The power trio
The music nerds of La Dolce Vita gear up for their first tour
As I head up the steps of Jake Sprecher’s front porch, I can hear the La Dolce Vita drummer through the wall singing what sounds like an old barber shop quartet number. When my first round of knocks go unheard, I try again. There’s some shuffling and Sprecher opens the door, sweeping his hand back through his mane of hair: “What’s up?”
Sprecher’s in the middle of something, which isn’t surprising since he and the other members of La Dolce Vita, singer/guitarist Daniel Paggi and bassist Ginny Eck, always seem to be recording, playing or listening to music—and when they’re not, well, then they’re talking about it.
I’m barely inside the house before the lanky drummer offers me a pair of headphones. I fasten them to my skull and I can hear Sprecher’s four-part harmony coming through the speakers. New La Dolce Vita material? Unlikely, but definitely not out of the realm of possibility given the trio’s growing reputation in Chico as the band that is almost impossible to categorize.
But after getting to know the members of La Dolce Vita—extremely down-to-earth people with sheer, unadulterated musical nerdiness—the “impossible to categorize” part makes sense.
Paggi draws influence from the Beatles and Afro-Cuban music, as well as San Diego melancholy pop trio Pinback, while Eck, who learned the violin at age 7 and also plays stand-up bass, has a penchant for punk rock. And all three, aside from their wide range of musical tastes, also played in high school bands in addition to studying music.
Not surprising, Sprecher cites some of rock music’s notorious heavy-hitters as influences—Bonham, Grohl, Tré Cool—and going back to his days of taking drum lessons, he shows me an old notebook scrawled with drum charts that look more like algebraic equations than music. It makes my head hurt just looking at it, but you can’t argue with the results. Songs like “Shake 1,000” and “Solefege Dynamite” are bristling with multiple parts and odd-time signatures. It’s enough to keep the average listener off balance, but fret not—there’s plenty of rock there in, too.
Eck finally arrives and Sprecher throws Pavement’s Terror Twilight (a fine choice) on the hi-fi while we talk about the band’s upcoming West Coast jaunt with instrumental three-piece Birds Of Fire.
“The strongest feeling I have right now is I wish it would start tomorrow,” Sprecher says of the tour. “We’ve been talking about it since June and it seems like it’s never going to actually happen. You know when you get a concert ticket way ahead? I feel like my ticket will either burn in a fire or I’ll lose it or something, it doesn’t seem like it’ll actually happen.”
When the tour finally does begin Jan. 8, it will finally give the members of La Dolce Vita their first taste of life on the road. It will also give them an excuse to do nothing but play music as they cram themselves and their gear into a 12-seater tour van with Birds Of Fire and head down the West Coast, playing 13 shows in about as many days.
It’s doubtful that it will be their last extended tour as they look to have a full album’s worth of material they hope will be completed by the end of February. Not bad for a band that started only about a year ago.
Then again, any future success the band may enjoy all comes back to the three individuals involved. Sprecher probably sums it up the best: “I guess there are no secrets to tell. What you see is what you get.”