By: David Garcia
Getting drunk and having fun with a Ouija board is often the gateway to a good time. In the case of OKT, it was the start of a band. “Some genius told us to try it out and ask it what the band's name should be,” recalls vocalist Phil Montano. “We got as far as OKT before freaking out, so we just stuck with it.”
Though they've given up on communicating with spirits since then, their formation has led to some spirited music in the OC reggae scene. OKT are a four-piece with a sound that's just as diverse as their home city of Anaheim. They aim to break the mold of what is considered reggae-rock with their psychedelic/punk/rockabilly/ska/soul style, drawing their musical influences from Jimi Hendrix, Sublime, Blink-182, Otis Redding, Slightly Stoopid, Korn, Lamb of God and the Wu-Tang Clan, among others. Formed in a garage by Aram Gonzalez and Jesse Gonzales (a.k.a. Jesucio) at the age of 12, OKT were “just a couple of mocosos [boogers or delinquents] making noise in the garage,” says Montano. “Aram started on drums and Jesse on guitar before switching roles when they were in high school.”
Montano says he joined the band in 2008 after playing a couple of jam sessions with them. Their current roster was completed in 2013 by bassist Ralph Licea, whom they had met a couple of years prior while on tour with Licea's then-band, Inhale.
Throughout the past couple of years, OKT have performed at such local hotspots as the House of Blues, the Yost Theater and Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen, as well as occasionally appearing at Mission Tobacco Lounge in Riverside. They've also played alongside artists including C-Money, Big B, Israel Vibration, Sean Winchester of Everclear, and the Simpkin Project. And on July 27, OKT released their debut album, Better Late Than Never, via Huntington Beach label Sullen Musik. For the track “Robbery,” the band were joined by Nick Papageorge of fellow Anaheim-based band Solution. They'll next appear at the annual Reach for a Cure benefit at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on Saturday.
Their live performances feature a punk-rock foundation that switches tempo throughout the set. Licea's funky bass lines pair nicely with Gonzales' drum beat, while Montano provides raw, soulful vocals. And Gonzalez often adds his own flair, sporadically breaking out into electric-guitar solos. The mixture of fast and slow leaves the crowd engaged, always guessing what the next song will include.
Currently, the band are working on their second full-length and are making plans for the music video for “Preacher” (off Better Late Than Never). Plus, OKT will explore new territory when they tour in Arizona and Oregon later this year.
OKT perform with All Night Pressure, CA-22, The Crush and Jonah Corey at the Wayfarer, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 764-0039; www.wayfarercm.com. Sat., February 21. 8 p.m. $10. 21+.