Story and Photos by Catie Keck
Florida’s Surfer Blood band members aren’t the type of people you’d expect to meet after considering the success of their first album, Astro Coast. In fact, you might expect a band about to begin a European tour with Interpol to be anything but humble. Surfer Blood, however, saunter into the lobby of their luxe boutique hotel in downtown Portland looking vaguely bewildered and minimally hip. One sports a black Member’s Only jacket; another member wears a pair of classic Ray-Ban eyeglasses; and a third rocks shoulder-length stick-straight brown hair. Beside these accessories, however, the bandmates dress in clean, presentable street attire reminiscent of a high school math tutor. Fame, it seems, hasn’t ballooned the egos in this group of young, up-and-coming indie rock stars.
Catie Keck: What were your thoughts starting the first album?
Surfer Blood: We had no idea what to expect. I mean, I was proud of it, but I was hoping that other people liked it. It’s so awesome that so many people responded so positively to it.
CK: Are you working on a new record now?
SB: It’s starting to come together. We’ve been touring non-stop for the last year, and in that time we’ve come up with a lot of ideas for new material. I think after November we’re going to spend a lot of time at home working it all out and just piecing it together. Hopefully, we’ll have a new release sometime next year.
CK: Given the critical acclaim of Astro Coast, will the success of your first record play in your favor or act as a hindrance?
SB: Both. It’s good because we’ve already developed a pretty loyal fan base that is excited about the new stuff. The other side is that people are expecting you to top a record and if you don’t, or they don’t think you do, they’ll just tear you apart. The secret is to not let that stuff get inside of your head. If you do, you’re writing music so that other people respond to it, instead of writing music for yourself. Being reactionary is never a recipe for quality work.
CK: You’ve been touring for about a year now. How’s the tour going?
SB: It’s great, actually. We’re doing a tour with Interpol in Europe in December.
CK: There are five of you, but only three present. Where are the other two?
SB: We rode here in a prop plane. The other two were afraid to ride in the prop plane, so they had their friend from Portland drive to come get them. It was nice, though, because they took all of the guitars. We thought it was cool just to ride in a plane. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be.
CK: Have you been playing many festivals?
SB: We’ve done our fair share of festivals. We’ve done some big ones before. We’ve gotten used to the whole festival thing because we spent last August playing festivals all over the world. We got to see all kinds of crazy stuff we’d never think we’d get to see in our lifetimes. So yeah, festivals rule.
CK: Do you prefer festivals or playing, say, bars?
SB: After playing a lot of festivals we were pretty exhausted. I think playing a lot of bars and club shows is really important to a band coming up because at festivals a lot of people are watching you because if, say, Deerhunter goes on at such and such time, people might come watch your set in-between. However, at bars people have to commit to buying a ticket and coming out to watch your band, and that’s how you develop a following.
CK: What do we have to look forward to on the new album?
SB: It’s going to be a concept album. We can’t say what the concept is, yet.
CK: You’re not going to give us any hints?
SB: There’s going to be at least three love songs on it, and one political song. Probably four break-up songs. There’s going to be at least one coming-of-age, self-affirming/life-affirming song. There’s going to be a song that could be played at your high school graduation. There’s going to be a Ziggy Stardust-esque song, you know, where the phoenix dies and comes back – the arc of the album. Every album should have an arc.