Yep, that’s what the man said. No “could be,” “may be,” or “wanna be” about it. But what makes the Soul Rebels so great?
“Just the musical knowledge, man," says LeBlanc. "Like Quincy Jones. If I had to name the greatest composer/producer/conductor, it’d have to be him. Jones takes from classical to hip-hop to jazz to funk to soul. We’re that.”
LeBlanc’s right: When it comes to a sonic amalgam, the brassy gang of Big Easy badasses known as the Soul Rebels are that. In fact, they’re all that — and then some. And it’s precisely the "and then some" that sets them apart.
We’re talkin’ rev, dig? That unmitigated vroom-vroom that kicks into outright zoom. Granted, the high-octane octet never met a genre it didn’t wanna invite along for the ride. Yet, the Rebels aren’t just packing up the whip and hitting the open road; they’re putting the proverbial pedal to the metal and soaring. Think the fuel-injected funny cars of hot-rodding’s heyday and you’ll get some of the big idea. Slate that thought among today’s Top Fuel dragsters and you’ll get some more — a classic that runs on nitro, guns on flame speed, comprises itself on composites of titanium and iron, and goes zero to 100 in four-fifths of a second.
That’s quite likely why LeBlanc responds to a prompt to liken the Rebels to a vehicle by citing a particularly charged fantasy ride dating back to ‘67 or ’68.
“You do remember the Mammoth Car from Speed Racer, don’t you?” LeBlanc asks. “That’d have to be our ride. And we’d be driving to a destination unknown.”
LeBlanc’s citing the 200-yard-long, 30,000-horsepower monster truck that arch-villain Cruncher Block built entirely of stolen gold bars. Yes, we remember the Mammoth Car. (Who could forget it?) And we agree — that behemoth would make for some rad Rebel wheels. In fact, we can easily envision the Rebels commandeering just such a wild ride as they encircle the globe enlightening the unenlightened.
Like for instance this past August, when the Rebels made their Japan debut as surprise special guests of both Marilyn Manson and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at the Summer Sonic Tokyo Festival, a day before their own turn as headliners. Or when the Rebels again crossed the pond to appear on an episode of Later... With Jools Holland that also included Metallica and Lou Reed. (Metallica went on to invite the lads to open and share the stage for all four of their 30th-anniversary week of concerts at the San Francisco Fillmore and featured them again at both nights of their first Metallica Orion Music + More Festival).
Such wheels would’ve also been a boon when the Rebels went arena with Green Day and did the Brooklyn Bowl with Joey Badass and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, as well as when they bounced with Big Freedia, jammed with the String Cheese Incident, and staged alongside Kanye, Snoop, and Seal at Brad Pitt’s Night to Make It Right Foundation afterparty. So too when the band collaborated with Slick Rick and Rare Essence during a tribute to go-go legend Chuck Brown at Washington, D.C.’s historic Howard Theatre.
And the Rebels would most definitely need the Mammoth's room if they were to bring along the metaphorical book LeBlanc insists best represents the band: "The Encyclopedia of All Music,” he says. “We’ve got all the information; come to us and we’ll give it to you.”
How many volumes would there be in the Soul Rebels’ Encyclopedia of Music? “I would have to say ten or more,” LeBlanc states.
Multiples continued apace when LeBlanc is next asked to ascribe a sport to his group. “We’ve traveled all over the world, played in every nation, participated in every sport — the decathlon, the high jump, you name it. So I’d have to say ours would be like the world Olympics.”
As you might suspect, there are many multiples in LeBlanc’s listening as well. And his devices are overloaded with much variety, from the Doors to Rakim to Miles and Satchmo to the Dirty Dozen Dixieland Brass Band.
The Dirty Dozen, along with the French Quarter’s legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band, are two of New Orleans' most fabled musical institutions. And it is they who carry on the tradition that lies at the core of the Soul Rebels. The rest of LeBlanc’s listening list sound suspiciously like a Rebels set list.
“Where do you think we get the ideas for the music we perform?” he says, stating an obviousness that’s almost bruising.
Whether the set list veers more toward the Doors or Rakim when the Soul Rebels take the stage at Revolution this Thursday is anybody’s guess. What’s assured is that whatever this neotraditionalist band of blood brothers does decide to blow, it’ll blow away everyone smart enough to be in attendance. For South Florida, that really should be everyone.
The Soul Rebels
10 p.m. Thursday, December 3, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $17.50 to $19 plus fees. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net.