The Aggrolites: Roger Rivas, Jesse Wagner, Alex McKenzie, Ricardo Chacon, and Jeff Roffredo. Photo by Ethan Luck
The 1990s brought a new sound to mainstream American music consciousness with bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, and No Doubt taking over the airwaves.
Roger Rivas was in high school, taking up the keyboard after years of resisting his father’s push to play the piano. Rivas loved the sound of ska and it dawned on him that he could parlay his skills at the keys into a genre that he loved.
“I was really into ska and punk,” Rivas said. “My father played piano so it was always around me. I wasn’t interested when I was young. I didn’t gravitate towards it because I was surrounded by it. But then it clicked for me to play keyboard, and all of a sudden I was snowballing it into a career.”
In 2002, Rivas was asked to play as part of a backing band on an album for reggae icon Derrick Morgan.
“He is an old school, original Jamaican artist, popular in late ‘60s and early ‘70s,” said Rivas. “He’s one of the guys that defined the sound of ska and rock steady before the term reggae was even born.”
Rivas joined four other musicians in the recording room. For unknown reasons, the album was never released. But Rivas got plenty out of the experience.
“Nothing ever came out of recording that album, except our band,” he said.
The synergy of the musicians in the studio was instant and thus the Aggrolites was born.
“We play what we call dirty reggae,” Rivas explained. “It’s kind of a mixture of old school funk, vintage reggae, soul. All that stuff goes hand and hand if you listen to original warm, gritty, vintage, dirty sound of classic reggae.”
The Aggrolites dropped their first album in 2003, aptly named “Dirty Reggae.” They now have six albums as well as two songs in major motion pictures, and have toured the globe.
Though some members have come and gone, the Aggrolites’ sound has remained consistent. The band is now Jesse Wagner on vocals and lead guitar, Ricky Chacon on rhythm guitar, Alex McKenzie on drums, Jeff Roffredo on bass, and Rivas on piano and organ.
“We are working on new stuff now,” said Rivas. “We just got back from Brazil and needed a break from traveling. These December shows are us dusting our cobwebs off, getting back to writing.”
The Aggrolites have played Saint Rocke over a half a dozen times and count it as one of their favorite venues. They have put together a killer show for the post-Christmas gig.
“We’ve worked out a great set list for Saint Rocke,” Rivas said. “There’s a lot of fan favorites from over the years. And we have some new stuff that hasn’t been recorded yet so we can see how the audience likes it. It’ll be a good Aggrolite party.”
Join the party as the Aggrolites play Saint Rocke, 142 Pacific Coast Hwy, Hermosa Beach, tonight, Thursday, at 9 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $18 and are available at saintrocke.com.