Kevin Winter, Getty Images T.I. and Lil Wayne are teaming up once again, only this…
- Posted on Mar 8th 2010 3:00PM by Pat Pemberton
Ritchie, having known the Oils since touring with them as a member of the Violent Femmes in the '80s, didn't need convincing. Even though he had no idea what they had in mind -- without front man Peter Garrett, Midnight Oil had been largely inactive the previous eight years -- he joined the three founding members of the band. Once plugged in, the musicians began playing the Link Wray tune 'Rumble.'
"It instantly became very appealing," Ritchie tells Spinner.
Since both the Oils and the Femmes were known for their lyrical styles, he said, it was relieving not to have to worry about words. "We just immediately started writing songs in the surf vain," he says.
The band that resulted -- the Break -- has recorded a new album, due out next month. While they are touring Australia now, the band might do a world tour of popular surf places, which could land on the West Coast.
"We'll go anywhere if there's a demand, and if it's feasible," says Ritchie, a Milwaukee native who recently moved to Australia, Midnight Oil's native country.
While it may seem odd for the alternative rockers to form a surf band, both the Oils and the Femmes were influenced by surf music. In the early days, Midnight Oil performed in Australian surf pubs, and an early hit, 'Wedding Cake Island,' was an instrumental surf tune. The Femmes' hit 'Add It Up,' meanwhile, is clearly influenced by the Trashmen song 'Surfin' Bird,' which the band covered in concert, along with the surf classic 'Pipeline.'
"Surf music is a joyous, exuberant form of rocking that makes you laugh," Ritchie says. "It's fun."
Of course, growing up in Wisconsin, Ritchie wasn't exposed to the surf culture made famous in Malibu.
"I've seen guys trying to surf Lake Michigan, but they just looked stupid," he says, noting he's avoided stand-up surfing in Australia as well. "I'm afraid I might kill myself."
Midnight Oil, which lost Garrett when he decided to pursue a career in politics, remains popular in Australia, as do the Femmes, who began touring there in 1984. "The Femmes are almost like an honorary Australian band," Ritchie says.
The Break's upcoming album, 'Church of the Open Sky,' features mostly instrumental songs named after famous surf breaks. The band's first single, 'Cylinders,' which comes with a surfy video, recalls classic surf rock. Yet, Ritchie said, they're not trying to imitate Dick Dale or any other surf music icons.
"We're not being purists about it," he says. "We're not being retro. If it sounds like '60s music, it's because we grew up listening to that."