The amazing SoCal natives band, Roots of Mine, made their One Love Cali Reggae Fest debut this year on the Tiki Stage on Saturday, February 8th. On the heels of their new single (and subsequent video) “Anna” and a sick cover of Bad Religion’s “I Want To Conquer The World”, Roots of Mine had earned their spot on that One Love stage. Formed in 2010 by guitarist Mike Giles, bassist Aaron Austin, keyboardist Eamonn Conwell, drummer Dan Kujat, percussionist Stephen Lasbreak, vocalist Nick Sabia and saxophonist Adrian Olmos, the band then found the talented John Landry for lead vocals.
… Roots of Mine had earned their spot on that One Love stage.
With their reggae/rock/hip hop blended sound, the band has had the opportunity to play with fellow SoCal local bands, like B Foundation. They have also played festivals like RASTAPAW, Mammoth Reggae Festival, venues like Sealegs in Huntington Beach and benefit shows for Bradley’s House, as well as being repeat players of Roots on 66 Festival. The band is kicking off 2020 BIG with the One Love Cali Reggae Fest, playing with the likes of Rebelution, Iration, Matisyahu, J Boog, Pepper, The Green, Tribal Seeds, Stick Figure, The Expendables and HIRIE.
Their latest single released in December, “Anna”, is about Landry’s cousin who battled Leukemia and friend Romy Rome who is currently fighting Lymphoma. The band is donating proceeds from the single in a 50/50 split: half to Romy Rome and half to Sarah’s Fight for HOPE Foundation chosen by Anna.
I was able to catch up with singer John Landry for a chance to get to know him and the band better via interview. Check it out!
What was your favorite One Love experience?
- Landry: My favorite One Love experience was definitely this 2020 show. Having my son with me the entire time was so amazing. He was all stoked on the dressing room trailers and made himself right at home [laughs]. We have some awesome footage of my son and Aaron’s son dancing like crazy side stage during our set and it’s now one of my most cherished memories. After I was done hustling around all day, my son and I caught the rest of the festival and walked around the Queen Mary. He tapped out halfway through Stick Figure — pretty good for running around with me since 5am!
- An honorable mention would be 2019 One Love, when I worked Fortunate Youth’s merch booth the whole weekend and it POURED rain! It was the LONGEST weekend ever… so much water… so much cardboard… but, the FY fans are some of my favorite people on the planet and getting a full weekend with them really lifted me up.
What was your first concert?
- That’s an embarrassing one! Kenny G was my very first concert. I barely remember it, but I do remember he entered the stadium from BEHIND us, playing his little soprano sax and walked right by me.
- I think my first ‘band show’ was just as embarrassing… Matchbox 20 with Everclear and Lifehouse. I grew up with my mom and she was a HUGE fan. The Everclear set did inspire me to go to live shows, though! I was really young… after that show, I begged my mom to let me go to local shows. I really didn’t go see big bands growing up; when I was that age, my mom didn’t have the money for that.
- I did go to a ton of free local shows, so I got really into the underground scene in Phoenix. I saw Authority Zero at a pool hall in our neighborhood before they were famous… I even sold them weed in the parking lot! My buddies and I were too young to go inside, so we would watch from the door, which the owner would keep open while the band played and then we would talk with them between sets. A couple years later, they were on MTV and we were like… WHAT?!?!?! [Laughing] I also discovered Slightly Stoopid by sneaking into Nita’s Hideaway to see a local band I liked back in 2002. I was obsessed after that. I think I was a sophomore in high school or something.
Who is your ‘guilty pleasure’ band?
- [Laughing] I have a lot of those! I listen to EVERYTHING. I could go on forever about weird bands and singers that I love. I’ve been listening to The Cranberries since I was like seven (thanks Mom!) and still jam to their old stuff all the time. Guess it is kinda embarrassing when I pull up next to someone jamming “I Still Do” loud as fuck!
What inspired you to cover Bad Religion?
- To be honest, Roots of Mine has been covering that song long before I joined the band. I made it my own though, for sure. Punk rock was a HUGE part of my middle school and early high school days. To pay tribute to that just felt right. Punk rockers were pissed about it, though! You should have seen the hate comments from die-hard punkers when they heard our Cali reggae version! [Laughing] I guess I could have called that and that’s to be expected when you choose to cover a legendary punk band like Bad Religion. I love it though… and it’s one of my favorite songs to play live.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
- Well, my earliest dream collab has always been Stoopid. Aside from them and if I could choose anyone, it would probably John Brown Body’s Elliot Martin. Chali 2na from J5. Toots Hibbert from Toots and the Maytals would be mindblowing. Also, any of the emcees from the underground hip hop legends would be a dream come true. Anyone from Heiro, especially Del [The Funky Homosapien]… Any of the Living Legends, De La, Pharcyde, Tribe, Vast Aire, Freestyle Fellowship, Rhymesayers… man, ANYONE from the underground 90s/early 2000s. That was my shit and is still a huge influence on me, lyrically and stylistically.
Given the personal nature of songs like “Anna”, who else are your greatest influences, lyrically?
- Like I said, hip hop — especially underground hip hop — was a huge part of my life growing up. I loved emcees that had something real to say, more than just punchlines and tough guy talk. Nothing wrong with that: I love both, but when you use your music for GOOD and your lyrics connect with people in a meaningful way, it’s something that is becoming more rare in today’s music. Common, Talib Kweli, De La Soul, Digable Planets, Mos Def… legends in that arena. It’s easy to write songs about smoking weed and partying — I could do it all day long. But, to write something with meaning, where every line has a purpose, that’s really hard. Not that I don’t listen to rugged shit, too! Wu Tang, Bone and Pac were just as much part of my life, but they evoked different emotions from me.
- I wrote “Anna” to inspire my little cousin and bring comfort and courage during her battle with Leukemia; I hope anyone that can relate to something like that can find the same courage and comfort. Every line has a purpose, every line has a message. ‘You can do this and we are here for you every step of the way. You you are NOT alone in this fight.’
How are Anna and Romy doing now?
- Anna fought harder and longer than anyone at that age should ever have to endure. She beat Leukemia — so we thought — after a very long and hard fight. Anna had a rare case of AML and there was a very tiny amount left in her spinal cord. When she went back home to get ready to start high school, it spread throughout her body. She gave her second fight everything she had. The courage she showed is something that has changed me and the entire family. We’ll never completely heal from her loss. I love my Aunt Becky, Uncle Mike and cousin Hudson with all my heart. Anna will never be forgotten. Fuck cancer… everyone nowadays has been affected in some way and it’s infuriating we don’t have an answer yet!
- Romy is battling his second round with cancer, as well, using an all-natural approach this time and kicking ass. If anyone would like to help him on his journey, PLEASE donate to his GoFundMe or reach out to him or myself personally, especially if you work with organic medical marijuana and have the means to donate to those in need of medicine!
If you missed Roots of Mine at One Love 2020, catch them March 6th with fellow One Lover’s Ital Vibes at Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, CA soon!