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Published: 2012/04/05
by Glenn H Roth

SOJA’s Inner Strength

Why is it so important for you as a band to have such socially conscious lyrics?

That’s what I like to sing about. I like to sing about saving the earth and the people who live in it. And it seems like we have two options, we can either start fixing things now or we could start fixing things when they’re broken. But 50 years ago nothing was broken and another 50 years we may have a very different picture to look at. And I like singing about the evolution of the human race and where we’re headed.

How is this new album different from 2009’s Born in Babylon ?

I always loved how Bob Marley records had a really cool reggae sound but then again it rocked with the producer coming in and adding guitar, so we kind of wanted to do that for ourselves and we got a chance to do it.

How do you get fans to see there is more to reggae than the likes of Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff?

I don’t know if that’s really my job. I’m not here to sell anybody on my brand of reggae necessarily. I’m just playing my music and whoever wants to listen to it, can. And people who are expecting Bob Marley, I wouldn’t think it is good advice to listen to anyone and think they’re going to be as good as Bob Marley.

Getting back to the summer tour, you’ll be headlining and supporting with a variety of acts. When you play in your hometown of Washington DC, DJ ?uestlove will be a special guest.

He’s a big go-go music fan and we’re going to try to play some extra go-go songs at the show that night. We’re going to try to impress him.

What’s go-go music?

It’s music that’s only played in my area as far as I know. It started with kids playing paint buckets outside the metro stop. They use the metal shopping carts as high-hat cymbals and the big paint bucket as the kick drums and the little ones are the snares and toms.

You also have back-to-back opening gigs for the Dave Matthews Band in Burgettstown, Pa.

Dave Matthews is kind of an inspiration for our band not only musically but also the way he evolved and the following he achieved – it’s kind of staggering. It’s kind of like watching the leader and their band is incredible. Each one of those guys individually is so good that I feel like musicians are drawn to them.

Do you think you might collaborate during that mini-run?

I haven’t met him yet. We’ve been busy and he’s been busy probably since the album came out. I talked to him recently and we were talking about how we want to meet up. I’m sure we’ll see him at one of these shows. I would love to get on stage with Dave Matthews.

Then in August the band has several dates with Slightly Stoopid and 311. What does SOJA have in common with those bands?

We played with Slightly Stoopid a couple of times. They’re buddies of ours and they’ve been doing it for a long time and they’re kicking butt, same as 311 and they’re kicking butt; and we’re looking to hop on the tour and kick butt as well.

Could this be a breakout year for SOJA?

I don’t think SOJA is that kind of band. We don’t write a song and get famous. We’re more of a band that rises on a 45 degree incline – we just build it. We play the music we play, the fan base grows, goes from 100 people to 1,000 to 10,000 people. I’m never going to feel like we arrived because for us it’s about playing the music for the people who come to the shows and make an album that they can play in their car or at their house.

How about becoming regulars on the summer festival circuit?

I guess, we’ll see how it goes. We feel like festivals are the name of the game these days. It’s also a musician’s favorite thing because you see all these bands that you really like and you get paid to be there. It’s the coolest thing ever and we’re just pumped that we have the chance to go to all these cool things and we’re already trying to figure out who we’re going to watch.

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