Interview: Pepper

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One of the craziest shows I have ever been to was a Pepper concert at the House of Blues in Atlantic City. I had recently seen Pepper open for 311 and The Offspring and was excited to seem them headline their own show. My friends and I got there as early as possible to get a great spot for the show. We ended up getting front row and waited through two awesome opening acts until finally Pepper took the stage. They were all dressed as hospital staff because they just so happen to be on their ‘Like a Surgeon Tour.’

As soon as they took the stage the entire crowd erupted. We were enjoying the show from the front row, but at the same time always looking behind us trying to avoid getting kicked in the head by the never ending onslaught of crowd surfers. You have to understand that their stage presence is so loud and energetic that it would make anyone want to jump into a crowd of people and have them carry you all the way to the stage. Without a doubt, Pepper is one of the craziest live acts performing today.

I recently spoke with drummer Yesod Williams of Pepper about making music for over twenty years, their summer tour with Dirty Heads and AER, and the latest self titled album.

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Pop-Break: You just released your self-titled sixth studio album last year, what was the recording process like for that album after being together for almost 20 years?

Yesod Williams: It was pretty long. We really took our time. We worked with Matt Wallace [who has produced everyone from R.E.M. to Maroon 5 to O.A.R.] which was the first time we ever worked with him. We never went to college, so this was like our college, basically making the last record. We learned so much. Of course all of our other albums we take so much pride in, but it was kind of a younger version of us. Like these are cool tunes let’s throw them on a CD and go tour. The last record we really took time to craft songs and really analyzed everything to the point of course we would stop analyzing because we are over analyzing. It was definitely the most intricate process we have ever had making a record.

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PB: Lyrically the album is more mature than any other Pepper album. Was the a conscious decision or was that just how it was written?

YW: It was a conscious effort to make the songs as good as they could possibly be. It’s never really a conscious effort of what things are about, it’s just what’s going on.

PB: You will be headlining Red Rocks this summer on August 13. As a band that has played there as a supporting act, how does it feel to headline such a famous venue?

YW: Oh it’s going to be amazing. That place is intense. I’ve been all over the world and there is nothing that ever compares to that place. It’s just so magical and everything about it is just absolutely perfect. I am just super grateful and honored.

PB: I saw you play at the HOB a few years ago and the band tore the roof off. Do you prefer playing smaller more intimate venues or larger stages and festival?

YW: We go to the smaller venues and they’re awesome, but you long for the larger festivals and whatnot. Then you play those and they are awesome, but you miss the smaller venues. All of them have a special place in our hearts. We look at it this way – it’s the fact that we get to play music for people for a living is just the ultimate honor.

PB: With six studio albums you have pretty large catalog of songs. Is there a particular track that you love playing live?

YW: It kind of changes all the time. I would say something like “Ashes,” it’s one of those songs where you know right when that song hits everyone is just going to be on the absolute same pace, which is about to go off and just the energy is amazing.

PB: Picking a favorite song is tough with you guys. If I had to pick it would probably either be “No Control,” or “Stormtropper.”

YW: We have a killer new version of “Stormtrooper” that we are doing for this tour that we have been in rehearsals for the last couple weeks.

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PB: Well now that’s more of a reason I have to go see this tour. Now, when I spoke with Dirty J of The Dirty Heads and he mentioned that your upcoming tour with them is going to be the best place to go for the summer. What does Pepper have planned to back up such a bold claim?

YW: The thing about Pepper is that undeniable spontaneity. Like you said about “Stormtrooper” — something new, something different and that’s just exactly what it’s going to be every single night. Something new, something different, something exciting. We stand by Jared’s word that it’s going to be the never ending sort of a party. We actually first met the Dirty Heads years ago. I was doing this other interview and talking to these people and they were asking about our relationship. We partied with them in Mexico and it hasn’t ended. That’s what we plan to do this summer, continue the never ending party.

PB: You have the summer tour then what are your plans for the rest of 2014?

YW: We are going to do a late fall tour/early winter tour on own. We are kind of in the process of picking who we are going to be with. Then in the fall we are going to start recording another record.

Pepper will perform this Saturday, July 26, at The Stone Pony Summerstage along with Dirty Heads and Aer. Click here for tickets.

Related Articles:

Interview: Dirty Heads (Al Mannarino)

Interview: AER (Kelly Gonsalves)

Interview: 311 (Al Mannarino)

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Al Mannarino is the music editor for Pop-Break as well as the host of the News Over Brews Podcast. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History and is currently a Promotions Assistant for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino

Al Mannarino is the associate editor and photographer for Pop Break. He is also host of the News Over Brews Podcast, Loot Care Unboxed, Backstage Break, and the producer of Behind the Brews. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino. His photo website is: http://alfredmannarino.com