Ancestree is a spiritually driven Roots Reggae sound connected to the people and the earth. We play music to promote equal rights and justice.
How long have you been playing music? And how did Ancestree form?
I’ve been playing music since I was a child. Around the age of seven, I was introduced to the piano and then the guitar in my early teens. The Genesis of Ancestree starts with my good friend Kyle who I met freshman year at UCSC. Kyle introduced me to Tom Maimon, who is now lead guitar and one of the three singer-songwriters. Kyle and I reintroduced Tom to reggae by constantly grooving to Rasta music and he was inspired by the rebel sound. Soon he was going to many shows and practices of my previous reggae band, “Behind the Sun.”
Kyle, Tom, and I later moved in together, and started playing acoustically. We formed a strong musical connection and cultivated strong friendships. Tom went off to Mexico to finish his six-month internship through the community studies program at UCSC. Meanwhile, I worked at the Resource Center for Non-Violence as well as the Beach Flats Community Center here in Santa Cruz. Upon his returning our visions aligned and the band became a reality.
Tom met Travis, who became our first drummer and I met Chris Carr, who became our bass player. Within three months we released our first album, “Free Yourself.” This was the beginning of something beautiful! Next we met Alia Fintz (tenor-sax, flute, and singer/songwriter) who was playing with The Fintzstones at the Boulder Creek Music and Arts festival. Soon after, “She Ran off with the Reggae Band,” which is one of the Fintzstones’ hit songs, haha! We then released our second album entitled “Sacred Birth.” Soon after, we added more members: David Goodman on keyboard, Jack Hanley on drums, and Alejandro Olvera on percussion, and before we knew it, we had developed a full Roots sound. Our third album, “Earth Rebel” will be released at Street Light Records before the end of 2012.
Congratulations! You have a large group. Is there ever any conflict between members? What do you and your band mates do maintain good vibes with each other?
Yeah sometimes there’s miscommunication. We conquer our conflicts through band meetings, getting together and reasoning out certain issues that arise.
What are some of the stressful situations you face as a musician? Is it as glamorous as it looks or do you ever feel overwhelmed?
Well, we always want to play music. Sometimes gigs fall through or you can’t get your foot in the door to some venues or festivals. Keeping our equipment healthy and our van tuned up. But when you’re doing something you love and truly believe in, it’s worth all the obstacles. Jimmy Cliff says, “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” I fully believe in that.
I’ve been playing and listening to reggae music since I was in high school. I was influenced by Peter Tosh, Bob Marley as well as Steel Pulse, Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear, Groundation, and Sublime. I also enjoy Tupac, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors.
The Beautiful thing about Ancestree is that we’re all from different places and influenced by many different sounds. This enables us to create and blend a unique Roots sound. Alia was influenced by Joshua Redman, Paul Contos, Alicia Keys, Jason Mraz, Gene Fintz, and Naked Earth. Chris Carr by Neil Young, Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Notorious BIG, Tupac, Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Brown, Velvet Underground, and Santana. Other members grew up with Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, Peter Tosh, and Bob Marley.
Your members do seem to be an international blend. Where is everyone from?
The band consists of musicians from Israel, Mexico, the California Sierra Nevadas, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.
Do you and your band members have outside jobs? Or is the band a full-time commitment?
The band is definitely a full-time commitment, and now that our music is growing, this is what we are striving for. But of course we have all had jobs to sustain ourselves.
Enlighten us. What sorts of other jobs do musicians like yourselves take on?
Barista, music teacher, computer programmer, Homeless Garden Project employee, dog-sitter, house-sitter, and parent helper, to name a few.
So, which is better, playing live or recording in the studio?
Live performances are the best. There is magic in the togetherness of our energies moving as one.
You’ve been together for a few years now. Has your sound changed much as you have progressed as a group? Where do you see the band in the future?
Our sound has matured and developed. We went from a four piece band to an eight piece band. Our music is ripe and ready to be experienced to the fullest. I see the band playing internationally, spreading our roots to all corners of the earth. Rasta Music forever! United for the benefit of all people.
We at SCW wish you the best. Thank you for chatting. Any final words?
Bless your heart. Give thanks, for everyday is a blessing.