There was a moment where the peculiar silence in the room was more of an unspoken agreement between those who were spectating. It was as if they were scratching their heads and thinking, “Why is this band playing here? Aren’t they already famous?”
As the band walked off stage they graciously thanked their overzealous mothers who appeared to be the only people in the bar, and sat down to have a word with me. It isn’t uncommon to find this band playing a last minute gig promoted solely through that day’s social media feed, and performing a set compiled of completely new material.
Stockton CA based Tragic Culture has been earning faithful fans since their inception in July 2010. “I have no idea what I am doing. I am just trying to get the song I hear in my head out.” Singer/songwriter Zach Cantu has been writing songs since he picked up his first acoustic guitar in 2003. It was a handful of musical affairs that lead drummer Joel Silveira to approach Cantu and pitch the idea of turning those songs into what would later become Tragic Culture.
Now, after local success with their self titled EP, they are headed to Proview Studios with producer Adam Ruppel to record what is their admitted,”…best music to date. Everything we have done, everything we have been through from our band to our personal lives,” (which could be considered the same thing since they live together), “is permeating through these songs. We found our sound.” Joel boasts about their anticipated follow up EP, Goodnight Parasite.
“Groove-Grunge.” Cantu’s response when asked, “What would you say best describes your guys’ new sonic identity?” They both laughed and admitted, “We always say we missed our musical decade in the 90’s.” These new songs have a way of pleasantly invading your personal space when you listen; from the first riff and relentless pounding of Media Slut, to the undeniable anthem-esque melodies of Young and Drunk, all the way to the unadorned confessions in Lost the Reigns, where you hear a more vulnerable Cantu than ever before. So much raw emotion comes through before the first lyrics are even born you already have an inclination as to what the song is about. Doused in poetic gasoline, and lit with a fire so deep within Cantu’s soul it’s impossible not to think his lyrics are your own. One thing is certain, every song takes you as the listener somewhere different and relatable, and that is what makes this band so special.
In the 2 short years they have been a band they have shared the stage at X Fest and found themselves opening up for acts such as 10 Years, Dredg, P.O.D., Everlclear, Eve 6, A Silent Film, Unwritten Law, and many more. TC has received airplay on their local rock station 96.7, and has moved roughly 1,000 of their own albums. An impressive feat considering they have only played a handful of local shows… oh yeah, and nobody buys music anymore.
Every generation has their voice, and I think it’s safe to say that Tragic Culture is a major contender for theirs. Their palpable aura while performing live is as if they are prisoners to their songs, and their only plea for innocence is to play them. No rehearsed choreography or pre meditated scripts. Just rock and roll, or “groove-grunge” as they would call it. “Our goals? Tour. That’s it. It’s time to show these songs to the world,” Joel states. “If the songs are good enough and we do what we love, everything else will fall into place. Our only aspirations are to be able to do it for a living.” If you are fortunate enough to see them in an intimate venue before their potential becomes reality, do it… and do it fast.
Columnist for Digital Rapture