Rebelskamp performs Friday at Art Ark Gallery in San Jose as part of South First Friday.
What would happen if a bunch of freestyle rappers started a jam-band? It might sound impossible, but that’s exactly what happened to San Jose’s Rebelskamp. Four members of this rock, funk, avant-garde, free-form, genre-busting quintet (along with Kung Fu Vampire) were at one time the local freestyle rap crew, LSB.
“With that pressure of freestyle rap, you’re going to stumble, but the key is how quickly you recover from the stumble. We’re basically taking that freestyle rap pressure that we thrive on and we’re freestyling with our instruments,” says drummer Dan Gilardoni.
Their instrumentation is a fairly standard rock set up: drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and cello. The music meanders from slow, mellow, experimental swells to hyper-funky night-club jams, with just about everything else in-between. It is all 100 percent made up on the spot with no planning in advance, not even the lead vocals.
“We realized that we would stumble upon brilliance by not trying. That was the key. That was our formula, to have no formula,” says guitarist and lead singer Gee Willikers.
They may not sound like rap, but they don’t sound like a typical jam band either. First off, there are no solos. The songs are short and concise, unlike the standard 10-15 minute long songs other such bands tend to play. Plus their music takes shape more cohesively than other completely free-form bands. The songs actually sound pre-written, and people often refuse to believe they are making these songs up on the spot. With just about a year and a half under their belt, they’ve made up and recorded over 800 distinct songs, covering a multitude of musical styles, even within a single song.