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Hepcat is a third-wave ska band formed in southern California in 1989. Their soulful harmonies and mellow rhythms were unlike those of contemporaries and more akin to musicians from the heyday of 1960s Jamaican ska, also referred to as the first wave. Hepcat's debut album, "Out of Nowhere" was released in 1994 on New York-based ska label Moon Records. Two years later, they followed it up with "Scientific" on BYO Records. In 1998, after signing with Epitaph Records subsidiary HellCat Records, they released "Right on Time," scoring a modest hit with the swinging "No Worries" and scored a spot on the Vans Warped Tour. 2000 saw the release of "Push n' Shove," their first album without founding members Raul Talavera and Alex Désert, although the latter appears as a guest vocalist on two tracks.

The band went on a short hiatus after 2000, then reunited in March of 2003, bringing back members of the "Scientific" lineup, sans alto sax Raul Talavera. Hepcat has since continued to play occasionally, with most appearances close to their home in Los Angeles. Beginning August of 2006, Hepcat has begun recording for a new album which they hope to release by 2007.

A few members of Hepcat have also participated in other endeavors. Trumpeter Kincaid Smith formed Soul Traffic, a five-piece funk band. Drummer Scott Abels has played with the Rancid side project Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards and the southern California reggae act The Aggrolites. Vocalist Alex Desert has had a successful career in film and television, appearing in the movies PCU, Swingers, and High Fidelity; and the television show Becker.
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In early 2004, a remastered version of Out of Nowhere was released with two additional bonus tracks an early version of "Nigel" and "Club Meditation"—both of which appeared on their first single. The word "Hepcat" originates from an early slang term pertaining to an admirer or devotee of jazz, esp. swing, or one that was "hep," or a hipster. The band is actually named after a cat once owned by vocalist Alex Desért, named "Hep."


In 2000, Hepcat, widely considered the premiere ska/rocksteady band in America, suddenly disbanded only weeks before the release of their latest record. There was no explanation. Greg Lee, one of the two lead singers, moved to Costa Rica. Alex Desert, the other, was busy as an actor filming Becker for CBS. And just like that, 11 years of making music together came to a stand still. After three years of silent response to the pleas of fans and well after most had given up hope, something happened. Everyone thumbing through the LA Weekly came face to face with a huge, black and white newsprint, smoking cat. Without any warning, they were back. The original lineup stood backstage together, peering through the curtain at the sold out house, excited and restless, when the faceless voice announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back LA's very own HEPCAT!" The room exploded. Some were cheering. Some were jumping up and down. Some were even crying. And with that, Hepcat began their emotional two plus hour set and history was changed. Fans have a long history with the band.







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