Slap in the face
Redfield Clipper Band
Armed with hamsa symbols, shirts emblazoned with pot leaves and a melodica, the Redfield Clipper Band throws around metaphysical notions and profanities in the same breath, surrounding the quintet of 20-somethings with a nouveau Dazed and Confused vibe.
Formed in 2012, the five-piece band is assembled from current and former music students of the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently, the lineup consists of Mac “the Duke of Blunts” Esposito on the bass, Nicholas “Redfield Clipper” Mills on guitar, Domenico “Nico” Lacala on trumpet and keyboard, Chris “C. Sex Money” Sexton on piano, and Greg Lewis on the drums, with almost all of the group contributing vocally.
The group’s work is multi-dimensional in content and mercurial in sound. The group’s body of work ranges from funky and easily palatable to complex and cerebrally dissonant.
A self-described “eclectic, hip-hop, jam band,” the group radiates a distinctiveness that refuses to be readily packaged and shelved into one specific genre. Much of their music blends groovy bass lines with catchy hooks and edgy rap verses, while taking hazy detours through other styles like math rock and experimental jazz.
“We have everything to bring to the table,” said Sexton. “We’ve got at least one thing in our set that will appeal to anyone.”
But the members don’t seem too concerned about becoming everyone’s cup of tea.
“When I’m composing music, my intention is to get my message through my music to people like a slap in the face,” said Esposito. “I want people to wake up. And that’s what people do. They wake up—or they leave the room. It’s always one or the other.”
The band is influenced by a myriad of musical sources, spanning an entire spectrum of styles, from Hiatus Kaiyote to 1970s film music, from Indian ragas to Kendrick Lamar.
But one of the biggest impacts on the band’s songwriting comes from a background in jazz, albeit more in a theoretical, abstract sense than in aural characteristics. It has emboldened and diversified their musical writing, instead of rigidly defining their work.
“Jazz isn’t a boxed genre,” says Mills. “It’s a medium. It’s a tool.”
Along with being in the Redfield Clipper Band, each member plays in at least one other ensemble, often in other groups that are strongly established in Reno, such as The Pretty Unknown, Bazooka Zoo and the Mark Sexton Band.
Being a part of the expanding output of creativity in Reno has been important for all of the band members as individuals.
“The music scene as a whole in Reno constantly has rising potential,” said Lacala. “There’s still bands from here that I’ve never heard of before. It’s the reason why I stay, even after I graduated.”
The Redfield Clipper Band provide its members with an outlet for more experimental ideas.
“Whenever we play, it’s from the heart,” said Lewis. “Music is so important to us. … We all tap into something different when we write this music.”
In between a constant lineup of shows with their various groups, the group is in the midst of writing and recording.
In the last month, The band has just released its first single, created a new logo, and launched a successful GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a music video that the band intends to premiere in conjunction with an upcoming EP release.
Now, the five are focused on maintaining that progress.
“We’re leveling up our game,” said Esposito. “We’re really potent right now.”