Surfer Blood interview
After playing some extremely well received shows in the UK we caught up with singer and guitarist John Paul Pitts from Surfer Blood to find out some more about them and the wave they are currently cresting.
You’ve just finished playing some UK dates, how were they received?
We actually just got back and looking back on the trip, I’d say they went pretty well. We got a lot of positive feedback after our shows and had a great time.
Was this your first visit to the UK?
This is the first time any of us have ever played over in Europe. We really enjoyed taking baths instead of showers, playing FIFA 2009 and delicious Indian cuisine. We also appreciated how accommodating everyone was - people were genuinely concerned with whether or not we were comfortable and having fun. You don’t always get that at venues in the States.
Other than FIFA what else do you do in-between shows to keep yourselves entertained?
Frisbee and scrabble usually.
What do you miss about Florida when you are away from it?
The weather of course! It’s freezing in London. We also miss our friends and family, but can’t afford to call them because its so expensive to call the US from Europe. Maybe we should get Skype accounts.
Your album is not released over here yet. Is there a release date planned?
Sometime in May, the exact date is still TBA. We are really excited but can’t give you any of the details. Sorry!
We’re really excited about it’s release. You’ve got an amazing sound, how did you achieve that? Did it evolve naturally or was there a sound in your head you were always striving for?
Our sound came together pretty naturally; it just made sense for us. The songs on Astro Coast are bits and pieces of material I’ve been working on for the past few years. Some of the songs on the record wrote themselves. That’s always exciting. As for how the record actually sounds, I knew it needed to be driven by the guitars and the vocal melodies. I didn’t really know a whole lot about recording when I started this project, so a lot of the process was trial and error. It definitely takes longer that way, but in the end I think it made everything sound more interesting.
We’ve mentioned Florida before - does the name Surfer Blood poke fun at the surf culture there?
Not necessarily. I have no problem with surfers. I’ve actually tried my hand at it a few times before. I think the name was more an attempt to evoke a sort of youthful, invulnerable aesthetic that fits the music nicely. Its not something meant to be taken literally.
How did you all meet?
Tyler (drums) and myself met while we were both attending college in Orlando. He moved into a house with one of my best friends, so we were immediately thrown into a situation where we were hanging out all the time. It didn’t take long before we realised we liked a lot of the same bands and started jamming together. It just clicked and we’ve been playing together ever since. I met Tom at an Ultra Music Festival after-party in Miami last year. He had heard some of our demos and approached me about playing guitar in what would soon become Surfer Blood. I was impressed by how persistent he was, he called me the next day and stopped by our rehearsal space and we were learning the songs within a week and playing shows within a month.
What bands have been really influential on you?
Dinosaur Jr., Bedhead, The Pixies, Pavement, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, T. Rex, Blue Oyster Cult, The Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys.
The Drums have been regularly name dropping you. Has this helped open some doors?
The Drums have helped us a lot. They were the ones who introduced us to Kay and Lio - the couple that runs our record label in the US. I’ve actually known Jacob Graham for years. He’s originally from Florida as well and we used to run into each other at shows all the time. Those guys are really sweet and really talented.
Which of the up and coming bands are you fans of and would like to name drop here?
Holiday Shores from Tallahassee are awesome. Japandroids are our roid-rage friends. Grooms from Brooklyn (our new labelmates!) made one of our favorite records of last year. The Smith Westerns are a young band we’d really like to tour with. Ganglians from Sacramento are one of the best live sets I’ve seen in a while.
You were in many tips for 2010 lists (including ours). Does that put a weight of expectation on your shoulders?
Kind of. I think its more exciting than anything. There is a lot of pressure from people who are now expecting more and more from the live set. We try not to pay to much attention to the press, its too tempting to become reactionary at that point. I am, however, very excited that so many people are enjoying our music.
As a band acutely aware of the power of the sea - which is more dangerous – a Robot Shark or a Ninja Octopus?
I don’t really know! We’ve never been unfortunate enough to encounter either; but if I had to guess, I’d say an octopus with some martial arts training. Everyone knows a robot shark would short-circuit in the depths ofthe ocean eventually.
Maybe you have encountered a ninja octopus but not been aware of it - they are masters of disguise! Anyway, thanks for your time - how does the rest of 2010 look for Surfer Blood?
We will be touring pretty much non-stop until the end of June. Right now we are in the midst of a two month US tour and are heading over to Europe right after. We are starting to work out material for our next release and will continue to do so throughout the year.
We leave John safe in the warmth of Florida - a world away from the rain and sleet of the UK. Keep an eye on The Music Fix for a review of the their astonishing debut album in the near future.
They will be back in the UK in May playing the following dates:
1 – Camden Crawl, London
2 – Camden Crawl, London
3 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
4 – Thekla, Bristol
6 – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
7 – Academy 3, Birmingham
8 – Ruby Lounge, Manchester
9 – King Tuts, Glasgow
11 – Cockpit, Leeds
12 – Heaven, London
13 – The Great Escape, Brighton
14 – All Tomorrow’s Parties, Minehead