Summertime always brings people to the beach. The sun beats down on bathers while there’s plenty of suntan lotion, sunscreen and towels on hand. Over in Matunuck, there’s a music venue where people can grab a drink on the beach while beating the heat. The Ocean Mist has always been hot spot to be at when the weather gets warm and the people behind the Levitate Music & Arts Festival happening in Marshfield, Massachusetts from July 12 to the 14 are putting on a show there on Friday night. Savannah, Georgia reggae rock act Passafire will be bringing the vibe to the stage for a fun time with Orlando act Kash’d Out and locals Dudemanbro.
I had a talk with frontman and guitarist Ted Bowne from the band about starting out in college, working with Paul Leary from the Butthole Surfers and new music that him, keyboardist Mike DeGuzman, drummer Nick Kubley and bassist Will Kubley are working on.
Rob Duguay: Passafire started at the Savannah College Of Art and Design in 2003. What were you studying and were people on campus receptive to the band during the early days?
Ted Bowne: I was studying sound design and Nick was studying illustration and we used the studio at the school to get our recording chops. Our friends were receptive to what we were doing, it wasn’t really big at first. It was a college word of mouth type of thing where more people heard about us as we kept on playing. Once we graduated, we decided to do the band full-time and that’s when we started touring.
RD: The band has gotten to work a bunch with Paul Leary from the Butthole Surfers as a producer. How did you guys get connected with him?
TB: Paul is very connected with the reggae rock scene, he produced Sublime’s self-titled album 25 years ago. He’s also worked with acts like Slightly Stoopid and Pepper and he actually used to be on Pepper’s label. They were the band that made the introduction and we went from there.
RD: That’s cool how that community is so well-connected that you were able to work with the likes of him. In my opinion, what makes the band’s sound interesting is this fusion of reggae with synth keys. It’s definitely not your typical kind of jam rock, so what inspired the band to go that route?
TB: I think we’re influenced by a lot of things other than reggae. All four of us are definitely into jam bands and that type of music from the festival scene. If we have a sound that we want to add, we go ahead and try it. We don’t try to stick to a certain formula, it’s a very organic thing.
RD: When it’s non-formulaic, that’s usually when the best music comes out.
RD: What do you think has changed the most about Passafire over the past 16 years?
TB: We’ve become more professional as a band. We’ve learned a lot on the road with what to do and not to do. Musically, we’ve all evolved. Everyone has changed their preferences in music that they listen to. 16 years is a long time, we don’t go with every song that pops into our head and we make sure that we put out music that we can get behind. We want to have it be successful instead of just having it be whatever we want to make.
RD: It’s been two years since the band put out their last album Longshot. Is there a new one on the way?
TB: Yeah, we were recently in my home studio in Maryland recording some new music. Those songs will probably come out before we have a full-length album. It has been a minute since our last release, for sure.