Is Tropical have been making waves over the past twelve months, what with dropping their fantastic debut Native To and being responsible for ‘The best video ever.’ I caught up with the mysterious trio backstage at Manchester’s Deaf Institute to talk tour mates, Pizza Hut and The Only Way is Essex.
Leah: You guys have played the likes of Sheffield and Cardiff on this tour, how has it been so far? Good receptions?
Simon: Yeah, well the best was probably Nottingham which we played on a Friday night so everyone was out and pretty much on it.
L: Had you played at that venue before?
S: No but we’ve played a few other places down there like Stealth and Rescue Rooms. Stealth is really good, we played there on the New Young Pony Club tour and it’s just a hollow ship and where bands play is below deck underwater.
L: Amaze! So, Canada and America next, are you looking forward to heading out there and playing to some fresh crowds?
S: We have a little bit of France as well! But we’ve still got some of this UK left like York, Glasgow and Liverpool.
L: My hometown!
Dom: What, you’re from Liverpool? I should have known with the accent!
Yeah but now I’m up here for uni its fading away, my Nan kicked off about it and wanted me to go home for the weekend…
S: Grandma’s always are overprotective! Your accent sounds quite Hollyoaks actually…
L: No it doesn’t! Do you get a chance to explore the cities that you get to play in?
S: We do try to, we’ve learnt that turning up a few hours earlier and getting a look around is better. We found a good vintage shop yesterday actually, it was called The Cow but, yeah, I made some bad life decisions in there…
S: A little bit, but they had this whole section with £1 t-shirts in and stuff and I got like this old lady style jumper.
L: You’d look like the queen in that with your blonde hair! I’ve only been to London once actually and saw her house and stuff
D: It’s a palace not a house!
S: YOU JUST GOT SKUNKED!
L:What is skunked?
S: We’ve said it so much the past few days; it’s like when someone gets owned. I just think we’re going mental and have lost track of the real world on tour.
L: Moving on from that note, you’ve played here at Deaf Institute before, right? Do you like this venue?
S: I love it it’s one of my favourite venues. The wallpaper with the faces on as you come backstage is £1000 a roll! The shop that sells it is Boy George’s shop in London and they had it on Geordie Shore in the house too.
L:You watch Geordie Shore?!
S: Yeah! Gaz is a ledge, he was out having threesomes on the Magaluf one and his poor mate couldn’t get laid.
Dom: They are doing Merseyshore…I think they should do Wakeyshore next, there are some characters back in Wakefield.
L: So, the last time I saw you guys live was at Dot to Dot here in Manchester, did you get to see any other bands on the bill?
S: We saw a band called Dom who became like our best mate after five minutes and Get People too, they are a wicked band from London who let us crash at their friends house in Bristol- I think they are on tour with The Wombats at the moment.
They may be Scouse but they are still a bit shit…
Dom: The Wombats are scouse?! I see one of them every morning walking down my street.
S: Hahaha, we got to watch Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs too, who we really like.
Dom: Look at what I have just found on my laptop! It is cats’ meowing outside my house. It sounds like an alien impostor.
L: Dom, pay attention! Your next single ‘Lies’ has a pretty sexual video, where did the idea for this come from?
S: To be honest with you, we originally had a completely different idea and wanted it to be really homo-erotic at first
Dom: Like a gay Orgy!
S: But we just wanted to go a bit Lady Gaga with it and go for the whole gay vibe but then it turned into a sexy female vibe, which I now realise is probably better, although, the last two videos are not going to get anywhere near TV. Its all over anyway, they don’t even play music on those channels anymore, its just all ‘Hollyoaks later’.
What’s with the constant cropping up of ‘Hollyoaks’?
D: We really want to be in the background having a drink at the SU bar!
L: Back to the controversy, your album artwork when folded out features a naked woman, explain this you perverts!
S: Well without sounding cringey or anything, most art is quite controversial anyway. Its not like nudity is anything new. We got it from a guy called Ellis Scott who does a lot of our press shots, he just had this folder full of pictures that he’s taken in the past and one of them was really similar to what we used for the final artwork. We just recreated it. I think the original photo was one of his ex girlfriends.
L: Awkward! I have to inevitably ask about your masks, when you combine them with the live projections are you aiming for a visual experience on stage, rather than just a run of the mill performance?
S: Yeah, we just want to do it really dark and really loud with the masks. Its better than just having a Punch and Judy stage scenario where the bands put no effort in, we want every sense of everyone in the room feeling something. It’s mad though that every time we play Sheffield, someone tries to have a conversation with us mid-gig whilst we are playing. I once had this forty-year old woman hovering behind me asking what we were called and last night, Dom had some guy who wouldn’t leave him alone when he was drumming.
D: I had to high five him just to get him to leave me alone…
L: Grab your coat, Dom! Also, you have toured with the likes of Egyptian Hip Hop and Teeth! in the past, would you say you take influences from these bands within your own music?
Gary: We just rip everyone off!
S: Whoever we’re off on tour with always ends up influencing us, even subconsciously. It’s just going to happen if you’re spending that much time with people.
D: It’s basically becoming friends with people and just allowing your mate to borrow your clothes or whatever.
S: We met Teeth! on the NYPC tour and ended up sharing a van but it was weird because, on the first day we were all ‘I’m sure I recognise you’ to Simon from the band (Teeth!) and it turns out, he is a part time transvestite and we had sat on his lap hugging him when we went to a gay bar one night, small world! And with Egyptian Hip Hop, the media tried to pitch the whole North/South divide thing around us but we just got on really well; they’re great guys. I think some of them are coming down tonight actually so that should be good.
L: Which new bands are you all championing at the moment?
S: Get People who we mentioned before, you should definitely check them out. Age Of Consent who is Dom’s flatmate and Shitdisco’s new band. We are also really into Crystal Fighters and Abe who are sick- they named themselves after that old Playstation game ‘Abe’s Odyssey’, you should look them up!
As well as bands you do like, there is surely a few that you just cannot bear?
G: We don’t waste our time and energy on bands we dislike, why would anyone?
S: Actually, I might just say Swim Deep because they are so hot. They are lads from Birmingham who are just ridiculously good looking, they have like chiselled jaws and are the type of people who just cut the air when they walk into a room. They might be coming down later actually cos Zack is studying in Manchester I think, so, yeah, we will introduce you!
D: Man, we sound like the biggest homo band ever in this interview!
L:Get the glitter out, that could be an influence for the next album! Looking forward into 2012, what are your plans for over the next year?
S: Well after America, we are touring up until Christmas and then we’re just basically going to go on a big holiday. Then in January we’re planning to tour Japan. We’ve played there before but we went just after the tsunami so it was weird seeing all the lights hardly on because of energy saving and stuff. I loved it though because they were really grateful that we went over there when a lot of other bands had cancelled their tours. They are a quiet crowd though and they drink. A LOT.
L: Do you have any rituals before you go on-stage?
D: We pray to Satan!
S: Like Kurt Cobain. He got in loads of trouble when he was young for graffitiing ‘Jesus is Gay’, hero.
L: What is the best rider you’ve ever received at a venue?
S: In Sweden about a month ago, we got loads of cigarettes and cameras and so much booze and continental cheeses and stuff. They went all out for us which was pretty nice of them.
L: Who is your guilty pleasure?
Gary: Taio Cruz!
S: The Only Way is Essex!
L: I love how Arg can’t get rid of his man boobs yet just doesn’t join a gym…
S: Kirk is my favourite!
D: I don’t think music should be considered guilty really. Even Cher Lloyd, I just don’t like her.
S: Like that new Loco People song!
L: Or Benni Bennassi’s new one. It’s like ‘You are a cinema’ or something
D: You are a cinema? Lyrical genius right there…
G: Cheryl Cole!
L: Don’t you have a Cheryl Cole tattoo?
S: Or Afroman- Colt 45 is amazing.
L: Prior to the band, what was the worst jobs you all endured?
D: Pizza Hut. For a day. They put me on salad bar because they thought that would be easy but then they ran out of cherry tomatoes so it was all downhill from there really.
G: I used to artificially inseminate chickens when I lived in the country.
L :What, like actually do the deed?
G: Yeah, back when I lived in the country. It was like 5:30am, go down to the farm and look at a few Chickens penises.
L: Swiftly moving on, what is the weirdest thing you’ve ever received off a fan?
G: Back in the day, we got this painting that was our faces cut out of Myspace photos, stuck onto stickman bodies with a bumble bee in Simon’s eye. It was so weird though.
D: (adopts creepy accent) It took me four hours to get the shading right on your top lip.
S: Hahaha! I’ve only shaved the rest of this facial effort off today, I’m just left with my ‘tache now. Have you heard of the beard growing championships? Where you grow your beard? I did that but just took it a bit too far…
D: There is a Chinese guy who can make his beard grow 1cm in 24hours. Fact.
L: It’s like something on Guinness World Records
S: Yeah, like, ‘who can pop their eye out furthest’.
L: Finally, do you have an interesting on-tour story that will forever be emblazoned into our brains?
S: Our tour manager ran over an old lady in Cardiff the other day, serious.
G: We crash a lot and always break the van. We were at a festival in France and I was driving at 6am fucked and thought it would be funny to drive into a fence. And then I reversed into a huge stage tent, bad move.
D: I vomited on a child in McDonalds once.
S: We were in Italy and there was this little kid in the pushchair who must’ve been about 18months old and Dom was trying to squeeze into the que and then as the kid looked up he just vomited all over this unsuspecting child.
L: Well on that splendid mental image, I’ll leave it there! Thanks guys!
Follow Is Tropical on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/istropical
And tumblr: http://istropical.tumblr.com/ and make sure you buy their amazing debut ‘Native To’, out now on Kitsune.
Interview by Leah Connolly