Bret Bollinger, Yesod Williams, and Kaleo Wassman play chill Hawaiian reggae. COURTESY PEPPER.

Pepper, Tribal Seeds

Saturday, Aug. 26, 6:30 p.m.

The Wellmont Theater
5 Seymour St.

Wellmonttheater.com,
973-783-9500

By ANTOINETTE MARTIN
For Montclair Local

Does this sound intriguing? Hawaiian alternative reggae.

A little ska, some punk-rock cowboy and some sand-and-surf good vibrations season the musical mix for Pepper, a three-man band appearing Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Wellmont Theater.

The band is made up of three buddies who grew up in “paradise,” aka the small town of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and are now based in San Diego. They are singer and guitarist Kaleo Wassman, singer and bassist Bret Bollinger and drummer Yesod Williams.

The group has sold more than 500,000 records and toured widely for many years, but this will be their first appearance in Montclair. At the Wellmont, they will play with another San Diego band, Tribal Seeds, and guest reggae band Fortunate Youth. Their opening band is the Canadian Darenots.

The Montclair Local spoke with Pepper drummer Yesod Williams by telephone while he was in San Diego.

Local: You’ve made seven albums, the most recent one “Ohana,” self-produced — quite a musical feat. But maybe even more amazing, you three rockers have been together 20 years?

Williams: Yeah. Me and Bret were born and raised in Kailua-Kona. We probably met in kindergarten. Kaleo was born on a different island and we became friends first, before we formed the band in 1997. Three is an odd number, but we kind of pride ourselves on the fact we haven’t added anyone. At one point about 10 years ago, we kind of hit “pause,” and took a break to recalibrate. guess that was sort of like growing pains, the regular kind of thing you go through in any relationship.

Local: Your band has some spicy lyrics. One of your biggest hits is called “F**k Around” (“Mess Around,” in the family-stage version).
But your reputation remains family-friendly. How’s that?

Williams: You know, the title of our new album is “Ohana.” And Ohana, that’s kind of the be-all, end-all for everything we do. In Hawaiian, the word means family, and even more than that. It’s that feeling that is even thicker than blood that you have for your friends and all those people you surround yourself with as you grow older.

Local: There’s always certain positivity in your music too, in both the lyrics and the music, a sunny beachy beat as opposed to reggae’s roots in oppression. What have been the band’s influences?

Williams: Rock, reggae, what we call Jawaiian, which is Hawaiian-style reggae. On just one song, we’ll have the musical cultures blending together. Hawaii is a place where cultures do that, where all the pieces fit together. The people who come to our shows, it’s a melting pot.

Traditional reggae came from an environment where people were getting shot, ghetto-ized, experiencing violence, whereas, obviously, we came from paradise, which we are very grateful for.
What’s Montclair like? Good crowd? Good restaurants?

Local: Oh, yes.

Williams: Well, we are never afraid to have a good time with a family vibe. Our show will be like jamming with your family, the barbecue becomes a raging party, and next thing you know, your whole town is over there.