Grateful Web Interview with The Elovaters

Article Contributed by Nick Gumas | Published on Thursday, May 30, 2024

In a circle as tightly knit as the reggae community, word has traveled fast about the genre’s newest superstars “The Elovaters.” Since forming a few short years ago they have taken the reggae world by storm through an unrelenting series of tours and album releases, earning the respect of fans and peers alike. Grateful Web got to sit down with founding members Jackson Wetherbee and Nick Asta at this year’s Cali Roots festival to talk about their meteoric rise through the reggae ranks, their experiences on the road, and the places they miss most back home.

Jackson Wetherbee and Nick Asta | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

Grateful Web: You just finished your third set at Cali Roots Cali Roots. What has this festival come to mean to you?

Jackson Wetherbee: This festival is the pinnacle of our growth on the West Coast. It's beautiful every year to come back and have this time with all the bands that we love to tour with and see play and every year it just feels like it gets better and better.

Nick Asta: Yeah. Pretty much what Jackson said every year you come back and you see a bunch of bands that you've known for years now and it just feels like a huge family environment, even all the photographers and everyone that works here, you're just seeing familiar faces. It's an inviting vibe here. 

JW: Much love for the Sheehan family. 

The Elovaters | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

GW: Since you brought him up, on Dan Sheehan. He among many other people has not been shy about listing you as a band he expects to headline the festival one day. How do you feel about receiving these accolades? And what do you think needs to happen to get to that point? 

JW: We're just super honored that he feels that way, and on our end, we're just gonna keep working as hard as we have been, even harder, and creating the best music we can, trying to grow our fan base, and doing the whole genre proud, hopefully. 

NA: Yeah, we're gonna try to have some fun along the way. I think part of making music is enjoying yourself as an artist, and we've been trying to focus on that a lot, and as the accolades roll, in trying to keep the focus on just having fun, you know, and letting our fan base have fun with us.

GW: So how many more years do you think it takes until you get that 9 p.m. bowl set?

JW: I mean, that is not a question for us. That's up to the higher-ups. We're just trying to make them all proud and play our music well. One day at a time, 10 toes on the ground.

Jackson Wetherbee | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

GW: What does this project mean to you? What comes first, the music, the message, or the community?

JW: All three. I mean, it has to be symbiotic. I mean, without a fan base, you're nothing with a community or nothing. I don't think we've ever put one in front of the other. It's just, you know, learning to really, truly embrace your fans and celebrate them and just be honored that they're out there rocking to your show with you and singing along to the lyrics. It blows our mind every single night that we play, and that's honestly what keeps the gas inside of our personal engines to be out here just grinding on the road playing shows is just how exciting all that is. It's really like a give and receive of energy when you're up on stage with the fans, they're given to you and you're given to them and it's, that's what makes a great concert or a great festival.

GW: Jackson, is it true you’re a classically trained opera singer?

JW: I am. Yeah.

GW: Do you still practice classically?

JW: It's like a party trick at this point. You know what I mean? I have a couple of Italian songs I can still sing

NA: I made him do opera at one of the VIP meet and greets and everyone loved it. Honestly, dude, I don't know how he does it, but it's beautiful, and I tell him every time, to save some for us. We need to get some of the ladies too.

JW: I never knew that vocal lessons and opera camp was gonna bring me here.

GW: Did you go to school for it?

JW: Yeah, I went to Westfield State on a scholarship. It was mostly Italian opera but not even a year into my freshman year I got signed to Universal Records. So that ended the opera career.

Nick Asta | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

GW: Speaking as a band who's tirelessly found a way to work and record with some of the biggest names in the genre. We've been seeing a big uptick in reggae collaborations over the last few years. What do you think is contributed to this fortified sense of community, and why do you think the reggae world has come together in this way?

JW: I think everybody in the genre is just celebrating the fact that it's growing and it's way more fun to collaborate and make great music together than it is to hoard it and be so singular with your messages and your sounds. I think we all realize that by making great music together, we can just prolong how popular the genre is becoming, how big it's becoming, and it's definitely a team effort here. We have our leaders that we all know and love and everybody is kind of following in their footsteps, but in their own way.

NA: I remember sitting in study hall in high school in 10th grade and listening to Slightly Stoopid in my headphones, and they were just then getting big and that was a while ago, and it's just crazy how bands like Slightly Stoopid have paved the way for this genre and now to look at our friends in Stick Figure, absolutely crushing it and also paving the way for bands running down the road behind them. It's just really cool and I just feel like it's gonna keep progressing and we'd love to take part in that in any way.

GW: Speaking of the uptick in reggae appreciation. In the last few years, bands like Slightly Stoopid are getting much bigger venues, and bands like Rebelution, Stick Figure, and Sublime who frequent Cal Roots have also gotten great timeslots at Coachella in the last couple of years, why do you think the genre is taking off in this way?

JW: I think the growth of the fan base is undeniable. You know, once you have such an organic amount of people coming to celebrate a genre of music, obviously, it's gonna start turning heads from people that play, you know, the more pop country, hip hop style stuff. So yeah, it's just kind of undeniable. I think that they obviously were paying attention for a couple of years and reggae is not going anywhere. So it's time to start helping lift that up to the heights it should be at.

The Elovaters | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

GW: Favorite Boston local spot?

NA: What was that one bar we played in that one time that you go to all the time?

JW: Hennessy's? Oh! Biddy Early’s!

NA: Biddy Early’s!

JW: Like, within Boston, not outside of Boston, I would say that’s my favorite bar. It's been voted the best dive bar in all of Boston. It is amazing. It's like the weirdest combination of skaters, drunks, people that are working in finance, so there's like, suits and ties next to like skaters next to some smelly dude. It's such a melting pot and no one cares. Everyone just gets along, and it seems random when you first walk in and within 10 minutes it's just not random anymore. It's magic how they make that happen.

NA: Just make sure you're eating your clam chowder and drinking your Sam Adams, and you'll fit in. But I do want to say that we are from Plymouth County. We're not actually from the city of Boston. We're from the South Shore, so we're always kicking it down in Plymouth at Pillory Pub.

JW: Yeah, there are tons of bars. Our buddy Dino owns a brewery, Vitamin C Brewing. Yeah, we're from about 45 minutes south of Boston and that's where we're always hanging out.

Jackson Wetherbee | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca

JW: Anything you’d like to plug? We have some fresh singles coming out for you guys this summer, keep your eyes out. We're on tour with The Dirty Heads, Slightly Stoopid, and Common Kings this summer. It's leading right into our fall tour. We're headlining down the East Coast and Midwest with Cisco Adler and Bikini Trill, and we just announced that we're touring through Australia and New Zealand with The Original Wailers in November.

NA: Closer to the Sun. That festival is amazing. Slightly Stoopid’s festival down in Mexico. We're really looking forward to it.

JW: Big time.

The Elovaters | Cali Roots | Monterey, Ca