Set to announce themselves with their pop noir debut album later this year, brand new Irish duo Dark Tropics dropped their cinematic single, Badlands last Friday. Gerard and Rio spoke with The Fountain in more detail about how the band came about and the new track.
TF: How did your band, Dark Tropics come about?
Gerard: “I’d been on the look out for a singer for a while. Just over a
year ago I saw an ad online from a singer based in Belfast looking to
perform live in a jazz band. Although I didn’t want to play jazz I
thought it was intriguing so I messaged Rio and she emailed me back from
Morocco where she was volunteering and seemed interested. She sent me
this really jazzy voice note of her singing Crazy by Gnarls Barkley
acapella. It sounded beautifully strange so we organised to meet on her
return. At our first meeting we discovered a mutual appreciation of
Radiohead and The Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil and
decided to try recording something.”
Rio: “The first time we actually met I was just out of work, my manager
had made me re-set half the restaurant because the salt and pepper were
on the wrong sides so I was not only horrendously nervous but also late
(very typical of me). I was surprised at how well we got on and how much
we had to talk about! As soon as we met I abandoned the jazz band I was
planning on busking with.”
TF: What is the story behind the name ‘Dark Tropics’?
Gerard: “Finding a good band name that hasn’t been used is close to
impossible. I had the name ‘Dark Tropics’ for a while and really wanted
the opportunity to use it. The name suits the songs we’ve written
perfectly. It feels totally right for the music.”
Rio: “Gerard had the name planned out already, but I felt it fit almost
instantly; everything about my life is nature, from my travel
destinations, to my tattoos, to my childhood. Why wouldn’t this?”
TF: How would you sum up your music in one sentence?
TF: Which themes inspired your debut single, Badlands?
Rio: “The lyrics were very much inspired by classic American Westerns,
with the music being drawn more from film noir and dark speakeasy piano
ballads. We thought we could marry those opposing themes and we think
Gerard: “Badlands is our attempt to capture the feel of an epic western
in a 3 minute pop song.”
TF: Which artists have been your greatest influences and why?
Gerard: “Melody always wins…… Radiohead, Dylan, PJ Harvey, Patsy
Cline, Dr Dre, Paul Simon, Aretha, Stones, Beatles, Al Green, R.E.M.,
Bjork, Nick Drake, Aphex Twin, Rage, Bowie, Frank Ocean, Antony and the
Rio: “Kyron Bourke definitely, and Hannah Gill, Sarah Vaughan, Chet
Baker, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Bjork, David Bowie, Radiohead, The
Smiths, The Velvet Underground, Marilyn Manson, Swans, Aurora- the list
TF: Do you have plans to tour outside of Ireland anytime soon?
Gerard: “Yes. We intend to play our first London show at the beginning of
the summer and follow that with a UK tour by the end of the year.”
TF: What else can we expect from Dark Tropics in 2020?
Gerard: “We will finish our debut album and start work on a film
documenting our first year writing and recording together. The first
half of 2020 will see us release a series of singles and videos and we
also aim to work on making our shows a unique experience with original
stage designs and lighting.”