The fans give Iration life, the love gives them a purpose
Micah Pueschel loves coffee, his dog Rolo and devoted Iration fans. The “sunshine reggae” band, formed in 2006, has mastered the art of making shows an experience for everyone, not just a concert. The members seem to understand the power of their music, the purpose of it and, above all else, how important devoted its fan base really is.
The upbeat, provocative sound has grown by strides since the act’s first release No Time for Rest. With that maturity has come a better understanding of the art form, too. “None of us are professionally trained musicians,” says Hawaiian-born frontman Pueschel. “I mean, some of us were in school band, but we learned all of this on our own. I just picked up a guitar and started learning to play.”
Because Iration is a far more independent outfit than its peers in the mainstream, it’s crucial the band interacts with its fan base continually, because the uplifting crew knows that without any of them hanging around, there would be no band.
“The audience is young people in general,” says Pueschel of the fans who support them. “They’re a large part of our audience. I mean, we’ve been lucky enough over years of touring and meeting people and being able to get out there and see what our crowd is like. We see that the vast majority of them are probably, like, 16-30. And we’ve been around long enough that even the people that were in college when they discovered us are now out of college.”
Creating a fan base that sticks with you well out of their teens is crucial in the fleeting industry, which may be one of the reasons every band member pays close attention to their social media. “It’s funny, because I’ll see on Twitter something like ‘Iration!?! Oh my god! I like haven’t thought about this since high school!’” Pueschel says with a laugh. “And I’m thinking: ‘aww, great.’”
But it’s more than just being gracious musicians that forged an unbreakable bond between Iration and its fans — the fellas also bring mad reggae skills. Their albums are genuinely adventurous and step outside of the often loathed “white boy reggae” genre (a phrase Pueschel says he despises).
“We aren’t trying to be Bob Marley,” he says. “We are who we are, and we respect all musicians and the music that has come before and inspired us.” The act’s focus isn’t to emulate other reggae artists, he continues, but to be true to its own form, the lyrics and its recognizable style.
The strong bass beats and soothing vocals in Iration’s tracks are aspects of the band’s demeanor that demand a type of sexy movement from listeners. When asked whether or not he cares people are having sex to his band’s catalog, Pueschel responds with a most gentlemanly answer:
“That’s great,” he says. “I’ve heard that before. Our music is about very personal and in some cases kind of sexy topics — I think a lot of it is motif — it’s not trying to be overtly sexual. There’s something about a deep bass groove that is a sensual thing. A tropical warm vibe. I’m flattered by that — I never thought I’d make sexy music.”
But sexy music is the outcome. It works that way. Listening to Hotting Up, the newest drop from the band, it’s clear this is much more mature than their earlier work. It exudes more depth and moves past rough vocals and missed beats, into a complete and full sound that only comes to bands through experience and failure.
One of the most endearing and relatable things about Iration is its struggle — the struggle to create music and tour without huge financial backing from mainstream, big-money music labels.
It’s no easy task, either, Pueschel notes. It’s hard to keep pushing forward to create that perfect sound, unless you really love the music. And the band’s devotion is to the purity of the music, he continues. It doesn’t have a mass-produced sound so often heard on the radio — it has soul. “This is the most complete [album] as far as each song being complete itself,” he says. “The musicianship and production is where it should be. It was never a struggle to make.”
He’s sincere when he speaks about the importance of music and musicians that spark creativity in him, especially so when it comes to past female artists that have burned paths for his current inspirations. “Definitely both the ladies from Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie,” he says. “They are some of my favorite songwriters. And for me, songwriting is so important for what we do. Who else? Annie Lennox. I also like a lot of like pop artists from the ‘70s and ‘80s … and Adele. She’s talented. I respect what she does.”
Pueschel and his band’s devoted following rely on the band’s ability to keep their shows from getting stale. Some fans have even been known to drive by the house the band shares, car lights off, and scream their names. “The fans keep it fresh,” he adds. “When you hear the crowd singing the song, it’s awesome, that never gets old.”
And everyone understands the feeling, when your favorite band plays its best song, and you close your eyes, imagining being on stage with stars, singing right alongside them. It’s pure sunshine.