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LONG BEACH, CA — Located on an uninspiring stretch of Pacific
Coast Highway, in the center of an even more uninspiring business
complex, is a restaurant called Di Piazza’s. Despite the banality
of its exterior, the restaurant teems with atmosphere and
A monument to the retrospective pop culture of rock and roll,
posters of classic and soon-to-be-revered-as-classic rock groups
adorn the walls. Don’t expect much from the food, which is fairly
standard cuisine, and don’t hope for better than tolerable service.
Di Piazza’s is not staking its reputation on culinary superiority
or customer service. But there is a diamond in the rough here.
Toward to rear of the restaurant, tucked away in a dark corner, is
a fairly engaging stage, which plays host to a variety of fairly
engaging bands. For all of its shortcomings, Di Piazza’s ability
to put on a loud and affecting show is this establishment’s hidden
gem. That and the barman’s prowess at the mixing of a Manhattan.
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The band I went to review calls itself Triptic and can boast a
sizable following of local devotees. Its name, not coincidentally,
is borrowed from the art term “triptych,” referring to a medieval
altarpiece comprised of three panels with a different rendering on
each panel in the set. The band’s website endeavors to explain the
metaphor: “An intriguing note about triptychs is that each of the
three parts can be viewed solely on their own. Yet, when viewed
together, when the three parts complete the whole, suddenly each of
the three pieces has added depth. When this is realized, the entire
piece of the triptych leaves witnesses awestruck.”
In reality, a triptych is most commonly constructed to represent
a centralized thematic image in the middle panel, which is in turn
supplemented by two subordinate panels on either side. In many
cases, the triptych is just one big picture painted across three
boards. In the case of this band, the latter definition makes more
sense. There is no one central character in the band, no leader,
no standout presence. This is not the Jimi Hendrix Experience or
Nirvana. This gathering does not consist of one major talent and
two backup musicians whose names people often forget. No, in this
case the band exists more along the lines of Cream. Each member is
equally important and pulls his own weight.
Damien Smith is the guitarist and provides the lead vocals in
this three-piece. He plays a blues and funk driven rhythm,
reminiscent of classic rockers such as Hendrix, who is his primary
influence. His ease in switching between strumming, riffing, and
soloing further demonstrates this connection. But this can be a
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difficult undertaking for a three-piece group, especially when the
rhythm must be compromised for a solo.
Fortunately, Triptic has a solid and impressive backbone. The
bassist, Derek Silva, is simply amazing. He projects a boyish
charm, beneath which smolders a formidable talent. In the aspect
of appearance, he impresses one as Dave Grohl wearing Hunter S.
Thompson’s wardrobe. His proficiency on the bass reminds one of
the late and great John Entwhistle; Silva has a tendency to stand
calmly in place while performing, which makes trying to focus on
the frenzied pace of his fingers a challenge. His rich bass lines
more than compensate for the lack of a rhythm guitar during Smith’s
bluesy solos.
On drums is Eric Bradfield, whose demeanor and essence capture
the desired classic rock evocations of the band. He is solid. In
many instances, one imagines “feeling” the drums rather than
“hearing” them. He is more than adept; he is a force unto himself
and the band. Bradfield does for the drums what Adrien Belew does
for the guitar. He is able to tackle intricate fills—never
compromising his forceful and steady tempo—and creates the illusion
that two drummers are playing simultaneously. His ability to
organically transition into different time signatures is a feat
that daunts most drummers, paralleling Bradfield’s skills to that
of a Stewart Copeland.
Damien Smith has his work cut out for him as well, being the
only guitar in the group. His roots in classic rock give him an
advantage, in that he understands the importance of rhythm over
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lead. And he is able to incorporate a little of each into his
progressions. Smith’s appearance, like that of his bandsmen, is
also unique to himself. His features are sharp and chiseled,
giving him an edgy and thoughtful look. Although cordial and
approachable, Smith watches his audience with piercing eyes during
his performance, and he exudes an appealingly quiet intensity.
As the main vocalist, his voice is sonorous and works well with
the “analog” sound achieved by the band in this digital age of
music. His range is fairly static, no low to high extremes, but he
has full control of its volume. It is the revival of the threepart
harmony, however, that gives Triptic its flavor and reinforces
the idea that this group is just that—a group of equally vital
parts and not the showcase for an individual ego.
During a post show interview, Smith and I bantered back and
forth in the usual way. But when I posed a few unusual questions,
Smith answered insightfully and without skipping a beat. Two
answers deserve to be printed here.
When asked of his favorite color, Smith replied “maroon.” Why?
Because it suits his personality—sanguine and a bit dark. I then
asked Smith to summarize the sound of his band in one chord. His
response, A Minor. If you know anything about music, there is no
disputing the appropriateness of this response.
Check with Di Piazza’s at 5205 E. Pacific Coast Highway in Long
Beach for upcoming show times, or visit the band’s website at Just remember this last piece of advice:
get dinner at a different restaurant before the show and make sure
Triptic Plays Di Piazza’s Page 5
to remind Di Piazza’s sound engineer that microphones have volume

"Triptic: Alive and Kickin'"

Every year, at least 3 or 4 times a year music critics around the country write articles about how rock is dead. They wax philosophical about how real rock bands don't exist anymore and yet they never seem to chastise adventure-less Rock radio formats. They seem to only lament on the fact that supposedly their are just no good bands out there.

My humble opinion is these folks are just not taking time to look in the right places. Like say for instance, Long Beach, California. This is the homebase of the rock group Triptic; a band that combines the power and fury of rock with sweet melodies and grooves that could literally move the dead. They are a power trio comprised of Damien Smith on lead vocals and guitar, Derek Silva on bass and Eric Bradfield on drums. I had the pleasure to sit down with Damien Smith for a lengthy discussion on his band, the music industry and the local music scene in the LBC!

Dave: Damien how long has Triptic been together?
Damien: Eric and I started playing together about 5 years ago. Our bassist Derek came into the band shortly after that. Collectively the three of us have been together for four and a half years.

Dave: How did you and Eric first meet up?
Damien: We were both working at a record store. A mutual work friend introduced us. We started jamming together and I ended up playing bass in the band. Every jam we did together ended up being a ska tune. I wasn't into it but Eric and I vibed well together and we started jamming and writing songs on our own.

Dave: When I listen to your disc I hear a lot of different musical styles, from heavy rock to funk to groove oriented music. Do you all have eclectic tastes in music or is it more,"Damien is the heavy rock guy, Derek is the funk guy" and so on?
Damien: All of the above. I would say that I am more of the rock guy and Derek is more of the funk guy, bass player extrodinare that he is. That disc speaks well in terms of what we do. I think because we are all so broadly influenced that gives us the sound we have. Eric is the one who is really into making sure our vocal harmonies are taken care of. He writes with that in mind and I write with more of a groove in mind. As a result the songs take the shape that they do on the disc.

Dave: So it sounds like the writing process is that of a group effort with everyone bringing something to the table.
Damien: It depends on the material. Eric and I are probably more of the wiriters in the band although Derek will throw an idea out every now and then.

Dave: What band or artist made you pick up a guitar and say I want to do this for a living?
Damien: My dad made me pick up the guitar. The Beatles taught me how to play the guitar, and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix made me want to play the guitar for a living.

Dave: Your fathers a musician?
Damien: Yeah, we play in a band together. It's a blues band. The first band I ever played in was a band that he was playing in. I ended up playing drums on a couple songs with them and they still jam and I jam with them on guitar. It's a good opportunity to hang out with dad!

Dave: I'm sure! You are definitely keeping it the family! With your father being a musician I am sure he is supportive of you and the band.
Damien: He's like our most loyal fan. He has been to almost very Triptic show and when I was younger he definitely helped with equipment costs!

Dave: Nothing wrong with that! We alluded to this earlier but one of the unique qualities of your band is the heaviness combined with the vocal harmonies. Sounds like Eric is the member who concentrates on that aspect of the band.
Damien: The cool thing about what we do is that I probably wouldn't have made the harmonies such an issue considering my influences but fortunately we all sing. Both Derek and Eric come up with parts but Eric is definitely hell bent on making sure that vocally we do more than anybody else does.

Dave: Where do you find your inspiration for your lyrics? It seems like there are some intense things going on in your lyrics. Where does that come from? Every day life stuff or things on the news?
Damien: The way I approach writing lyrics is I like to set a mood more than tell a story. I'll approach the song with however I'm feeling. Say something does affect me on the news, I would try and illustrate those feelings rather than say, well something happened on the news today that really bummed me out I would try not to tell the story; I would try to tell it a little more poetically. I think setting the mood is really important.

Dave: Let's shift gears for a second. Talk to me about the music scene here in Long Beach. Most people when they think of Long Beach and the music scene here they think it starts with Snoop Dogg and ends with Sublime. First of all is there a music scene here? If so is it a community of bands? Are their places here to play that want to showcase live music and local music here?
Damien: When I think of Long Beach music I think of Snoop Dogg and Sublime!!!

Dave: And there you have it!!!
Damien: Seriously, When we first started playing in the area their were a few bands that we really liked and they were creating a scene. Bands like Speaker, 12-Hour Mary, but none of them really play anymore. There is still an artist complex called the space on PCH where some of the members of the bands live there. Those bands stopped playing right at the time when we were starting. In terms of venues, there are definitely coo places to play in Long Beach. DiPiazzas is one of our favorite places. Mark (owner/booker?) is very supportive of the local scene and everyone wants to be part of what he is doing!!! We also played the M Bar all the time.

Dave: What is the main obstacle for young up and coming bands?
Damien: The problem with the scene, in general in southern California is it is constantly a pay to play situation and that breeds competition. do I feel that there is a community? I don't know. Sometimes I do but sometimes I feel like bands are just trying to get their people in. If we were to play a gig with 5 bands on the bill it would literally be each band playing for 35 minutes and their friends checking them out and when they are done, those people leave and the next group of friends arrives for the next band. I don't really feel that sense of community. It would be great to have a support system.

Dave: With KROQ having a strangle hold on everything that is rock and the only other independent alt satiation now gone thanks to clear channel, just how difficult is it for a young up and coming band to be heard in this climate?
Damien: I think about the clear channel monopoly on the industry. If you are in the loop I am sure it’s great. Coming from the outside without support for a record company and doing it grassroots…it’s tough!! Recently as I try to book a tour for the band I have been getting more into the whole making demo packages mode and really trying to push our stuff out there. I am hoping to get some response, if not from KROQ then from other markets around the country.

Dave: So far how has the response been?
Damien: I actually had a discussion with someone from Brazil!!. They liked out stuff and we have two contacts for radio stations down there!! I try not do get discouraged about the market here in LA because there are bands and artists that are widely popular who do not receive any airplay.

Dave: Talk to me about this tour you guys are going on?
Damien: We have talked about it for a while. We are now investing a lot of energy into it. I play in another band called Threesome. We will both be going on tour. We had one meeting and then from there I used the Musicians Atlas to call clubs all over the place and send them the demo packets and book gigs in Louisiana, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans. 75 packages have been sent out so were are looking to do between 15-20 shows. The tour kicks off June 30th.

Dave: What is one thing you want people to know about this band? Weather they come to gig or read this interview what is one thing people should know? What should they take away?
Damien: Musicianship and the best band in Long Beach!! We really pride ourselves on the diversity of the music. It’s accessible no matter what type of music you listen to. We have the heavy riffs, we have the pretty harmonies, and we have that funky groove so weather you like rock, hip-hop, jazz or jam music we can appeal to a wide audience. No matter what you listen to you are gonna like us!!!

With bone crushing riffs, sweet harmonies and a rhythm section tighter than a mosquito’s backside, Triptic are proving that Rock indeed lives in the city of Long Beach!!!!

Ps…support local bands now!!!
- Dave Carr - Long Beach View


"TRIPTIC" - 2002, Independent
Several of the songs on the first album were featured in shows on Spike TV.

"Second The Begining"-2006 Independent



TRIPTIC is based in Long Beach and has been performing in and around los Angeles since 2000. In addition to playing local venues, TRIPTIC has toured and performed nationally and has been featured on Spike TV's "10 Things Every Man Should Do"
TRIPTIC was formed when Damien Smith and Eric Bradfield met and worked together at a local record store. The magic began when a mutual friend organized a jam session and the boys felt an instant compatibility. It also did not hurt that Eric was in love with Damien's sister, giving him extra incentive to rehearse at the Smith house (Eric and Christie have now been married for 3 years). Soon after, Derek Silva, a local bass prodigy was brought into the picture and the songs began to flow. Damien's edgy riffs, combined with Eric’s natural gift for vocal arrangements, give TRIPTIC a sound that is distinctive and at the same time accessible to a wide audience. TRIPTIC can be described as Hendrix meets Alice in Chains, with a little Chili Peppers to spice up the mix.
TRIPTIC has released two full length albums independently, as well as 2 music videos.
TRIPTIC is busy writing new material and looking for a director for a third video in support of their new album.

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