The Narrow Interview: Soul Rebels

Soul Rebels releasing “Poetry in Motion”

The Soul Rebels have won every award, and accomplished every performance feat in their home town of New Orleans. Recently, more and more national attention has been hitting this brass ensemble that blends the traditional NOLA sound with elements of hip-hop, funk and soul. You might have seen them recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, or performing with Katy Petty or DMX, among dozens of a-list acts they have collaborated with in recent years.

The band makes a special trip to Gainesville FL, for a show @ the High Dive on October 16.

Narrow had a chance to sit down with founding member Lumar LeBlanc, to learn more about the band, and what they think of the Gainesville music scene.

Narrow: The band was described by the Village Voice as "the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” Which side is closer to the truth?

LL: Our music and style is a fusion of many different musical styles and cultures. Our roots are based in New Orleans and the brass band tradition, but we've totally modernized the New Orleans brass sound and style and what it means to be a brass band. Louis Armstrong was the father of what we do and a pioneer of popular music. He was a master entertainer and we aspire to entertain first and foremost. Louis was so powerful and strong, a true leader and statesmen of the music. The powerful quality and lyrical genius that is Public Enemy is very meaningful to us. We don't consider The Soul Rebels to reflect or represent one style or one artistic identity, but we're more of a culmination and fusion of many different styles, influences and experiences. We're inspired by musical experiences and the collaborators we work with while staying true to our own sound and style. We try to write the rules not follow them. We're in our own lane, just like Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.

Narrow: You’ve collaborated with a diverse group of artists. Anything you can tell us about working with:

a) Metallica -

We love our Metallica brother, and they love us! Working with them was one of the most "out of the box" groups we've worked with, but musically we were all on the same page and the collaboration was beautiful. We love to use the tag line, "brass is metal." James and Lars are dear to us, and we appreciate the opportunity to travel and perform with them.

b) Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson is a great friend to us. We've performed with him on both sides of the globe, from Tokyo to New Orleans. We always hit it hard with him and rock out. We love his stage energy. He's one of the coolest guys around and a true artistic genius and visionary. We're blessed to work with artists as hard core, passionate, committed and authentic as Manson. Manson is a prime example of an artist dedicated to his craft and responsible for innovating an entire style and culture of music. He's incredible and we hope to rock out again with him soon!

c) Big Freedia

We've been working, touring and recording with Big Freedia for years. Big Freedia is one of our dearest friends and artistic collaborators. We've traveled the country with Freedia. We're very inspired by Freedia's incredible work ethic and commitment to leading the entire bounce genre, movement, sound and style of music and representing New Orleans. Bounce is our music, born out of New Orleans. We consider Big Freedia a musical partner and contemporary of ours. All love and blessings for our friend Big Freedia! Our new music video and song with Freedia is dope! Check it out!

Narrow: What is your take, and/or knowledge, of the Gainesville, FL music scene?

Tom Petty is from Gainesville! And the great and incredible soul singer Charles Bradley is as well! We crossed paths with Charles a few times over the years at festivals. We hope fans from the University of Florida come out strong to our show! Florida is one of our favorite states to play.

Narrow: Are there any other bands about to break out of New Orleans that you guys are listening to?

PJ Morton is incredible. He's on our new album. He's one of the most soulful artists. Tank and The Bangas is an incredible band from New Orleans, also featured on our new album. We're blessed to be part of a movement of artists.

Narrow: We love the songs we’ve heard off the upcoming new release, “Poetry in Motion.” How do you, as a band, produce music over time that keeps honest to your sound yet feels current, while so many other bands struggle? An example is the new song, “Good Time.”

We produce music that moves our souls. We perform and write music that we want to hear and feel, and that we're proud of. Our goal is to show the world how the brass ensemble can be fearless and can transcends genre and perception. All of the members in The Soul Rebels are outstanding producers and songwriters in their own right. We're operating within the mainstream, producing music that's modern and contemporary because that's who we are and that's what we hear.

Narrow: Is there one question you wish an interviewer would ask, but they never do? If so, please ask and answer!

The importance of mentorship and supporting young children's musical education. It's an issue that's dear to our hearts and very important.

dave kosciolek