Pepper at HOB, Anaheim

Interview and concert review by JD Alvarez

I read somewhere that it’s always quietest before the storm, or was it something wicked this way comes? Either way, quite the event that hit the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA on October 10, 2011. It was the last show of their tour, and the Hawaiian storm known as Pepper hit the House the Mouse Built.

This show featured the Expendables, Ballyhoo and of course Pepper. For those of you not as familiar with Pepper as you should be, they are a reggae / alt rock / punk band from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The band consists of three dynamic musicians. There’s vocalist / guitarist Kaleo Wassman, vocalist / bassist Bret Bollinger and drummer Yesod Williams. Established in 1997, Pepper has released five studio albums as well as a live one. In their early days, the trio played mostly house parties and other events on the island. They left the islands and moved to San Diego in 1999 where they embarked on their first album. They found their notoriety in 2002′ on their release of Kona Town, which featured their mega- hit song Give It Up. This song has been on the top of the alternative and reggae radio charts and playlists ever since.

That all being said, we caught up with Yesod Williams before the show. He was prime for the show, but was also ready for a little break. They have been on tour for a while, so he was looking forward to one last show. That is, before they go back in studio after a short rest. Yesod said that they are most likely going to go back on the road sometime in the later part of 2012′ once the next album comes out.

We chatted briefly about their early days, he recalled when he first met Kaleo and Bret at a party. They were cool enough to check him out and give him an audition. Admittedly he said he was nervous and didn’t give his best performance. Luckily, they gave him a second listen and he brought it that time. The rest is all smiles and island history. He said they love putting out their Hawaiian blend of reggae, ska and punk. They even tinker with the Jawaiian sound that all the locals on the islands play with.  When asked how they put together their music, he said they typically put the arrangement first, then the lyrics. He went on to say, they have great ideas for the next album and he believes their fans will be very-very happy.

When you listen to Pepper, it’s very noticeable that their music has sexual overtones. We delivered Yesod a question that a fan asked us to lay down. We asked if their lyrics were based on personal experiences? The response was very straight forward, he said that everything they do has some influenced from everyday life. He then laughed and smiled. We ended the interview with one simple question, what was the plan for the show, the answer was “we are going to have a good time, and hopefully our fans will too!”

It was show time, the Santa Cruz-based and fellow Warped Tour veterans the Expendables took the stage to the screams of the crowd. Also hitting it was Ballyhoo, they too put on a ruckus performance. These bands gave a great show and appropriate opening acts for Pepper. They provided the crowd with a high energy alternative-reggae sound that had a world-beat feel to it. The crowd go into it from the second each band took the stage.

After a brief intermission, Pepper took the stage, they didn’t wait for anyone to warm up. They hit the floor running with a high-octane-full-throttle alternative style sound that included that soothing Hawaiian sound that is very distinct, yet very much Pepper. The crowd was now at capacity with all the 20 to 50 something’s sportin’ their tats’ and skin tight outfits. Why not, Pepper provides an unadulterated fun show.

It didn’t take long for a mosh-pit to form when the tunes got rockin’. Pepper gave the crowd what they came for, songs like No Control,  Things That You Love, Punk Rock Cowboy, Crazy Love, Point and Shoot and Storm Troopers.

The crowd lost their proverbial minds when they played a punk-like high energy version of Blackout. It very much had that Butthole Surfers feel and energy to it. The crowd favorite was obviously their mega hit Give It Up. Pepper did not disappoint, the crowd left very happy. Appropriate, being they were at the happiest place on earth.

Now for some rest, and  back at it in 2012′.

For more information Pepper, go to or visit their social media pages on FaceBook and Twitter. their music can also be found on iTunes.

Pepper features: Bret Bollinger (Vocals /Bass) , Kaleo Wassman (Vocals / Guitar) and Yesod Williams (Drums).

Check out TNN’s photos from the show!

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