Two days ago East L.A's Tropa Magica, formerly known as Thee Commons, stopped by Las Vegas to play at the Bunkhouse Saloon as they currently make their way across the country to promote their new self-titled album, "Tropa-Magica".
Tropa Magica, made up of David and Rene Pacheco, embodies that modern tropi-punk sound with underlining traditional sounds of cumbia that your tios and tias could get down to. This new self-titled album definitely reflects a more mature sound for the Pacheco brothers and it contains great songs like "La Flor", "Doña Verano" and "KoopaCabras". Esta pa' que te pongas a bailar!
I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Tropa Magica at the Bunkhouse Saloon while sitting in the green room area and this is what David and Rene had to say:
Desert of My Eye (Pao): Hello guys, how are you? First of all, how was Tropicalia last week?
David Pacheco: Tropicalia was kind of cool, you know, it was kind of weird playing Tropicalia because of the boycott going on in Mexicali. We played early and it was a twenty minute set. It was incredible. You know they get the right bands together, but it's commercialized and corporatized so there is that element of it. It's definitely a good eclectic mix of everything that is going on the Latino community.
Rene Pacheco: It's like they are recognizing the force to be reckoned with.
D.O.M.E: We are the force to be reckoned with!
David: However, there is a lack of Latinos behind the scenes putting the festivals together.
D.O.M.E: Yeah, that is so true. So you guys recently kicked off your tour. How was it?
David: Technically tonight is our first show, last night did not happen. I was really sick, but it gave me time to recuperate. We actually got a twelve passenger van so we took out the seats so we could sleep in it. It's four of us, traveling musicians. We got Jason Juarez on bass and Dan G. on piano. This is the first night he will play live with us. Let's see how that goes.
D.O.M.E: Nice! What are you guys looking forward to doing on tour not only here, but in El Paso as well?
David: We have back to back shows. We really don't have time to rest. The only day off we got off is Thanksgiving, but I am looking forward to trying some good food in El Paso. We always have homies out there that go and support us. This is the first tour we do in which we are headlining as Tropa. It's obviously a test to us and seeing how the reception with the name change is and all. It's all a rebranding.
D.O.M.E: Yeah, before we get into the new music, how has it been with the name change and how have people been receiving it?
David: It's a growing process. You in a sense, have to educate your audience base because they will be like, "play Wampiro" or "play Work it Out" and we don't mind playing them because it's our songs, but we are trying to get them into the Tropa stuff.
Rene: We are definitely trying to walk a lot of people over. A lot of that has to do with transitions and algorithms (laughs). You can only reach out to so many people. You can't just post anymore and everybody will know. For the most part it has been very positive.
David: Our goal is to get Tropa Magica at the level that Thee Commons was. Just trying to stay relevant, trying to put new material out and touring.
Rene: It's beyond just a name change, we are also trying to grow.
David: Yeah, we are actually going to release a song next Wednesday as we are touring. Only Rene and I know the song and our musicians will have to learn it. I showed it to them this morning and they liked it. But you know, that's the mentality we are at. Gotta keep going and releasing.
D.O.M.E: I totally see it. By the way, thank you for sending me the new album ahead of time. I loved it! I wish more bands would do this kind of music. How was making this album different to your previous work?
David: When we switched from Thee Commons to Tropa Magica the idea was to get our autonomy back. It seemed as though we lost the reigns a little bit with our manager and our booking agent as Thee Commons. They were catering to an idea they had in mind of success. It didn't make sense to us.
Rene: With a name like Thee Commons like if my tio or tia heard that they would be like "Que chingados es eso?" and walk right through it but with a name like Trop Magica it's like "Ay wey, hay viene un circo hay sue ver que onda." When we decided to call it Tropa Magica it was something that meant a lot to us.
David: Going back to your question, making this album was different to the others because it was a transition.
Rene: It was going beyond a three piece. With this last album we got a four-piece together and see what sound would come out of that.
David: For the new album, we were working with a guy who had better recording equipment (as compared to the one they used for the first EP after changing their name.) It's a trip how we recorded the last two singles because....
Rene: You know we are learning to streamline what instruments we are playing and who is playing them that way we could produce it faster.
David: Yeah, Rene's song is going to be more complex. He is more detailed as an artist and as a painter. He wants to bring violins and saxophones and mine are more to the point. Let's record in two days. (laughs)
Rene: We just teach other.
David: The difference from the last album is that we have grown as singers and as song-writers. The self-titled album is a way for us to get together and work and have that deadline. You know as Latinos we need that deadline. This tour was our deadline to do all the upcoming stuff. It's a lot of work, but it is fun.
Rene: The beautiful thing is we got each other and there is no failure in that. We continue to grow.
The show was wonderful and I hope people check them out! Saquen las cumbias!
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