Groundation is an American reggae band that formed in 1998 when core members, Harrison Stafford, Marcus Urani, and Ryan Newman met in a jazz program at Sonoma State University. Since the band’s inception, they have added 6 new artists, and have emerged from the underground reggae scene with a dedicated following. The band has already released 7 studio albums, and is gearing up to put out an 8th called “A Miracle” in October. Afterwards, they will be taking to the stage for another concert tour. Groundation will also be playing in just a few weeks at the Arise Music Festival in Loveland, Colorado.
Through incorporating jazz, funk, and salsa into their music, Groundation stands out from many other traditional reggae bands. However, the band remains in touch with the genre’s roots with their spiritual connection and revolutionary messages. In fact, the name is a reference to the Rastafarian holy day, “Grounation.”
Harrison Stafford of Groundation took some time in the interview below to discuss the band’s influences, their connection to nature, as well as their upcoming album and tour to follow.
SURF CHANNEL: How would you describe Groundation as a band?
Harrison Stafford (HS): I would say that Groundation is a band of singers and musicians who are focused on a unique sound with a power social message. We love jazz music, reggae music, and all revolutionary music that causes people to stop and think a little more about the true values of life.
How would you say beach culture influences your music style?
HS: I’m not sure what role beach culture has in the music of Groundation, but certainly our music and reggae music is traditionally popular among island nations. Our music is organic and it is meant to inspire positive energy within the listener, very similar to what a person feels on the beach with the ocean waves breathing in new life and possibilities to the individual. Just like the mountains and the desert, the beach is a source of creativity for us as musicians and song writers.
Where do you currently find inspiration to write your music?
HS: The inspiration for the works of Groundation is found in every aspect of our lives. From our travels across the continents, and sharing language, food, and culture with the world, to books, family, and friends. However the strongest source of inspiration is our time and age. There is so much inequality and lack of balance within the earth’s human population that everyday there is something new to sing about, to wail about, in hopes for a better tomorrow.
What is the message you guys want to get across to your fans?
HS: Our message is that life is not done, and the mission of oneness and love for all people will be achieved, and we need you, everyone of you to be positive and do something good for the future.
Which one of your songs describes Groundation the most?
HS: This is difficult as our music is very different from song to song. But lyrically I would say off the new record “A Miracle” (releasing in October), the song “Born Again” is speaking of challenging man’s ego and trying to do better in this life or the next.
What other reggae bands do you work closely with? Who would be a dream band to collaborate with?
HS: Groundation works with many bands. I personally have sang on albums from Jamaican legend URoy, to Europe’s Sebastian Sturm and Danakil, to Mato Seco from Brazil. Our dream is reunite Roger Waters and David Gilmore from Pink Floyd on a Groundation album…soon to come!
Where have you felt most welcomed by your fans?
HS: I cannot express to you the love and warmth we have received from our fans in France. Since the release of We Free Again and our first European tour in 2004 there have been press meetings, radio, and fans overwhelmingly supporting Groundation. Merci to the whole of France!
Where are you most excited to play next?
HS: I am excited to perform here in the States as we rarely get an opportunity to do what we do here at home. It is funny to think that we have performed in Morocco, Israel, and Greece more than Ohio, South Carolina, and Vermont, but you must go where the music is welcome and fight the battle at home when you can. Now is the time for us to spread the music and message here in America and I am excited for that.
What can we expect next for Groundation?
HS: Our 8th Groundation studio album will be our greatest acheivement so far on record. It is called “A Miracle” and features Bob Marley’s chorus Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. It is a focus on the female powers of creation and her role to inspire the good in man. Of course, many tours will follow it’s release in October 2014.