Reggae SoCal Style: Interview with After the Smoke

with Song River

After the Smoke comes to you with an original style of Cali roots-rock Reggae music. Even though their career paths in the industry took them in multiple directions over the years, it was destined to become their saving drive and finally perseverance culminated and brought these long time friends together to create a new world reggae sound. One that presented a diversity of roots, and each member contributes their own special touch. This formation was the calling After the Smoke evidently needed and so did their fans.

Calling Ventura, California home, they have performed at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood, CA and came in as the top 12 finalists out of 600+ for the Hard Rock Rising Battle of the Bands and winning "Artist of the Year" at the 2015 Ventura County Music Awards. Having the opportunities presented to them, After the Smoke has shared the stage with several of today's best known in the reggae community, bands like: Papa Fish, Fortunate Youth, Katastro and many more!

With these experiences and motion under their guitars, percussion and vocals of attainment After the Smoke has successfully released their self titled EP “After the Smoke.”

Song River: Hello to all in Ventura County, SoCal and most importantly hail to After the Smoke!  There is a tenderness to what you create. Almost a gentle breeze. I was reading that each of you prior to coming together had been pursuing your own musical passions.  What were they, what style of music?

After The Smoke: Hello! And thank you for that warm compliment. Our pursuits varied from a participating in a government-sponsored cultural program to trying to make a living through the music industry In regards to our styles of music, they
range(d) from reggae, hip hop to metal and Mexican “banda” music.

SR: Talk a bit about your diverse backgrounds.

After The Smoke: We could write you a whole book on this but for the sake of time, we’ll give you a nutshell of our backgrounds. A majority of the group grew up together. Whether it was playing in school bands, garage bands, studying music at the collegiate level, touring the country playing shows, traveling the world as a musical ambassador, and just working in the music industry overall. Music has always been a part of our lives.

SR: Now as long time friends at what point did you all decide it was time to bring every individual part of who you were alone... to the collective of After the Smoke?

After The Smoke: Well we’ve been together for about 5 years now. We started off as a couple of high school friends jamming. The rest of the members joined throughout the years as a result of our engagement with the local reggae scene. We began as a 4 piece band and now perform as a 7 piece.

SR: Describe "roots-rock reggae" as that is how you have defined your sound.

After The Smoke: Roots rock reggae is a sub genre of reggae that reaches out to the lives of everyday people, their struggle, their aspirations, and gives them a voice. It’s a style popularized by bands like The Wailers. A music of the people.

SR: When listening to your sound the influences of jazz, soul and rock are stirred in.  Where is reggae music today?  And where is it going?

After The Smoke: After The Smoke: Roots reggae music all begins with the drums and bass. They are the heartbeat and backbone of this style of music. This emphasis is like that of jazz music where again drum and bass are crucial. The soul influence comes from the message we try to spread which is expressed through our vocal harmonies. Something that will be much more prevalent in our upcoming album. Our rock influence is a product of our location and times. While we do identify as a roots rock reggae band, however, we are an “Americanized” roots rock reggae band. So we definitely throw in some of that California rock. Outside of that our diverse cultural heritage plays a role in our sound as well. While reggae music has always been huge internationally, today in the United States, it is definitely seeing a rise. Not just in general but in the mainstream cultural as well. Reggae music is here to stay because of its positive messages, infectious sounds, and emphasis on the people. Reggae music will always be popular.

SR: How much has the heart of it changed?  As some bands still embrace the solidarity of politics and the people- where others are mainly about partying.  

After The Smoke: A product of the growth of any genre is that it becomes interpreted by more and more musicians. So while some bands make it about sex, drugs, and rock and roll (in a sense). True reggae music will always be about the people and spreading peace, one love, and unity.

SR: You have received numerous accolades in Southern California for your music. Talk about some of the competitions, how they are set up and what brought these recognitions together for you?

After The Smoke: Well one of our first recognitions was placing in the top 10 through the Hard Rock Rising battle of the bands. We were especially proud of this achievement as 600+ bands were competing. As a result, we performed at the Hard Rock Café on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles in an effort to win a slot at the Hard Rock Café Rome music festival. Although we did not win, we received tons of exposure as being the only reggae band to place in the top 10.

Through the Ventura County Music Awards, we have won “Must See Band” and “Artist of the Year” and were nominated for several categories including Best Reggae band, Album of the Year, and Best Live band. Not only did we garner a strong support from the local community, we also built connections that would lead us to new opportunities, including an interview on 92.9 KJEE and a cover feature on No Cover magazine.

After The Smoke: SR: Band Members: 

Jacob: Vocal/Guitar
Guillermo: Keyboard/Backing Vocal
Angel: Bass
Filiverto: Keyboard
Rafa: Congas
Miguel: Drums
Morie: Vocal/Rhythm Guitar

SR: Listening to your music one thing among many that stands out is how each instrument played by each member carries its own weight, plus harmonizes and blends.  Since those first few jamming sessions together how have you continued to create this succinct balance of timing, harmonizing, melody and life? ​

After The Smoke: One thing we have come to realize is that with so many members it is difficult to balance personal lives with our joint musical life. With some of the members having wives and children of their own. Our chemistry both on and off the stage carries us through the process of creating music, playing shows, and working in the studio. It definitely comes through in our overall sound. We compliment each other well and any individual weaknesses seem to be filled by the strengths of other members.  

SR: Your self-titled EP is out. Who produced it and where was it recorded?  Where can we purchase it?

After The Smoke: Our self-titled EP was produced by our keyboardist Fili Landeros at his studio Lion City Studios. We have not put up the EP for purchase online as we are now focusing on our first full-length album. If people would like to purchase it, we will be having it available at our shows soon. At this time, you can also stream most of the album on

SR: You have performed on stage with many other brothers and sisters in the realm of reggae: ​
Third World, ​Hirie, ​Katastro, ​Arise Roots , and Papa Fish to name a few.  As you head into the other side of 2016 and enter 2017 what are some of your plans musically?

After The Smoke: Our main goal is to finish our first full-length album and begin to make our debut within the larger reggae community. This involves submitting to play large reggae festivals such as Cali Roots and Reggae on the River.

SR: Lastly, Without music we wouldn't be able to give voice and power from the people to the people. Yet, reggae finds itself giving power with truth and love most of the time.  Where and how is After the Smoke spreading this empowerment?​

After The Smoke: We spread these ideals through our music. We are all about bringing positive vibes to anyone and everyone. The meaning of After the Smoke isn’t as obvious as it may sound. At heart, it is referring to the negativity that can surround us. We strive to burn down that negativity and ‘after the smoke’ clears. Positivity can found and heard. 

After The Smoke Information: