the past few years. - Aaron Solomon at

"Roots of a Rebellion - "Little Lady Dub"/Summer Sampler 2013"

Local summer music…

Our favorite local reggae outfit, Roots Of A Rebellion, have been quite busy over the past year where the band has been found performing at Live on the Green (which just got a new website, check it out) and just last week opening for reggae mainstays SOJA at Mercy Lounge. As we enter the warm-weathered months, there’s always new music from reggae bands around the globe as summer is honestly the best time to listen to the laid-back vibes of the genre.

At noon today, R.O.A.R. will release a new compilation titled “Summa Sampler,” but prior to the full release, the band presents us with the first single titled “Little Lady Dub.” Just remember to download the entire project today at noon via Bandcamp. These guys has been quite consistent in delivering proper reggae music, or at least since we’ve been listening, and for a band located in Nashville with absolutely no beach in sight, that’s pretty damn respectable. - - Blog

"Roots of a Rebellion - Inner Light EP - Review"

There isn’t anyone in the world that could argue that the majority of it is in need of a healthy dose of positive and feel good. There is turmoil everywhere you look, but all too often we forget that there is also good hidden in those pockets that are getting overshadowed. Here is one suggestion on how to find that good within yourself to be the difference maker; take a listen to the new EP Inner Light from roots reggae rock based group Roots of a Rebellion. The positivity in their lyrics, which are all delivered crisply and cleanly, combine with the perfect rhythms to pull you in from the get go as the album launches with “Peace of Mind, a song that carries with it a lyric focused on being humble, thankful, and staying strong through dark times. This same inspiring lyrical focus can be found throughout the EP on songs like lead single “Giving Tree” or “Get To Me,” which feels like a very personal yet relatable open letter about dealing with the everyday pressures of life.

However the group doesn’t just stop with outstanding, positive lyrics. They are all very talented musicians as well and make it a point to showcase their musicianship when they present an instrumental hidden track, “Singapore Overture.” Inner Light sees a group of mature, young musicians and talented songwriters honing in on their signature sound and delivering a new hybrid of roots reggae that combines elements of dub with those of rock to make for something familiar but still unique. This ultra positive, feel good EP has me standing up and shouting KEEP AN EYE ON THIS BAND! Great stuff and the only issue with the 7-song EP format is that it leaves me wanting to hear more; a nice problem for a band to have. - Jeffrey Kurtis - Vertical Hope Blog

"Roots of a Rebellion's New EP"

“The Music City” is cherished for it’s cornerstone in the music industry. Country music loving Nashville, Tennessee’s own, Roots Of A Rebellion, a seven-piece hybrid reggae band, is aiming to blow up their own brand with a new EP titled Inner Light.

The recent Inner Light EP features seven brand new songs, mashing several genres such as reggae, dub, and rock. The album was recorded at several hotspots in Nashville including Ocean Way Studios, RCA, and the abode of the record’s chief engineer, Jordan Reed. Love, personal and community responsibility, and inner growth are the big motivators behind each song, something that each of the members strive to live by in their personal lives.

Behind the scenes, Roots Of A Rebellion proves their dedication to love and communal outreach. Although they are busy shredding venues throughout the southeast and Texas, they have also begun a grassroots movement through their street team in Nashville. However, their street team isn’t simply posting flyers at local music stores or venues. Instead, the Roots Of A Rebellion street team aims to give back to their community through service. In September, Roots Of A Rebellion hosted their first community service event at a local elementary school in hopes of providing a better learning environment for students. In turn, the band put on a free acoustic show later in the evening. To learn more visit The Roots’ Crew’s homepage

As it turns out, the generous minds and members of Roots Of A Rebellion have also donated two songs for our follower’s pleasures. You can find two songs; Fixman and Giving Tree from their newest EP Inner Light in our MP3 Massive section today! Also, be sure to take a look below at R.O.A.R.’s music video for “Giving Tree”. - The Pier

"Roots of a Rebellion Show Review"

Nashville is dubbed nationwide as Music City U.S.A and because of that moniker it is a city known for top quality musicianship like that which can be heard day in and day out from the countless music hot spots throughout the downtown area.

So with that being said, it should come as no surprise that the group of recent graduates from the prestigious Belmont University that make up the band Roots Of A Rebellion are top notch musicians that more than know their way around a solid, original, song.

However, what may surprise people that think Nashville is only known for country music is that Roots Of A Rebellion play a brand of music that isn’t necessarily the norm amongst Music City.

Roots Of A Rebellion combine the best elements of traditional ska with reggae to create a hybrid of modern and traditional influences and present a vibe heavy, feel good, music style to call their own as they seemed on a mission to prove when they hit the High Watt stage inside of the Mercy Lounge.

Front man, Austin Smith, began to sing the opening words of “Peace of Mind” and it was obvious that the crowd was already in the palm of their hands and would be all night long. This feel good atmosphere that the crowd offered to the band helped to set the tone for the entire performance.

By the end of the first verse, the audience had began to bob their heads along with the up-tempo feel and flow along with the groove heavy bass lines as the band seemed more than happy to feed them to the crowd to keep them intrigued and entranced in their set.

The band clearly soaked in the crowd’s energy as they played through the song and fed off of one another on stage without even having to look at each other, but simply by connecting through the music.

It was plain obvious to anyone in attendance that Roots Of A Rebellion simply loves what they do and love to set an atmosphere of positive that is shared amongst the band members on stage and also within the crowd making their performance feel like a family affair.

Now that the crowd was up and moving and feeling the positive vibe with the band, with a knowledge that only comes from being a performance veteran, Roots Of A Rebellion simply sat back a bit which allowed for the great brand of music to take center stage and pull the already captured audience further into their set.

In an effort to promote their new EP, they ran through a set of songs including the very positive “The Giving Tree,” along with fan favorites “Tommy Too Nice” and “Get To Me,” while also offering the crowd the chance to hear the quality musicianship being presented when they tossed an instrumental into the mix for good measure.

Although Austin Smith is the front man of the group, and while he did more than his part to connect with the audience throughout their set, he didn’t allow himself to saturate the front man role either. The rest of the band also interacted with crowd as well, which helped to add a unique element to that portion of their performance and it gave the crowd the sense of connection to the band making the overall performance feel like you were watching a band full of your best friends playing great music.

As the set was wound its way to its last two song, the crowd began to dance as the band played “Little Lady” after Austin encouraged them to do so when he said, “Dance with your lady if you have one here, and if not now was the time to find one,” before they wrapped up their set with another crowd favorite, “Fix Man.”

There is no doubt that Music City is full of great music, but while country may be the dominant brand, in pockets all throughout the city you will find many different styles and genres. When it comes to reggae there are several acts that base themselves in it, but with their positive lyrics, their feel good rhythms, their groove, combined with outstanding trumpet playing and a top-notch live show that keeps the audience’s attention from first notes to last, Roots Of A Rebellion is clearly the leader of that brand of music.

Roots of A Rebellion doesn’t always stick to performing live just in their own backyard either. More often than not you will find these guys out on the road bringing this positive, feel good vibe to audiences everywhere and anywhere so when they hit your area this is one show that you will not want to miss out on seeing. - Jeffery Kurtis - In Crowd Zine

""Best Local Band" Roots of a Rebellion"

Nashville Scene's Best of Nashville 2015 Awards
Readers Poll

Best Local Band:
1. Roots of a Rebellion
2. Moon Taxi
3. Friends of Lola - Nashville Scene

"No Country Presents: Roots of a Rebellion, Blackfoot Gypsies, & Charles Johnson"

Long time local scene players Roots of a Rebellion, who are a cornerstone of the ever expanding middle Tennessee reggae movement (see also Floralorix), will be closing out a very special edition of No Country Presents: Acme Tuesday Night. In honor of the fantastic Rome w/Sublime show happening just up the road the same night at Ascend Amphitheater, we asked the rowdy reggae rockers to help us keep Broadway jammin’. ROAR has also just recent re-released their debut record, Heartifact, so be sure to dive in deeper below. Most importantly though, be part of the coastal rhydems and dub love, during what promises to be a pretty rasta-fied evening. - No Country For New Nashville

"[REVIEW + PHOTOS] Roots of a Rebellion, Blackfoot Gypsies, & Charles Johnson"

After a longer then usual break in the action — we were hoping to get some people wandering in from the Ascend show up the street — Roots of a Rebellion were ready to turn out our unofficial Sublime with Rome after party, and turn it out they did! ROAR are a band we throughly enjoy and one we’ve covered before (read this post), but this was our first chance to book them for a No Country Presents showcase. In addition to being some amazingly awesome people, super talented musicians and fixtures in the Music City indie scene; they are also the heart and soul of a budding Tennessee reggae movement that is based in Nashville, thanks to local DIY label Dub Cellar Records (members of the band are founders of the label).

As they played on well past midnight, most of the gathered crowd stayed till the very end, with natty dreads and casual fans from the Sublime show wandering into Acme in droves as well. It was pretty obvious that ROAR were one of our biggest draws to date. Tables were cleared and pushed aside as the front area of the stage turned into a reggae inspired dance party, all the while the band promoting the sound culture and vibe they hope to create in a place that couldn’t be more different than Jamaica … middle Tennessee. As I looked around, seeing all the smiles on everyone’s faces and positivity filling the air, I can’t help but feel like they are helping to move local and out-of-town music fans in the right direction. Whatever you do, make it a priority to see these guys live, because it is always a good show, and there is no way you’re not enjoying yourself when the music hits. - No Country For New Nashville

"Bonnaroo 2016: Nashville's Roots of a Rebellion breaks out at Bonnaroo"

Nashville's reggae scene is on fire, and local band Roots of a Rebellion is a testament to that.

The band earned the spot to play at the Bonnaroo Music Festival by winning this year’s BMI Road to Bonnaroo competition.

In this special edition of the 12th Hour Podcast, host Marcia Masulla interviews three of the band's members.

Band members Austin Smith, Adam Quellhorst, Troy Wiggins, Jeremyck Smith, Justin Smith and Martinez met and formed at Belmont University.

Want to watch this interview on video? Tune in on Facebook Live. - The Tennessean

"Roots Of A Rebellion Drop New LP ‘A Brother’s Instinct’ | Release Show Saturday @ Exit/In"

Anyone who checks in with No Country on a regular basis should already know all about reggae rockers Roots of a Rebellion. If for some reason you haven’t heard of them yet, all you really need to know is they’ve had an amazing 2016, including a kick ass set at Bonnaroo. Never ones to rest on their laurels, they’re releasing a brand spanking new record entitled A Brother’s Instinct today, and they are celebrating this momentous occasion with an album release show Saturday, July 9 at Exit/In with help from Backup Planet and Omega Swan. Tickets are just $7-$12, and, as popular as these guys are becoming, they likely won’t last.

We were lucky enough to get an early listen to the LP, and we are pleased to report that they are only improving on their already established uniqueness. Their sound blends elements of dub era reggae, rock, hearty brass and even elements of hip hop, all adding to the irie vibes within the growing Tennessee Reggae movement. Right from the opening track, “No Control”, where they blast you with brass, it’s obvious that we are dealing with a band who knows what they’re doing. On the next song, “Stronger”, they discuss the perils of finding some success through a more spoken word lyrical delivery. They follow that up with the first single, “Peace & Love” which is strictly feel good reggae/rock vibes, while still relaying a strong message. Heavily dub influenced instrumental tracks “Half Full”, “Rebel Reprise”, and “Dub Control” also stand out on a very, very bad ass record that you need in your life.

We recently sat down with ROAR members Austin Smith & Marco Martinez to talk about their crazy huge year, music, and handling the grind. So if you can’t get enough ROAR, read on after the jump for a full interview. Also don’t forget to get the record digitally, or otherwise, and check them out live if you are in Nashville this weekend!

No Country: Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us to talk. We’ve been writing about you guys for a while now, since you opened for Trombone Shorty back in November 2014. What’s it been like from that point up until where you are at now?

Austin Smith: It’s been awesome! I mean No Country For New Nashville is like the perfect blog for a band like us. There’s so much other music, besides country music, in Nashville, and I think ya’ll do an awesome job of revealing that to people outside of Nashville and the scene within.

Marco Martinez: I think there’s been plenty of conversation going around Nashville forever about country music. It’s good to highlight everything else.

AS: And back to what you were saying … We’re grinding constantly. Whether we’re rehearsing, or trying to take care of the business end to keep the dream alive. There definitely is an element of ‘wow, this is La La Land’ when you do things like play Hang Out Music Festival and Bonnaroo. Hang Out was definitely La La Land. They had a private beach for the artists. Open bar. We’re just hanging out with Brittany from Alabama Shakes, she lives in East Nashville now. Super cool, super down to earth.

NC: Tells us a little bit about your experience performing at Bonnaroo.

MM: Bonnaroo was great man. As you guys know, since you covered it, we did the Road To Roo thing and won. We went into that whole thing really unsure if we wanted to do it, because it was five hometown shows, and it was only three songs a pop, and it’s super weird to be competing with people your friends with and fans of. But it was really cool to see the different fan groups that came out for these different bands. The overlap, I think, really helped a lot of bands, including us. The experience (on The Farm) was great. We had a killer slot, we weren’t overlapped with any big headliners, it was packed. I think it was us, then Bully played This Tent right after.

NC: They’re also local, can you talk a little about the local scene here in Nashville, and what you like to listen to?

MM: I’m a huge fan of the whole Infinity Cat thing. It’s inspiring. When we were just starting out, in school together (at Belmont), I was watching a lot of those bands like Diarrhea Planet and JEFF, Heavy Cream and just Infinity Cat in general, and how they built, most importantly, their community, rather than building any one band. They built fans of that entire label, and every band associated with it. That was a huge inspiration for how we wanted to build our community based around Tennessee Reggae, and just reggae influenced bands. Focus on building up the over-all community.

NC: Very nice, and we are big fans of all things Infinity Cat too. So with so much happening for you guys in 2016, are you surprised? Is it hard to keep perspective?

MM: I’m surprised to think about all the times we sat down to brainstorm creative ideas for events and things, and it’s actually working. It makes us want to keep working even harder.

AS: I mean Hang Out, Bonnaroo, and releasing this album is all super hype stuff, and we’ve had a very hype last couple months, but we try not to get too caught up in that. Even some of our friends or fans are like, ‘oh my God, you guys are blowing up!’ And it’s like thank you, I know what you’re trying to say, but we’re not trying to blow up; we’re trying to build up. We just want to focus on our music, and the message, and the community we have. And that’s really what it all comes down to. That’s the only goal, is to keep it going, and keep growing.

NC: Awesome. Thanks for your time and all you’re doing for the local scene. It’s been fun to watch your following grow, and we’re looking forward to the release show.

Roots of A Rebellion will be having their record release show this Saturday (July 9) at Exit/In with help from Backup Planet, and Omega Swan. Doors for this 18+ show open at 8 pm (music starts at 8:30) and tickets are available for $7-$12. - No Country For New Nashville

"Now may be the time for Roots of a Rebellion to roar"

Fans and friends of the band Roots of a Rebellion generally shorten the group's name to the acronym "ROAR."

"It's easier to say," says group lead vocalist and guitarist Austin Smith in a phone call.

Maybe it's also an indication of the band's new status. Roots of a Rebellion recently won the Road to Bonnaroo contest and performed at the festival in June. The group's new album, "A Brother's Instinct," debuted on the Billboard at No. 4 on the Billboard reggae album chart. The band was named Best Local Band in Nashville Scene's 2015 Best of Nashville Reader's Poll and the band's fan base just keeps getting bigger.

While Smith is proud of the group's achievements, he's not making plans to buy a mansion.

"We're not the type of band that's going to really blow up," he says. "We're trying to build up, not blow up, just like we're trying to tour smarter, not harder."

He says reggae is not exactly mainstream or to everyone's taste.

True enough, but the group is doing pretty well for a reggae band that formed in Nashville — not exactly a reggae hot spot.

Roots of a Rebellion came together in at Belmont University approximately five years ago when drummer Troy Wiggins and bass player Alec Newnam met through a Belmont Facebook group. Smith lived in the same dorm as Newnam and was invited to join.

"Honestly, I didn't know much about reggae other than Bob Marley and one of my favorite bands, State Radio, the lead singer of Dispatch, his kind of side project," says Smith.

Smith came from St. Louis and fellow founding guitarist Dylan Fitch was a Tennessean, and neither knew a lot about the genre. Newnam was from Ocean City, N.J., and Wiggins was from Florida, and both were longtime reggae fans.

"The coastal guys kind of educated us inland guys about the world or reggae music and opened my mind and my heart and my soul to not only Jamaican roots reggae music, but to American roots music," says Smith. "Bands like Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Giant Panda, John Brown's Body ... the list just goes on and on. Once I found out, 'Hey, white people can make reggae music!' I was like, 'All right!' "

Smith says all of the members came from different musical backgrounds, but managed to blend them all into Roots of a Rebellion.

"We formed a blues jam rock reggae band and now we've embraced roots reggae and that's what we all love. So it's a melting pot of influences that are held together by our love for roots reggae music."

In September 2012, the group won a radio contest to perform a free concert.

"It was right after we all graduated and there's a couple of thousand people who seemed to dig what we were doing and I just said, 'Hey, you guys want to do this?' "

The band bought a van and signed an agreement that all profits the band made went to paying off the van. The bill was paid a year early and since that time the group has saved half of all profits for band needs.

Both Fitch and Newnam left the group to pursue other opportunities, and the act solidified with Smith, Wiggins, trumpeter Justin Smith, guiatrist/harmonica player Marco Martinez, bassist Adam Quellhorst and keyboardist Jeremyck Smith.

Smith says that the group's fans have to appreciate something a little different.

"Sometimes that's a good thing. People say, (enthusiastically) 'Wow! I've never heard anything like you guys!' And some people are like, (sourly) 'Wow, I've never heard anything like you guys.' You either love it or you're not really into it. We just try to be true to ourselves and our influences and be who we are, which is completely different individuals, but six people who are trying to be something bigger than ourselves."

Roots of a Rebellion

With: Treehouse, Positive Mental Attitude

When: 9 p.m. Friday, July 29

Where: Scruffy City Hall, Market Square

Admission: $5 - Knoxville News Sentinel

"Must-see performers at this weekend's Hangout Fest"

Who: Roots of a Rebellion

When: Friday, May 20, 11:30 a.m.

Where: BMI Stage

Why: Hangout is the ideal setting for ROAR, a reggae-rock Nashville-based group of wild, young musicians. Wake up at around 10 a.m., grab some breakfast and a spiked coffee and enter the rasta zone. - The Tennessean


A Brother's Instinct - 2016

Heartifact - 2014

Inner Light  EP - 2012



Roots of a Rebellion are a jam band from Nashville, TN playing heavy Reggae-Rock-Dub music for the soul. The band is known for their dynamic live shows showing their progressive sound and energy. Roots of a Rebellion was voted Best Local Band in Nashville Scene's 2015 Best of Nashville Reader's Poll.

Roots of a Rebellion has recently released their second full length album, A Brother’s Instinct, which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. This release marked their first time being included in Billboard and was the follow up to their 2014 debut album, Heartifact, released on August 8, 2014. Having shared the stage with The Wailers, Rebelution, Trombone Shorty, Slightly Stoopid, moe., North Mississippi Allstars, SOJA, Nahko and Medicine for the People, NEEDTOBREATHE, and more, Roots of a Rebellion represents another side to Music City, USA.

Oh yea... and we play too many shows to manually enter here. Check out our website at for that!

Band Members