INTERVIEW WITH THE BAND FORTUNATE YOUTH: BUILDING THEIR MOMENTUM FULL SPEED AHEAD

Images by Sean McCracken

 

 

 

 

For the fans of Fortunate Youth, you know how great they are. For those that have not experienced their soulful sounds, once you see them live only then will you understand the beauty of their eclectic, electrifying sounds. Fortunate Youth is known throughout the world for their mesmerizing music and have built their presence in the reggae community. Throughout the years these native Californians have worked their asses off touring relentlessly trying to hit every spot on the globe. They’ve come far from their time playing small gigs to now hitting the biggest tours in the national circuit.  The band’s music and lyrics depicts a message of positivity and peace that we are all seeking especially in this time of age.

Since their formation in 2009, they have continued accomplish their musical endeavors through creating a sound all their own and building a community of fans and massive following. They have put out the best music all hits one after the other. Their latest Album Good Times (Roll On) was released on September 3, 2021, which was during the pandemic. They worked tirelessly knowing this album would represent their best work yet and their mission sharing it to the world, pushing the positive idea that good times will come again. Their musical influences come from the greats Bob Marley, Van Morrison, and The Grateful Dead. Fortunate Youth’s sound is a fusion of punk, blues rhythms, with hard hitting reggae rock beats that leave you in a feel good – a chill state of mind.

Fortunate Youth has shared the stage with some of the greats in the reggae touring circuit.  Slightly Stoopid, Common Kings, Pepper, The Expendables, and Tribals Seeds are just the few they have shared the stage with.

I was beyond stoked to speak with the guys from Fortunate Youth -Dan Kelly (vocals), Jered Draskovich (Keys/Bass), and Greg Gelb (guitar, vocals). They are still touring so I was able to squeeze in some time. In this powwow, I learned how devoted, and humble they are. Their more than just guys playing on the stage, but they are sharing a positive message through their music. They are very genuine, and kind people following their passions. We should all take a note from them.

 

Suzanne Sanchez:

You guys are still on tour right now and about to hit the RIDDIM RYDAH FALL TOUR 2022 with special guests Passafire, The Elovaters, Arise Roots, and Joe Samba.

Jered Draskovich:

Yeah, we’re on tour right now out at The Montana State Hemp Festival. We leave tomorrow but we play a set tonight. There’s still time for you to make it!

Suzanne:

I’m so jealous!

 

 

Greg Gelb :

Where are you calling from?

Suzanne:

Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Fortunate Youth:

oh beautiful!

 

 

Suzanne:

You guys just finished the Summer Traditions Tour with Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, and Common Kings. How was the tour especially since the music shut down from Covid. I bet it’s great to be back on the big tours. You guys sold out nationwide. I believe this was one the biggest tours of the summer. 

Dan Kelly:

We were grateful to be back touring. Since the last time we were on tour, half the band has had babies and we really haven’t had that road life, so it was neat to have known what it feels like to knocking the dust off each other. I was like come on pull it together (laughs). It makes us really stoked for the headlining tour in the fall.  “Getting back to the music really awakens our senses. You miss it so much when you didn’t have it. Then we got it, and we were like let’s bring this back home, get back in the flow. It was like taking the training wheels off again for the first time in forever! It was cool. You learn something new every tour you go!”  Yeah and we learned the fans are still there! And we learned its hot during the summertime! (laughs)

 

 

Suzanne:

You have to be a special breed to handle the music life, the touring, the whole nine. How do you guys stay balanced.

Dan Kelly:

It’s the right kind of crazy. (laughs)

Greg Gelb:

We love it though and we always get through the tough times.

 

 

Suzanne: Crazy tour shenanigans?

Jered Draskovich:

I feel like it’s always like touring stuff that can be challenging. For example, the crashing of the van in the ice from Salt Lake City Utah to Colorado and almost dying. Almost flying off the side of the road off a cliff.  But we stopped for a sec to catch a breath (laughs) and then kept on going. We played a show at Cervantes that night. Just raged it, we have a little more appreciation for life. I think that’s what the road does. Every day is a different challenge and as you build momentum and comradery with your team. Then when you get home it’s a celebration we survived. Last tour we blew our engine and our tires blew out. Our buddies had to pick us up. The driver had to strap the axle up so we could roll 50 mph for 150 miles to make it to the Santa Barbara Bowl show. Made it 45 minutes before the set and they wouldn’t even let us in because we had a bunch of dudes with us, and they didn’t have credentials. We had 4 cars and 12 guys with merch and stuff (laughs) it was crazy.

Greg Gelb:

We drove those SUVs to the stage though! We made it (laughs) We got in there. You must be able to overcome all those obstacles and pop up with the smile on your face.

Jered Draskovich:

Go crush a set and no one even knew what happened to us! Like the crowd was doing their thing enjoying themselves and we were like WHEWWWW! (laughs). That was the test of the tour,

and we passed it!! Yeah, it’s always something with the road to.

 

 

Suzanne:

I respect how you guys are advocates for the legalization of marijuana, and its benefits.

Dan Kelly:

We are, and we are big advocates of the people getting out of prison that have been charged for marijuana. So, for us it was a change of time, and we hope we can continue this. We are successful, and we smoke pot. The stigma that you’re a “dopehead” you smoke pot so you’re not capable of being successful. We say screw that lets smoke it up and change it out. Keep it positive in this crazy life.

 

 

Suzanne:

I’ve Listened to your recent album many times. How did the song “The Cure”, off your album Good Times (Roll on) come about, the message is very inspiring.

Dan Kelly:

It was a good jam you know. I think it was necessary to happen in life. I think people should own up to what they can do and contribute to this world. Love is the cure. We don’t have to be so afraid of it in this life.

 

 

Suzanne:

I’m sure you’ve received a lot of emails from your fans about their relationship with your music and how it helped them.

Dan Kelly:

it’s very touching to hear and you’re right. I had someone say they were going to kill themselves and the gun jammed. And then my brother hit me up and he said just listen. I mean words mean a thousand but when your heart and see them we just give them a big hug. We take this in and give it out, the positive vibes. Its great how much good energy you can put out there, there’s no shortage of that which we all need. I think it feels better to be on the positive side of things

 

 

Suzanne:

You really have made a positive impact in this world with your music. And your music draws in people of all backgrounds.

Greg Gelb:

Thank you, we grew up on punk rock in Hermosa Beach, California.  Dan grew up in Mississippi with the blues. So, all of us in the band try to blend as much music in there so it’s great to hear that no matter what the genre one prefers anyone can get into our music. Our goal is to make music that everyone can love.

 

 

Suzanne:

How do you guys write your music, in every situation different or do you have some sort of routine scenario?

Jered Draskovich:

Yeah, every situation different. We wrote Don’t Think Twice on the road together just traveling. That’s what inspired the song. Sometimes a couple of us will sit down and write the music. Then we’ll give it to Dan, and he’ll kind of freestyle and then we will pick the coolest part of what he just did whether its melody, or concept-wise then build around that. We try to get as much influence from each other. Opinion of arrangements, and the flow of the song so it’s really a collective effort.

Greg Gelb:

Getting in the studio is the toughest part of the touring schedule so it’s been nice the time we did have off we were able to spend a little more time than usual. We can spend up to 100 hours. 300 hours countless hours to make it sound the way we hope it sounds best.

 

 

Suzanne:

Where do you guys see yourselves in 5 years?

Jered Draskovich:

keep on Pushing out the positivity! We want to keep spreading the positive vibes this world needs it!

Dan Kelly:

Taking over this friging planet!

Fortunate Youth:

Our mission is to leave a positive impact and spread that word.

 

 

Suzanne:

Who would you guys like to tour with that you have not toured with yet?

Jered Draskovich:

Steele Pulse, Rebelution, and Alborosie (we did a song with him so 100% on him)

Dan Kelly:

Such a long list (laughs) how much time you got!

Jered Draskovich:

Like Greg said we are trying to connect as many dots as we can with the bands that we love and admire. And let the people take the message in the music as far as they can take it.

 

 

Suzanne:

Message to your fans?

Dan Kelly, Greg Delb, Jered Draskovich:

Keep on keeping on overcome anything that comes up.

We love you and always say hi to us!  Suzanne we’ll see ya in Florida!

 

 

FORTUNATE YOUTH:

Dan Kelly (vocals)

Travis “Travi Bongo” Walpole (percussion)

 Jered Draskovich (keys/bass)

Greg Gelb (guitar, sings and rocks it!)

Corey Draskovich (bass, guitar, keys)

Revelation Kalauli (drums)

 

 

 

 

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Hey guys! I'm living the beach life in Cocoa Beach, Florida. UCF Graduate dbl. major , dbl. Masters. Prior to grad school, I spent around 10 years in the music industry managing bands, national tours, and stage management. Most of my career has consisted of working within the realm of criminal justice. I have always loved to write honing my skills though my time in graduate school. I am obsessed with the paranormal, animals, wildlife, and the ocean of course surfing my whole life. Cancer survivor 2 years with my recent remission. I am very grateful to be a part of this magazine and to share my passion for music.

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