Posted On 19 Dec 2014
Tag: 311, Bears, Capitol Cities, Cecilio & Kapono, CHICAGO, Chris Conte, Damon Alburn, David Bowie, Deep Country, Dennis Brown, Dr. Dre, F**k Around, Faith No More, Flogging Molly, Hawaii, Hunny Girl, Island Def Jam Music Group, Jagermeister Music Tour, Jeff Buckley, Jimi Hendrix, John Bohnam, John Lennon, Kahalu'u, Kailua-Kona, Kaleo, Kirstie Alley, Kona, Led Zeppelin, Less Than Jake, Lollapalooza, Maroon 5, Matt Wallace, Metallica, Miles High Festival, New Beat Fund, New Politics, O.A.R., Ohana, Packers, Pantera, Pennywise, Pepper, Saturday Night Live, Slightly Stoopid, Snoop Dogg, Sublime, The Clash, The Movement, The Police, UB40, US Airways, Warped Tour, Wilmington
This fall, the Southern California-based alternative rock reggae band Pepper, went on a national headline tour in support of their most recent self-titled album that was released in the latter months of 2013 via Island Def Jam Music Group.
Their single “F**k Around” peaked at #19 on the Alternative Chart, which is the band’s highest charting song to date. Broadening beyond the surf rock that they have been known for, the band challenged themselves and ultimately made what they consider to be their best record to date. From the feel good, head-nodding “Deep Country” to the sunshine-filled jam “Hunny Girl” to the radio-friendly anthem “F**k Around (All Night)”, Pepper really expands the band’s palette.
Pepper was formed in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1997, Pepper built a huge following through their six studio albums as well as their non-stop touring with bands such as 311, Slightly Stoopid, Snoop Dogg, Pennywise, Less Than Jake, and Flogging Molly as well as impressive sets at Lollapalooza, Miles High Festival and numerous rounds of Jagermeister Music Tour and Warped Tour.
Learn more about the guys of Pepper (Kaleo Wassman (vocals/guitar), Bret Bollinger (vocals/bass), and Yesod Williams (drums)) in the following interview:
Thanks for doing this interview guys! Where does this interview find you today?
I’m actually on a US Airways flight about 30K up on the way to a radio fest with New Politics and Capitol Cities in Wilmington, NC!
Can you remember the moment that you decided you wanted to form this band?
Yes!!!!! It was at a beach party in Kona at a beach Called “Kahalu’u” (kah-hah-lew) and Kaleo and I started talking about jamming. The next thing we knew we were in Bret’s mom’s garage wondering if a was gonna be able to knock the rust off cause I had not played drums in so long =)
Why the band name, Pepper?
3 words, SATURDAY-NIGHT-LIVE (early 90’s skit with Kirstie Alley)
You were formed in Hawaii. How has being from there influenced your music and perhaps even your attitude about the music business?
Hawaii especially Kona where we’re from is everything to us, it’s who we are, it taught us the value if respect and friends/family (Ohana) which we carry with us everyday. as far as our music, Hawaii is such a melting pot of so many people and cultures that I think it shines through in our music, as our music historically has touched on so many different genres. Hawaii is the essence of Pepper you could say.
We’re old now that’s one thing, hahaha! I like to think of the life (so far and beyond) of this band as the sort of “school of life”. We never went to college, we pretty much went straight from high school to the band so it’s all we know, but that’s saying a lot I think because the things we’ve learned, people we’ve met and the places we have seen are priceless and it’s beyond anything we could of ever dreamt of. We’re beyond grateful and humbled by all the fans that make it possible. Our sound I think has evolved into its own, in our earlier years we kind if sounded like a number of bands in my opinion, it was great though cause it was all our influences coming out in this band that was just doing what they loved!!! I guess you can say we’ve wrangled all our influences into one sound/style, whatever you want to call it!
Are you excited for your Fall tour with The Movement and New Beat Fund?
So pumped!!!!!Love touring with bands we’ve never toured with before but have friends that have toured with both bands before so forecast says it’s gonna be a legendary run!!!!!
Unlike previous tours, VIP upgrades are available for these shows. What exactly is the exclusive intimate experience like with Pepper?
We’ve been doing it for the last handful of tours, we try to change it up every tour to keep it unique and special for the Pepper Ohana. We always will have an exclusive signed poster, meet and greet, awesome family photos 😉 this summer we offered a “Best of Summer 2014” which were chosen from live recordings from the summer tour which totaled basically a live album from the summer. This fall we are gonna be playing acoustic for the VIP’s, private, before show and we are letting the fans who partake in the VIP choose the songs we play acoustic!!!! BINGO BANGO!!!!
You guys have toured with some incredible bands like Slighty Stoopid, Snoop Dogg, Pennywise, Flogging Molly and more. What tours have really stood out to you?
To be totally honest, they all do, they are all special in their own right, we’ve become close friends with a lot of the bands we’ve toured with and I love touring with other drummers/bands cause I always end up learning, taking something from that tour that I will use for the rest if my life whether it be a lesson, picking up things from other musicians, even on the business side of things etc……
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something funny that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
I’m a huge Bears fan, and this summer at the Chicago show, right before our encore, I destroyed one of those Packers cheese head hat things on stage with Chris Conte (the starting free safety for the bears) whom was stabbing it with a broken drum stick, dream come true!!!!!!
Your single “F**k Around” is the band’s highest charting song to date. Why do you think this track really spoke to people?
It’s like rocket science, sometimes you are totally sure a song is gonna connect through radio and then it’s a complete dud! But a good song is a good song, “F**k Around” was our first single in years and you never know how timing is gonna be on your side, but the planets just aligned a bit for us on that one!!!
I have read that most people are considering your latest and self-titled album to be your greatest achievement. Would you agree with that and why do you that is true? Why was it a hard record to make?
I totally agree! It’s my favorite, we soaked harder on it than any other record, learned more than ever before about music and songwriting, felt the most achieved on a personal level as a band. It was hard not in a bad way but just in a way that we challenged ourselves more than ever which is what I was touching on in my last answer.
Can you elaborate on the following quote that Bret has said: “This album is basically 12 snapshots of where we are.”?
It’s pretty simple, it had been 5 years since our last album and I think there were people wondering, “Where’s Pepper been? What are they up to?” So it’s kind of the same philosophy as to why we self titled the album, we were and are different people in some senses as we were the last time we “checked in” 5 years before, and we wanted the album to represent the band and where the band is musically and just in general.
You worked with the producer, Matt Wallace on this album. He’s worked with Maroon 5, O.A.R and Faith No More. How did this relationship with him come about?
We met him through our management, we didn’t know for sure, we were thinking maybe use multiple producers, so we were making a list and just taking meetings, doing sessions with them etc, just to see who we were vibing with. We fully connected on many levels with Wallace, he got us out of our comfort zone, pushed us, challenged us. It was pretty obvious that we needed him for the whole record.
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands inspire the music that you’re making?
Some of our legacy bands are UB40, Led Zeppelin, Sublime, Pantera, old Metallica, Dennis Brown, Jeff Buckley, David Bowie, Cecilio & Kapono, The Clash, The Police
Living or dead, who would you guys love to work with and why?
John Bohnam (he’s the “end all be all” as far as drummers go in my opinion), Damon Alburn (he’s a genius in all he does) Dr. Dre (that would be beyond a bucket list dream, and hey, let’s rap) !!! Jimi Hendrix (eat acid with him and jam), John Lennon (Duh).
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
That we just made life a little smoother and put a smile on people’s face, the world needs more smiles, and that’s us doing our part!!!
Love & Aloha