Tempe's Leonardo DiCapricorn Gets Geeky with Its Punk-Rap Sounds

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It's 2014 and high time you got some new music into your playlist -- seriously. And that's doubly true when it comes local music, of which there's an abundance in metro Phoenix. The Valley's music scene is gifted with burgeoning bands and emerging artists who will be making waves and getting attention this year.

Up on the Sun is highlighting more than a dozen such acts for our series 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014. Today, local music aficionado Jeff Moses hangs with Leonardo DiCapricorn.

Leonardo DiCapricorn is one of those clever band names that looks great on a flyer and is catchy enough to stick in your craw. The same goes for their music, a pastiche of nerdcore, punk, and rap with just a dash of metal that's both hooky and cute.

There's a geeky spirit running through the band's embryonic sounds, which is fitting, considering that frontman/bassist Damon Dominguez, percussionist Carlos Courtney, and guitarist Brandon Frederickson guitar are all onetime members of Greenway High School's drumline, and each is pursuing a science degree at Arizona State University. (Dominguez is a physics major while both Courtney and Frederickson are both focused on microbiology.)

Plus, they've been known to dress in nerd-wear at shows: Dominguez stuck out at PHX FMLY Fest earlier this year in his Hawaiian shirt and old-school ball cap, and all three bandmates went high concept and rocked white button-down shirts and ties at a release party for Rubber Brother Records' Puppy Love compilation album, on which Leonardo DiCapricorn appeared.

But the way they dress is only part of the appeal, as the band also carries itself very distinctly, like confident nerds, and the between-song banter is plenty sarcastic and hilarious.

Leonardo DiCapricorn is a tightly knit group: Its members met and bonded while attending Greenway High and they live and play together in the band's practice space. As a result, these relative newcomers have gelled quickly, leading to modest local success.

Since their debut last year at a house show, Leonardo DiCapricorn has built up a decent repertoire of songs, and many ("Dexter," "Galifianakis," "Angsty Song," "J-No," and "Red Panda") cover geeky, satirical topics and have quickly become favorites of the band and their crowds, as well as their unrecorded fan favorite "4Loko Dolphin."

So far, they've culled together these songs into two EPs over the past few months, including the fantastic five-song Physical Eye Contact and the equally fun three-song Vice-Versace.

Right now, the band's goals are modest, such as getting signed to Rubber Brother Records, recording a brand new seven-song EP, and (per a dare from a fourth roommate in the Leonardo DiCapricorn house) finally play at least one out-of-state show.

"Success for us would just be to continue making a playing music for people. It's not about money or anything," Dominguez says. "We just like playing music," Though he admitted fame and fortune is not something the group would shy away from.

Leonardo DiCapricorn is scheduled to perform on Friday at Cellar Door Vintage.

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