Pepper will headline the Shoreline Jame in Long Beach on Saturday. Their new self-titled album will be released Sept. 3.
Pepper will headline the Shoreline Jame in Long Beach on Saturday. Their new self-titled album will be released Sept. 3. (Photo by Tom Stone)

Reggae rockers Pepper formed in 1997 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and despite a move to California, a laid-back island attitude still permeates the band’s music, as well as its demeanor.

The band, Oceanside vocalist and guitarist Kaleo Wasserman, vocalist and bassist Bret Bollinger of Sherman Oaks and drummer Yesod Williams of Redondo Beach, will release its sixth album, “Pepper” (LAW Records), on Tuesday, Sept. 3. But you can get a taste of Pepper’s new grooves (www.pepperlive.tumblr.com) when they headline the Shoreline Jam in Long Beach on Saturday.

 

“It’s so boring if a band was just going to make the same record over and over,” Williams said of the self-titled effort. “We’re not getting far enough away from ‘calm and the essence of Pepper,’ but we’re able to evolve in a better direction at the same time. It’s the same, but different.”

“Pepper” was produced by Mike Wallace (Maroon 5, Faith No More, O.A.R.) and recorded at several studios over one year.

“With the album, we’re going with the theory that if the song’s going to sound good just on acoustic guitar, then it’s going to sound good anywhere,” Williams said. “With this album, it was crafting songs. We took longer than we’ve ever taken and learned more than we’ve ever learned making an album and took our time to not make it good enough, but to make it to its full potential and hopefully something that’s great.”

 

The band typically works together on its material, with each member contributing their ideas to a song, gradually honing it until the group is satisfied. And this approach obviously has worked, as Pepper has toured with 311, Slightly Stoopid, Flogging Molly, Sublime With Rome, Burning Spear and Snoop Dogg, and they have been on the Vans Warped Tour and Jagermeister Music Tour. Williams credits their success to hard work.

“We came over here and we didn’t sound like anything on the radio and we didn’t sound like anything mainstream, so we just hit the road. We played shows and we hooked up with bands,” Williams said. “The second thing is, we’re a family. It’s almost an unfair advantage for us. If I just formed a band with two dudes that I just met, it would be less of an emotional tie to it, where with this it’s like family and it’s tighter.”

 

Williams says that a music career was his destiny. His father was a guitarist in the hair metal band, The Law, in the ’80s and his mother was a concert promoter who took him to shows.

“My dad bought me a guitar when I was real young and I took some lessons, but it never clicked for me. I got the urge and kept bugging my parents to buy me a drum set. My dad taught me a little beat and I just went from there and taught myself. The funny thing is all of us individually (in Pepper) are the least-trained musicians you’ll probably ever meet, but when we come together as one it works nicely,” Williams said.

 

Pepper will continue touring in support of their album. They will be joined by Breeze and Wet Gold Dream during their fall shows, including stops at the Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura on Oct. 17 and the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles on Oct. 19.

“I know the album has been such a long time coming. We want to thank everyone for being so patient with us and hanging in there with us for the five years that we’ve taken for this regrouping, revamping,” Williams said. “This is the next era of Pepper, so we’re excited.”