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The Aggrolites

Blame it on No Doubt or blame it on Sublime, but by the middle of the 1990s, very little of the pop music that was described as ska had anything to do with Jamaican dance music of the early '60s. Too many bands whose sole connection to the musical style had been a few singles by the Specials or the English Beat got it all exactly backward, with the punk influences drowning out what little Jamaican influence remained: the result was basically Green Day with horns, and it wasn't any good for anyone. If the Aggrolites have a stated mission, it's to remind modern audiences what proper ska sounded like, whether in Kingston in 1963 or in London in 1979. The Aggrolites formed in 2002, originally getting together as the backing band for a one-off Los Angeles show backing Jamaican music legend Derrick Morgan. Gathering members from two minor Southern California reggae acts, the new band consisted of lead guitarist Jesse Wagner, rhythm guitarist Brian Dixon, organist Roger Rivas, bassist J. Bonner, and drummer Korey Horn. The concert was a success, and the band stuck together to record an album with Morgan that was never completed. Emboldened despite the recording setback, the band took the name the Aggrolites ("aggro" being a slang term of the ska-loving skinhead subculture of Britain in the 1960s and '70s, meaning pent-up aggression, and "lites" in tribute to the greatest ska band of all time, the Skatalites) and became the go-to guys on the West Coast ska and reggae circuit, backing a wide variety of golden-age Jamaican and British artists on their American dates, including the great Prince Buster and Culture lead singer Joseph Hill. On their own, with Rivas' funky organ work taking the instrumental lead in substitution for their lack of a horn section and Wagner taking vocal duties, the Aggrolites recorded their debut album, Dirty Reggae, at a live-in-the-studio session in 2003. Replacing Horn with new drummer Scott Abels (formerly of the popular third-wave ska band Hepcat), the Aggrolites signed to the Epitaph Records subsidiary Hellcat Records in 2005. Their second album, The Aggrolites, was released in May 2006, with their third, Reggae Hit L.A., following in June 2007, by which time drummer Horn had returned to the fold along with new bass player Jeff Roffredo. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


LOL @ Stewart Mason's review: If the Aggrolites have a stated mission, it's to remind modern audiences what proper ska sounded like...
I guess playing proper ska in this context means never ever play ska, since the Aggrolites do not play ska.
Ok so im a little bit confused. I read that rocksteady is basically a slowed down version of ska and im not sure if thats true. Can someone plz explain exactly what rocksteady is I just dont see how its a different genre. I get how reggae, dancehall and dub are different but what about rocksteady?
Who writes these bios?
Its not comparing Aggro to No Doubt or Sublime, its just saying those bands being called Ska is a far cry from traditional ska, which Aggro is much more in the vein of. S**t, I've heard people call 311 ska and it makes me cringe. I thought this bio was ok, don't see why people are getting butt hurt.
Worst bio ever. Hipster elitists should stick to reviewing extra obscure indie music.
What an awful bio. I don't particularly like Sublime or Gwen's No Doubt, but what does that have to do with The Aggrolites? They have a sound more like what was coming out of England 68-70 ( Think Symarip and the like). Stax and Motown plus the sounds of rocksteady and Jackie Mittoo, The Blues Busters, Booker T and The Mgs.etc. I've had the pleasure of opening for these guys a few times, they kill it live and are great guys to hang out with.
Great rendition.
Love the arrgolites. Love old ska, but the bio smacks of elitism if not flat out snobbery. Anyone who comes to the groove is welcome no matter the path.
the bio is not bias, its just letting you know what you arent listing to might be what you really want to hear just in case you think what you are listening to is something you think is something else. duh!
Can't somebody like Jamaican AND third wave ska? I for one love punk rock and love ska. People's music tastes vary.
Love this band cant wait to c them life
This is the most offensive bio I've ever seen. It's not personal, but honestly, the bias is awful.

Especially since it straight out disses people's taste. I don't like this band, and I don't care much for reggae ska. I don't care one pit about what ska's roots are, I just like thrid wave ska like Reel Big Fish and Suburban Legends. Because I have no sentiment for something I wasn't alive for, so I don't care that these guys are staying true to roots.
Its fun watching the Sublime fans fall all over themselves trying to defend that garbage. It sucked. Period.
Its all well if it got you into better reggae but now that you are put it in the trash where it belongs.
I feel like bands like sublime and no doubt open doors to other music, if it wasn't for them i would not have love for the specials and the skatalites, and all the kings granfathers and queens of SKA. Music is Life Live a fun one listen to SKA. At least Sublime and No doubt knew what they were playing, listeners never know what they are hearing.
Down with the Aggrolites
So into this, I've always loved Toots & The Maytals and have never listened to them before
Your an idiot...plai n and simple. Do you even listen to Ska? Pump up the Nickleback, sit back and let the real people listen to their music.
matthewghant o u s
Right on ceresnak4
Boy what a horribly written bio! Can't you write about how great the Aggrolites are at playing old school ska while not bashing genre busting and innovative bands like Sublime and No Doubt (heck why not just trash the less commercially successful greats Less Than Jake and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones too).
One of my fav bands. I try to catch them every time they're in Chicago. They put on a great show - the only shows I see the whole crowd moving at!
Sublime is awesome. No Doubt...they suck
Claire Ackland gets go go girl
Personally there is room for both Sublime and groups like the Aggrolites. This band is definitely tight...
Love the Aggrolites. They play a good show too. Go see them when they come to your town.
The Bio should be updated more often. The current drummer is Alex, and rhythm guitarist is Rick. Also Jeff has a bit of a background as Resurex's bassist as well as Nekromatix's at one point as well.
no Sublime is definetly not the s**t beeyotch
Oh, and regarding the bio by Stewart Mason, Rovi its spot on. Sublime is not bad at all (and he never said they sucked) but many emulators were subpar to say the least. Good work Stewart!
These guys are great. Historically reverential yet modern! They should be 1,000x more popular than they are now. imho!
Jessie has always cranked out good music. Put a guitar in his hand and listen to him make magic to your ears!
I was at a used record store and I i loved rancid at the time, I saw Tim Armstrong on the cover of a CD and I bought it. I came home, and found out it was Tim Armstrong and the Aggrolites, and ive loved them ever since. I went to warped tour a year or so ago, and they played there, but my girlfriend at the time (ex now) kept complaining how hot it was, and asked to go in the middle of them playing, I regret it so bad every time I hear them.
I enjoy music of all types, and I don't put myself in a box when listening. Honestly I don't believe music should be in a box either. If it sounds good to you.... play it, and it all sounds good to me.
The Aggrolites are a band that fit into one genre and Sublime blurs the e author has no respect for the innovation of bands like Sublime
This bio is ridiculously biased. Couldn't it be considered more staying closer to roots when bands (like Sublime) experiment with different genres and play their own original style than when a band like the Aggrolites plays traditional reggae and they are a bunch of guys from l.a. Nothing wrong with that, but what's wrong with a band that evolves and doesn't fit into one genre like the Aggrolites. Seems like the author can't think outside of the box and wants every band to fit into a label
I stand by what I said. Artists can be influenced by other artists without staying true to the original music. Led Zeppelin was influenced by the likes of Fats Domino yet their music couldn't be more different.
Yeah but ska/reggae is in it's essence jamacian DANCE music. It's not punk and didn't stem from it. The further you get from your roots the further you are from what the music actually is. Ska isn't punk with horns and never was. It was dance music. Not mosh or slam music with horns. Period. It's one thing to put a spin on music, it's something else entire to utter change a style and continue to try to pawn it off as the original.
This is what happens when you try to put musicians in a box. I believe musicians are influenced by other artists and then put their own spin on their music.
The Toasters were great live but Bucket was and is an arse. The problem with the Toasters is that they had more turn over than my local McDonalds. Still at least they wern't punk with horns or trailer trash reggae like Sublime. Personally I always liked the Skaflaws and Hepcat more and honestly the Aggolites are more authentic then all of them.
With all this talk about No Doubt, Sublime, ect in reference to the 90's ska movement and yet the preeminant band of the day, the Toasters, was not even mentioned. Who, by the way, totally rocked.
Sublime was subpar..trai l e r park ska at best.They spawned a host of imitators who had noo connection to the roots and just ended up at the logical conclusion, sound wise, that Sublime had started. Sublime was better than subsequent bands who tried to imitate them, but they are to blame, along with bands like Voodoo Glowskuls and others for turning ska into what it was in 99. No Doubt was decent before Gwen took over for her brother, sort of like Blondie were good when they were punk(ish).
it's not nice to see that No Doubt and Sublime are thrown under the bus in the bio... They were just honing in on their own sounds! Can't blame them for that, since we can thank The Aggrolites for the same. But I must say, I'm glad to have the Aggrolites. Can't forget your roots.
funny that sublime gets a bad rap here for no ska roots in sound when that's why people enjoyed them. they did have a reggae tonality to them. they did leave a wake that was filled by many that just did everything too fast and no real thought, like greenday.
Amen to that. You have to hold on to your roots atleast a little and by the end of the nineties it all sounded the same and didn't sound like ska or reggae anymore at all as a result.
nice to have a throw back. the 90's ska did really start to blur into a single sound. i do enjoy the punk influences but if you forget where you come from, you lose sight of where you're going.
This is some of the best American reggae/ska I've ever heard. Certainly more in line with the good old Jamacian stuff from the sixties.
In the late 70's and early 80's, The Police were considered a ska band. Then, ska was a defined mix of reggae beats and punk rock. Another great example would be The Bush Tetras. I didn't get the 'ska' scene that came out in the late 90's. I hated it. It sounded more like big band music to me.
The idea that the 1990's ska movement "wasn't good for anyone" is completely ridiculous. Even if they branched away from "proper ska", Sublime, No Doubt, Goldfinger, etc, all created great music. I appreciate The Aggrolites throwback to traditional Jamaican dance, it's awesome, but it doesn't make 90's ska any less great.
Can't wait to see the Aggrolites at warped tour 2011!
It is surprising how much knowledge Sublime had of reggae/dance h a l l songs... roughly 50% of their riffs and lyrics are taken from some old stuff! amazing in the days before Pandora that they would have known some of the stuff
What did "no doubt" ever have to do with ska? (oh, they sampled some horns on a song...i see: that'd make them roots, right?)
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