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  • Writer's pictureYour Best Life Nashville


The feeling of love. The power of unity. The essence of happiness. The strength of togetherness and positive vibrations. The highs of living life and the lows of dealing with its obstacles. All of these things encapsulate the music of Cincinnati, OH-based Rockstead, a five-piece, passion driven rock/reggae group.

With roots leading as far back as middle school, Rockstead combines a lifetime full of influences ranging from rock, punk, reggae, jam and metal. In their early days Rockstead ruled the college party scene in Ohio with a schedule full of impromptu house shows that led to packed basements of DIY venues and later, massive crowds attending college fests such as Ohio University’s infamous spring festivals. This early success catalyzed the debut of their first album “Wake Up and Live” (2013) shortly followed by their popular self-recorded “Rise” EP (2014). These releases ignited their inner road warrior leading to a plethora of plays at music festivals and concert venues across the Midwest. Since then, Rockstead continues to widen their reach touring throughout the Eastern U.S. and down into Florida.

Though member changes have occurred over the years, front man singer/guitarist Jake Burns continues to drive the group forward as they have shared stages with international touring acts such as The Wailers (Jamaica), Sticky Fingers (Australia) and Big Mountain (U.S.A.) as well as many staple East coast reggae acts like Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Badfish, Tropidelic, Bumpin’ Uglies and Ballyhoo!. The band has now grown to include Nate Anuci (drums) and Jacob Riley (lead guitar). With a healthy gap since their last full release (Homegrown, 2016) Rockstead dropped their first studio album “You’re In Control” in September 2020 which scored them multiple features in blogs and podcasts across the scene making them “one of the most unique and special bands in [Cincinnati]” (CincyMusic, 2020)

By using their relentless high-energy performances and genre-bending setlists, while aligning their unwavering dedication to the do-it-yourself work ethic, Rockstead shows no sign of slowing down their mission of bringing people together through music.

What are your thoughts on trends in music?

Jake B: Trends are ever changing. They can change daily even. It's great in the sense that it can really get the ball rolling for an artist but I don't think anyone out there should chase a trend. Be authentic.

Do you follow any trends when it comes to your music?

Jake B: Not necessarily. Being a rock/reggae band is not the most trendy genre to begin with (lol). We do try and add modern elements to our music like electronic sounds or certain vocal effects but I'm really just out here trying to write music that is honest and music that I enjoy playing.

What trends do you try to stay away from?

Jake B: The Tik Tok dances. It's not happening.

Forming your own self as an artist can be difficult. How do you make sure you don't get caught up with replicating another artist?

Jake B: I think the important part is to be yourself and to not be scared of taking chances. People quickly realize if you are ripping off a sound or style from another artist. Being genuine goes a long way. I'm trying to be better at pushing forward with things that are out of my comfort zone. In general, if a song makes you nervous or uncomfortable, then you're probably doing something right.

Influence is important though, are the influences you pull from?

Jake B: As far as writing lyrics, my influence comes from personal experience. These can be emotional situations I find myself in, events in my life or travel. I try to write about real things for the most part. Musically, influence comes from everything I'm listening to. I find a lot of it from smaller up and coming bands. Those are the groups who are really grinding and not scared of trying new things. Don't get me wrong, the bigger bands who have already "made it" are there for a reason but most of them are already set in their style. Smaller groups are still trying to prove themselves and are generally the source for new sounds.

Do you ever get compared to an artist?

Jake B: All the time. We get a lot of Sublime and 311. I've had folks tell me I sing like Brandon Boyd from Incubus (which is awesome because he's a big one for me).

How do you want to trend in music?

Jake B: I want people to share our music because they like it and because they relate to it. I'm not trying to get famous out here from dance videos or skits. I want our music to trend because it makes people feel good.

What is your latest and greatest that you want to talk about with your music?

Jake B: We just recently released our single "Last Straw (feat. The Quasi Kings)"! This song is our heaviest one to date. We're all a bunch of metalheads playing in a reggae band so of course we have to intertwine that into our music. This tune features heavy metal riffs, synth leads, reggae groves, a stellar drum solo and a heavy breakdown. It will make you want to break something.

Learning more and more from each project you do, what has been the most invaluable experience as of late?

Jake B: At least with this album, being prepared going into the studio is a game changer. We really had our songs and individual parts honed in for this album and it showed. Everyone was able to knock out their sessions with ease and that gave us time to sprinkle in some other fun things during our recording process.

Give us your favorite thing trending now that has nothing to do with music but makes you smile!

Jake B: There is a sound going around on Instagram that people are using in their videos. It's "What's Going On" by Four Non-Blondes except at the end they bust into a metal breakdown and scream "WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!!!!!". Gotta love it.

Leave us all your music here so our audience can smile too!

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