was invited to see the band INNASTATE's CD release party for their new album VERDE at SISTERS BAR here in Albuquerque and I didn't go. Work kept me away, but seeing as how my work involves interviewing and transcribing interviews, it's an excuse that doesn't really have legs. When I caught up with INNASTATE front man ADRIAN WALL and bass player RYLAN KABOTIE at MARBLE BREWERY an hour-and-a-half before their latest gig was to start, one could see that the INNASTATE freight train was already in motion. A band has to move fast in order to build momentum and an album like VERDE is worth the extra steps. American Indians making contemporary music may be viewed as exotic in a time of sound-a-like pop tarts and celebrity worship gone mad, but INNASTATE has upped the ante with a reggae sound that hails from the desert of the American Southwest. Outside of his reputation as a world class sculptor, WALL has been instrumental in pioneering a reggae/ska sound that is rooted in indigenous culture. He and his former band RED EARTH first issued this vibrant, punchy sound twenty some years ago and now his latest band INNASTATE continues that fine musical tradition, but this time the music is marked by maturity and the spirit of collaboration. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with ADRIAN WALL and RYLAN KABOTIE of INNASTATE regarding their new album. Here is how the interview went.
I'm so sorry that I missed the CD party for the new album VERDE. How were the new songs from the album received that evening, from your perspective?
ADRIAN: We've been playing these songs live for a long time now. It's nothing new, but it was a very special night for us. This is a collection of songs that we've been playing for the last three years probably and there was some unreleased material on that album that wasn't played before, but it was a special night. It was an easy gig to play but we were really overcome with gratitude for the people that showed up. We had an amazing lineup of talent on the bill with us that night with LINDY VISION, DEF-I and DJ BREAKAWAY.
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How about you RYLAN?
RYLAN: I think that is the best turn out that we've ever had for any of our shows. The turnout was great! That is kind of how we approach our live shows, if that is the place to be than people are already going to want to be there. If our friends are talking about being there then they are going to want to bring their friends a long. Almost all of our friends showed up there except for you. We had like three hundred plus people there. That night, we just played all of the songs on the album that we've just released. Everybody knew the songs already but the fact that they are memorialized on an album now has been cemented into people's brains.
It has been years since the release of your debut EP. Now you guys have a full length album in VERDE, that you can share with the world. Now that the album is finally out there, how do you guys feel about the finished work?
ADRIAN: We're very excited about it. We're very pleased by the way it turned out. It's interesting that you ask that because, A lot of people are asking us what's next and for us it's almost like it's an end of a chapter for us. We can start working on new music and move forward as a band. A page has definitely turned. We're going to promote the album and use it to it's fullest potential because for us, it's an amazing product to have out there. I don't even know how to describe it. We're just very happy with it but we're also really looking forward to the next thing now. I didn't expect that to be the case, but that is what has happened.
RYLAN: Like ADRIAN said, we've been working on these songs and crafting them and fine tuning them for a couple of years now. Some of them are more recent than others. A big addition for this CD was having a horn section and we had CARLI MARSHALL and DOUGLAS BAILON helping us out there. We also had some keys on this album which we didn't have before on our last release. All of that put together with these songs has made for a great album and we're excited to have it done. We've been working toward that for some time and now that it's out here, we're ready to work toward something else and create a new goal for ourselves. I think all of us have been planning a little bit of that with the CD release party. I'm so happy it's done. It's not neccessarily been a super stressful time, but it was so much work. There were so many deadlines to meet. Even for that show, we had to have a poster ready by this time. We had Indian Market this last month so we can't do very much, because we were all getting ready for that. We worked with JAYCEE BEYALE for the graphic art on the cover, and everyone just pulled together to make this project something really special. I feel really great about it. We worked with so many of our friends and so many great people that we consider professionally to be very awesome people. Now that it's finally out there, I feel great about it. The songs speak for themselves and it's great to have something to share with people.
Who helped you guys with production on this album. Was it the same team as before?
ADRIAN: Actually our keyboard player helped produce this for us. He's got a really nice home recording studio. He's got a lot of nice gear and a lot of knowledge. We had a lot of confidence in him. He really did a great job. I was quite a process though but we've definitely grown closer as a band because of the experience.
What inspired this set of songs for this album?
ADRIAN: Originally, we went in recording about fourteen songs and as we laid them down, we started talking about the whole concept of the album which is about a band coming to this exact point where we're at. We've been together for about four or five years and I think that we've matured a lot as a band within that time. We've changed a lot since the release of our first EP but we have re-recorded a couple of those songs. Right now, we feel like this green plant that is still growing and that is why the album is called VERDE. So we looked at these songs that we were going to include on this album. Some were ready and some still needed a little work. We wanted to create an album that was a good collection of songs and not over extend it but including fifteen songs. It was RYLAN who suggested that we keep it around ten songs. At eleven tracks, we feel that it's a really solid album. It's a nice little package.
RYLAN: The songs we picked I think are very strong songs. ADRIAN and I are the primary songwriters. We both come up with lyrics but musically I think it's been a maturing experience for the both of us to have been able to create this album with each other. Each song is different. I like for each song to be about a variety of things. I don't necessarily like to settle on one theme for a bunch of songs.
You don't like being angry for every song?
RYLAN: Not every song, no! The inspiration for these songs came from a lot of different things. I usually like to write about my own internal struggles. There is a song on the album called THE WAY and I kind of wrote that with my own personal struggles in mind with being an urban native and feeling like an outsider to my different cultures and my different reservations alongside having grown up Christian. There are a lot of different themes going on within the album as far as the songs go, but they've all come together to create something that shows our growth as individuals and as a band.
It sounds like I'm speaking with the creative core of the band and the buck stops with the both of you.
ADRIAN: We are a six or seven piece band but we do have a three member core which is RYLAN, myself and LAWRENCE. Outside of that, we have an amazing pool of artists outside of that who are band members, but they can't make all of the gigs and we have to work around their schedules. We're very versatile and we'll play as a three-piece if we have to. Tonight there will be seven of us on stage.
RYLAN: We are the primary songwriters but the songs evolve as soon as we show them to the band.
ADRIAN: It is immense what every band member brings to these songs, especially with CARLI's horn playing and DOUG has a great musical sensibility. He's playing both trumpet and keys and he's been able to work some pretty amazing things.
Since the start of INNASTATE up until now, what has been the biggest surprise for you guys?
ADRIAN: For me, it's the we're still doing it and that we still love to do it and that we're still able to work together and have a common goal. I've seen bands come and go very quickly. Five years isn't a long time but it is a long time. We're still together after all of this time and we don't have any plans to slow down at all. I think that is the most surprising thing to me.
RYLAN: For myself, this is my first full on musical project. I was in a band prior to this and I've played bass in a few other projects before, but this is the first band that I've ever written songs for and actively promoted that has really taken off and did bigger things than I have ever anticipated. Since I'm coming from that young musician standpoint, I think the most surprising thing to me was us opening for the band TRIBAL SEEDS. That was such a big deal for me and it was such a surprise. That band, at the time, was a huge inspiration to me in terms of songwriting. Another surprise for me is the music that we've been able to put out.
There is a quite an age differnece between the two of you. Does that ever cause problems in sticking it out with this band?
ADRIAN: Of course! It's both beneficial and challenging. I've been in a band that has done some pretty cool things before and I understand the business side of things and I've been able to mentor RYLAN on that aspect quite a bit. That being said, RYLAN has taken on some of those aspects in the band and doing his own thing and thinking outside of the box. He's really great at marketing and social media. None of that stuff existed when I was growing up. There are a lot of things that happen that are challenging. The relationship that RYLAN and I have can be a challenge too. RYLAN's dad is one of my best friends in the entire world. I don't even know how to describe our relationship .
You're like an unrelated uncle.
ADRIAN: Exactly! I have so much respect for them and they have respect for me and I think that is why it works but there are challenges for sure. I'm older. I can't hang with him or anything but for me it's awesome to have him in this band. It's his first real band and I've seen him grow a lot from the time we started up until now. And I myself, have never sung and played guitar in front of a band before and with this band, this is my first time doing that.
RYLAN: Oh man, it's been so challenging! It was also a big challenge for my last band too. My dad and I played music together for a while as well. I was in a band with my father and my brother and my brother-in-law. My dad had the hardest time with me. I know that I have a huge creative energy about me and I wrote a ton of songs, but the challenge for me in writing with ADRIAN is that ADRIAN is like quality control for me. I say quality control because I like to play video games quite a bit and there was a big video game crash back in the mid-eighties with ATARI. Because they kept introducing new video games over and over and over,it was easy to make money off of them but everyone started to realize that they were all really crappy video games and then the whole industry came to a halt until NINTENDO came along and they were really on their stuff. They took a bunch of Quality Control measures to make sure that they had a good product before unleashing it onto the public and that is what ADRIAN does for me. We've gone through a lot of songs together and we've got piles of unreleased stuff. The stuff that we've put out has always been at a certain level of quality and I'm proud of this album for the same reason. It's been a challenge working with this guy on many different levels, but as ADRIAN said, he has played a big part in mentoring me in this music business and I really respect his approach to songwriting and crafting songs and he has helped me to take my songwriting to the next level.
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From the album, what songs off of it stand out for each of you the most and why?
ADRIAN: RYLAN wrote the song SAILING which is the second track on the album. I think that one is really well crafted. It has a great hook and it's just a really good song. I think the whole album is pretty good, but I think that song is one that we are really going to push.
RYLAN: SAILING is the song that people seem to be really reacting to. It's been a while since we released our first CD and everyone would ask if SAILING was on that first CD and I'd have to tell them 'no'. Now finally, it's out on this new album. I'm excited to have horns on the songs of this album. BUTTERFLY is also one of the songs that people react to and that is one of ADRIAN's songs and the horns just elevate it to this new level of sickness that I really enjoy and I really like showing it off to people, especially people who are musicians and say "Look! this is my band!" As far as a favorite song, I'd have to say it's either BUTTERFLY or TIME WILL TELL. I'm actually kind of sick of SAILING myself. Everyone else gets excited about it and I'm like "Eh! I'm over it!" TIME WILL TELL is another tune that stands out for me. ADRIAN and I wrote that one when we were in San Diego. ADRIAN invited me out there to a conference with him and I heard a bass line in my head and I recorded it onto my phone. That is a song that has come a long way. There is a hook on the bridge of that song that is really special to me. When CARLY and DOUG come in with the horns, it just turns into this whole new experience and I was so excited that the song was able to be blessed with that kind of inspiration. It's something that is really special.
With VERDE, what's the big idea? What would you like for people to come away with after they hear it?
ADRIAN: Well we want them to like us of course. I want them to enjoy it and I want them to want more. That's kind of our goal with this. I want people to come back and see what we're doing next. We're not going to stop here. This is just the beginning for us.
RYLAN: VERDE sums up everything that we wanted to encapsulate in an album. There is a lot behind the title of the album and even behind the name of the band but we never try to be too preachy, or too artsy or too native.
ADRIAN: We don't try to be hat we're not. What you see is what you get with this band and I think that is a really cool place to be.
CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: firstname.lastname@example.org