When former SCAD students Ted Bowne and Nick Kubley formed Passafire in 2003, they didn’t expect to be anything other than two friends jamming. Now, almost 20 years later, they are a nationally recognized reggae-rock sensation with some major accolades under their belt.
Bowne and Kubley’s musical endeavor began when they met through mutual friends during their time as students at SCAD.
“Nick and I met at SCAD and discovered that we were both into reggae,” Bowne said. “We started jamming at Nick’s apartment and the idea of creating a band started floating around, but we didn’t know which direction we wanted to go with it. It was funny because we both kinda simultaneously found out about this band ‘John Brown’s Body,’ a reggae and dub band from upstate New York. We listened to a couple of their albums and immediately we were both like ‘yeah this is it, we need to start a reggae-rock band.’”
With “John Brown’s Body” lighting their fuse, Passafire emerged and became a local fave that quickly grew to a national touring act.
Their self-titled debut album was released in 2006 and consisted of a culmination of four years of recording songs that were written during their time at SCAD.
According to Bowne, (lead singer and guitarist) the band—which features drummer Nick Kubley, bass player and vocalist Will Kubley, and keyboardist/guitar player Mike DeGuzman—keeps their reggae-rock angle fresh by focusing on song composition and how the music is actually made.
“It is more about being eccentric with the music, paying attention to the musicality, and being aware of making choices with music that aren’t normal,” he said.
Although many bands that blend reggae with rock choose laid-back vibes, Bowne says Passafire prefers a far more punchy, punky, and progressive version of reggae-rock.
“Our music is not not only reggae—it’s a blend of a variety of different styles. We’re not only influenced by reggae or reggae-rock, we’re influenced by jam music, electronic, rock, metal, hip-hop...everything. We ended up in the reggae-rock genre because we do play a lot of reggae grooves, but aside from that we play a lot of different styles of music. It’s not fun for us if we don’t get to play the music we like.”
Since their founding, Passafire has released seven full-length albums and toured with some big names in the reggae-rock music industry: 311, Slightly Stoopid, The Wailers, and Revolution. Their most recent album “Strata” was released on Sept. 17.
“The first three singles on ‘Strata’ were written and released prior to the pandemic. But the pandemic kinda stopped things,” Bowne said. “We’re all dispersed across the country now so when the pandemic hit we all went back to our home bases. When we were able to get together, we wrote and recorded the last seven songs on the album within a week. We’re excited that we’re able to tour again and perform our old and new jams. It’s touring and sharing our music that keeps our band alive.”
Bowne said he’s also looking forward to returning to the city where it all started for him. “This will actually be the first time we’ve been able to perform at a venue in Savannah that allows all ages. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to be able to play for the Savannah community and the fact that fellow SCAD students will be able to attend is even cooler. We’re ready to bring the good vibes.”
Passafire is Fri., Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by visiting ticketmaster.com