Rebelmatic has been described as “the sound of pre-gentrified New York” and when you give them a listen you’ll immediately understand why. With Creature on vocals, Alkatraz on guitar, Karnage on bass and Ramsey Jones on drums, their intense sound mirrors the grit and grime of their surroundings in the Big Apple.
The band also plays a fusion of styles that keeps things engaging and exciting for the listener.
On Friday, Jan. 20 at Café Nine in New Haven, Rebelmatic will be bringing intensity and electricity, with local reggae-punks West Rockers starting off the show at 9 p.m.
Before the show, I talked with Creature about having a natural approach to making music, an EP the band put out last year, maintaining their creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic and getting ready for a busy 2023.
RD: How did you, Alkatraz, Karnage and Ramsey Jones initially go about crafting this unique blend of hardcore punk and funk that’s become the catalyst of Rebelmatic’s music? Have you guys always leaned more towards that kind of music or were you just looking to do something different?
C: It’s the music that we listen to, generally speaking. We all listen to groovy music, we all grew up in neighborhoods that are multicultural and multi-faceted so hardcore punk, metal, funk, hip hop and everything in between is a natural blend. Nothing is contrived or overly thought out, it’s just a natural progression as far as what we sonically create.
RD: This past April, you guys released the Morning Dove EP. Angelo Moore from Fishbone is featured on the track “Sun Go Down”, so how did you get him involved in the recording and what was the experience like making the EP in its entirety? Was it done during the COVID-19 lockdown or was it done when things started opening back up?
C: We’ve known Angelo for a while, we toured with him about 10 years ago, I kept a rapport with him and we had the song. I thought he would sound good on it so I reached out to him and he just blessed us with his presence. Our previous album, Ghost In The Shadows, came out in 2020 and during that time obviously the pandemic happened. We were doing pop-up shows, all together we did about 43 of them and then the following year we started touring, doing different tours and so on. From September 2020 to now, we’ve done 150 shows.
RD: Wow, that’s a lot.
C: Yeah, and around 80% of them were out of state. Over the whole time during the pandemic, we’re creative so we kept creating. We had the songs already created and we never really stopped working. We had enough for an album and an EP so instead of putting out a whole album we released the EP as a teaser and later this year we’ll put out a whole album, which will probably be on a bigger label or something.
RD: It makes sense to do a teaser as sort of a preview of what’s to come. I really dig the black & white artwork for the album cover with a dove on a powerline overlooking a city landscape. Who drew up the design for that and did you guys have any input on the artwork?
C: I have input on all the artwork. If you Google our artwork, you’ll see kind of a similarity between all of them. There’s a common theme even though they’re different and distinct. Basically, a friend of mine was cooking and a dove came to the stoop of my apartment. I thought it was crazy and then I realized that a mourning dove symbolizes change, peace & love, which I knew made sense for the next project. It was very simple and we’re all born & raised in New York City so I wanted to represent that aspect of it. A dove is symbolic to change, peace, love and everything else.
RD: I really enjoyed the detail of the artwork on the EP. New York City was hit pretty hard during the COVID-19 lockdown with a lot of places having to close down. I actually know you guys did a residency at a place called Max Fish before the pandemic that eventually closed up. How has it been living there these days since that time? Do you feel that the city is on a bit of a comeback or have things gotten worse?
C: New York City has been back. Like I said, we never really stopped playing. It’s documented, you can go search for videos and we were doing shows all through the pandemic. We never stopped so for us it might be different, but the city is back in full swing. Venues are open, stores are open and people are going out, it’s the same stuff for better or for worse.
RD: That’s good to hear. After Rebelmatic plays Cafe Nine, what are the band’s plans for the next few months? You mentioned that you guys are looking to have a new album out, so what’s the situation with that? Do you plan on going back into the studio relatively soon?
C: We already have music recorded, we pretty much have a whole album already done. Right now we’re just trying to find a home for it. After we put out the next album, we got enough music for another album and another EP so ideally we want to get with a label where our recordings will be seen and heard by as many people as possible. We got some tours coming up in February and April, we got some festivals coming up. Like any working band, we want to stay active, put out more music, play the right shows, reach more people, interact with the people who are already in tune with us and just stay positive & productive.
250 State Street, New Haven
Friday, Jan. 20, 9:00 p.m.