Hawaii native ska/reggae band Pepper to play annual Homecoming Concert

Emily Bloch

Pepper’s looking forward to playing at FAU this Thursday, Oct. 25. “We were always told our grades were too low to ever get into college. Well teachers, suck it,” their vocalist/guitarist Kaleo Wassman (right) said. Photo courtesy of Pepper.

Surf’s up — Pepper is coming to town.

For those who don’t know, Pepper is a three piece band originally from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii or as they claim on their website, “the big island.” The group’s been going strong since 1997 and has been featured numerous times on Billboard charts and the Vans Warped Tour.

They’re looking forward to playing at FAU according to vocalist and guitar player Kaleo Wassman. “Every show we’ve done at a college always ends up with us meeting the future drinkers of tomorrow,” Wassman said. “And actually, we were always told our grades were too low to ever get into college. Well teachers, suck it.”

The band’s appearance is costing $40,000 according to Alicia Keating, Student Involvement and Leadership director. The big name is hailing a lot of excitement with their scheduled performance, Thursday, Oct. 25.

“I’m excited to see them, I started listening to them when they played the California Warped Tour,” Andy Pazo, a junior exercise science major, said. “They’re very diverse in their music, there’s not one set genre to them.”

Pazo has never seen Pepper live but watched live web streamings of their performances before.

When it came to deciding who was going to play this year, Homecoming Director Eric Marmer said they turned to the student body. “We went through a list of performers that were available on the date the concert was scheduled for, and who were in our price range,” he said. “We then took the performers who fit into that criteria and created a poll on Facebook in which students voted for the performers they wanted to see.”

The vote was offered as a Survey Monkey poll for students online. The choices were Mike Posner, Slightly Stoopid, Lifehouse, Matisyahu, SOJA, Fuel, G. Love & Special Sauce, and of course, Pepper.

“I think it’s awesome. I haven’t really heard about them since high school and I graduated in ‘06.” Jennifer Gallagher, a junior social work major, said that Pepper’s appearance reminds her of the big surf scene she comes from in Monmouth County, N.J. She’s happy to not see a cheesy act on the bill. “It’s more current than trying to push someone to be famous. [They’re] already popular, it promotes more of the community school environment because of their popularity.”

Opening for Pepper are Orlando based punk/ska band The Supervillains (see sidebar for an exclusive Q&A). Leon Legot, a junior ocean engineering major, is looking forward to the whole event. “I love Pepper. They’re a great band.” Legot thought it was fitting to have a band like Pepper playing because it fits into the South Florida surf lifestyle. He was also happy to see The Supervillains on the bill. “Making the local connection is better,” Legot continued. “I like that [FAU] is going kind of off the radar and out of the norm than either just a rapper or just a rock artist … they’re getting more in touch with the local scene and the local culture.”

Charles Rocha, a junior english major, added, “They’re both great bands. The Supervillains are awesome — that’s cool.”

As for Pepper’s message to everyone before the show, Kaleo Wassman sums it up. “Politics and religion have their place, but not at a Pepper show. Leave your differences at the door, have fun.”

The concert is set for Thursday, Oct. 25, at 9 p.m., on the outdoor stage and is free to FAU students. The FAU Homecoming website advises that students get tickets early through the Student Involvement & Leadership Office. This is the second annual Homecoming Concert held at FAU. Country artist James Otto performed last year.

 Supervillains interview

Describing themselves as Florida-bred swamp rockers, punk/ska band The Supervillains are scheduled to open up for Pepper at this year’s Homecoming concert. The Supervillains’ performance is costing $5,000 according to Keating. Vocalist, guitarist and funny man Scott “Skart” Suldo talked to the UP about their performance-to-come. Here’s what to look forward to:

UP: So you guys are playing at a college campus, bring back any memories?

Skart: We have played colleges all over the country, and are very fond of them. Pretty girls, sport drinking and general foolishness are right up our alley! Oh, and EDUCATION of course! We are all PROUD native Floridians so getting a chance to party with our home-state schools is very special to us. You couldn’t ask for a better college atmosphere than South FLA.

UP: It seems like you have a bromance going on with Pepper. Care to comment?

Skart: Pepper and the Supervillains are the closest two bands can get without physically engaging in coitus. We met in 1999 when we were both in our potty training phases and have been extremely tight ever since. In ’06, when Pepper opened LAW Records, we were the first band they signed and we started touring together on long national tours. They came to bat for us when we needed it most and delivered in only the way good friends do, and provided us with the push and confidence to get over the hump and find success. Pepper really brings the “Aloha” spirit and we hope it brings them dozens of virgins in the afterlife.

UP: Tell me about the touring experience.

Skart: We are constantly either on tour or waiting for deployment. We just released a 6-song concept record “ROBOTS” which we have been supporting on the road (spoiler alert: its AMAZING). One time we bought a locking gas cap and affixed it to the opening band’s tour van. They ran out of gas on the Chesapeake Tunnel and when AAA finally got there is when they figured it out. Awesome.

UP: What do you want your fans to know for when you play this show? What should
people expect?

Skart: We plan on at the very least having a good-ass time as always pushing the limits of human decency. I encourage every Owl down south to check it out. Its gonna be a hoot.