Marathoners: Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood, a boisterous quintet from West Palm Beach, is in New York for the CMJ Marathon, which is good news for any young band. They’re getting a lot of exposure–in true CMJ fashion playing every chance they can get, twelve shows over five days.  Their sound is an appealing, guitar-based power pop. Their new album, Astro Coast (Kanine Records), will be out in January. (PHOTO: DAVID COGGINS)

I spoke with John Paul Pitts, the lead singer, and Thomas Fekete, the guitarist, after their afternoon set at Piano’s on Ludlow Street.

DAVID COGGINS: You’re playing 12 shows in five days–is that possible?

JOHN PAUL PITTS: I didn’t even bother to count them, it’s so overwhelming to look at.

THOMAS FEKETE: It is twelve. And then the next day we’re playing Death By Audio. All together it’s thirteen shows in six days. It’s amazing playing at CMJ, with a  turnout at every show. It keeps you in good spirits.

PITTS: Every show has a lot of different bands, with their friends coming to see them, and a lot of people who’ve heard them online.  

COGGINS: What’s your approach with the music industry in the shape it’s in?

FEKETE: We went into this thinking the band is going to be around long term. We don’t want to disappear. We went with a smaller indie label, Kanine.  We’re trying to surround ourselves with people that we like working with.  We don’t want to be a hyped up band that disappears.

PITTS: That says it.

COGGINS: Do you license songs?

PITTS: Kanine records is really good with young bands. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other. We understand that the world is changing and people can get music for free. We’re trying to get the music on the internet as much as possible, and to blogs. Hopefully people will still buy albums at the shows.  

FEKETE: We used to do everything for free, now we have a release date and our songs are copyrighted.  

COGGINS: The new record is coming out in January. I like the last song, that nice guitar.

PITTS: The two songs before that are very heavy and drawn out. I like to leave the listener with something a little more light. Nothing too brooding at the end. We recorded most of the record in my college dorm room at Florida Atlantic University. We always wanted to do this. We came up here in August booked our own shows and a booking agent came up to us after a show.   

FEKETE: And these people actually enjoy our music.  

COGGINS: What’s it like playing these short, 5 song sets?

FEKETE: We want to hit people with our best songs.  

COGGINS: Weezer sounds like an influence.

FEKETE: We love Pinkerton and we love the Blue Album.

PITTS: We never saw ourselves as anything like Weezer so it’s kind of bizarre to get so many reviews that say “it’s like Pinkerton.” Maybe it’s because it’s melodic and uses a drummer and not a drum machine. But we take a lot of influences from bands that are around right now.  

FEKETE: We’ve been told it’s nostalgic to listen to, that it reminds people of 90s bands.

COGGINS: But that’s funny because you’re in your early 20s and didn’t really grow up with that music.  

PITTS: Right. We really focus on chord progression, melody and lyrics, and they care about those things, too.