BLACK ROCKERS UNITED MEDIA

       

#BRUTALK: REBELMATIC

INTRO | RESILIENCE | ROOTS | PRODUCT OF NEW YORK

INTRODUCTION

NK: Rebelmatic are the New York squad that embody everything that we love: grittiness, hardcore, funky!

Creature: Yep.

Ramsey: That's right!

NK: Alkatraz, Creature, Karnage and Ramsey, hello, hello!

Creature: Hey, Nicole!

Ramsey: Hello!

Karnage: Hello! It's good to be here.

NK: Thanks for joining Black Rockers United. It's so great to have you here! Y'all are reppin' Rebelmatic!

Creature: I know! We out here for real!

Ramsey: [Laughs]

Alkatraz: Yes, yes.

NK: How are you?

Creature: It's an honor.

Ramsey: Thank you for having us!

Karnage: Yeah, it's great to be here. Feels good to be here.

Creature: We don't have a thing where we feel that we gotta be, you know, this X, Y, Z hardcore band and this X, Y, Z funky band. We just gotta do what we like!

And it comes off, we know what works for us. But like, we don't feel like we have to reinvent the wheel. We just do what we do and that in itself has kinda helped us a lot!

It's helping us a lot. It's—people are recognizing us doing some original stuff because you know, it's natural!

Ramsey: We're just celebrating this release of our Ghost In The Shadows LP!

NK: Positive reception just as soon as you released it, basically—an influx of people appreciating your album.

Creature: We're humbled by it. We appreciate it and it's like people understand what we're doing. We put everything into it. We put our heart into it, we put our spirit in it. We put our mind into it!

We were honest, we were organic. We weren't trying to force anything. We weren't looking to redefine anything.

We were just looking to express ourselves. It was just like kind of like "Oh! That sounds cool, let's record it". "Aiyyo, I like that! What's that?" You know?

Ramsey: It's the synergy we have. There's never any egos. It's always you know, if one doesn't like it, we're like "Okay, we'll try something different." It's beautiful, how we can work together.

Creature: Alkatraz's riffs, his magic, his coming up with riffs on the spot!

Alkatraz: Hey, that comes from inspiration, from being around the guys. You know, when we get together!

Creature: Honestly, since we've been in this band, this unit we have right now is the most cohesive.

NK: Yeah. It doesn't sound forced, it doesn't sound like you said, contrived, everyone. It sounds like you. You know?

Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Creature: Yeah, no GMO's!

Ramsey: Yeah, it's not—yeah [laughs]. It's not good when you have a band, especially when they're on their second album and you can hear like, the music is forced.

Creature: Mm-hmm.

Ramsey: ...because maybe a producer told them "Hey, you guys need to change your sound. Be up with the times!" We're not about that.

We're about creating something we can be happy with. Like, millennia [laughs] that other universes will appreciate! That's what we're lookin' at [laughs]

Creature: Mm-hmm!

Ramsey: Aliens be like "Goddamn, some of these humans were like, amazing with creating this music!" [Afrofuturism and lasting music is definitely punk].

NK: Real talk! Get the soundwaves out there.

Ramsey: Yes!

NK: You know, so that years from now people are moved by it. They're rockin'!

Creature: 100%.

Ramsey: We're happy to present it that way, you know?

Creature: It's nice. I mean—

Ramsey: We have a Native American summer.

Creature: Yes.

Alkatraz: Yeah, I wish we were doin' a show right now!

Creature: We're doing a show Sunday (today), celebrating Ramsey and my birthday. So that's what's going down!

Ramsey: Scorpios!

Creature: Scorpios in the house!

NK: Yeah, Scorpio season. Okay!

Creature: Oh, yeah. I feel like it's always Scorpio season even when it's not.

NK: [Laughs]

Creature: It's just, it's how it is.

Karnage: Oh, it's just [laughs]

Creature: Yeah!

NK: Y'all already know life has been as hardcore as your music is!

Creature: Mm-hmm!

Ramsey: Yes! Yes.

NK: How do you deal with that at this time? How does Rebelmatic help you to thrive and deal?

RESILIENCE IN REBELMATIC

Creature: For me, it just makes it like...it makes it more bearable! You know what I mean? I feel like you know, our music is cathartic. And at the same time, it's a great outlet to express what we're feeling.

So we let a lot of that angst or that feeling, or that anxiety that might be built up from what's going on in a world of systemic racism and this foolishness that's going on with the votes and stuff.

It's still there but it gives at least, a—I like to put it as a warm blanket for a cold world, you know, without the smallpox.

Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Karnage: [Laughs]

NK: I feel it.

Ramsey: [Laughs]

NK: It's that breath of fresh air that we need. You know?

Creature: Absolutely. No pollution, no GMO's.

Ramsey: Mm-hmm!

NK: No pollution, yo.

Creature: Organic!

NK: Organic.

Ramsey: It's no hate!

Creature: Yeah.

Alkatraz: Yeah!

Ramsey: No malice.

NK: Good point, Ramsey.

Karnage: No malice at all.

Creature: No malice in the palace.

NK: It's that truthsgiving, right? And when y'all come together, it feels like you're really speaking truth, speaking to power.

Ramsey: Well, Rebelmatic's music is like sage. It's like cleansing so because this pandemic has borne out the true nature of this country—being that we were able to start rehearsing again and just be active in music again was like...we needed to get out there and play!

Creature: It's bigger than us! It always has been. We're vessels that are uh, conveying our message and doing our part. You know?

NK: Got that right, Creech.

Creature: When it's all bad, you just gotta say "I know Karnage", and you'll be okay [laughs].

[Everyone laughs]

REBELMATIC ROOTS

NK: Y'all have that, that kinship. That's what I wanted to know! When did y'all meet ach other and you know, first start being crew?

Karnage: Oh, man...

Alkatraz: It's been a while [laughs]!

Karnage: I met everybody individually! Well, I first met Alkatraz and Creature because I used to go and see Rebelmatic so I met them about seven years ago! [Laughs] You know, pretty much as long as I've been in the band and—

Creature: Mm-hmm. We played a show together first.

Karnage: Yeah. We played a show together first with an old band of mine which I played guitar in. You know, the situation with the original bass player wasn't working out. So Creature asked me if I wanted to join as a bassist!

And well, as you can see, seven years later I'm here. Still here and Ramsey, I met because I used to go to that record store that I used to work at: Rockit Scientist!

Ramsey and Creature: Rockit Scientist.

Karnage: Yeah, and...

Ramsey: Yep!

Karnage: Yeah, I used to chop it up with him and stuff about music. And not only that but also, my other old band had played with his band FunkFace back in, oh God, dating myself. It was back around like?

Ramsey: CBGB's?

Karnage: Yeah, yeah! It was like—

NK: CBGB's!

Creature: In 1979! Yeah [laughs]

Alkatraz: Oh-ho, wow! [Laughs]

NK: FunkFace is dope!

Alkatraz: Yeah, right?

Karnage: Yeah, as soon as you put 19' on anything, you already know it is [laughs]. I was just used to seeing him at mostly Rockit Scientist when I went there. And I think you were also workin' at Tower Records too! Yep.

Creature: Yep.

Alkatraz: Yeah.

Ramsey: Yep, two record shops at the same time!

Karnage: Nice, nice. Wow.

NK: Respect, Ramsey!

Alkatraz: Whoa.

Ramsey: I met Creature first because he used to sell—

Creature: Sell music in the street, yeah.

Ramsey: Sell music in the street back in front of uh, Fat Beats.

Creature: Yup!

Ramsey: You know 'cause I was, I was livin' at Fat Beats, I would go there like every other day [laughs]!

Creature: I feel like I met you before that though but yeah, that's where I know him from for sure.

Ramsey: Yeah! Yeah, we met before that 'cause I remember you and Doc Burns were starting the band.

Creature: Yeah, yeah, nice, the Doc.

Ramsey: And he asked me to join and it was like, it was the first incarnation of Rebelmatic!

Creature: We ain't have a name yet. We didn't even have a name.

Ramsey: They didn't have a name yet. I had one rehearsal with them and it was great!

Creature: Mmm-hmm, yep.

Ramsey: But I was like "Yo, I'm in a bunch of other projects." I couldn't commit myself.

NK: Yeah, juggling [all that].

Ramsey: Yeah, yeah, it was a lot. I was playing literally in nine bands at that time!

Creature: Yep!

Alkatraz: WOW!

Ramsey: At that time.

Karnage: Shoot!

Creature: Nah, I remember!

Ramsey: My wife was like "You're playing in so much bands!" and such and such. I'm like "I'm a musician!" You know, "this is what I do". It was so productive at the time, even now.

That's how I met Creature and Karnage as he stated. You know, at the record shop. Uh, Alkatrino, I met when I joined Rebelmatic and it's been wonderful since!

Creature: Yeah!

Ramsey: We've been blazin' stages!

NK: The best is yet to come.

Karnage: Oh, yeah. For sure!

Creature: We don't record anything until we play it out.

NK: Yeah.

Creature: So we kind of like, ferment it! And you know, let the people decide. Indirectly they're hearing, you know, you go to a show and you'll be hearing songs you know.

And you'll be hearing new songs you don't know. And depending on your response, they might be on the next record!

Karnage: Yeah.

Creature: So it's kind of a tried, true way of knowing you're making some good music, that your supporters will dig. That's what we mean. We were playing it prior to just recording it.

We didn't just like "Oh, we're not gonna make a record". We knew we were gonna make a record, it was just like "Oh, we got a new song, let's play this next show". "Oh, we got a new song. Play this next show", you know? It's like you just keep adding new stuff.

Karnage: Yeah.

Creature: You know, we got a lot of songs so...

NK: Yeah.

Creature: And then eventually by the time, oh no, we know what we're recording already. The process like Karnage said earlier, was simple. The extras, the mixing and mastering and other stuff takes longer. The actual recording, us going in and knocking it out,

Karnage: Professional!

Ramsey: [Laughs]

Creature: And on a simple level, yes, we're professionals! 100%! Nothing is accidental, coincidental. Ramsey—like I said—we met before we even had Rebelmatic.

He was the drummer that I wanted to be in Rebelmatic. And then he winds up with Rebelmatic now. Me and Alkatraz are from the same neighborhood and we've done music together indirectly, you know what I mean?

But like he saw us before we were actually Rebelmatic. But literally only one show, and he didn't play. And then Karnage, we did a show with his other band and he wanted to come out as a fan of what we're doing.

And I was like "Yo, he got the same personality and he probably could fit into what we were doing".

NK: Yeah.

Creature: So it was supposed to be. Like who's in it, in the band now is supposed to be. And we're getting the look we're getting now because it's supposed to happen at this particular time. It sounds a little bizarre but it's not coincidental that our music reflects the times!

Karnage: Mm-mm!

NK: It's not.

Creature: You know what I mean? It's not coincidental that our record (Ghost in the Shadows) came out August 28, 2020 and the first line I say on the record is "Emmett Till died for your sins". And the day that Emmett Till died is August 28, 1955.

NK: 19...yes.

Creature: 55, 10, 10, 10.20. I know, you know, it's a little deep and a little dark.

NK: No, that's real.

Creature: But it's real.

Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Creature: It's very real. It's very [real]—Sister Rosetta is the godmother and we put her on our shirt to pay homage to her and at the same time, edu-tain people because at the same time, regardless of what you're talking about...

If your music is not moving people, it doesn't matter. No matter how positive and deep you are, if your music doesn't move people and they don't feel the spirit, it doesn't matter.

Ramsey: And also to add to that: the album cover, the photo, we took that shoot in Minetta Lane!

Creature: Oh yeah, in Minetta Lane, there was one of the oldest free Black communities in New York! Uh, called Little Africa before Chinatown, before Little Italy!

Karnage: Mm-hmm.

Creature: So you know, we want to pay it forward. And also in those communities, they had what we would call "black-and-tans": mixed-race or uh, interracial bars that Black folks owned.

Ramsey: Bars, yeah, in the Village.

Creature: ...in the village where people hung out! We know, we playin' it forward and it's always about showing respect for the ancestors.

NK: Yeah!

Creature: And realizing that we couldn't—we're standing on their shoulders.

NK: We are.

Creature: And we're still doing what we're supposed to be doing, currently!

NK: Mm-hmm!

Creature: We're not just harping on nostalgia and you know, focused on the past. But we're very aware of the past, so we can presently fulfill ourselves into the future in a correct way.

NK: I respect that, absolutely 'cause you know without Minetta Lane, without Seneca Village, without the black-and-tan cocktails, we wouldn't have this scene.

Ramsey: Yep, mm-hmm! Weeksville.

Creature: Yeah, Weeksville, exactly.

NK: All of that is the foundation of how we became the punks and the musicians we are today—the people we are today.

Karnage: There you are.

NK: New York is very much Black. It never stopped being Black!

Karnage: Yeah!

Ramsey: Blacks built Wall Street! Wall Street.

Creature: Yes, literally! Literally.

NK: That was us! [Laughs]

PRODUCT OF NEW YORK (P.O.N.Y.)

Creature: New York, before it was gentrified, was very much a melting pot. So the sounds, the smells, the interactions...it's like that's huge! You know? Like all of us listen to various music. We don't just listen to punk and hip-hop!

That was the sound that we all individually grew up on. That's why collectively, it bleeds into our music. You know?

Ramsey: Yeah.

Creature: —That shapes who we are.

Ramsey: Yeah, I can say too, when I was—when I was growing up in Brownsville and moved from there to Linden Plaza (which is like on the borderline of Howard Beach and Brooklyn), where uh pink houses were...

NK: Oh, word.

Ramsey: And a lot of my friends that I encountered everyday, you know, they were into hip-hop and R&B. And mind you, we all grew up on Philadelphia International and disco at the time: Donna Summer, and the funk stuff but—

Creature: Right.

Ramsey: There was this punk coming from England. So I was hearing/digging The Clash. I was digging The Sex Pistols, and this is like 1975 or 1976!

NK: Okay!

Ramsey: And KISS. So at the time, my friends would like, criticize me. They'd be like "Yo, why you listenin' to this white boy music?" To me it was like, music has no color, man.

If it felt good, if I dug it, if it went into my soul and I got this feeling from it—color didn't matter, man. It's music!

I had to go to like, West 4th Street and I felt more comfortable there, because I saw how there were so many uh, ethnicities and nationalities.

I was like "Wow, this is..." Nobody judged you on how you looked or what you listened to! You know, so it took a while but I still, I didn't let people's opinions of me change my music, or change my liking of rock or whatever I listened to.

NK: Yeah, you're authentic. You're real.

Ramsey: Yeah!

Karnage: Yeah, and then not to mention, I was raised in the Northeast Bronx! I mean I was first raised by Marble Hill, in Kingsbridge. But I moved over to the Northeast Bronx in 1988. This is interesting because this is 1987, so this is at the height of uh,

Creature: That's when I was born! [Laughs]

Karnage: Basically, the height of early dancehall [laughs].

Karnage: So I hadn't really—I was familiar with reggae, but my first time hearing dancehall!

NK: It is!

Ramsey: Mm-hmm.

Karnage: And along that point, I had already been a hip-hop head and I had already been a metalhead! So that just kind of added to my musical tastes and I began to dig dancehall reggae. It's different now than what it was [laughs]!

NK: It's evolved so much.

Ramsey: Oh, yeah! Music evolves, music always evolves.

Karnage: Music will evolve but funny thing is when I was in middle school and then high school, I used to have rap magazines AND metal magazines!

And you know, other students would be like "Yo, Kyle, what is this, man? Like yo, we understand how you like rap but how you like this shit? What is this?"

NK: "How do you like metal?"

Ramsey: [Laughs]

Karnage: Right?

Ramsey: Yeah, yeah.

Karnage: You know, whatever they would—"that's crazy, yo!" Fuck, you know, this music is great. But then again, they said the same thing about blues. Black people said the same thing about blues.

Ramsey: Exactly!

Karnage: Yeah, you know? Right.

Watch from here:

Rebelmatic:      

Ghost in the Shadows is their August 2020 album!


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