LOCOBEACH is the musical moniker of the NYC supergroup comprised of José Luis Pardo on guitars/vocals (Los Crema Paraiso, Los Amigos Invisibles), Neil Ochoa on congas/percussion/electronics (Chicha Libre, Los Crema Paraiso), Joshua Camp on accordion/keyboards/vocals (Chicha Libre, C.A.M.P.O.S., One Ring Zero), Edward Marshall (La Muy Bestia Pop) on bass, and Fernando Valladares on timbales & drums (Guaco). The dynamic group has forged a sound blending cumbia pop and Latin disco with a psychedelic edge. Their debut album is aptly titled Psychedelic Disco Cumbia and is coming out on October 25, 2019 (Dorsal fin Records/Peace & Rhythm). The official record release party for New York will be on Halloween 2019 (details to come).
The tight-knit unit came together through collaborating with each other on other bands. Cheo Pardo met Joshua Camp when he was subbing for the legendary Chicha Libre, which Cheo got introduced to through Neil Ochoa. Joshua and Cheo clicked immediately and Joshua started inviting Cheo to play live for his C.A.M.P.O.S. project, which until then was a one man studio band. DJ Bongohead of Peace & Rhythm (which released the C.A.M.P.O.S. album Miracles & Criminals) had asked Joshua to form a live band in order to play the music of C.A.M.P.O.S. at a local music festival, and the band members had such a fun time playing together they decided to keep at it. The live playing eventually evolved into LOCOBEACH.
Cheo adds “those live shows were fun and marked the first LOCOBEACH shows. We wanted to keep going because we were having fun playing together. I wrote more for the band and after doing a fair share of live shows and getting the band tight we thought it was time to make a record. We wanted to work it old school; try the tracks live, make them tight, bulletproof and then get in to the studio.”
Neil, Edward, and Fernando joined in and rounded out the band. The results are diverse, fun, and infectious with classic cumbia meeting psychedelic rock, as well as disco, funk, and Latin house mixed with surf and spaghetti western influences to build a cohesive LOCOBEACH sound that equals “dance music for your brain.”
Psychedelic Disco Cumbia came to fruition in a very New York way between busy schedules and recording in tight spaces. Joshua elaborates, “Cutupra Studios, which is co-owned by Cheo and Neil, is a very small space, amazing considering the number of records Cheo has recorded and produced there. The bulk of this album in terms of basic tracks was recorded in just a few hours in the morning when we all had full schedules and quickly dispersed before even listening back to see what we captured. We were pleasantly surprised by the performances when we finally had a chance to listen back to that days work. It’s a testament to how tight we had gotten from all the live shows and the talent of the band and how good we all sound together in a very small room!” He adds, “This band reflects the diverse/international city that we all live and work in. The fact that you have musicians from Venezuela, the United States, and Mexico, working and writing together and bringing all of our different perspectives and commonalities to bear on the songwriting and sound. This can only happen in a place like New York!”
Many of the songs on the album strike a unique balance between classic cumbias, Latin dance music, and psychedelic influences. The kickoff track “Dream of the Bell Flower” really gets into the classic cumbias peruanas of groups like Los Mirlos, Los Wembler's and Los Destellos with a psychedelic guitar groove. The title is a reference to a family of flowers that grow in the Amazon all of which have various medicinal and hallucinogenic properties. “Six on the Stairway to Seven” is another composition with classic cumbias peruanas and 60’s psychedelic rock in mind. The title playing with references to some very famous classic rock songs, of course. “Javelin” comes from the point of view of the colonized and marginalized. Sung in English with a deeper message, but still a danceable vibe.
“The Devil is a Charmer” is a single already out and brings in some of the band’s favorite surf and spaghetti western influences on the tune; Ennio Morricone, The Ventures, and Dick Dale. The next single from the album is “Rata” which is influenced by chicha music. The song takes cues from the Peruvian scene and their use of electric guitars. The lyric refers to “so-called friends” that don’t behave and go behind your back, a.k.a. “rats.” For the DJs and late night sweaty vibes head to “Guaracheo” for a cumbia house track that goes off on the dancefloors.
The album is a perfect introduction to the LOCOBEACH sound, but only leaves you wanting to see them live. As Joshua states, “We are a well-oiled dance machine! People that have never heard of us before, will be up and dancing within the first song, we’re confident of that. At the end of the day we are a dance band and it’s our job to get the audience moving.” Catch them at a city near you as tour dates will be announced soon.
Photos by Andrew Greto.
And check out these official videos: