More than a Sublime experience 

Redeye Empire returns to Whistler to debut new reggae rock album, Sea to Sky, at Creekside hotspot


Who: Redeye Empire

When: Saturday, Jan. 16, 9 p.m.

Where: Dusty's

Cost: $5

If you've lived in Whistler for any length of time, chances are you've caught a performance by the Redeye Empire. That's because even though these musicians live in Vancouver, their heart seems to remain in this mountain town, where their brand of upbeat reggae rock resonates with the laidback, party-hardy locals.

"They can relate to our music better than people in big urban centres, not that those people don't enjoy it," said Mike Redmond, vocalist and guitar player for the band. "There's definitely something in the music that I think that's for an outdoorsy, adventurous person."

With Redmond and Gabe Davis on vocals and guitar, Eric Stephenson on bass, Andre Arsenault on lead guitar and Ryan Davis on drums, the "Empire" has had a busy year.

This summer, rather than touring around the States, they stayed in B.C., touring mountain towns and the Interior to build up a stronger local fan base.

"We have an inkling to go towards the mountains," Redmond laughed. "So we spent a lot of time in Kelowna and Revelstoke and Golden and all those places. A lot of ski towns, which is unfortunate during the summer, because I'm a skier."

They've also been toiling tirelessly behind the scenes, getting their third album ready to unleash onto the masses. Named in honour of the region, Sea to Sky is definitely a solid choice to pop into the CD player when you're cruising Highway 99. It's a blend of reggae rock that also incorporates elements of ska, pop and funk.

While at least one of the tracks, Oh I Say, is an upbeat, poppy party rocker, the others are actually a bit mellower, by Redeye standards, with the majority of the tracks falling under the reggae/dub category.

"It's a lot more heavier and slightly slower beats and tempos," Redmond explained.

"We've definitely settled into more of a heavier, reggae dub feel."

The group's writing approach is collaborative, with Redmond and Gabe Davis sitting around playing acoustic guitar and developing the general structure and framework for the songs, with some loose lyrics. Then, they take it to the rest of the group and they work on it together.

"It moulds and transforms as soon as everyone else starts putting their two bits in," Redmond said.

Lyrically, their music is inspired by "everything under the sun," with songs touching on everything from love to global issues. Even the cover artwork of Sea to Sky is a cut above the last, with a bright and vibrant illustration of a swooping eagle set against a backdrop of mountains and crashing waves.

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