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"He's the man," says Pepper drummer Yesod Williams about L.A. DJ Jed "the Fish." Three months ago, the KROQ DJ got his station to play the reggae/rock trio's "Give It Up." That airplay spurred other stations across the country to play the song, which in turn launched a label bidding war over the band (which includes guitarist Kaleo Wassman and bassist Bret Bollinger).

"There were, like, five labels," says Williams. "Columbia, Interscope, Maverick...we went with Lava/Atlantic because they only release, like, 13 records a year. Capitol releases, like, 300." Lava gave the band a three-album deal.

"Nowadays, no one gets huge advances," admits Williams. "But we're happy with the deal, to say the least."

Pepper moved to Vista from Hawaii in 1999. They started working with Matt Phillips of Silverback Management (Slightly Stoopid, Fishbone) in 2003. Phillips took "Give It Up" -- originally released in 2002 -- to KROQ this year.

"It was similar to 'Date Rape' by Sublime," says Phillips. "That song was around for three years until it took off [via radio airplay]."

Pepper left town last Friday on a two-month, 50-city U.S. tour. They play at House of Blues in September.

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