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- Posted on Mar 14th 2010 8:28PM by Matthew Wilkening
Describe your sound in your own words.
I would call it music with a lot of pop sensibility, but also a lot of idiosyncrasies that are sometime accidental and sometimes purposeful. For the most part, I'd call it guitar and vocal driven music that brings in a lot of influences from the past and present. I also might use the words 'affected' and 'intricate.'
How did your band form?
TJ, the drummer, and I met each other when we were both going to college in Orlando. We had kind of known each other in high school, and he moved into a house with my best friend at the time. So, we were thrown into a situation where we were hanging out every day. It didn't take us long to realize that we liked a lot of the same music, and had a lot of the same ideas. So, we started playing together, it just really worked, we started writing songs. Then, I met Tom and Brian, the guitarist and bass player, at an Ultra Festival after party in Miami. The party was at this old warehouse, sort of abandoned, someone had set up a DJ booth and I think a band had played earlier in the night. We had gone down there for a show, had nothing else to do afterwards. Tom came up to me, told me he had heard a lot of what would become the Surfer Blood record, and he liked it, he wanted to learn it, go on tour together. I didn't think he was serious at first, but he called me the next day. He had plans to move down to Miami to start another band, but he canceled those plans, and stayed in West Palm Beach to play in Surfer Blood. It wasn't long before we realized we'd have to make sacrifices. I didn't sign up for fall classes, TJ quit his job at UPS, and we just started touring. We knew it was the right time with the right people, and we just had to do it.
What are your musical influences?
What I grew up listening to, and what I think affected a lot of how Surfer Blood sounds, was a lot of Dinosaur Jr., and a lot of Pavement. I'd say The Smiths are actually probably a big influence on me. I think we're gonna be in Barcelona the same time as Pavement plays, I'm really excited for that. And we're gonna see the Pixies too, who were another one of my favorite bands growing up. Who else? Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples In Stereo, a lot of music from that period is what I listened to in high school.
How did you come up with your band name?
Surfer Blood was kind of randomly generated by TJ, who has a bad habit, well, a wonderful habit actually, of butchering colloquialisms and creating new things that no one really understands and don't make a lot of sense. We were on the road, heading to a show in Gainesville, we had to leave early in the AM, so we just threw some wet clothes into our bags. He had this funny surfer backpack form High School. Back then, he had the spiked hair and the bleached tips and all that stuff. He's not like that anymore, he doesn't surf that much anymore, but he used to be really into it. So I was making fun of him for it, I used to make fun of kids like that all the time back in high school. He was ragging on me too, and somehow out of that we came up with Surfer Blood. We both liked it right away, we knew it would be a song title or something. Then, when it came time to name the band, it fit really well with the music, it was just perfect.
What's your biggest vice?
I'm trying to stop smoking cigarettes on tour, for sure. I heard it's really bad for your voice, but every time I get off stage it's something I want to do very badly. It's even worse, because now I have the bad habit of bumming them off people after shows.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Definitely a lot of deodorant. I'd say bug spray is something that's often overlooked, and people get into trouble with that. I grew up in South Florida, so I would always bring a pair of scissors. I'd wear jeans, it'd get really hot the next day and I'd just cut them off. Sunscreen's really important too, because that's something that can sneak up on you.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
My first celebrity crush ever? Going way back, I used to think Carmen Electra was the pinnacle of a sex icon, back in middle school when I first realized, 'oh, wow, girls are attractive.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
I've been asked this before, I can never think of something. I like Madonna, honestly, whenever I get upset or stressed out on tour, I'll listen to her, and it'll make me feel better, it's like an angel's voice talking to me. I have my sister's entire music library on my iPod right now. My iTunes got really tricky on me, I couldn't put my music on my iPod, so I put all hers instead. She has all sorts of electronic and 80's stuff on there. I like Crystal Castles a lot, too, and everybody makes fun of me, but I don't care, I think they're really good.
Beatles or Stones?
The Beatles. As much as I like how rough around the edges the Stones are, I'm more of a Beatles fan, especially the later stuff.
What's the craziest thing you've seen on tour?
One night I was passed out in the backseat, apparently Brian lost control of the vehicle, and came to a screeching stop right in front of a tow truck that had just suffered the same fate. It was pouring rain, this was in Mobile, Alabama, it has more rainfall annually than Seattle. Thankfully, everybody was OK. So we were explaining what happened to the police officers, and over the dispatch we hear, 'hey wait, are those guys in a band?' They were so impressed with the novelty that we were in a traveling band they asked to play in their Mardi Gras parade. Of course, later, they heard our stuff and decided we weren't what they wanted, I guess they were looking for a classic rock cover band or something.
Matthew Wilkening is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.