|Origin||California, United States|
|Years active||1989–2000, 2003–present|
|Labels||BYO, Moon Ska, Hellcat|
|Associated acts||The Aggrolites|
|Past members||David Fuentes (deceased)|
Joey "Pepe" Urquijo
Jeremiah Ben Zion
Aaron Owens (deceased)
Hepcat is a ska and reggae 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) with elements of soul, jazz and R&B.
Hepcat's debut album, Out of Nowhere was released in 1993 on the 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.
By the early 2000s, the ska scene became oversaturated and commercially less interesting, so the band was dropped by their label. Hepcat went on a hiatus, then reunited in 2003 and continued touring. In 2007, the long-time bassist David Fuentes had died, which resulted in the band being less active again. In 2015, the guitarist Aaron Owens died as well. Hepcat continues performing at concerts and festivals, but infrequently.
A few members of Hepcat have also participated in other endeavors. Trumpeter Kincaid Smith formed Soul Traffic, a five-piece funk band. Vocalist Alex Désert has had a successful career in film and television, appearing in the movies PCU, Swingers, and High Fidelity; and the television shows Boy Meets World and Becker.
The term "Hepcat" originates from an early slang term (1930–35) 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."
- Out of Nowhere (1993), Moon Ska Records
- Scientific (1996), BYO Records
- Right on Time (1998), Hellcat Records
- Push 'n Shove (2000), Hellcat Records
- Out of Nowhere (Hellcat re-release with two bonus tracks) (2004)
- Live at The Whiskey a Go-Go (2011), Whatevski Records
Current members (as of 2007)
- Greg Lee - vocals
- Alex Désert - vocals
- Deston Berry - keys and vocals
- Efren Santana - tenor sax (joined on Scientific)
- Kincaid Smith - trumpet, flugelhorn (joined on Scientific)
- Lino Trujillo - guitar (from Scientific)
- Greg Narvas - drums and percussion (Out of Nowhere and Scientific)
- David Fuentes - bass, E. upright (1971–2007)
- Joey "Pepe" Urquijo - bass ("Nigel" and "Club Meditation" — first single)
- Raul Talavera - alto sax (through Right on Time)
- Dave Hillyard - tenor sax (Out of Nowhere)
- Joey Aguilera - guitar (Scientific Tour)
- Dennis Wilson - guitar (Out of Nowhere)
- Jeremiah BenZion (Settles) - tenor sax (Out of Nowhere)
- Aaron Owens - guitar (credited as an additional musician on Right on Time, joined on Push n' Shove)
- Chris Castanon - drums (in between Scientific and Push n' Shove)
- Scott Abels - drums and percussion (credited as an additional musician on Right on Time, joined on Push n' Shove)
- Ankeny, Jason. Hepcat at AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-04-28.
- Lipsky, Jessica (2017-04-11). "Hepcat Are the Unsung Heroes of Southern California's Ska Scene". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
- Johnathan Zwickel. "Hepcat: Out of Nowhere". Pitchfork.
- Ricky Vigil, "Hepcat: Right On Time", SLUG Magazine
- Augustyn, Heather (2013). Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation. Scarecrow Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-8108-8450-2.