Pepper currently on tour promoting latest album

Cesar Alexander

When the drummer’s sweet grandma comes out cursing to hype up a sold-out crowd, there is something special about the band performing.

Six letters, three guys, and a boundless amount of good vibes equate to the band known as Pepper.

Together, Bret Bollinger (Bassist/Vocalist) , Kaleo Wassman (Guitarist/Vocalist) and Yesod Williams (Drummer) come from Kdailua-Kona as musical ambassadors for Hawaii.

When Pepper played at Ace of Spades on Jan.19, most conversations were full of excitement and boastful declarations of the numerous times individuals had been to a Pepper show.

“That’s the best part,” Bollinger affirmed. “It doesn’t matter; first timers, no timers, any timers–it’s just fun because they’re kind of forced to instantly be part of this atmosphere; it’s hard not to.”

Throughout the past 17 years, Pepper has evolved from punk rock kids who enjoyed surfing and playing live music to a humble studio band who has developed its own vibe of ska, reggae and rock, with a niche for standing out on the live music circuit.

In the height of electronic music’s popularity, preconceived shows have become the norm, where a show in New York could be the same show in San Francisco, only alternating venues and crowds.

Even the most dedicated fan is unsure what song was coming next as the band purposely changed songs’ original arrangements to stagger the audience’s emotions.

“If you come to what’s left of live music, there’s no set list–there’s no rules–you just show up to a town where, as an artist, you feel great; you feel different,” Bollinger said. “We’ve never played that set before (and) that (set) will never happen again.”

On Sep. 3, 2013, Pepper released their latest self-titled album which showcased a new direction in studio recording for the band. Producer Matt Wallace was called in to conceptually guide their new step forward.

Bollinger discussed how non-stop touring in the past resulted in albums lacking eloquence in their lyrics as a result of less time and energy for the band.

“We’ve never written a song for the fans and the fans have never come to the shows just for our songs,” Bollinger said. “We come to connect and be together. We tell some stories that they like and some are true, some are fake, some are literally exactly what happened in life. They’re a real manifestation and the cool thing is the live show makes it beyond real.”

Although the band is blessed to be where they are today, their live performances have a lot to do with their acclaim and they want to pursue that same level in the studio.

“It’s a really good example of how life could be,” Bollinger said. “Even if you are the super senior at college who’s really cool and everyone likes him, high-fiving everybody like Van Wilder. You can be Van Wilder all your life but even [he] needs to grow, he needs to progress, and so we’ve done that and we’ve enjoyed growth.”

Whether you have been a fan for years or are just finding out who Pepper is, once you feel whatever it is they particularly emanate for you, there is no missing out on the live experience.

“Why do people like Mona Lisa compared to 80’s scribbles on white canvas worth ten million dollars? Why? What’s the reason?” Bollinger asks. “We are that reason. We go out and give you nothing but what’s authentic so if you like it, you’re never going back. If you don’t like it, you may be forced to go again, but either way all you’re getting from Pepper is truly organic.”

Pepper is currently on tour promoting their latest album, but Bollinger and Williams promised there will be a lot of new music in 2014.

Cesar Alexander can be reached at