Good vibes are something we can always use more of. Especially these days. And California’s Iration are only too happy to oblige. Earlier this month, the reggae-influenced alt-rock outfit released their seventh studio album Coastin’ — a typically warm ’n’ sunny slate of gentle grooves, sweet melodies and laid-back ambience guaranteed to put you in a mellower frame of mind. Today, guitarist Micah Brown (bottom left in the pic up top) goes above and beyond the call by answering my dumb questions — without harshing his own good vibe.
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and other details you’d like to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
Hello, my name is Micah Brown, I’m thirty-something years old. I live with my wife in Santa Ana, CA.
What is your musical origin story?
I play guitar and sing in the band Iration, but I have been performing on stage since I was a kid. My first love was the drums; my parents noticed early on and put drumsticks in my hands a very young age. I grew up in church and was drawn to the live music on Sunday mornings, where my mom sang and my dad ran the soundboard, so music has always been a big part of my family. My biggest musical influences came from early blues artists, rock ’n’ roll and Motown, ’70s/classic rock bands, and then I discovered and fell in love with punk, ska and reggae when I became a teenager. I played drums in numerous bands throughout high school and then I started to switch my focus more towards guitar and songwriting. I was too self-conscious to sing in front of people until my early 20s. But a few friends pushed me to do an open mic night, and once I overcame that fear of performing and singing in front of a crowd, I instantly knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. Soon after I started working at 17th Street Recording Studio in Costa Mesa, CA. I’ve been a professional recording artist/touring musician for the past decade, first as a solo artist, and then joining Iration in 2013.
What’s your latest project? Tell us everything we need to know.
Iration is my primary focus. We just released our newest full-length album Coastin’ and we’re really proud of the music. 13 songs. It’s my fourth album as part of the band. It’s been a really rewarding and successful marriage of my style with the band’s established sound prior to me coming aboard. This latest offering is a blend of our island-style reggae foundations and our love of rock, alt, pop, Motown, R&B, and funk. I have also been sitting on some solo recordings for years, slowly putting out a song or two here and there. I will probably release a few more new ones by year’s end. My solo project tends to be more steeped in folk and blues influences.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I think Iration as a band is unique in that we aren’t afraid to make any type of song. When we write, we’re not thinking about the box or genre our music has to fit into, we like to let a song naturally become what it’s meant to be. Most of the band grew up in Hawaii, so that tradition of island/roots reggae is usually prominent in some way, which allows us to maintain a “signature sound” even when we depart from what our fans tend to expect from us. As an individual, my acoustic finger-picking style and my love for blues guitar sets me apart, especially in the reggae-rock community. I also love singing harmonies and having a hand in the overall production side of creating new music, especially in the studio.
What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I think our music provides a positive, uplifting soundtrack to daily life. We feel that our message overall is about coming together, appreciating the little things, living in the moment, being a part of a kind, loving community, promoting unity and living a happy, healthy lifestyle.
What album / song / artist / show changed your life?
Any band or artist that has had a meaningful impact on me has changed my life in some way or another, whether it be opening my eyes to other similar artists or being an example of how transcendent music or art can be. I respect artists that have been able to reinvent themselves over the course of their history yet still retain some sort of identity that carries through.
Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
The first time I ever played or sang an original song in front of a crowd of strangers was at the open mic night I mentioned, at the OC Tavern in San Clemente, CA, circa 2009. I played a song I wrote called Prodigal Son and ended up winning the first place prize which was $50. Coincidentally, around that time Iration played gigs at the OC Tavern as well, before I knew of them — small world.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
Strangest would probably be My Chemical Romance as an opener at the Troubadour right before their debut album took off. The singer had the most random banter in between songs about things I shouldn’t repeat in print. As bizarre as it was, afterwards I left the show thinking they were probably bound to blow up. Most memorable is probably Taylor Swift’s latest tour at the Rose Bowl. The production, budget and attention to detail was absolutely insane. Gotta respect her for her vision and artistry.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I hope to still be making good music and staying creative and being productive, hopefully relevant. Beyond that, I would like to be in some sort of business with my wife; she’s a boss and keeps me motivated and helps me strive to be better and continue growing.
What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Janis Joplin would’ve been pretty sweet to jam with. It’d be cool to write with Tom Petty.
What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I still love hardcore / punk rock. I don’t go to those kind of shows really anymore but the music has a different kind of energy than anything else and it still appeals to me in some ways.
What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I’m gonna shout out some amazing female artists that I’ve been streaming a lot lately … Digging Haim’s new album, Women in Music Pt. III, Yola’s album Walk Through the Fire, Lila Ike from Jamaica, Dua Lipa’s latest record, Kacey Musgraves, H.E.R., Khruangbin, Jhene Aiko. And Eli Mac, who’s featured on our new album.
How about some other favourites? Authors / movies / painters / philanthropists / you name it.
TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors. All his books are interesting. Favorite movie is probably Shawshank Redemption. Big fan of Padma Lakshmi, her new show Taste the Nation is pretty good.
Who would you be (or have you been) starstruck to meet?
I was at a wedding and saw Steph Curry and was too shy to say hello. A few months later, I got another chance to meet him and he was super down-to-earth, gracious and very friendly. Seems like a chill dude who does a lot of good things with his time and resources
Tell us a joke.
I only have cheesy jokes that aren’t very Gouda.
What do you drive and why? What do you want to drive and why?
I drive a Jeep Wrangler, which is not necessarily that practical, but my wife really wanted one and we share a vehicle since I tour half the year usually. I used to have a Jeep when I was younger and loved off-roading with my dad, so she didn’t have to convince me. If I could drive anything, I’d probably drive a choptop 1936 Ford 3-Window Coupe.
What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
Time travel. I don’t know quite how I’d use it, but I guess you’d just figure that out as it comes to you.
What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I’m good at learning new things. I’m organized and thorough when I decide to do a project. I’m borderline OCD in a lot of ways, which can lend itself well to completing certain tasks and also be a total waste of time in other instances.
What do you collect?
I have a lot of hats. Too many hats. I’d say the only thing that I have a decent collection of is guitars, though it pales in comparison to most actual avid collectors.
If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Recently been making some fire chicken enchiladas. That or my grandma’s potato salad and garlic bread.
What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
The trends that I probably wouldn’t understand I probably haven’t even heard of or know exist yet, haha. I do see a lot of people wearing weird ass sneakers. Also, the trend of divisive rhetoric and demonizing of opposing views is counterproductive and not helping anyone, I don’t understand that. I feel like so many people that are fighting on the internet have a lot more in common than they realize.
Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
We have a boxer named Lenny who’s almost seven. He’s the best. I’ve always had dogs growing up, our first family pet as a kid was a Boston Terrier named Bubba. Unfortunately, he got hit by a car and passed away pretty young, then we waited a couple years to get another dog. One day, my dad rescued a stray puppy, some sort of shaggy terrier mix, off the street in North Hollywood after work and brought him home. We named him Rusty and he was my best bud pretty much my entire childhood through high school. We also had a lab named Lady and a Weimaraner named Smoke for a short while. And a black cat named B.B.
If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
I feel like nowadays I enjoy cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I’d probably go into the restaurant business, although I’ve never worked a day of my life in the hospitality industry. If I was a younger me, and music was out of the equation, I probably would’ve tried culinary school. Either that or real estate development. My wife would make a great business partner and is really interested in that field, and I used to work in building material and contractor sales for a few years before I went into the music industry.
What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
You can be or do anything you set your mind to, if you work hard and believe in yourself. Put yourself in a position to succeed when the opportunity comes, and treat others how you would want to be treated. The Golden Rule itself can get you pretty far in life. Respect shouldn’t have to be a earned, it should be a fundamental right.
Listen to Coastin’ below, and keep up with Iration via their website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.