Born and raised into the culture of New Orleans, Louisiana, The Soul Rebels have been a brass ensemble since 1991. Fast forward to 2017, the band has toured Africa, China, Japan, Australia, Europe, and beyond. They have regularly collaborated live with Talib Kweli, Nas, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, and many others. In His Own Words: Lamar LeBlanc, co-founder and snare drummer of The Soul Rebels, spoke with NYS Music before their show at Photo City Improv in Rochester on August 12.
For audio of the entire conversation, please listen to the Rochester Groovecast episode at the bottom of this page.
On The Soul Rebels:
When we first started Soul Rebels, our message was so strong. The band was based on the premise of freedom. Freedom for individuals to distinctively show their own personal individuality. That’s what the name personifies, freedom of the soul.
We rebel for, not against, but for freedom of expression, love, peace, and strength.
You have to have camaraderie because you are together so long, so many hours, and so many days. If you don’t have some type of connectedness interpersonally, it’s not gonna work. If it’s not connecting vibe wise, it’s definitely going to show in the musical representation of the group.
Cyril Neville and Milton Batiste always stressed, be real and be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to imitate someone else, because you can’t be better than that person at doing what they do, you can only be the best at what you do.
Soul Rebels has always tried to be different. And not just be different to be different, but be ourselves…It was a struggle because New Orleans had already had a foundation of how they felt a brass band should be.
We always wanted to play the hip hop and funk. We always wanted to have the swag that we have…Kind of a Public Enemy fight the power type vibe…Bob Marley warrior type spirit…still infused with love and freedom.
On Aspirations To Start A Podcast:
We’re blessed to have survived the ills of the community of the ghetto. We often just talk about all of the issues, from politics, to financial situations, to marriage, to interpersonal connectedness with people.
We’re trying to see how we can connect more with the young people. This will go a long way to keep the future preserved. We think we can do that with a podcast.
Women, relationships, that’s definitely a topic we want to touch on. We see the woman as being very powerful and very influential on all of these issues. So, we can’t do it without a powerful woman. It wont work. I don’t care how strong a man thinks he is, if you don’t have a strong woman there, it’s not gonna work.
You have to get a woman’s perspective. You have to hear it from them. Feel it from them. They have to speak for themselves.
On The Aftermath Of Hurricane Katrina:
Katrina affected the city. It affected the culture. The people are so strong and resilient, but, they did lose a lot. It’s functioning and back but it’s no way near completely what it was prior to Katrina.
A lot of new buildings, new infrastructure, but before, it was the raw New Orleans that had been around for so long. The demographics are different now, down to the type of resident and everything, but, it still has it’s authentic culture.
You can’t fight God. The people are so strong and they love the city.
It’s amazing how music can transcend so many different lines of communication. It can cut through all the B.S and go straight to a person’s soul. No matter where they are. No matter where you’re from. That’s the gift of music that I’ve seen. We can’t speak the language…but, when you play the music, oh man, I don’t care where we are, the people come and galvanize around.
Management have made it so everywhere we go we get treated well. I’ve never had that bad experience. That’s not to say maybe a plane wont lose your luggage or something, but, I got it back, so it was still positive.
On Personal Development:
I was always a sponge…I always look at myself as a student…one who is constantly learning.
I read constantly. That’s a gift I got from my mom. I just love reading. Even in this day and age, I still love the physical texture of a book.
My passion beside music…God…family…I really love fashion. My store, my more or less boutique…I probably would call it LeBlanc, I think it’s a cool last name that my family gave me.