Six-piece Cleveland band, Tropidelic, stays true to their core by emitting the positive energy that they have cultivated within and creating atmospheres of acceptance for their fans that have morphed into family. Blending genres fluidly and dabbling into untapped realms of instrumental eccentricity, the free-spirited guys dream-up and produce mysterious head-trips in the form of music that carries an original feel. I caught up with vocalist, Matthew Roads, to discuss bringing ‘Heavy Is The Head’ to life, touring with 311, the band’s classic take on vehicles for the road, tattoos, and more.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of ‘Heavy is the Head’. Intriguing title. Tell us about the route you guys took when songwriting and the overall creative process behind the album.
We combined our efforts more than we ever have in the past. The album features songs written by several members. We did more refining and filtering on this record than on any other project. We definitely feel like we are hitting our stride as far as our writing but the listeners are the true judge of that. We’ll see.
Are you guys still touring in the renovated school bus? Give us the lowdown on how you created that masterpiece of a vehicle/home on the road.
Pags, our bass player, is very handy and has built out our last few tour units. We don’t have the school bus anymore but currently tour in a renovated airport shuttle, complete with seven bunks fitted with lights and cell phone chargers. We also have an onboard hard drive with a closed wifi and tv in the common area. Pags did it all!
If you could either have a conversation with yourself as a child or yourself as a wizened senior citizen, which would you choose and why?
This is a good question. You could prevent a lot of bad shit from happening with either one. I’m going to look at it mathematically and assume I have more life to live than I have already lived. I’d talk to the senior citizen and see what bullshit I could avoid in the next 40 or 50 years.
You guys are currently on tour and have played a few dates with 311. What is your favorite 311 album dating all the way back to ‘Music’ in 1993 and ‘Grassroots’ in 1994 and why?
My favorite album is ‘Transistor’ with ‘Evolver’ at a close second. These albums carried me through such a wild part of my life and the songs still resonate with me today. They probably always will. We just got off the shows with 311. It was an amazing opportunity that we are grateful for.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the tattoo artists that you worked with to bring the pieces to life.
I have a portrait of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse on my left leg and the outline of a buffalo along the right side of my ribs. I’ve always been into lighthouses. Cape Lookout is actually one of the few I haven’t been to on the East Coast and has a unique design to it. Half of my family is from the Buffalo, New York, yet the image of the buffalo itself is also something I’ve always liked. Those are my two most recent pieces so maybe that’s why I’m partial to those. Clint Marshman at War Horse Ink in Kent, Ohio tattooed both pieces and has been my guy recently. It’s a dope shop that always has good vibes.
Let’s dig into your roots. If we were to take a trip to your hometown, where do we visit for the best music and food?
Cleveland is definitely on an upswing at the moment. Our favorite music venue is probably Grog Shop or House of Blues. There are tons of great places to eat in the Tremont neighborhood and downtown. A musician’s budget doesn’t afford a lot of fine dining but I know the city has a lot of that to offer.
What practices do you engage in to maintain a state of mindfulness and calm while on the road and away from home?
We try to sleep. Some of us work out. I recently hit my year mark of sobriety! I don’t even know how I did it before. Staying clear and focused just makes for better decisions and less anxiety.
As you are quite seasoned and experienced, what words of wisdom can you share with kids just picking up an instrument or a mic in hopes of traveling a similar road as yours?
Unless you have a great team behind you with a great plan, get ready for at least a 5-10 year journey before you see any sort of significant success. There are exceptions to every rule. Some acts blow up overnight, most do not. Align your expectations with reality. Chances are nobody is going to pluck you out of suburbia USA and make all your rockstar dreams come true. You make your dreams come true.
If any, what other artistic mediums do you engage in that influence your artistry as a musician?
It’s mostly all music. I dig art and movies too. Since things have picked up, I’ve become more interested in video directing and presentation. For the most part though, music, lots of music.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
I’m not big on that word. We have fam. We love you, fam.