As soon as we get in, we feel a proper London atmosphere. It seems to be in one of those gigs in East London, near Shoreditch, with a rough audio and thousands of pints. We are in Rome, though, at Atlantico, where the new season of Euphoric starts with Is Tropical. The band is shared between the journalists that are interviewing them and at some point it comes to me the drummer, Dominic, with messy hairs and pants “pyjama style”. He starts to chat: “I’ll come… Let’s seat on the sofa then, i’m too tired. It’s three night we are not sleeping. Yesterday in Wien it was great, but we were destroyed. Tonight after the gig we’ll join an after party to a friend’s place to get drunk, so we’ll go to throw eggs against the Vatican! We still have ten days touring, I’ll go to the hospital!” We immediately get in touch and for all the interview we appear like two old friends at the pub. Dominic sits beside me and takes a look around, as he just realise where he was playing and says: “this room reminds me the film ‘This is Spinal Tap’ (80s documentary about the band Spinal Tap, ed.) when they arrive in the military base and play a really crap show! This room is the same! I really hope that it wouldn’t go like that!”
CheapSound How did you met with the other guys?
IT Simon Milner (vocals, synth, guitar, bass), Gary Barber (synth, guitar, bass) and me used to play in a punk band. We were a five piece band of friends messing around. We went to night gigs and got payed in drugs. It wasn’t much serious! Two of them left the band, so we decided to do something serious, but before Is Tropical were born, none of us played any instrument; actually we are still pretty shit playing, but is great getting better instead of just being the top!
CS Why did you chose a name such as Is Tropical? Aren’t you from London?
IT Yes, we’re from the North East of London. In that period we used to live in a flat without heating, light or electricity. We were ten in the same room, without any money. Everyone did something artistic (musicians, singers, painters) and this was really inspiring. Everyone, though, was looking for a way to escape and having a name like Is Tropical was like going as far as we could. We also wanted a name without any sense; Radiohead, for example, it’s too obvious, explains everything already!
CS At the beginning, you played masked. Why?
IT We wanted people to be concentrated on music and not on us! Also, we wanted to keep the doors open: we wanted to do pop music but we could also move to something completely different, like techno. So, we didn’t want our image to be “condemned” in some way. We’ve been free to explore without letting the people to decide for us who we were or which music we had to do. We didn’t want to be classified like the usual british hipster band! Then, this question haunt us and to answer became too annoying so… we decided to leave it! I still remember the first time we jump on the stage without the masks! Was really funny to see our horrible faces while playing. But it got really easier: we finally could communicate with technicians!
CS I’m Leaving is your new album. What’s the most innovative thing of this experience?
IT Working with our producer Luke Smith was great. Actually, we wanted to do our first album with him too, but we couldn’t. We didn’t have the right experience; so we did 300 gigs in two years and when we walked in the studio we were ready to record a good album.
CS Which sounds inspired you during the recording sessions?
IT In that period we were listening to Frankie Valli and 80s Bowie. Luke Smith is able to realise any sound and this tickle a lot our creativity. Till that moment, we didn’t consider ourselves like a real band. No one said nothing similar before and to record with this spirit was incredibly good!
CS How changed do you really feel now despite of your first record Native to?
IT Before we were just fools! We were scared about doing good music; every song we were excited and we didn’t care about recording good quality stuff. Now we understood what we really want to do, not just being a bunch of friends enjoying playing together.
CS Are there other bands which you collaborated with? Or any that you’d like to?
IT I’d love making a song with Phil Spector behind the desk. Or maybe together with some Motown bands like The Miracles and play their tropical and R&B music. Right now we’re working on covers with a lot of friends like Rose Dougall, singer of The Pippets, or The Telegram, a very cool band from London.
CS After this tour will you take a break or you’ll immediately start to work on new songs?
IT We actually already started writing new stuff, but that’s normal to us. Writing is what we do when we’re not working. I’ve got a piano at home which I play to relax. We never had the pressure of writing songs, we never thought it’s a serious thing! We always did that for fun, you know what I mean?
CS What would you suggest to a band that wants to emerge? What do you think about music business today?
IT Music business is shit! It’s incredible how much time they’re taking to go with new technologies. The business must react. It looks like a boy saying ‘No! That’s unfair! I don’t want’. Showbiz it’s just a money machine like others. You know, where there are moneys there’s the shit. It’s part of the game, isn’t it? Many contemporary bands focus on the production of the album. They realise six songs and that’s it. But then you feel they’re too processed! It’s better to write much stuff instead on working on just one thing. Songs are good even without sounds too elaborated. An advice? Close your computer and fucking play!
CS Thank you! Would you say goodbye to CheapSound readers saying something in italian?
IT Io sono il conte Dracula! Minchia!