California grown, Island inspired, The Late Ones have been bringing their take on reggae music to the stage for quite some time. Comprised of the Avei brothers and their close friend Josh Brunson, their harmonies show through their chemistry onstage and their conscious and edgy lyrics in the studio. Performing their set at the Cali Roots after party this year in front of politically motivated banners exclaiming “Black Lives Matter” and murals of MLK, Malcolm X, and Bob Marley, the band makes no efforts to hide the world events that influence them and their craft. Grateful Web met up with Tau, Tui, and Josh of The Late Ones before their set at this year’s festival to speak with them a little about their inspirations, their purpose, and their upcoming album.
Grateful Web: It’s always special to have new music drop, but your newest single went live the day you were able to perform it at a festival. How do you feel being able to unveil it at this festival, and how do you feel your new music holds up?
The Late Ones: We’re super psyched to play “Tell Me Not” today. It’s been a long time coming, and especially through Easy Star Records, they’re backing the whole thing, and it’s the first single off our album. Just super stoked for it to finally come out.
GW: How does it feel to be at the 10th anniversary of Cali Roots? Where do you see it’s place in reggae history?
TLO: It’s pretty epic. It’s definitely an honor to be here for the 10th anniversary. We came here two years ago and played, and fell in love. To us, this is one of the best festivals, so to be back here, this year in 2019 again, to us it’s just a blessing.
GW: Your upcoming album marks a big milestone in your career. As your first full-length album, what message are you looking forward to conveying that you previously could not have in the short form?
TLO: Tell Me Not is the first single off the full-length album, and that will be coming out within the year. I feel like the messages will still be the same, but we have more songs on an actual full-length album.
GW: You’ve always been a band not afraid to break barriers, for example, your specific take on the current political system and your use of the “N-word” in songs such as crosses are of course atypical for the reggae genre. What do you see as your motivation to break down these walls?
TLO: We were born and raised in a different environment in America, so we’re playing Jamaican music, but in America, so it comes out differently. Our situation here in America is a bit different than it is in Jamaica, and we are just journalists. Basically, we are just saying what’s going on around us, and we’re going to stick to that. It’s just who we are, for us to change how we speak every day is just, well, there are no rules, right? If that’s who we are, that’s how it’s going to come out.
GW: What influences have inspired this sound for you?
TLO: Everything from back in the day oldies, rock music, every single genre out there. I would say, Bob Marley, Rage Against the Machine, and that whole West Coast vibe like NWA, all mixed in one, and that’s where that funk vibe comes from. That Rage side, that NWA, but then Bob Marley always keeps us straight, like don’t forget about the message. It’s kind of dope how all those styles and influences make up The Late Ones, and those influences grow every day. Not even from just music. I think that’s why we’re so passionate about our music and what we put out, trying to make sure everything is, to a tee, is straight quality. We’re just giving out that energy that comes from within when we’re talking about The Late Ones. It’s our baby.
GW: You’ve accomplished so much already, but what’s still on your bucket list of goals?
TLO: We’re still going to cross over and show our full hip hop side pretty soon, and even just touring with other hip hop acts as well because we just want to cross over and do that whole side too because we can, and jump back and forth, and start to make and experiment with different types of music after that’s done. What comes after that is going to be even crazier. That’s the beauty of it like I said earlier because there are no rules. We can try anything and everything, shout out to The Skints, because their last album was nothing like the first one, and they’re still dope.
GW: What’s next for The Late Ones?
TLO: Shows with The Green, shows with The Wailing Souls, and then we have to finish this album up.
GW: With your recent developments, I’m sure you’ve had every question in the book thrown at you, but what’s one part of the band that you don’t get prompted to talk about as much as you would like?
TLO: Our nationality, because two of us are Samoan, and Josh lived in Hawaii for five years too, so that Polynesian vibe is very prominent in our lives, but we don’t look like we’re Samoan, so sometimes we don’t get that. I would like people to dive in more and ask more about our Nationality and where we come from. They might understand the music the lyrics better.