King Tuff "The Infinite Smiles Tour" with Tropa Magica

Event Date/Doors Open: 
Saturday, February 9, 2019 - 8:00pm
Event Time: 
9:00PM
Cost: 
$18 Advance, $20 Day of Show

            On Saturday, February 9, the Community Center for the Performing Arts and Alternative 103.7 KNRQ proudly welcome King Tuff’s “Infinite Smiles” Tour to the WOW Hall with special guests Tropa Magica.

When asked to describe the title track from his new record, Kyle Thomas — aka King Tuff — takes a deep breath.

“It’s a song about hitting rock bottom,” he says. “I didn't even know what I wanted to do anymore, but I still had this urge — this feeling — like there was this possibility of something else I could be doing… and then I just followed that possibility.  To me, that’s what songwriting, and art in general, is about.  You’re chasing something; there is something out there calling to you and you’re trying to get at it.  ‘The Other’ is basically where songs come from...  It’s the invisible hand that guides you whenever you make something.  It’s the thing I had to rediscover — the sort of voice I had to follow — to bring me back to making music again in a way that felt true and good.” 

After years of non-stop touring, culminating in a particularly arduous stint in support of 2014’s Black Moon Spell, Thomas found himself back in Los Angeles experiencing the flipside of the ultimate rock and roll cliché — that of an exhausted musician suddenly unsure where to go or what to do, held prisoner by a persona that he never meant to create, that bore little resemblance to the worn out person they now saw in the mirror.  Thomas was suddenly at odds with the storied rock and roll misfit mythology that he’d spent the past ten years, four full-length albums, a handful of EPs, and multiple live records, unwittingly bringing to life.

“At that point I had literally been on tour for years,” recalls Thomas.  “It was exhausting, physically and mentally.  At the end of it I was like, I just can't do this. I’m essentially playing this character of King Tuff, this crazy party monster, and I don’t even drink or do drugs. It had become a weird persona, which people seemed to want from me, but it was no longer me." 

Eventually, after being asked to play a handful of solo shows, Thomas began to see a way through to making new music. “I’d never played a show with just an acoustic guitar,” he says. “It just seemed like the scariest thing.  I knew I wanted to write some new songs that could stand up in that kind of setting, which really opened the door to a new way of working…  I just embraced the beauty of not knowing, which I think is where you get interesting things happening."

Thomas self-produced the record, as he did his debut, Was Dead, but on a far grander scale -- this time playing every instrument aside from drums and saxophone.  He pulled Shawn Everett (War On Drugs, Alabama Shakes) in to assist with the mixing process. "From the moment I started recording, it was like going home, like I had finally found myself again.”

The ten tracks that would eventually become The Other represent a kind of psychic evolution for the King Tuff.  No less hooky than previous records, the new songs ditch the goofy rock and roll bacchanalia narratives in favor of expansive arrangements, a diversity of instrumentation, and lyrics that straddle the fence between painful ruminations and reconnecting with that part of yourself that feels childlike and creative and not corroded by cynicism.

“The Other” is a narrative of redemption born of creativity.  As Thomas sings about being stuck in traffic, directionless, with no particular reason to be alive, he hears the call of “the other” -- a kind of proverbial siren song that, instead of leading towards destruction, draws the narrator towards a kind of creative rebirth.  

Elsewhere, tracks like “Through The Cracks” and “Psycho Star” balance psychedelia with day-glo pop hooks.  “The universe is probably an illusion, but isn’t it so beautifully bizarre?” he asks on “Psycho Star”, providing one of the record’s central tenets.  At a time when everything in the world feels so deeply spoiled and the concept of making meaning out of the void seems both pointless and impossible, why not try?

“I'm talking about things that I don't necessarily feel good about, that aren’t easy,” says Thomas, who views the record as a way to push back against that internal voice that so often keeps us from trying new things.

While it would be easy to think of The Other as a kind of reinvention for King Tuff, Thomas views the entire experience of the record as a kind of psychic reset, and something not totally removed from what he’s done in the past.

“I can’t help but sound like me,” he says. “It’s just that this time I let the songs lead me where they wanted to go, instead of trying to push them into a certain zone.  King Tuff was always just supposed to be me.  When I started doing this as a teenager, it was whatever I wanted it to be.  King Tuff was never supposed to be just one thing.  It was supposed to be everything.”

 

TROPA MAGICA

 

Pacheco Brothers, David and Rene, began their prolific music careers as Thee Commons; underdogs in the East L.A. music scene. Inspired by the Roots of Chicha compilations and the psych rock sounds coming out of Southern California, they embraced both worlds with open arms.  Unable to properly play “cumbia” rhythms, they quickly learned from their peers and gave their best interpretation of the genre -- a formula that would become their signature “psychedelic cumbia punk” sound.  This paradoxical approach, gregarious attitude, and live wire shows landed Tropa Magica slots on West Coast festival favorites, namely Coachella, Desert Daze and Tropicalia.  LA Weekly made it clear: "If Thee Commons aren’t the best live band in Los Angeles, they’re damn near the top.”  

However, after three LP’s and a collection of EP’s and singles, the brothers Pacheco decided to work on a different live and studio sound.  They were inspired by Django Reinhardt, Joan Sebastian, Edith Piaf, Meridian Brothers and obscure soundtracks by Nino Rota.  Yet, rather than start from scratch, the brothers expanded on their  sound and reshaped it with a cinematic, orchestrated and carnivalesque twist.  Focusing on their song craft, they began to experiment with different instrumentations and working with a myriad of studio musicians.

The brothers are now converting new and previous Thee Commons fan to join the Tropa Magica caravan.