Chicago-located indie guitar-driven band Wet Tropics incorporate all sorts of styles into their foundation of rock and punk. They released their latest album, the vibrant Everybody Get In, at the end of November via Friends Club Records.
The band’s music is a blend of their Midwest origins with a West Coast vibe. Lead vocalist and guitarist John Rejba was formerly in the indie and post-rock bands Boys Life and The Farewell Bend. He’s joined by veteran drummer and vocalist Krystal Rosenbrock and multi-instrumentalist Justin Watt on bass.
Rejba kindly takes part in our continuing Protest Interview series, highlighting his concerns about social justice and climate change, among other issues.
Hello! Please introduce yourself/yourselves and give a description of your sound/musical vision.
Hi, my name is John Rejba and I’m the lead singer and guitarist in Wet Tropics. I would describe our sound as a reverb-soaked guitar band. We like to keep it stripped down, but we aren’t afraid to introduce production and layered tracks in recordings that won’t be used in a live environment.
I tend to think of my songwriting style as not limited to a certain genre of rock-n-roll. I subscribe to the Britt Daniel style of songwriting where you don’t pigeon-hole your sound or yourself. I like to be surprised with what I write and challenge myself to try new things with our soundscape.
What is/are the main personal, national, and/or international issue(s) concerning you the most these days?
My issue of main concern is social justice. I’m currently working on my master’s degree in secondary education. Living in Chicago, I will be teaching in a diverse high school with many of the students being minority students. There will be an event in the future where I will need to comfort them, listen to them, and help them understand what is happening.
I’m fortunate enough to be studying at a university where social justice is a top priority in the teaching college’s charter. A close second issue for me is climate change and fighting back against the deniers. In my last career I dealt with the issue of climate change often, and the issue is real. I can’t say it enough.
What song, video, or lyrics quote of yours best represents your current viewpoint on this/these important topic(s)?
I would say “Le Fakery” puts most of my thoughts in perspective. It’s about Alex Jones’s video deposition on Sandy Hook. He basically spells out in the interview that he knows it’s all B.S. and he does it to make money. I’m ever the optimist, so at the end of the lyric I hope he finds his way to the truth. That hasn’t happened though, since he’s still pedaling conspiracy theories and jumps at the chance to spread misinformation.
“Ever wonder where the dirty lies come from… / They were born from the lure of fame and money, my son… /Now go in peace and love--and tell the truth to everyone…”
What’s your favorite song, video, or lyrics quote by another act or artist that best exemplifies, or at least partly relates to, your current viewpoint?
Just put on any Public Enemy record…
What other forms of protest, besides through your music, are you involved with to get your message across?
I march in the Chicago streets with my fellow humans for causes of justice. I never really thought I would write songs about a politician or a bottom feeder like Alex Jones. When I started writing song lyrics, all I wanted to sing about was peace and love, to be honest. It’s just these last four years have been the hardest in our country since at least the ’60s. I read the news so I guess protest songs just come out.
It’s easy to judge and criticize others, especially in these unsettling times of overt intolerance, ignorance, and insults, but the fact remains that we need to work together to ensure that positive change occurs. Name an action to take, or a campaign/charity that would be worthwhile to contribute to, for your cause.
I fully support these following organizations in my neighborhood either through charitable donations or volunteer work.
Sarah’s Circle: https://sarahs-circle.org/
Care for Real: https://careforreal.org/
Madonna Mission: https://www.madonnamission.org/
What gives you hope for the future?
Our youth. They’re more educated and aware and engaged in what’s going on in the world around them than any other generation. We have a lot to look forward to.
Where can we purchase/stream your music and find out more about you?
You can find us in all the usual places.