Now you know: Tribal Theory

Rocking Pacific Island–style suits Tribal Theory, as do the islands!
  • Rocking Pacific Island–style suits Tribal Theory, as do the islands!

Southeast San Diego band Tribal Theory has managed to squeeze two tours of Guam and Hawaii into their nine-year career. The reggae-rock band, inspired by the Pacific Island sound, is presently putting together another working trip to Guam and Tahiti.

“We played in Guam on Liberation Day,” says Nico Tuilesu, one of Tribal Theory’s three lead singers. “Once you get there the people are very open and they help you with hospitality. Getting there is the hardest thing. You have to fly from Hawaii to Guam or Japan to Guam.” Round-trip tickets for the whole band to get to Guam are about $12,000.

But the universality of the band’s urban reggae, which fuses hip-hop, pop, rock, R&B and ska, has somehow managed to get their airfare covered. The members have Pacific Island roots that draw from Samoa, Guam, and the Phillipines.

Most members grew up in Southeast San Diego. Guitarist Peter Cruz and bassist Rudy Duenas relocated to San Diego from Guam. Tuilesu (a nephew of the late Junior Seau) started out as a drummer. Two years ago he was asked to move up front, give up the drums, and become one of three lead singers when it became clear that a vocal trio would give them a harmonic edge.

“We were inspired by the Temptations and Earth, Wind & Fire,” says Tuilesu. “AJ [Aberary] is the more soulful one. Seuko [Hawkins] is more hip-hop. I handle the pop end. We don’t have one main singer.”

Past Event

Step Out Walk

  • Sunday, November 2, 2014, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • De Anza Cove, 3000 N. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego
  • Free
Past Event

Tribal Theory, Quino, Seedheads

  • Friday, November 7, 2014, 6 p.m.
  • Epicentre, 8450 Mira Mesa Boulevard, San Diego

The need to divvy up the pie makes it difficult for a seven-man band to eke out a living from music. Still, Tribal Theory always makes time to play benefit shows. They recently played Lincoln High School to raise awareness for education funding, as well as a fundraiser for the American Association of Zookeepers.

Tribal Theory has released three albums, and their deep local roots have helped them connect with fans. “Our very first headlining show at the House of Blues (July 2013) sold out,” says Tuilesu.

A tour of the Northwest follows their next local dates, which include November 2 at De Anza Cove in support of the American Diabetes Association and November 7 at the Epicentre, with Quino from Big Mountain and the Paul Cannon Band.

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