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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.
The Aggrolites are a reggae band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2002.
The Aggrolites are an amalgamation of two previous Los Angeles reggae and ska bands, the Vessels and the Rhythm Doctors. They formed in 2002 as a live backing band for reggae icon Derrick Morgan, and were asked to record music for a new Morgan album. The project was never released but the recording sessions inspired the Aggrolites to become a permanent band. They have served as the backing band for Phyllis Dillon, Scotty, Joseph Hill of Culture, Prince Buster, and Tim Armstrong.
Regarding their musical style, Aggrolites organist/keyboardist Roger Rivas has stated that a combination of the sounds of 1960s soul music, funk, and skinhead reggae (also known as early reggae) constitutes what the band has dubbed "Dirty Reggae."
In 2003, the Aggrolites released their debut album, Dirty Reggae, on local reggae label Axe Records. The album was recorded at Signet Studios in Los Angeles in one day, with each song recorded in one take, and with many lyrics improvised on the spot. In November 2004, the Aggrolites were featured on Hellcat Records compilation Give 'Em the Boot IV, and were officially signed to Hellcat in October 2005. The Aggrolites' self-titled Hellcat debut was released on May 9, 2006. In December 2006 they toured the UK as the support band for Madness. The Aggrolites finished a collaboration with Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong for his new solo album, A Poet's Life. They are providing the instrumentals with Tim as lead singer.
They released a new album on June 5, 2007 called Reggae Hit L.A., which won an IGN award for Best Reggae Album of 2007.
The Aggrolites made an appearance on the Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba!, created by Christian Jacobs, lead singer of The Aquabats.
In mid-2007, original bassist J Bonner quit the band and played his last show on August 12, 2007 in Washington DC. He was replaced by Hepcat bassist David Fuentes. Fuentes died on September 23, 2007.
The band entered the studio in early 2009 to record their fourth album. It was released June 9, 2009 and titled IV.
The band is kicking off a US tour in October 2009 before joining Slightly Stoopid for a run of dates in November 2009.
The band released their fifth studio album, Rugged Road, on February 22, 2011. It is their first album for Young Cub Records.
Past members Scott Abels – drums (2005–2006)J Bonner – bass guitarDavid Fuentes – bass (2007, deceased)Korey Horn – drumsBrian Dixon-Rhythm Guitar
The band's song "Free Time" from the album Reggae Hit L.A. was featured in the film Bandslam. The band's song "Work To Do" was featured in the film 50/50