Nick Papageorge, lead singer of reggae-fusion group Solution, walks into his back yard, where a stereotypical Southern California scene unfolds. Food crowds the grill, inked bodies line the pool, and the band's mascot, an English bulldog named Cali, lounges by the water in a pink life jacket. A few birthday wishes thrown Papageorge's way reveal the reason for the gathering, though the setting easily passes for a music-video backdrop to one of the band's lively summer grooves.
With laid-back demeanors and full-bellied laughs, the boys of Solution give the impression of a seasoned, long-standing band. However, the Anaheim-based four-piece united less than two years ago, coming together when the group's former vocalist bailed on a gig. Papageorge had performed earlier that night and was unexpectedly promoted from solo acoustic opener to last-minute lead singer. Jumping in the car with guitarist Sean Jefferson, bassist Chris Dorame and drummer Jeff Berger, he prepped for his unorthodox debut. Following the risky move, the pre-existing members of Solution knew they had just discovered their new front man.
Seven months later, the group scored a CD-release show at the House of Blues in support of their first full-length album, Take Me High. With the momentum accelerating, Solution earned a slot on the popular OC Music Awards showcase series to compete for Best Live Band. Though the band fell short of moving forward through formal avenues, they stayed alive by advancing to the final showcase through the fan-favorite vote.
"Our fan base is a huge deal to us," Berger says, as he cracks open a can of Coors Light by the pool. "We're based out of Anaheim, but we have a huge following in Garden Grove. So when we did the second round of the OCMAs, we didn't come out on top, but it was still a badass show. We got great publicity and had a great time."
Echoing his drummer's sentiments regarding the music awards, Papageorge adds, "The fan vote is all that really matters to me. As far as for winning or losing goes, I don't really care. We got the overall fan vote in our favor, and that meant more to me than even playing the show."
Sitting in a staggered circle under the shade of the front porch, the band discuss Papageorge's a capella background while more birthday wishes are tossed his way. They admit that bringing harmony into the mix provided a beneficial layer to their sound. Palpable lyrics fuse with punk-tinged percussion and sporadic metal undertones to help separate Solution from the endless litany of local, Sublime-esque counterparts.
"We don't want to fall into one place and just be 'that band' in 'this category.' We've said it before--we usually play a lot harder than the other reggae bands that we play with. We've talked about trying to book some punk shows and some rock shows just to see how the people reacted to it. We'll hit that distortion pedal a couple of times and make some people happy," Jefferson says with a smile.
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The band operate with a genuine appreciation for their fans, releasing their latest EP, Sacrifice, for free on Sound Cloud instead of iTunes. The seemingly backward step was a gesture of appreciation on Solution's part, one that they hope keeps fans engaged until their upcoming album is released later this year.
"We're definitely trying to bring back to the people music that everyone can enjoy," Papageorge says.
"If somebody has a shitty week," Dorame adds, "they can come to our shows and have a good time. That's important to me." Solution perform at OC Weekly's Plugged Into Local concert series at Hogue Barmichaels, 3950 Campus Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 261-6270; www.hoguebarmichaels.com. Wed., 9 p.m. Free. 21+. For more info on Solution, visit www.facebook.com/SolutionReggae.