One theory on South Florida's thriving local music scene is that once you're down here, it's kind of hard to get out. Lots of bands end up keeping their tours within Florida's borders. That's why it's so ska-tastic that Hialeah's Stop the Presses is determined to break out of this steamy shell.
Crossing the Georgia line and far, far beyond, Stop the Presses is looking to spread its RV's wings all the way to California in support of its glowing EP, Eskalando. But before hitting the road, the gang couldn't be more excited to open up for the Slackers. It just might be the most romantic Valentine's Day ska gig of all time. Before Stop the Presses takes off for the great unknown, we talked to guitarist Danny Portilla and lead vocalist and keyboard player Ali Culotta to check in about their local recording process, why they tour so big, and how you can help them celebrate it all on Valentine's Day.
New Times: You guys are gearing up for a big tour, right?
Danny Portilla: We are going on a 17-day tour of the West Coast which is really cool. Part of it is going to be doing a couple of ska things at South by Southwest. We are doing two different parties out there and then we are playing six shows all throughout California, north and south, then moving on to Colorado all the way across to D.C. It's kind of crazy.
A lot of South Florida bands tour outside of Florida, but not too far. What motivates you to go that far?
Ali Culotta: We kind of have the means to do it right now because we have the RV. And then we are already out there in Texas.
Danny: California and Florida are the states. Those are the places where people are really into the reggae/ska thing. We need to go where the market is for us.
Ali: We are already half way, might as well go the rest.
Since our last interview, Eskalando dropped. How is post EP-life?
Danny: I love that record. People have been really impressed with it and really happy with it. We have sold a crap load of them. Like a lot. Which is really cool. People have just been behind it. The record is still a newer record, so that's what the tour is for -- to get it out. We did the half loop before and now we are going for the full loop with the record.
Tell me about the experience of keeping all the recording local with Ferny at the Shack in Hialeah.
Ali: I love recording. I love Ferny. The sack is like home, it's a lot of fun.
Danny: There are these amazing instruments and pieces of equipment that are all vintage and specialty. We can just go in there and be like "what's that?" And he has this this brilliant method of offering direction and not giving it. I can't explain it, and it's always perfect.
How do you represent Hialeah when you are out on tour?
Danny: We always say we are from Hialeah, not Miami. There is a distinction. And every now and then you find a person that knows the distinction and that's beautiful to us.
Ali: Usually someone has gotten their car stolen or something and they are like "I've been there." And we say yeah, that's Hialeah!
Danny: We usually try to represent just he whole beginning to end thing of representing the people who have helped us get to where they are. Like my dear friend Dave who did the artwork for Eskalando and the shirt series with a local screen printer. You get the word out about all the people who were involved as much as possible and say that there is a fucking whole thing down here that people need to come check out.
Why is the upcoming Valentine's Day gig opening up for the Slackers so important to you?
Ali: Well first of all, the Slackers is both of our favorite band. I love the Slackers. They are an amazing band. Every time they come I am so thrilled as a fan and to get to play with them is even more special. Annnnd Danny and I have been together for 5 years on Valentine's day. Which is really sweet.
Danny: The Slackers have a lot of different kinds of songs but they have a lot of love songs and heartbreak songs and that kind of stuff. But they always keep everything very danceable which really is an amazing talent. That's why it's so amazing to see them live because it really moves the whole room and I think it is the perfect Valentine's date. I can't come up with a single thing more special that people in our circle would want to do for Valentine's Day. Churchill's those delicious chicken fingers and seasoned fries with cheese and drinks to the best band you can possibly want to dance to.
Stop The Presses Valentine's Day with the Slackers, Friday, February 14, Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave, in Miami. Doors 8 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m. $11 presale, $13 at the door. 18 plus. For more on Stop the Presses' tour dates, check out the Facebook page.