We are frequently smitten with the bands that we feature in our “Taking Off The Shrinkwrap”. Alas, not all bands can make it past the “one-hit wonder” tag and they leave us, heartbroken and laying in the gutter weeping softly. And then there’s Surfer Blood. When we featured them a few months ago, we had high hopes. After listening to their amazing first album “Astrocoast”, those warm, fuzzy feelings that we once had, has turned to outright lust. Vocalist/Guitarist JP Pitts took a few moments to indulge our fantasies last week…
TDOA: I’ve got to imagine that you’re riding a bit of a high, right now. Yesterday, Pitchfork reviewed your album and gave it a huge 8.2!
JP: Yeah, we were jumping up and down last night and having a party to celebrate. It’s so cool.
TDOA: You’ve been written up in Spin and Rolling Stone and getting a ton of press lately. Obviously your focus is making music. Sometimes when we interview bands they express disdain for the drudgery of doing a ton of interviews. Is is starting to get to you yet?
JP: Yeah sometimes. Not so much, phone interviews like this, but when someone sends you a bunch of questions in an email yeah it gets a little tiring. But I’m just so excited that people are into Surfer Blood.
TDOA: I know you just finished a tour and are getting ready to head back out. Are you able to write music while you’re on the road or are you just keeping busy trying to survive?
JP: Not so much the last few tours, because there weren’t really any luxuries, but now we’ve got a nice van and a trailer. The circumstances are better for us now. We used to have to sleep in the van. Now I’ve got a laptop and somewhere to record my ideas.
TDOA: First album’s are usually a compilation of several years work. Was that the case with Astroglide and did the band write the songs as a group or did you bring the music to the band yourself?
JP: I wrote pretty much all of them. Some of them date back to 2006. Those were written when I was in college, which is when I met Tyler, the drummer. Fast Jabroni was the first song we wrote together.
TDOA: Who produced the record?
JP: I did! I recorded the album in my apartment in Boca Raton. For the next album we’ll go into a studio and use a producer.
TDOA: Are there any producers who you respect and would want to work with on the next album?
JP: Issac Brock because Modest Mouse is one of my favorite bands ever and I love what he did with Wolf Parade and all the bands he picks up. Jim O’Rourke, because when he produced Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, he took a band that I never liked and made one of the best albums ever. It’s pretty impressive that he did that and I’d love to work with him.
TDOA: Music critics frequently fall into the trap of comparing new bands to older bands rather than just describing the music. Some bands that we’ve interviewed bristle at comparisons. Spin and Rolling Stone have referenced Pavement and Weezer while describing you. How do you feel about comparisons?
JP: With Weezer, I like The Blue Record and Pinkerton but I’m not sure it really influenced my songwriting. Pavement are one of the bands that I idolized growing up, so yeah I understand those comparisons. I listened to a lot of Pavement when I was teaching myself to play guitar. Steve Malkmus essentially taught me how to play guitar.
TDOA: Did you ever get a chance to see Pavement live?
JP: No, but I’m pretty excited because we’re playing a festival in Barcelona in May and Pavement is headlining. I’ve never been to Barcelona and I’ve never seen Pavement, so I’m psyched.
TDOA: When I get to interview a musician I idolized, I am sometimes apprehensive because I don’t know what they’re going to be like in person. If and when you get an opportunity to meet Steve Malkmus, what might you ask him?
JP: Oooh, I don’t know. I’d probably be too afraid to talk to him. I’d ask him something like, “What do you like to eat at the county fair?” or “Do you like rollercoasters?”. I wouldn’t want to question him about his work. One of the things I like about them is that their lyrics are really personal, so you feel like you already know them. He has a sense of humor when he writes about pain and it’s so well done.
TDOA: That’s one of the things that’s been said about you. Your songs really speak to relationships and emotion. Are those lyrics auto-biographical or just a caricature?
JP: Oh no, they’re really personal. They’re stuff that really happened. When it reverts to a bit of exaggeration, I think people understand that.
TDOA: I guess, what I mean is that some bands write in the third person, but that’s not the case with your lyrics?
JP: Yeah, the record is very personal. It has some of my idiosyncrasies and that’s part of my personality.
TDOA: I did an interview with a Russian indie band called pinkshinyultrablast who sound like a lot of the shoegaze bands. When I asked about their influences, I expected them to say Ride, My Bloody Valentine and the usual suspects. Instead they listed Surfer Blood….
TDOA: Right? Who knew that music travelled that quickly over there? The reason I ask though, is that I wonder about your influences and if they necessarily are bands that “sound” like Surfer Blood.
JP: We have a lot of different influences. Pavement obviously. TJ has a real obsession with Motown and we all listen to a lot of different music.
TDOA: The session you did with KEXP was fantastic, but one of the things that struck me was how relaxed you seemed during the interview and how much fun you seemed to be having. Are you guys this relaxed all the time?
JP: Oh yeah. I mean, who are we to take ourselves too seriously? We’re lucky to be where we are. We’re just trying to have fun.
TDOA: You did a video for Swim, right? Who directed it and came up with the concept?
JP: We came up with the ideas ourselves. Essentially we just wanted to exploit every (homestate) Florida cliche we could think of. But we shot it in New York and it was funny because we had palm trees, Mickey Mouse, but if you look in the background you can see snow. For most of the video, I was in a t-shirt and underwear and I’m running around in 30 degree weather.
TDOA: What can people expect to see when they see you live on this tour? Just the album or maybe some new material or some covers?
JP: I don’t like doing covers. I wouldn’t want somebody to cover us, so….. no covers. Mostly stuff from the new record and a few new songs that’ll be on a new EP that should come out this summer.
Feb 3 2010 Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen London
Feb 4 2010 Hippodrome (New Slang) w/ Pete & the Pirates Kingston
Feb 5 2010 Koko London
Feb 6 2010 Sound Control w/The Drums Manchester
Feb 9 2010 Scala w/British Sea Power London
Feb 16 2010 Backbooth w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits ORLANDO
Feb 17 2010 DaVinci w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits DELAND
Feb 18 2010 Engine Room w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits TALLAHASSEE
Feb 19 2010 Drunken Unicorn w/Holiday Shores ATLANTA
Feb 20 2010 The End w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits NASHVILLE
Feb 22 2010 Snug Harbor w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits CHARLOTTE
Feb 23 2010 123 Pleasant St w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits MORGANTOWN
Feb 24 2010 DC9 w/Holiday Shores + Turbo Fruits WASHINGTON
Feb 26 2010 Dartmouth w/Small Black Hanover, New Hampshire
Feb 27 2010 Market Hotel w/Grooms, Turbo Fruits, Beach Fossils Brooklyn, New York
Feb 28 2010 Mercury Lounge w/Turbo Fruits New York, New York
Mar 1 2010 Main Street Music (Free instore) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 1 2010 The Barbary w/Turbo Fruits Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mar 2 2010 Great Scott w/Turbo Fruits Allston, Massachusetts
Mar 3 2010 AS220 w/Turbo Fruits Providence, Rhode Island
Mar 5 2010 Il Motore w/Turbo Fruits Montreal, Quebec
Mar 6 2010 Sneaky Dees w/Turbo Fruits Toronto, Ontario
Mar 7 2010 Geneseo w/Turbo Fruits Geneseo, New York
Mar 8 2010 Allegheny College Meadville, Pennsylvania
Mar 9 2010 Magic Stick w/Turbo Fruits Detroit, Michigan
Mar 11 2010 the Bishop w/Turbo Fruits Bloomington, Indiana
Mar 12 2010 Mojos w/Turbo Fruits Columbia, Missouri
Mar 13 2010 Replay Lounge w/Turbo Fruits Lawrence, Kansas
Mar 14 2010 the Conservatory w/Turbo Fruits Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Mar 15 2010 Granada Theatre Dallas, Texas
Bonus deliciousness….because we love SB so….