Courtesy Public Property
Iowa-based Reggae Band Public Property Includes Two Members With Local Ties.
Iowa reggae drops in for 8 shows
An 'Iolani grad is happy to bring this hard-working band to Hawaii
IT'S BEEN an uphill battle for Public Property, the reggae band from Iowa fronted by 1999 'Iolani School graduate David Bess.
Public Property Hawaii Tour '08
» 9 p.m. Wednesday at Boardriders Kailua
» 9 p.m. Feb. 7 at Breakers Haleiwa
» 10 p.m. Feb. 8 as part of the Ultimate Tribute Festival to Bob Marley at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park (all ages)
» 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Old Kona Airport (all ages)
» 9 p.m. Feb. 22 at Tropics Cafe
» 9 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Loft
» 9 p.m. Feb. 29 at Anna Bannana's
» 9 p.m. March 1 back at Boardriders Kailua
Note: All venues are 21 and over, except where noted.
Besides the typical struggle endured by countless independent artists year after year, the band underwent drastic lineup changes after releasing its first two albums. And make no mistake, playing roots music in the Midwest was an exercise in frustration when critics were too close-minded to accept a different look paired with a familiar sound.
Public Property makes its Hawaii debut next week with another former Hawaii resident, 1999 Mid-Pacific Institute graduate Mareva Minerbi, in tow and eight shows already booked. The Star-Bulletin caught up with Bess, who is the son of Bess Press' Buddy Bess and the brother of Hollywood actor Daniel Bess, earlier this week while the band was on tour in Colorado.
Question: How did Public Property get its start?
Answer: It was my senior year of college at the University of Iowa. I started the band with one of my best friends, who's a drummer, and we found a bass player. So it started out as a trio.
Q: Why wait until you were almost done with college to start a band?
A: I'd never really developed any songwriting skills. Throughout college I just kinda played blues jams, nothing very serious.
My sophomore year, actually, I did have a band before this band ... it was more along the lines of a blues-rock mix.
Q: How did growing up in Hawaii affect your musical tastes?
A: I'd say it had more to do with the scene.
When I grew up, Radio Free Hawaii was on (and) there was great music being played on that station. The scene got me into all this other stuff, and the reggae ... that just came naturally.
Q: How has the band changed since you started?
A: Actually, there's a lot of transformation ... the band grew by a whole lot.
At one point we were, like, a nine-piece band. Then basically it was an overhaul (and) we had to replace people.
The third album was with this new lineup, and now we're in the midst of working on a new album.
Q: Have the changes affected the overall sound?
A: Fortunately, when our band kind of broke up and reformed, we were blessed to get all these great musicians to join. One thing that has been constant is me and the girls. I was also doing most of the songwriting.
Q: How tough was it to find a following in Iowa?
A: Actually, it wasn't that hard at all. Everyone's got the Internet.
When we started, it took a while to gain a local following, but we were quickly embraced once we had our first album out. People started spreading the music, and we encourage people to burn our CDs and spread them around freely.
Q: Were there critics?
A: Yeah, we're all white. None of us have dreadlocks and we're coming from the state of Iowa. So it makes perfect sense why people would be skeptical of what we're doing.
But once they take a listen or see us live, it's not relevant anymore. The thing that we care about is the people who come to see us play.
Q: What has it been like to be on tour for the last 18 months?
A: We're crashing on a lot of friendly floors, but that's part of the adventure. We're pretty much always playing. At least three shows a week, if not more.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about coming home?
A: For me, I'm returning to the place that brought reggae to me. This is where I learned about and fell in love with the music. And being invited to Bob Fest is a great honor.
Q: What does the future hold for the band?
A: After all those shows in Hawaii, we're going to come back to the West Coast. Pretty much from that time when we get back in March, we'll be working on the new album.
We're a small business besides being a reggae band. We're booking the shows and doing the promo.I'm really proud of the fact that we can do all this without needing a label.