Drop Mob is an East Valley band that’s bringing metal to hip-hop.
The sound is kind of similar to ’90s nu-metal—but it’s not quite the same. Drop Mob has a very heavy sound, with lead guitarist David Burk playing complex guitar solos on an eight-string guitar. Bassist Steve Zepeda has a style that rises above nu-metal grooves, and drummer John Camacho hammers out complex rhythms to back Gabe Perez’s genuine, straight-to-the-point hip-hop lyrics.
I recently attended a Drop Mob practice in Indio—and it was definitely the loudest local-band practice to which I have been invited. Even with ear plugs, I could clearly hear every instrument and every lyric. (The only thing missing from the practice was guitarist Curtis Hendrix, who was away dealing with a family matter.)
Burk said that when he joined Drop Mob, the band had a different concept.
“It was a cover band—and I’m not a cover-band kind of dude,” Burk said. “As we started writing original songs, it just started coming out that way. Out of the box, Gabe wasn’t even into metal at all. It’s just now that he’s kind of blooming into it. It took some time. I’m throwing songs at him left and right. We don’t really think what genre we’re going with, though.”
Perez said he is much more rooted in hip hop.
“Once we started playing metal music, I wasn’t really into it,” Perez said. “I started listening to Rage Against the Machine, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Hacktivist and bands that had a similar style. I took it upon myself to make my own style, and I didn’t want to be like them. Dave shoots stuff at me, and we do it our own way.”
The members of Drop Mob are no strangers to the Coachella Valley music world. John Camacho has played in numerous local bands, including Elektric Lucie and In the Name of the Dead. He and Zepeda also have another current music project.
“It’s a mix of salsa and merengue,” Camacho said. “I think that’s what makes Drop Mob what it is: It’s a mix of metal, Latin and rap. We combine all of that together.”
Perez said he struggled to make a name for himself in the local hip-hop scene when he first started.
“I’ve been doing it for about 15 to 20 years,” Perez said. “But in the hip-hop scene, I didn’t really move up the charts. I’m more of an old-school rapper, and a lot of the local hip-hop people were like, ‘I’m not even going to mess with him.’ I hooked up with a friend of mine named Lucky, who is now with Lost Souls out in Los Angeles, but me and him worked together, and he helped me evolve my rap game a little bit—but even then, I didn’t really go anywhere.
“When we started Drop Mob, the first couple of songs Dave and I wrote together were out of the box. I let a friend of mine listen to what we had, and he was like, ‘Dude, you finally found your niche. This is what you’re good at.’ I guess I found the right kind of music, and it feels good. It feels like I’m at home, and it’s weird, because I never liked metal music before.”
I asked Drop Mob’s members if they feel like they’re alone in what they do locally. Even though the group recently won a battle of the bands organized by CV Weekly—beating bands such as Brightener and The CMFs—the members all laughed and said yes.
“Very much so!” Perez said. “We played Synergy Fest, and we thought, ‘They’re not going to like our music at all.’ But we had people coming up and listening to us. After we got off stage, one guy in his early 20s came up to us, asking, ‘How long have you guys been together? Where you guys from?’ I said, ‘We’re from here!’ and he was like, ‘Shit! I thought you guys were from Los Angeles or something! You guys sound good!’ Now, when you go out of town and say you’re from the desert in the Coachella Valley, you get a little bit of street cred. But there aren’t a lot of places to play anymore. You’ve got The Hood, Plan B and The Date Shed.”
They did travel to Blythe recently for a gig.
“That show was fucking crazy, man. Those people out there—I don’t know what they’re doing, but my God! It was wild,” Burk said. “It was the alter-reality of Neil’s Lounge in this weird town. It was called Steaks and Cakes or something weird like that. Behind it, it looked like scenes from The Walking Dead with guard towers, and it was wild. Everybody was totally into it, and you could feel the electricity in there. Out here, it’s so hard to feel that sometimes—to where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m sorry I played that. I didn’t mean to scare the shit out of everybody.’”
Drop Mob has been working on a new album that the members hope to release sometime in early 2017. Burk said the new songs show how much they’ve evolved, while Perez said the group is trying to come up with a title.
“We’ve had a couple of ideas for a title, but nothing solid yet,” he said.
For more information on Drop Mob, visit www.reverbnation.com/dropmob5.