INTERVIEW: Surfer Blood

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West Palm Beach rock band Surfer Blood has high expectations to meet after the extraordinary success of their 2009 debut album Astro Coast, applauded by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the BBC. Bob Boilen, the host of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered named the album “the best of 2010” by “America’s best new pop band”. Guitarist Thomas Fekete spoke to LUNA about their brand new album ,Pythons, during time out from the band’s North American tour with Foals.

“We get about four hours of sleep a night and do a lot of radio station acoustic sessions. We load into the venue, do a quick sound check, and we have about an hour in our green room where we veg out, and then we play. After that it’s four to five hours of driving, or if we’re lucky, we get to go to a hotel and sleep.”

“After this is Splendour in the Grass, which is such an incredible festival. Australia has definitely been a high point in our career and we feel really lucky that we get to come back.”

Pythons is Surfer Blood’s major label debut, and it will be released on June 14th ahead of the band’s return to Australia for Byron Bay’s eternally beloved Splendour in the Grass festival.

“It’s funny, I hadn’t listened to Astro Coast for so long and I’ve kinda fallen in love with that album all over again. It takes me back to a really good time in my life when we were very young and naïve and everything was a mystery before the business of it. You have to be involved in that if you want to make a living, but it’s just growing.”

“I don’t mean to sound cynical, but the record has been finished for almost a year, and it’s hard to love something for that long. For me it almost feels outdated now, but after seeing what people are saying about it, it feels really good.”

Star producer Gil Norton (whose production credits include Pixies, Foo Fighters and Counting Crows) worked on the record at Hollywood’s EastWest Recording Studios, which have played host to many household names (Justin Timberlake and Timbaland even dropped by during recording).

“He’s a lovely guy and I really love him as a friend. I can’t say we’re ever going to do it again – while we’re really glad that we did it, working at our own pace and being completely hands on is more our speed,” Fekete reflects. “Gil is wonderful, he knows how to craft a song.”

Timbaland personally endorsed the album’s lead single, Weird Shapes, after hearing it in the studio, and Fekete describes the experience of having high profile support as a “whirlwind”.

“It wasn’t until we had a moment to sit back and think about the next record that we realised it’s very much a career for us. We want longevity, to make a few more records if they’re in us. I have to admit, that first record is very special and it’s going to be hard to top, so we’ll see what people think of this one.”

“It’s really difficult for me to talk about my own art. When I think about Pixies taking us on tour, that doesn’t feel like that even happened, it was so exciting. I don’t think there is an explanation for this [success], but I feel very lucky.”

Fekete says that the band isn’t big on planning, but he hints at a few things for the next album.

“Nothing ever goes as planned, especially in the music world, and we never get our hopes up for anything until we know it’s actually happening. When we were first starting, our manager would tell us, “Oh, they want to put your song in the preview of a Will Ferrell movie,” and we’d freak out, but then it’d never come up again. We take it day by day, to stay in a good mindset.”

“I think we’re going to be much more hands on with the next album, we’ve definitely already started talking about it. We may self-produce and we’d probably take a little more time to do it. When you’re in a big studio, it costs thousands of dollars a day and you don’t have time to sit back.”

“I think the next album will be much more toned down – we may even record it ourselves, but only time will tell.”

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