Your eyelids slowly peel open. Shutters on aging farmhouses open with more ease. Your head pounds in perfect time to an unseen drum. That obscene flavor in your mouth is last nights Jameson and stale cigarettes. Moments like these you know your mother would be proud. The first solid thought to solidify runs along the lines of “Where the fuck am I?” As soon as it hit your mind, the creaking of a geriatric door splits the silence. A pair of tattered running shoes emerges from the interior of the door. On the other end of these worn shoes is Daniel Denton. He’s a pulled piece of taffy, tall and lean. He’s totting an oversized bottle of water; periodically taking sizeable tugs from it. His clothes are damp with sweat, as he has just finished a 10-mile run moments before. Which is made all the more astonishing knowing he was up until at least 3 a.m. that morning and had made his way through no less than three bottles of wine. Keep in mind it is now only 7 a.m.
He mutters something under his breath “I feel like shit.” Paces across the room and begins to stand inverted kicking his legs into the air and against the wall. Viewing this helps to turn your stomach. “Shouldn’t have opened that third bottle. It got dark.” You can’t do much but agree with a mild shake of your head. He comes down from his handstand and paces the room. Takes a swig from his water, hesitates “How much of the show do you remember?” You drag your mind like a harbor detective searching for evidence. “Slim to none. Slim skipped town.” He smirks and lets out a laugh “Pile.”
Running your fingers through your hair trying to mellow the sound of that imaginary drum, and just like that a flash of hazy memories crash against your synapsis. Here is that collision:
You find yourself standing in a venue/bar all in one extended space. It’s calm. It’s quiet. It’s comfortable. A cold beer is thrust into your hands, “Cheers”.
The hand extended in front of you has two attachments, a disposable cup filled with red wine. The other is a wrist, to an arm, to tiny framed and stature that is Liv Marsico. She is, in short, adorable. She is draped in an off white dress and leather jacket and what appear to be combat boots. You ask typical questions to keep a conversation flowing. The entire time you get the sensation she is sizing you up. For what reason, you are unsure, and you don’t intend to find out. Dynamite comes in small packages.
She makes her way to the stage and plops down behind her drums. Leaning forward picks up her drumsticks, and this is when your curiosity is fully peaked. She has a traditional grip. To the layman this typically means, jazz. Which typically means, good. Which typically is untypical of most Los Angeles based bands.
“That’s all I remember at the moment”. Danny laughs, brings that giant water under his mustache and swigs away. He mentions, “Isn’t it your job to remember, pile.” Some arguments you loose immediately. He sits down in front of his Wurlitzer and fiddles the keys. With his back to you he offers “Margaritas?” What’s left of your unturned stomach quickly flips. What’s left of your brain cells replies, “Who’s driving?” Simply stated without him batting an eye, “You. Dick”.
As you make your way to your feet the blood flees from your head, your knees buckle, and you sway like a palm. As your vision blurs another memory racks into focus. Here is that development:
Her hands are wrapped around an acoustic guitar, a pair of fringed black tights pendulate in perfect time to her strumming. “It’s a toss up between the time the mermaids thrived and 1,500 BC Egypt, specifically the royal chambers.” As unrealistic as the question “where would you travel in time?” is, her answer is equally offbeat. For the main reason that the question arises, “Does she really believe in mermaids?” Her playful brown eyes say, “I do”. This is Gothic Tropic’s guitarist, front-woman, and creator Cecilia Della Peruti.
“What three bands would you love to tour with?” She strums her guitar a bit, searches her memory banks, smirks “The Flaming Lips, because they’re fun. Gravy Train, because they’re fun.” She hesitates and looks in Danny’s direction. He stares back at Cecilia, and then to you “I don’t know”. Bemused you ask, “So where did the name Gothic Tropic come from?” She stops strumming and giggles, “It started as a solo project that I didn’t intend to taking seriously, for once, and it initially just cracked me up.” She laughs again, turns to a poster on the wall, and with parodistic intention says, “Like being a crusty/dangerously adventurous punk rooted adolescent who didn’t have a dark soul, but just liked to party.”
Shoulder to shoulder, with your elbows resting on the bar. You slowly swirl the contents of a margarita glass as you fumble with bits and pieces you have of the night before. “Can you switch it to the Clippers game.” Danny’s face lights up as his request is made. Without breaking his concentration from the game he asks, “So what are you going to do?” Raking the river bottom, and all you can come up with is “I’m trying to figure that out”. You nip at the salty sweet concoction in your glass while you stir salsa with a stale chip. The imaginary drum is back. Slower this time, much more gentle. To your surprise it’s not your head, it’s Danny’s fingers tapping a bass line into the bar. This is a solid punch to your memory banks. Here is that blow:
The type of bass that makes the stagnant air shiver. The low rumble that makes your clothing quiver. Danny sways as he rumbles note after note into the amplifiers. It’s smooth. It’s clean. It’s crisp. A snare drum fires off. Toms and cymbals are quick to follow as Liv rolls on her drums. The crowd is sparse and spread out. Echoes of a guitar begin laying over the driving beat. Heads begin to turn. Bodies slowly migrate together. Cecilia wails into the microphone, her voice fills the gaps between now swaying bodies. The tempo raises and falls. Songs with titles like “Kill Lloyd Opus” and “Flesh Dance” are pumped fervently into the listener’s ears, and one thing has become abundantly clear, the crowd is now static. Bobbing heads and tapping feet have evolved into wave of hair and limbs.
A raucous of clapping and cat calls take the place of ringing guitars and drums, and in a simultaneous occurrence all three members reach for either a beer or cup of wine. Cecilia approaches the microphone and proceeds to thank the crowd for coming. She professes her love for them, the venue, the other bands on the bill, and ultimately everything. As quickly as the on slot of sound stopped, it begins again. A guitar bends sound waves in the air. Liv squirms in anticipation awaiting her cue. Sticks met stretched skins and a current of auburn hair swirls in unison. Danny digs his fingers into the neck of his bass guitar, looking as though he may be trying to pull it apart. Cecilia unleashes into the mic, and stomps her feet at tiny invisible monsters crowding the stage. It’s the last song and they are making full use of it. What started off as a crowd sitting on their hands has turned into a ball of energy feeding off the sounds created by these three musicians.
In short, Gothic Tropic is an ensemble of a dying breed, real musicians. You remember what those are right? What real music sounds like. A sound created in adolescent bedrooms, multiple cluttered garages, and empty studio spaces. No one sends in texts to vote for their favorite idol. Hires image consultants and public relation hounds to sniff out what’s hip. Just three intelligent, talented, well-rounded, authentic musicians, coming together to make damn fine music and spread only the best of vibes. Do yourself, the band, and modern culture a favor: look them up and give them a listen.
text x paul rossi