“I plan on stumbling home that night,” singer/guitarist Kaleo Wassman says about his show Friday at Oceanside’s Pier Plaza Amphitheatre. It’s five blocks from his house. Pepper moved to North County from Hawaii 16 years ago.
“The last time we played Oceanside was for a July 4th house party in 1999 on the Strand,” Wassman tells the Reader.
Since that show the dub-rock trio has toured South America, Japan, Europe, and Australia. They’ve opened for 311, Slightly Stoopid, Offspring, and Snoop Dogg and released albums for Atlantic, Island, and Volcom. Pepper is back on the Strand, Oceanside’s two-mile beach strip. But this time they’re playing with a beach-blasting P.A. for a best-of-the-best/locals-only show organized by 91X.
“To me, Oceanside is like Brooklyn,” says Wassman, who has lived there for six years. “It’s in the midst of a transformation. It’s now a cool mixture of real grit and all these really cool places that have been popping up over the past few years like the Local Tap House and the Flying Pig.”
Kaleo and his fellow Hawaiian bandmates, singer/bassist Brett Bollinger and drummer Yesod Williams, Left Hawaii in part to interact with fellow reggae-rockers Slightly Stoopid. Silverback Management, who manages Slightly Stoopid, also handled Pepper for a while. Now Pepper is managed by PMM (Pat Magnarella Management), the Encinitas-based company that also handles Green Day, Rise Against, and Goo Goo Dolls.
Pepper - "Mess Around (All Night)"
Webcast from KROQ's Red Bull Sound Space in Los Angeles, CA, July 30, 2013
“We just acquired the old Pennywise studio last year,” says Wassman about the Hermosa Beach space where Pepper spent January through June recording its next album, Ohana, due out next year.
“The new album is just us three with our original reggae rawness using the arrangements we’ve learned over the years,” says Wassman. “It was recorded with just the three of us, and Mike Sutherland who co-produced.” That back-to-basics album will be released on Pepper’s own Law Records label, which also releases music by Santa Barbara’s Iration and Baltimore-based Ballyhoo.
“We’ve been through every label arrangement imaginable,” says Wassman. “Law Records works on an agreement that allows each band to acquire their own masters after a certain amount of time. We all believe that the artist and the label should each make a fair amount of money.”
While they no longer share the same manager, Pepper is still tight with their Cali-reggae bros Slightly Stooped. “We are playing with them December 14 through the 19 at the Closer to the Sun Festival they are putting on in Cancun (along with Ozomotli, Soja, and Iration).”