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Interview: Long Island Reggae Rockers Oogee Wawa

Oogee Wawa began in 2008, when four like-minded musicians from Long Island came together, wanting nothing more than to play music and feel good doing it. Ever since then, the reggae rockers have been performing non-stop, delivering their kind of “feel-good” rhythm to ever-growing crowds on the east and west coasts.

Salute Magazine recently caught up with Oogee Wawa frontman Jesse Lee Roenbeck and lead guitarist JP Aceto, who are getting ready to fly south this winter for their two-week “Island Hopper Tour” across Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So what was it that inspired you to start a band?

J.P.: Oogee Wawa started after Jesse and I just broke up with our girlfriends. We both wrote [our own] songs about it, when I had the idea to combine them both.

Has anyone every told you that your music reminds them of Sublime?

J.P.: We get that all the time. It’s flattering. But we bring other elements to the table that other bands do not.

Of the artists you’ve worked with—such as Matisyahu, SOJA, Rusted Root, Slightly Stoopid to name a few—who would you say has had the biggest impact on you musically?

J.P.: That’s a good one. We played an afterparty with Pepper and The Dirtyheads. If we could go on tour with anyone, I would pick one of them. Sublime with Rome was awesome. It was our first time selling out a show. But influence-wise, I’d have to say The Dirtyheads and Pepper. They’d play reggae rock, but [would] always bring that refreshing twist to it. I feel like if you had everyone in the band, they’d say something different. We have diverse [musical] backgrounds.

Jesse: One of my favorite bands is Pepper. They were a lot of fun to go on tour with. So, Pepper or Sublime with Rome have been the biggest influence for me.

If you could go on tour with anyone, who would it be?

J.P.: Badfish is up there. Choose one band? I am going to say Gym Class Heroes. A reunion tour with Gym Class Heroes.

What are some of your all-time favorite Sublime songs?

Jesse: I would say “Don’t Push,” because that song alone has a range of things. From hip-hop to roots reggae… and also “KRS-One.” By Pepper, I would say “Tongues.”

2015 has been a interesting year for music. Adele recently broke the record for the most albums sold in a single-week, Jeff Lynne resurrected Electric Light Orchestra for the first time since 2001 and Dr. Dre finally released his long-anticipated third studio album.

What do you feel was the biggest moment in music this year?

J.P.: I think that it is promising that Adele can break a sales record in this day and age. And [with people] downloading and streaming, I think that it is just unheard of, coming from the business standpoint.

Jesse: Eminem just impresses me every time he drops something. He fires me up still to this day. So I say ‘Em’ in 2015 and from here on until the end of time.

How excited are you guys to be performing at the Emporium in Patchogue this week? What are you doing to prepare?

Jesse: It’s always awesome to have home shows. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to. To be able to come home and play a big show… it’s awesome. It’s what we look forward to.

We’re planning to deliver something a little fresh and different for the show. But I can’t tell you anymore than that.

J.P.: We’re heading on the road at the start of the new year. It’s our first time out of the states and we’re really looking forward to it. We’re also going to release one, possibly two, new EP(s) in 2016.

Oogee Wawa will heading home to Long Island along with Badfish, on Friday Dec. 18, at the Emporium in Patchogue. For tickets and more information on their upcoming “Island Hopper Tour,” visit oogeewawa.com

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