Tropidelic’s newest album All The Colors dropped in August.
The album features guest appearances from: Brother Ali, Krazie Bone, Prof, Surfer Girl, Nick Hexum of 311, Little Stranger and Geoff Weers (The Expendables).
When I think about Cleveland, I think of a blue-collar city. I think of a city that rolls its sleeves up and isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty to get the job done. Hustle, endurance, drive, grit and dedication is what it takes to make it in the Mid West. Tropidelic embodies the Cleveland culture with the best of them.
Tropidelic’s mix of reggae, hip-hop, and high-energy funk sets them apart from the traditional Mid-West sound. Their work ethic and insane live show have made them trailblazers. They are a blueprint and inspiration for up-and-coming artists. Showing once again that you can be original, follow your dreams and do things your way.Thepier had a chance to sit down with Roads and James of Tropidelic just before their headline performance at Jannus Live in Saint Pete Florida.
The Pier: I feel like as soon as the tour is done you guys are announcing another one after that’s done they are announcing an album and festivals. It’s like you guys are nonstop. It’s beautiful thing to watch. Let me start by asking you, what is it that keeps Tropidelic rolling?
“Just pure hustle, I mean just to keep it moving forward, just keep growing”
and you know, it’s what we’ve been doing so long and just builds and builds and builds and can’t stop you know or some of the work you did might disappear so you gotta keep it moving and it’s what we’ve been doing for a long time.
The Pier: Now in the beginning of August you released your newest album “All the Colors” before we get into the songwriting and the sonics of the album, I’d love to talk a little bit about the artwork. I love this cover, If you can tell us a little bit about the idea behind the artwork
James: So it’s a pretty dope story, the artist Glen Infante from Cleveland – he has a clothing company called iLTHY. He has a bunch of murals and stuff around the city in a lot of paintings of like NBA players in football players did some work with Gatorade and album covers for some Cleveland rappers = like Chip the Ripper some artwork for MGK, and we just got to know him and his crew around town and it was really cool to work with him.
He did some single artwork for us as well we were all excited asking about the album and once we kind of gave him the album name we gave him creative control. We through him some ideas in but It was all him and we’re super excited about how came out.
The Pier: I think you guys are extraordinary songwriters and there are so many quotables throughout this album and really all your records, There’s a particular line that stood out to me on this album, “Would it even make a difference if I laid it all on the table for you”.
I really think that what you guys do best is put it out on the table, I think if a listener is in a dark place you’re coming to and relating to them and then kind of shedding some light at the end of the tunnel. Talk to us a little bit about your songwriting process.
Roads: My personal take on it is, I just find Melody to be like most important above all. So like it’s different and all situational but a lot of times It’ll be, ahh this progression sounds good man and the next step to me will be like where is the melody? I just feel like When you hear a song you like, the melody 9 times out of 10 is what resonates more so than the lyric aspect or the topic or anything else, that’s not the case all the time but I tend to focus on that first and foremost and everything else kind of falls in place
James: You mentioned the lyrics kind of being a dark place and kind of showing the light at the end of the tunnel. I think all that comes from personal experience in between me and Roads the writing comes from we’re at and we’re doing, especially playing the kind of music we do. I think typically a lot lyrics are like happier and more positive, I suppose, we definitely have some of that. Like you said, light at the end of the tunnel. But like especially being in Cleveland really freezing cold half the year, our studios are literally in a steel mill. I think a lot of that personal experiences and just writing about the Reality.
“I think for good songs that happen experiences need to happen, I think good songs come from being able to describe experiences”
The Pier: You guys are not afraid to jump on a tracks with some legends and heavy hitters – Brother Ali, Krayzie Bone.. 311 little stranger on there. Last record you have Matisyahu and Dirty Heads. How do you guys go about picking features? Are you writing a song with some of these artists in mind ahead of time? Or are you thinking they would just fit perfectly with a song that was already written?
Roads: It’s usually the latter. We write songs, we haven’t really written a song with a feature in mind. It’s usually we write what we write and then we’re like oh snap this dude what sounds good on her or she would sound good on here. So yeah, to date it’s just been we do what we do I will be in studio like so and so would sound great on here so that’s how it’s been
James: I will say after we did the song neighborhood off new album in the studio we’re thinking about who to get on, and I remember Roads going,“Dammit we’re from Cleveland I want a song with Krayzie Bone I’m sending this to Krayzie Bone.” And then he did it and he freaking killed it too. I remember getting that back and we were just like cheesing. He did that flow we were so excited.
The Pier: One of my favorite cities has always been Cleveland.. Talk a little about Cleveland and what it did for your sound, style and overall attitude.
Roads: It’s Everything. I mean we’re from Cleveland but it’s really the whole region. I grew up in Pittsburgh myself, but our stomping grounds is the Midwest Great lakes area. A lot of it is the same vibe, I tell people every city has its own character but regions kind of feel the same. It’s blue-collar like you said. It gets cold I feel like you kind of got to be tough to keep your head above water and places like that, and all the dirt that comes with it. Especially the touring aspect of it.
“Nowadays it works in our favor. But this isn’t the kind of music that’s been known to do well in Cleveland or the Midwest. So we really had to make our own bones with it and really Trail blaze this shit up there. I think it’s in everything we do, where we’re from how we do things.”
The Pier: You guys have your own annual festival called Everwild. Talk to us about how the idea came about to throw your own festival and what goes into putting this thing together every year.
Roads: The concept was born at a backyard pool party that the homies would throw and we would play it. I don’t know how long that was maybe 8 or 9 years ago. It kind of came into the idea. Hey, the 2nd week of August let’s try and throw our own festival.
We partnered with the now organizer and then just this last year we took it up a notch. With a budget, promotions, and everything else, production and Dirty Heads headlined. Did like 3000 plus out there it was awesome. It was at the same location they hosted Lost Lands and The Gathering of the Juggalos at Legend Valley just outside of Columbus Ohio
“So it’s been a long time coming a real slow burn to this point but there’s no going back now. Just like the touring and everything else, you can’t stop, you can’t step back or everything could fall apart. Just pushing forward bigger and better.”
The Pier: What’s next for Tropidelic?
Roads: When we get home we have a couple of shows in the North East first week of December
Then we have our big New Year’s Eve run
James: Huge New Years’ Eve Show!
Roads: Yea! It’s in Cincinnati on the 28th. Detroit on the 29th and two nights in Cleveland 30th and 31st of December. End it at the House of Blues in Cleveland, it’s our big epic end-of-the-year thing. We have Passafire, Palmer Square on the run this year. And Mookie in Cleveland, so that’s what we have the rest of the year.
Interview by Adoo