An Interview With The Hawaiian Band PEPPER On Their Newest Album ‘Local Motion,’ Their Wine, A Cannabis Strand and More!
Posted On 22 Jul 2019
The Southern Californian band PEPPER is comprised of Kaleo Wassman (Vocals, Guitar), Bret Bollinger (Bass, Vocals) and Yesod Williams (Drums, Vocals). For 20+ years they have been touring and producing records, and with their dedicated fan base support, Pepper has expanded its brand to include wine (https://www.winebosslounge.com/pepper-wine-order-here) and a tasty cannabis strand “Hawaiian Pepper” (https://weedmaps.com/).
They are one of the few bands that can claim all three original band-mates since their formation in 1997. Pepper grew a cult following when they were propelled into the forefront of the punk, rock, and reggae scenes while touring with the iconic Van’s Warp Tour. Recently they performed a killer set at the California Roots Festival where they sold-out of their limited edition Local Motion vinyl record only sold during their meet and greet. Today they continue to headline major festivals and sold out shows across the country.
“Working with the community on this album it led us to places musically we never would have gone on our own. You get set in your ways inevitably, muscle memory etc, so right away we were at a different starting point than normal, out of our comfort zone ready to grow, so the process of “Local Motion” was very different, and the end result sounds like us condensed down to our purest form, for lack of a better term. All the fluff stripped away so it really is an illuminated version of our essence which just feels and sounds right! It’s POTENT!!!” comments Pepper.
Check out their newest videos here:
“Brand New Day” video: https://youtu.be/RbJQmnQ8brM
“Warning” Ft. Stick Figure Video: https://youtu.be/62J6kz7SkbQ
Connect With Pepper Here
Learn more about Pepper in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
We just started the second leg of the “Live From Paradise” tour we are on this summer to support our record. So we are hitting the ground running today in OKC…… super excited to see the Ohana and play some new songs!
Now that we are into the 6th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
We are feeling very lucky and grateful in 2019, we’ve been a band of 3 brothers for 22 years about, we just put out a new album that debuted at #1, my mind is blown, out fans that we calm our Ohana is and continues to be the life blood of us. So to answer your question, we’re absolutely on a high right now! Fully enjoying the moment of bliss in music!
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
Yes! It was at a beach party in Kona, June of 1997, the name cane pretty quick and easy, it’s from our fave Saturday night live skit! And the people we meet along the way and grow with us over the years is the most amazing thing to us.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
It all starts and ends with Hawaii, kona specifically. It’s more than an influence, it IS US. All our values everything, it all comes from where we grew up.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
Absolutely, we are a family, we have tons of mutual friends, hell, my dad and Bret’s mom have been married for like 15 years…..seriously can’t be more of an Ohana!
With so many bands switching members, I am curious how you think that Pepper has kept all its original members since you first formed? What is the glue that holds you all together year after year?
We were friends/brothers/family before the band, that’s what I attribute it to, and again all the those values we’ve carried from Hawaii.
Congrats on just releasing your newest album, “Local Motion”! How would you say that this collection compares to your previous albums? Did you approach the recording of it any differently? Can you elaborate on how you worked with the community on this new album?
It’s a real throwback to our Reggae roots from Hawaii in comparison to our recent efforts, maybe a little more groovy! We approached it way different, we picked a handful of our favorite musicians and producers in the reggae rock scene and handed them a broad idea of each respective songs each produced and we let them give us their translation of our music then from there the songs were finalized for the album. This was the polar opposite of us 3 signing off on the songs before they were finalized, so in a sense we wanted to filter our music through the community which is exactly how we ended up with Local Motion.
While it’s hard to pick favorites, can you pick out a few songs on “Local Motion” and talk about how they were formed and got to be on this collection?
Neighborhood is a fave, the idea came real quick with Bret and Jeff Nisen working in our studio and then we handed that to Noah Cronin a young producer in Hawaii who really put that aloha on it. Carnaval was a song that an EDM DJ friend of ours Henry Fong has been a fan of ours for years and made an instrumental that he showed me that blew my head off, I instantly sent it to the boys and Kaleo Laos a vocal over it that we wide down to the powerful “we do it Island style” hook which we based the song around. And finally Brand New Day which was a song we’d been messing around at soundcheck over the last year or so with (which is a bit of our normal process for writing music). From there we literally stripped the song down to a guitar and a vocal melody and handed it off to Dave Foral from the dirty heads and his partner jungle josh to run it through their “filter”.
Let’s talk about your wine and your cannabis strand, “Hawaiian Pepper.” Where did the idea to create these come from?
The wine is a wine maker called “the wine boss” out of Paso Robles. Thomas AKA the wine boss is a fan that came to a show a few years ago and snuck us a prototype of what would become the first kona Town red blend, and we’ve done 3 other varietals since! Cannabis has always been in or around our life growing up in kona so that is just us continuing our path from Kona to bring this world the greatest Hawaiian sativa they have ever had. We are huge believers in plant medicine!
Generally, how do you guys go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
It will start separately in a more personal setting then we bring it together as a band and mold it to a Pepper song. BUT this time we inserted our friends/producers in there as step 2.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
That’s like asking if we like chocolate or vanilla better, they are both perfect in their own way! But if we had to choose I would say on stage, when the three of us are firing in all pistons it’s like we’re levitating and kicking holes in the sky, a true blessing!
Where can fans see you perform next? What do you think makes for an ideal show for this group? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past?
We are currently on tour in the US supporting local motion so check all the dates at Pepperlive.com, and I can’t really explain an ideal show, it’s more of a feeling, but it’s the same feeling throughout everyone there, it’s like everyone’s energy becoming one and that’s a perfect show, now have that happens there’s no method to magic line that. Fave show I can think was red rocks this past April on 4/19, it was the day that time stood still.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans?
It’s impacting in such a big way it’s completely changed the landscape of how to connect with fans, brought everything closer, and for us being such a Ohana with our fans it was a dream come true, never could you talk to all your fans so easily on a REAL level. And we’re always on ours, it’s always us replying in case anyone is wondering!
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Mainly it keeps us young in my opinion, music is the fountain of youth when it visits you and then to be a transmitter of that magic is electrifying!!!! And yes, ours and all music is an art form to escape, it’s very powerful.
What musicians have really been inspiring you since you first started making music?
Bob, bad brains, zeppelin, the police, the clash, UB40, sublime, beastie boys, 2pac, Dr. Dre, The Specials. Operation Ivy, NOFX, Tenor Saw, Barington Levy…..just to name a few 😉
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I hope our music translates many messages and not just the message or inspiration it was born from. That’s my favorite part of metic is all the different translations people can take and apply to their own experiences and life. And lastly I hope these translations are all of positivity and love!