Fast, heavy, and fun. These are words that describe a Tropidelic set. The band comes from Ohio, but the influences are very west coastal, pulling on the punk, reggae, and hip-hop legends such as 311 and Dirty Heads, bringing their own style with them.
For the ninth annual Cali Roots festival, Tropidelic was the opening band, (the first of 35 acts!). This is a bold undertaking for the band, who has been around for a while now, but are just beginning to tour hard and make themselves known. On stage, their energy is explosive, ricocheting between genres, engaging the audience, and beautifully mixing heavy music with lightheartedness.
As it turns out, they are also incredibly kind and gracious human beings. I was lucky enough to sit down with lead guitarist Bobby Chronic and lead singer Matt Roads (who goes by Roads). The following is a little history of the band and a little taste of their appeal:
You started everything off here at Cali Roots.
Bobby Chronic: It was a hell of an honor.
Matt Roads: Our thing is to give it all we have in terms of energy.
And you’re from Cleveland. What’s the scene like in Cleveland?
Roads: You’re looking at it [Laughs] It started for us as, “Let’s do something different,” because there’s not a lot of that going on. The jam band scene is big, like in the northeast. But in terms of reggae, not a whole lot going on. We’ve been lucky enough to forefront the scene.
Bobby: We have a lot of friends on the east coast, too, the wider you get, there’s a lot of good people.
Do you have a favorite place to play in Ohio?
Roads: Grog Shop is our home base, in our neighborhood.
Bobby: It’s an old punk bar kind of place.
Do you tour a lot?
Bobby: All the time. We’ll be out, maybe, 200 days this year.
I noticed the LAW Records and Passafire shirts on stage. Are you connected with them?
Roads: We’re on LAW Records, which is Pepper’s label. And we’re just fans of Passafire. We’d love to tour with them.
I think the sounds like a good match up.
Roads: Us too! [Laughs] I’ve listened to Passafire since I went to college, and the Submersible record did some shit to me. It’s amazing.
Yeah, like them, I think labeling your music is hard. It’s all over the place, but in a consistent way.
Bobby: I think that’s one of the best compliments we’ve gotten.
Roads: Thanks, man.
Bobby: It’s been a process over the last five or six years, kind of nailing down the eclectic individuality and putting together into one cohesive sound.
Did people come from different musical backgrounds?
Bobby: I used to go watch local shows when I was fresh out of high school. It snowballed, me being around enough and people being like, “We need a guitarist,” and I’m like, “Hell yeah! I need a band!” [Laughs]
You have a really dynamic style.
Bobby: It’s the only thing I’m good at. [Laughs]
Roads: The scene we have is tight knit, so you make connections quickly, too.
That’s how I feel here at this festival, and the audience has a lot of personal connections to the musicians.
Bobby: It’s badass.
Roads: We haven’t been out here much; hoping to get our feet wet. We just did San Diego. We’ll be playing Huntington Beach, and then coming out here on the Ballyhoo! tour. We got a splinter van and did a week or so in Colorado, playing with Wookiefoot. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them.
Only by name.
Bobby: They’re awesome.
Roads: They’re kind of like us, in the sense that it’s hip-hop, jam, reggae… but all very positive. They have a die hard fan base. They’re mostly in the midwest, from Minneapolis.
Bobby: Super cultured band. They switch costumes. They have a whole show.
Roads: A Pfunk sort of show.
Are you able to see other music?
Bobby: We’re leaving late tomorrow afternoon, to get to the next gig.
Roads: I’m psyched for Atmosphere tonight. 311 is one of our all time favorite bands too.
Anything you want to readers to know about?
Roads: Connect on our socials. It’s all about Spotify now.
Bobby: Spotfy is convenient, so organized and easy to find what you’re looking for.
They don’t pay, though, do they?
Roads: They do… It’s something like 1500 plays equals the same amount as a download. It’s a different world; Spotify has a strong control on the market.
Bobby: So different from when we were kids. Like, you could buy CDs or give your mom’s computer a virus because you’re downloading something. [Laughs]