A couple of years after forming in 2002, the Aggrolites put the pedal to the metal. They commenced a grueling concert schedule that would take up nearly a decade of their lives.
“We were constantly touring for so many years straight and I think we all just kind of needed that break,” is how singer/guitarist Jesse Wagner explains it. “We were doing over 200 dates a year. It’s just like ughh. Since 2005 all the way to 2013 it was no less than 200 dates per year. It was crazy like that.”
According to Wagner, the big news is that after a couple years off, it looks as if the Aggrolites are getting back in gear to record a new album.
Off of the Aggrolites' Rugged Road album
“Yesterday afternoon I texted our organ player Roger [Rivas] about getting together and jamming out and starting to write some songs. We haven’t released anything new since 2011. We talk about it all the time, but then we never do anything. [Laughs] But recently, this year, we’ve been getting more serious about it. I think it’s about time to come out with something.”
For the uninitiated, the Aggrolites specialize in a reggae sound that they describe as “dirty reggae.” Driven by Rivas’s organ, a blend of influences results in a strain of the music that operates in a more driving fashion than traditional reggae.
“When we put the Aggrolites together, we wanted to be different. We wanted to be that reggae band keeping it real, and playing it old-school, but we also wanted to be that reggae band that was doing what the Specials and Operation Ivy were doing. Rev it up and keep that energy to it. We also grew up with the old ’70s punk stuff. Reggae and punk rock had a huge connection. I think it just fits in both,” Wagner said.
According to Wagner, San Diego was one of the first places that accepted the Aggrolites — perhaps due to what he explains as that special beach-city magic, “They’ve just got that vibe...that island vibe. When the water’s nearby, people are going to like that island music.” The group has a particular fondness for the Belly Up as well. So much so that their recent live album is comprised primarily of songs recorded at the venue.
- Friday, July 31, 2015, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$18 - $32
“If I listen to the album and I hear the audience, I’ll know which parts [were recorded at the Belly Up],” Wagner explained. “When you hear a girl singing in the front, singing along real loud on all the songs — that’s the Belly Up. I remember that girl. She’s an Aggrolites fan. She comes to all of our gigs. She’s cool, and in that whole thing you can hear her yelling real loud close to one of the mics.”
The Aggrolites take the stage at Belly Up Friday night.