The Aggrolites (08 avril 2008)

Entrevue de Melissa Hetu avec Jesse

La formation de dirty reggae Californienne THE AGGROLITES sera de passage à Montréal le 21 avril prochain au Cabaret Juste Pour Rire. Depuis la sortie de son plus récent album Reggae Hit LA paru en juin 2007, le groupe connait un énorme succès partout où il passe. PunkMeUp a récemment eu la chance de s’entretenir avec le chanteur de la formation Jesse Wagner qui a gentiment répondu à nos questions.

[PUNKMEUP]: What’s your earliest reggae memory?
: I know this is going to sound funny and not be all that cool, but my first reggae memory was when I was about 6 years old hanging out in my older sister’s bedroom with her and all her girlfriends. They were listening to UB40’s version of Red Red Wine and I remember choosing that as my favorite as a kid. I had no idea that it was reggae at the time. As I got older and more educated in reggae music, I came to realize that the majority of the songs I enjoyed as a child were reggae influenced.

[PUNKMEUP]: As a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
: As a young boy, I wanted to be the next Walt Disney. By the 4th grade, I wanted to be one of the BEATLES!

[PUNKMEUP]: I hear you might be recording some new material in the spring… You guys put out records a lot quicker than many bands…does putting out records every couple of months keep you guys relevant? Does it keep the momentum going?
: Now’s the time so why stop and let it pass over us? If it’s in your head and it’s not hard to do, than keep going before it gets too late.

[PUNKMEUP]: Brian once said in an interview that he considered your first two albums to be an exercise in reggae for the band…would you say you guys have now found your sound? Are you more confident about your writing skills? More confident in the studio?
: Yes. I feel we have all matured together in our sound and it became what it is. We used to always compare our songs to old reggae rhythms and try to mimic more than originate but over the last few years we’ve been keeping the music real within old school reggae as well as keeping it real within ourselves and adding other influences. We try not to fake the funk and it seems to be ok.

[PUNKMEUP]: Why have you guys decided not to touch on ska music with THE AGGROLITES? They’re pretty similar genres, some of you have played in ska bands before, have listened to ska…
: We are all huge fans of Jamaican music like ska, rocksteady, reggae, dancehall, dub, etc. However, when we formed this band we wanted to touch an area that no one else was doing. Early reggae was very underrated at the time, especially in the US. We felt if ska could blow up and roots reggae, ragga can than why can’t our favorite period of Jamaican music? Early reggae has soul and grooves well, people just need to be exposed to it. If they like our band, hopefully they will do research on what we are playing. I personally think reggae is the toughest music of all time and it deserves a lot more credit than people give it.

[PUNKMEUP]: Other than your surroundings, what else influences your music?
: Most definitively soul, funk, Motown, stax, even a little bit of punk rock influences in our live performance.

[PUNKMEUP]: Is it important for you guys to adapt and reinterpret the style of reggae and add your own flavour to it? Add different sounds to it? (soul, funk, punk, etc.)
: Of course it is. Personal influences is what makes it our original sound Dirty Reggae. It’s like a chef. Anyone could make a spaghetti sauce but all great chefs add their own ingredient and make it original.

[PUNKMEUP]: Recently you’ve been alternating drummers, your bassist also left the band and one of your friends passed away…How have these events impacted the band?
: It’s been a very tough year, but we’ve kept it together and bad things only make you a stronger individual. I have a feeling things will be a lot better for us in 2008.

[PUNKMEUP]: Reggae Hit LA definitely seems to have brought you guys to another level…got you some high-profiled press, bigger gigs (Warped Tour, big opening slots, etc). Why do you think that is? Do you feel your hard work/touring is paying off? Do you feel people are finally starting to get what you guys do?
: I don’t feel it’s paid off yet, but I do think it’s getting us somewhere. We still have a long way to go. I do, however, think it’s amazing that our music is being heard by the ears of the mainstream! Who would have ever thought that an emo kid would go out and by the SYMARYP album Skinhead Moon Stomp after seeing THE AGGROS on the road??!!

[PUNKMEUP]: Would you say there are misconceptions about the L.A. music scene?
: We are on tour a lot these days so we don’t get to hang around L.A.’s night life much anymore. When I am home from tour, I usually stay home with my wife. As far as I know L.A. is just as cool as it always was. The Los Angeles music scene has supported THE AGGROLITES since day one. It’s where we were first heard. We are very appreciative toward Los Angeles.

[PUNKMEUP]: You guys definitely seem to be proud of being from L.A.…what’s the thing that makes you most proud of being from there?
: Music, art, culture, etc. Why not be proud of where your band originated? It’s where Dirty Reggae was created. L.A. is just as much of an influence to our music as reggae, soul and so on. It’s been in our blood throughout every album. We’d sound a lot different if we were from another city, state or country. L.A. is DIRTY REGGAE!!!

[PUNKMEUP]: Are you happy that the reggae scene is finally doing better in L.A.? Do you feel that there’s some sort of reggae revival happening right now not only in your hometown but also elsewhere?
: I am thrilled! My only hope is it gets stronger!

[PUNKMEUP]: Is there a band in the reggae/ska genres that’s active right now that you really respect?
: Too many to mention. We are on the road a lot. I respect any ska/reggae band trying to make it these days. It’s not easy.

[PUNKMEUP]: Where do you see yourselves going in the next couple of years? Do you see THE AGGROLITES being around for many more years? Would you like to venture out and work on other projects as well?
: I don’t want to predict our future but I will make a promise. I don’t ever want to stop playing music so I will do everything in my power to keep going. It would be great for THE AGGROLITES to last as long as the STONES. I just hope we wouldn’t look as corpse looking as them. Long live AGGRO!!!

Un gros merci à Jesse d’avoir prit le temps de répondre à nos questions ainsi qu’à Keith de chez Epitaph, sans qui cet entretien n’aurait été possible.

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