An Interview With The NOLA Brass Ensemble, THE SOUL REBELS!
Meet the NOLA brass ensemble, The Soul Rebels! These eight men lock into a groove and rotate genres like your favorite playlist shifting from jazz and R&B to hip-hop, pop and beyond with fire, focus and fluidity. Their new album, Poetry In Motion, was just released on October 25th and features Tarriona “Tank” Ball of Tank and The Bangas, Robert Glasper, PJ Morton, Matisyahu, Trombone Shorty, and more.
Check out the first two singles from the album:
“Good Time“ ft. Big Freedia & Denisia
“Real Life“ ft. Passport P, Julian Gosin & Sean Carey
The Soul Rebels set the stage in 2019 by an unprecedented run of successes. They went from a scorching set on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, to touring with Wu-Tang Clan, performed with Katy Perry at New Orleans Jazz Fest, and opened for The Rolling Stones.
Other career highlights:
Performed with Nas, G-Eazy, Portugal The Man, Robert Glasper, Pretty Lights, DMX, Curren$y, Joey Bada$$, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thicke, Metallica and Marilyn Manson.
Opened up for Lauryn Hill, John Mayer, Ice Cube, The Allman Brothers, and Nile Rodgers.
They contributed and performed the hit song “Lovely Day” for the box office blockbuster Girls Trip (soundtrack + were in the movie).
Earned acclaim from Noisey, BBC, Vibe, Okayplayer, Forbes, Billboard, Paste, OffBeat, and more.
Performed a scorching set on NPR’s “Tiny Desk” with GZA.
Collaborated with charities including Global Citizen, Space for Giants, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, The Roots of Music, and The Trombone Shorty Foundation.
Members are active in their community and music education, working alongside marching bands and running workshops with school music programs while on tour.
Learn more about The Soul Rebels in the following All Access interview-
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
MARCUS HUBBARD: We have rehearsals, a meeting and a few weekend shows this week and through the rest of the year. The plan is to take it easy now, then hit the ground running in 2020. The main objective we are doing is preparing for the new record to come out on October 25 and work on a new show for our Poetry In Motion shows for 2020 to support the big album.
Now that we are into the 10th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 has treated this band? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them? What are you already excited about for 2020?
LUMAR LEBLANC: 2019 has treated the band very well, we have experienced a lot of creative and exciting growth. The new album is a result of that experience. “Poetry in Motion” represents pure depth and the deep passion we have for music.The Soul Rebels have always fostered positive energy in the music game, and this effort produces just that, along with grooves that continue to touch your heart and make you move. This was our main goal….to focus on new innovative space and sound in our musical universal and the journey was magical. A lot of very hard work went into this Album. The ability to lock in on all 8 members’ creative visions took countless hours of study and building. The vibe was awesome we had ideas flowing constantly that brought out new meaning within each member. The challenge always remains, how can I top that, how can I go even further. Also, fashion and style continues to be a goal for the band also. Music has many different layers. Fashion is constantly flowing and evolving. We continue to maintain exciting visionary experiences, representing our urban funky flair. Our wardrobe has gotten so large and explosive that fans look forward to that energy as well as the musical component. Sleek design was our goal, complementing the vibe of “Poetry In Motion’s” through our look and style has been a huge goal for this band. In 2020, we look to build on all these areas of our game and make stronger connections with music and our daily journey. Giving our fans more product that leads them to another level of groove is a goal for 2020.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on?
LUMAR LEBLANC: Wow great question, Being that I’m an original member and helped create the band, my experience is so enduring. I could always envision The Soul Rebels as a movement. In the beginning, we saw it as a powerful group of individuals working towards one common goal through music, for the people, the community and the world. It is my whole existence, one that I am organically linked to. The humanistic nature of playing drums for me is spiritual and I pass my vibe to each band member. We share this music, we love this music. You have to become one with your instrument and then it speaks for you. Being in The Soul Rebels was that from the beginning. I’m a strong individual so that is fostered in the Soul Rebels environment. The name came about as a result of Cyril Neville. He blessed us with that name, from the great Bob Marley. He helped us from our inception and thought the name fit us to the tee, and it did! We will always be The Soul Rebels for music and the people.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? How has the music scene there changed over the years?
MARCUS HUBBARD: Being from New Orleans it’s hard not to have love for music. Music is a big part of the DNA of the city. It’s something you can’t get away from. Being a musician in New Orleans, we were exposed to so many different genres. Jazz is the one you hear about the most but there’s an under current of all kinds of different music flowing through the city. To be able to make it as a musician in New Orleans you have to be a student of multiple genres. Post-Katrina, a lot of the other music in New Orleans has been getting some well deserved attention. That works out really well for us being that we’ve always been a band that merges multiple genres. A lot of people feel we were ahead of our time. We’ve always said that we are going to play whatever music feels good to us no matter what genre.
Let’s talk about your newest and soon to be released full-length album, “POETRY IN MOTION.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?
MARCUS HUBBARD: Poetry In Motion was years in the making. Like any record, you write tons of ideas down and then you have to narrow it down. Being that we’ve been working on this record for a fews years, you can imagine how many songs didn’t make the record. We are also dealing with so many things in our careers and personal lives that you write about. There’s many things that you want to get out but you have to realized that you only can put so many songs on a record. Having 8 band members that write music is a challenge. We also do a lot of collaborating with different artist, so that influences a lot of ideas. This was a long but fun process. It was really surprising to see how many people wanted to be apart of this record. This record has a family feel to it. Every artist featured on this record we consider family. From a musical stand point, this record gives you a snapshot of the different emotions and places we have been during the process of creating this record. We wanted to take the listener on a musical journey with us.
You worked with a lot of incredible artists on this album. What was it like working with them all? How did these collaborations come to be in the first place?
JULIAN GOSIN: It was amazing working with all the guest on the album. Most of the guests are close friends and we have personal relationships with. Our goal was to create an album featuring incredible artists that are fans and friends of our. We have access to a lot of big name major pop and hip hip stars, because we work with many. Some of the biggest artists in the world we know and have access to. But we felt that making an album featuring our friends and musical partners would come out stronger and express a deeper level of musicality and soul, rather than just sticking a lot of big name featured artists. Priority is always the music and making sure it feels good and has a genuine and authentic.
How did you celebrate the release on October 25th?
JULIAN GOSIN: We will be doing a few in-store performances at some local record stores in New Orleans, and we have a few parties and events planned around the album release. We also have a big album release show on November 8th at world famous Tipitina’s venue in New Orleans!
Generally, how does this group go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
MARCUS HUBBARD: We approach writing songs from multiple ways in this band. You might have a band member write a song from beginning to end, and give it to the band. You might have someone the comes with just the music but needs some lyrics from an outside source. You might have a guy with something he has hummed in his phone and needs help putting it together. We are always open to however a band member gets an idea out. One person might just a have a funky bassline. We get together and build it from where ever it is. Whatever it takes, we are going to come up with something special. The process of creating is the fun and magical part.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
LUMAR LEBLANC: Yes, we are one musical family and we are also great friends. We spend a lot of time together always.
JULIAN GOSIN: The band is always hanging out at some point whether it’s shopping for sneakers, getting a workout in or just old fashioned grabbing a drink at the bar.
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same? What do all of your various musical experiences bring to this group?
LUMAR LEBLANC: The band has grown tremendously throughout the years. Being blessed to have been here from the beginning, I’ve seen positive upward movement every step of the the way. From the musicianship, to the technology and technical side. I can humbly say we changed the game in the brass band world and in music for that matter. Our live instrumentation is so diverse and eclectic, it has greatly developed throughout the years. We have a lot of vocals, raps and sounds that create adventure in music. The one constant has been creativity and an ever evolving platform to create on our canvas. The instruments are our tools of choice, but we use a lot of studio production techniques. I’ve always saw my love for drums, my poetry writings and a love for people as some of my many attributes to the band. Along with leadership, respect for one another and togetherness are constants within the band.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
MARCUS HUBBARD: For me, the creative process is what I love the most. Working in the studio is what gives me the most enjoyment. There’s nothing like starting from scratch and putting an idea on wax. Being able to try different ideas and hear back, making little adjustments here and there. The process is amazing and very exciting. It’s so much fun, sometimes it’s like a puzzle. When I hear the final product, I’m juiced up to start another one. I have no problem staying in a studio for hours. Also, as a live musician we are able to present our ideas to a live audience. There’s nothing like seeing a crowd’s reaction to something you’ve created and remembering the process it took to get it to them. You realize that this is what God put you here to do.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues over the years?
MARCUS HUBBARD: We are a high energy band. When we get a crowd that matches our energy, that is truly the greatest feeling in the world. We love how every show is different, so it really challenges us to be creative and fresh. Our biggest strength is our ability to read a crowd and make the right adjustments on the fly. It keeps us on our toes. From playing for Beyonce at her sister’s birthday party, to opening for the Rolling Stones, touring with Wu Tang Clan and performing with Metallica and Marilyn Manson in Asia, every show has a special place in our hearts. To be blessed to do what you love is a beautiful thing.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
LUMAR LEBLANC: Social Media has impacted the band a whole lot. Our team is great at connecting us with our fan base and introducing us to new fans. Social media has also connected us with many artists. It’s been a tool to share our creative. Content is king! Social platform are a great vehicle for introducing new music and ideas, creating a connection that vibe with our audience and expressing our fashion and style. Our social media has grown tremendously fast, it allows viewers to engage and connects our life style with our fan base.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
LUMAR LEBLANC: Yes, today’s political climate can become overwhelming at times, but our music provides a level of balance and relief for me and the band, that transfers to our fans. We strive to unite individuals. We perform music to share love, soul and bring people happiness. Our whole musical journey and experience is organic. Our goal is to make a connection and share the joy of music with the world. We definitely condemn injustice on any person in society and our vibe conveys love and expression for all. The track “Good Times” shows that hands down. When we’re on stage, we become more than just entertainers, we are messengers of unity, love and peace through music, Soul Rebels for the people!
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
LUMAR LEBLANC: I love this question. I hope to communicate a strong and positive message through our music, that gives our fans hope and joy. The Soul Rebels experience is always evolving, it’s powerful. We want to make people move their feet and dance. We want people to dance and experience unity at our shows. We travel the world to thrill crowds. Our message transcends the instruments we play, our message is of love and connection.