Sam Lopez and Ronnie Alexander, formerly of Tapioca and the Flea, have teamed up under the new moniker Little Wolves and have definitely hit their stride. After only a handful of LA performances, including one of the more notable sets at the Make Music Pasadena festival, Little Wolves have been garnering some major buzz.
Hailing from Orange County and San Antonio, Texas, the two met and became instant friends shortly after settling in LA and playing in different bands within the local music scene. They wound up moving into a 3-bedroom house in La Crescenta with 8 musicians and 2 dancers. Sam refurbished a tent he had previously used while selling paintings on the Venice Beach boardwalk into a makeshift home in the back, while Ronnie moved into the garage.
Ronnie: “I turned that garage into an Indian palace.”
Sam: “Once I stopped selling art on the boardwalk I had this canopy so when I moved in I ended up turning it into a circus tent with lights in the back... We were all creative because we had no other choice, it was either that or live in some shit apartment.”
It was in that house that the two realized how much they had in common, musically and otherwise, and decided to start writing together. Soon after they formed and played in the band Tapioca and the Flea, where they gained momentum in the LA music scene for a few years before breaking off in a new direction to start Little Wolves.
Sam: “The major shift with Little Wolves is now we’re truly writing the kind of music music we want to write. With our last project, Ronnie and I were always writing, but with a sense of a band aesthetic that we were trying to fulfill. So it limited us from writing and performing certain types of music we were interested in. With Little Wolves, we can really harness what we’re good at.”
However, becoming a duo instead of a full band meant that they needed to figure out a new live setup. Ronnie took on teaching himself how to play the drums, and honestly has done a phenomenal job - we’ve seen them play live and never would have known that he only recently learned to drum.
Ronnie: “It was scary as shit to be honest with you. I had to smoke a couple cigarettes before our first show to calm my nerves, I never smoke and Bryan [aka Olivver] gave me a couple of his cigarettes, haha.
The guys caught the attention of Redbull Records, who brought them into their development program to help young promising bands take their next steps. Redbull Sound Select approached them offering assistance in collaborating with a producer for their record, to which Sam and Ronnie got to list a few artists they’d be interested in working with. RAC’s indie rock dance sound fit the direction Little Wolves wanted to take with the project, and he was their first choice to work with - and he agreed.
Sam: “Naturally my first instinct was RAC. I had a little while where I wasn’t playing music and was doing other things with my life, and RAC was one of the reasons I started recording again. His early stuff was so cool and still to this day; it has such a big influence on my production skills, his stuff is just classic.”
The new RAC-produced songs maintain the perfect balance of Southern California inspired indie vibes with pop and dance sensibilities that are stupidly catchy. Their latest single to be released, titled Cigarettes and Geminis, drops today and it is our pleasure to premiere it.
Additionally, Little Wolves are now in a great position creatively to where the work they’re putting out makes other artists eager to collaborate. Not only did Redbull and RAC jump on, but previous LYKA alum duo ENDS were the first to do a Tapioca music video, and the guys all continue to have a creative friendship today.
Sam: “We got hooked up with ENDS also through another opportunity with Red Bull Sound Select. The Neighbourhood had just come out and their videos are so sick, so Daniel and Zack were number one on our list.”
Ronnie: “Their shots are beautiful and we really wanted to work with them; Red Bull made it happen.”
We were surprised to hear that they met ENDS through Red Bull because all these guys seem to run in the same circle. Bands like Maudlin Strangers, HUNNY, Wes Period, Jez Dior, Olivver, LoveLife, Bad Suns and The Neighbourhood area creating a new visible music scene in LA.
Sam: “We’d been doing our work for a while and had never really connected with these people before, but it was perfect timing because we’re all now in the same positions. Now we’re all best friends, it’s awesome. We’ve all been supporting each other and going to each others shows, it’s cool, it’s a good time right now.”
Ronnie: "To be honest, even when we were in Tapioca, we never really found our niche scene. Then we met all those guys and now we finally feel good about where we’re at."
Sam: “This is how music scenes happen and music revolutions happen. We’re super grateful to be apart of it. I mean when you go out to shows there are certain cliques that can be not very inviting to other people. But with all the friends we make, we’re so inviting. That’s why this shit is still rolling. You’re creating a dope ass night, it works for everyone.”
With this new project these guys seem to really be hitting their stride and making music on their own terms. Little Wolves is a passion project that is artistically honest to their personal tastes rather than trying to fulfill any music scene expectations - which is most likely why the project is catching on. Look out for their debut Troubadour show on August 20th with New Beat Fund and Walla presented by Redbull Records, and catch them at the SESAC stage at Echo Park Rising on August 14th.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences currently?
S: I mean for me right now I’ve just been going back to my roots. Vocalists that really inspired me when I was first getting into music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo Green, I love his voice. Back to Black, that record is awesome. And I’ve been listening to a lot of new R&B and new artists coming up like, Post Malone… even like, Willow Smith. For me I’ve been listening to more vocal music than anything, it’s been a little shift and really inspiring.
R: I like to listen to the radio when I drive, I don’t like to listen to anything that’s trendy on the Internet. At home I listen to the same shit over and over, like Frank Ocean and Chris Brown. But when it comes to songwriting, it starts with a melody or a beat on the drums, and we bounce off each other. It’s not like we use artists as a basis for our songwriting.
What is your favorite throwback emo band? Or any guilty pleasure music?
S: Say Anything, for sure. Mewithoutyou. Actually, Mewithoutyou first, then Say Anything. Cursive. The Faint. And probably Bright Eyes, I love all that shit. I can name even more. Saosin. Circa Survive, I still love them. I saw Saosin when I was really young, that shit is good, I miss that stuff.
R: That wasn’t really my thing, haha. But I had a job at the time and a co-worker got me into some Story of the Year and Taking Back Sunday. They were dope, I watched this documentary on Story of the Year where they moved to LA from wherever it was into this piece-of-shit house that they turned into an amazing studio. Then my co-worker took me to one of their shows and it was amazing, the guys doing fucking backflips on stage… so good.
Who are some of your dream collaborators?
S: Kevin Parker, hands down. Tame Impala. To work with him would be the shit. Also Toro Y Moi. He’s coming out with some amazing shit, he’s always put out great stuff, I was a big fan of his early stuff. But the stuff he’s putting out lately is so dope.
R: Anyone. Everyone. We’re working with someone we don’t know tomorrow, so that’s cool. Big or small, working with different people just opens up a new creative process.
S: What’s dope about this new project is that we’re not going at this with the mentality of this is a band. It’s more like, we’re both songwriters and working with someone that can get the best out of us, then we’re down. But we’re also producers, and we can work with other producers, or we can produce artists, it’s like a full circle. And that’s what we want to accomplish and do something different, provide something unique to music.
What has been your proudest moment as a band so far and what is your definition of success?
S: For me, my proudest moment was getting on stage at Make Music Pasadena, it was great. Ronnie held it down, I was pretty fucking nervous, and I’m sure Ronnie was nervous too. But that was definitely the best show we’ve done so far. That was our proudest moment. Getting on stage and actually seeing people that were responsive, people clapping, and even seeing our old fans singing along to the songs that they knew. That blew my mind. We honestly didn’t think anyone was really going to come out to see us. Playing after How To Dress Well, like, aw man, we’re going to have zero crowd. But people showed up and it was amazing! That for us was the moment we were like, ‘yes, we can do this!’
Favorite spots in LA?
S: We love all the spots run by Houston Brothers, No Vacancy, Break Room… those are our go to’s. As far as music venues, our favorite is The Echo.
Bloody marys or mimosas?
S: Probably mimosas, I like bloody marys but I can only get one… with mimosas, we can get bottomless.