Individually, Bret Keoni Bollinger, Kaleo’okalani Wassman, Remy Ryan De Rochment and Yesod Anton Williams are four guys who grew up in Kona on the sleepy Big Island. But, collectively, they are Pepper, Hawaii’s latest and most promising musical export. Despite their island origins, Pepper is far from the traditional Hawaiian ukulele and slack keyed guitar sound. In fact, their music more closely resembles the So Cal dub- punk of Sublime, a connection that quickly landed them on the Volcom Entertainment record label in 1999. Soon thereafter, Pepper left Kona to pursue their musical career in what the band describes as a leap of faith. ”We just packed our bags, gave our jobs two week notice, and we were here,” says Kaleo’okalani Wassman. Two albums and many tours later, Pepper is steadily defining their music to take back to Hawaii. Fresh off of their Nation wide tour with Slightly Stoopid, Surfing Magazine sat down with Pepper to talk story about their music, their beef with Creed, Hawaii, and even some surfing.
SURFINGTHEMAG: So what boys? I heard you guys got an album coming up in 2004. What kind of music can fans look forward to?
Kaleo’okalani Wassman: ”This album will finally capture the way we sound live.”
Yesod Anton Williams: ”We just got confirmation that Rob Saint Jermaine(311 Producer) is going to produce our next album, [. . .] which is going to lead to an overall better album.”
Remy Ryan De Rochment: ”I would say a little bit more of everything, like they’re be a couple Dub songs, some way more rocking songs, the music is definitely changing though, it’s expanding. We don’t want to be labeled as just one type of band.”
How important are Dub effects to Pepper’s sound?
Y.W: ”Most people don’t really notice it at first, but it definitely sets us apart of other bands because we use vintage effects, and it makes the music feel warmer. It also adds thickness to the music and fills in the empty spaces.”
Bret Keoni Bollinger: ”Let me put it this way, if wasn’t for Remy wouldn’t be too much of a crowd. He doesn’t just do Dub effects, before Pepper has a ‘Garage band’ signature sound perfected, he took us into the professional sound. And not to mention, Remy is the meanest sound guy this side of Puerto Nuevo.”
R.R.: ”I think Bret wants me to stroke him off after this. (laughs) Dub effects give it more of that old, reggae sound with the delays and the reverb and stuff. Especially the stuff I use, it’s an old rolling tape echo which were made in the 70’s. It gives it that stoney sound.”
Speaking of that stoney sound, how do you feel about Pepper being compared to Sublime?
K.W.: ”You know what? When we were in high school we listened to Sublime because they were the shit. Sublime were kings, were just trying to be kings as well.”
R.R.: ”I would say it’s definitely a big compliment, but we hear it a lot so it gets old.”
B.B.: ”Sublime is the shit, but they weren’t the only Pepper influence.”
Oh yeah, so how does surfing influence your music?
B.B.: ”In a nutshell, that’s what you do growing up in Hawaii. It’s the vibe of being at the beach, it’s about having stress being taken off your life, and having a good time.”
K.W.: ”We’ve been able to bring out our culture and what we do in our music, it’s heaven-sent and we’re pumped.”
Since you’ve been touring a lot, where you able to score some surf outside of California and Hawaii?
R.R.: ”We went to France last Sept. Surfed Hossegor.”
B.B.: ”The only place we’ve surfed other than California is Florida, and we stay at our friend’s house, you might know him? Kelly [Slater], we stay at Kelly’s house in Cocoa Beach.”