Tapioca and the Flea invites you party with them. Their music is so exclusive that you need to see them live listen to all of their tracks as their brilliant beats can be heard nowhere else. With the exception of ‘Mellotron’ which is available for free download on their official site. Get on the guest-list and join a band with music so contagious and uplifting that you could be as emotionless as stone and they will still have you moving three minutes later.
With TATF you’re welcomed to chill with them, drink with them, and laugh with them. As a, warning you may not remember the night. Maybe.
Here is the interview on the last night of their December residency at The Constellation Room.
You guys are from the OC or are you a local band?
Sam: We’re from Orange County and LA. I grew up in Orange County, me and Frank did. And I moved out to LA probably 4 years ago, 4 or 5 years ago.
So when you have shows, do you see all your friends from High School coming?
Sam: When I play here in Orange County yeah.
That’s pretty cool. You went to High School and now you’re a rockstar.
Sam: Well not yet.
Well on the way there.
Describe your music in one sentence.
Alright. Describe psychwave.
Sam: You only get one sentence.
That’s just a word.
Sam: You can’t describe music in one sentence.
Well no you really can’t. Or, how would I tell people this is the type of music that they play?
Sam: Party-time? We make music to dance to. Music that’s gonna make you smile; have a good time. Our music is always changing. You can’t just describe it in one sentence because it’s always evolving.
So then, how long have you guys been a band?
What can fans expect when they go to your shows?
Ronnie: Black shirts.
Sam: A good time. Dancing. Fun. Expect a lot of bass. A lot of beats. Expect to be close to me in the front row.
What is the story behind the band’s name?
Sam: The band’s name was an inside joke. A make believe band that I pretended to be in for a year before I even started the band. It was kinda like a name that I would use to post music on Myspace. So I would make songs just for fun, mixing weird genres and shit. Mixing like hip-hop beats with like psychedelic music. I would put it online, just to give to my friends. Then over time after touring with different band and stuff I decided that I wanted to not be in the shadows anymore as like a hired gun. I wanted to be frontman for my own band; playing my own songs. I started playing by myself solo with a bunch of pedals, and different keyboards and things like that. After a few months of playing by myself, I decided that I wanted a full band. I had been living with Ronnie and Matt for a couple years. I knew Frank since we were sixteen. So it just made sense to have all my homies in the band.
That’s a very specific, very random name, “Tapioca and the Flea.” But it’s unique, it really stands out.
Sam: That was the whole idea. I wanted something that didn’t make sense. I hate band names that have some sort of significant meaning. You know? I didn’t want to like think too much into it. I just wanted to have something that was weird and would make you question it but at the sametime you won’t forget it because it’s so weird.
What I love about it is that it doesn’t give any preconceived notion of what the band sounds like or is. A lot of bands will be a certain name and you kind of like…
Like it limits them based off of the name they choose?
Sam: Yeah. Totally. Like Tapioca and the Flea you can’t compare that with anything because it doesn’t exist. What the fuck is Tapioca and the Flea? And that’s exactly what our music is. It’s something that doesn’t exist. We’re trying something that doesn’t exist. We’re trying something different. It’s whatever you want it to be. It’s whatever it means to you.
When are you guys having more shows?
Sam: We’re touring in February with Young the Giant. We’re going to Austin, TX for a festival called South by Southwest and that’s in March. So this is basically our last show until…late February. Then we’re going to have a release show for the single that we did with Crystal Castles. Then after that, it’s just tour, tour, for a couple months. So after South by Southwest I think we might come back here and do another headline show or we might still be on the road.
What has been your largest show to date?
Sam: It would either be Jubilee Fest which we did last summer. Or the first show we ever had which was opening up for Young the Giant here. It was sold out. Like 1500 people.
So how does that work out? You’re relatively unknown but you ended up opening up for Young the Giant.
I used to be in this band that toured with Young the Giant. I did two tours with them and we just became really close friends. We wound up as best friends with Eric, the guitarist from Young the Giant. We’ve just been the closest friends since. So when I decided to quit the band that I was in and do this band, they were totally supportive. All about it. They had heard the tracks while I was on tour with them before I even had the band. Really supportive. So when that show came, you know, it was their choice to pick whoever they wanted to open. I had just got the band together, we play like a couple of really small shows and they’re like, “ You guys wanna open?”. We’re like, “Yeah. Totally.”
Wait. So was that nerve wracking then? Because you kinda went from small shows to like…
Sam: A little. I have experience playing big shows. I opened for them before in other bands. It was nerve wracking, only because now I was in the front. Versus, hiding behind my keyboards and stuff. So that was a little nerve wracking. And also I was like, sick as fuck. Really sick that day. It was awful. I was chugging whiskey and honey the entire time. I couldn’t…I didn’t talk to anyone and as soon as I finished I curled up in a ball and just went to sleep.
What is the most interesting thing that a fan has done or said to the band?
Sam: Early on we had this really sweet girl come to one of our shows and she had made her own Tapioca and the Flea T-shirt. It was like puffy paint. It was really cool. She was front row and we literally had like five people in the crowd. No one even knew who we were but she did. She heard one of the songs on the internet. Just last week or the week before, this dude Mike. He’s an awesome, awesome dude, he’s been supporting us for so long. He comes to every single show. He actually had his own T-Shirt made. It was legit. It had TATF, in red, in our logo. Then it had a bowl of tapioca with like a little cartoon flea, like chillin’ in the middle.
They had merch on sale on the last night of the show. The next time you see them you can purchase one of their T-Shirts. (P.S. The T-Shirt design is different from Mike’s)
Everything else remains off the record.
On a side note. It is highly recommended that they play at the Secret Garden Party in the UK this summer. So shoot the Secret Garden Party music team or another festival similar to that an email recommending TATF.