Austin Smith, Belmont ’08, joined the band Roots of a Rebellion (ROAR) in 2011. The band was formed when drummer Troy Wiggins and original bass player Alec Newman met each other through a Belmont Facebook group. Austin and Alec lived in the same dorm and Alec invited him to join the band. Each member came to the band with their own musical tastes and influences. They define their style as “heavy reggae-rock-dub music for the soul.”
Austin didn’t have much musical knowledge of reggae and relied on his fellow bandmates to educate him and other original member Dylan Fitch to round out their superficial knowledge of the style that they learned from listening to musicians such as Bob Marley. Smith grew up in St. Louis and his informal education of music came from his family; his dad had been a singer in a folk band in college and his mother enjoys musical and show tunes.
Starting around the age of five, he began to learn to play the piano. It was during these early piano lessons that he learned he was drawn to the sound of the guitar when he overheard others learning guitar at the location where he was taking lessons. Around the age of ten he began trying his hand at songwriting and by twelve, he really started to hone his craft and had the idea that he would want to make music his career.
Austin believes music has a healing power and works hard to spread that joy through his lyrics. He defines the band’s mission as being “dedicated to spreading positivity and consciousness through music.” They have been able to spread their light at festivals such as at PeteFest in 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky, a charity music festival who aim was to raise awareness about preventing suicide and fighting depression.
Outside of music, Austin is passionate about family, religion, and nature. He tries to get outside to stay active and be healthy. Each member of the band has a day job that are flexible enough to allow them to tour for weeks or a month on end. The end goal is for the band to be full-time that pays enough for them to just focus on the music and touring.
The band consists of Smith as lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter; fellow Phi Delt guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player Marco Martinez, Belmont ’13, bassist Adam Quellhorst; drummer Troy Wiggins; and brothers Jeremyck Smith on keyboards and Justin on trumpet. The band has gained the majority of their fans from touring. They routinely play over 120 shows a year.
The six-piece band is known for their dynamic live performances showing their progressive sound and energy. They have shared the stage with bands such as The Wailers, Rebelution, 311, Slightly Stoopid, moe., North Mississippi Allstars, SOJA, Nahko and Medicine for the People. They were voted as Best Local Band by Nashville Scene readers in 2015 and debuted at Bonnaroo in 2016 by winning the BMI Road to Bonnaroo competition.
Their third studio album, A Brother’s Instinct, debuted at #4 in Billboard. They released their fourth album, Shapes of a Soul, on May 31, 2019, which debuted at debut at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.
For tour dates and news, visit their website http://www.rootsofarebellion.com