Black Surf take on the A-Z challenge

The A-Z challenge is a fun way for us to tell you all about the latest up and coming artists in a way that isn’t us droning on about them, because they do all the talking! This time, it’s the turn of Black Surf to tell you all about themselves by taking on our mammoth interview!

A song that made you want to make music?

Bohemian Rhapsody. Although Green Day’s Geek Stink Breath made me think it was actually a possibility.

Best rider you’ve had? 

My old band disbanded as the bottles of spirits, cases of booze and stacks of pizzas were starting to come in. The current line up of this band has only played 11 shows so we’re lucky and happy if we get a cold one. A carrier bag full of pasties and Irn Bru has been the highlight for sure.

Craziest moment you’ve experienced in the band?

Recently we got an email from Interscope Records. They said their A&R loved us and wanted to fly us out to Santa Monica to sign us with a pretty chunky advance to use how we please. The initial moment of F*CK YES! Quickly wore off as we figured it was a scam. I’m currently trolling them back. See our insta highlights for payback.

Deepest lyrics one of your songs features?

There’s a song on our first record called ‘Are We Getting Closer?‘ with the lyrics “you’re just a big cuddly man child”. It doesn’t get deeper than that. If you want a more serious answer you can do your own digging!

Easiest song you wrote?

Open Fire, the second track on the EP was written on a bus on route to record the EP’s demos. Going through the tracks I realised I’d completely forgotten to write that song and had 15 minutes to get something done and dusted if it was gonna make the record. It’s amazing how quickly you can produce results when you have a deadline. 

Favourite song in your set?

I’m still in love with Lights Out, one of our first songs. We’ve added a cheeky little extended jam in the live set now so it’s been given a new life. I’ll happily play that track forever. That track has those magic feels and vibes. 

Guest you’d most like to feature on your record?

Sometimes when I’m day dreaming, I see us playing in front of a massive crowd. It’s the same festival stage every time and a sea of people. Then for some reason, Hayley Williams walks on a duets with us. That would be rad! Wayne Coyne is welcome to join us in the studio too. We’d have a blast.

Hardest thing about being in a band?

Oh that’s easy! Trying to maintain the balance of holding down a day job, relationships and playing the roles of band manager, tour booker, designer, all keep all the social media crap flowing. Actually, that’s all just about doable. The hardest part is being able to afford to actually release our music in the way we’d love to. Band practice in London costs us about £80 for one session. Our current dream is to afford to make videos for each track, get a tour booker, radio plugger and shit tonne of awesome merch for fans.

Interesting fact about one of your members? 

Our synth player quit the band 4 times last year as he thought he’d merged with the 5th dimension. 

Jokes you have in the band?

We’ve had a hilariously uphill battle since the day we’ve formed this thing. Two of our original members Phil (guitarist) and Tom (bassist) left to start families. We’re all close and they’ll be back in the fold when we hit the big time arena level. That’s the first joke! We’ve done all touring on public transport because none of us drive until recently. That’s the second. The fact that we haven’t given up and refuse to let anything derail us is probably the biggest joke of all. 

Key to writing a song?

Get out of the way of what needs to come through you. Use whatever tools you’ve got to create something that you love, in that moment. Simple isn’t shameful. 

Longest distance you’ve traveled to play a show?

My old band got caught up in some Beijing Olympics hype whilst on tour in China. We joined Brazilian & Russian dancers and shoalin monks on a 24 hour train to Outer Mongolia. When we arrived, there was no gig and instead what looked like a massive parade. We were told we were representing Britain for the parade and so without any instruments, we did rock poses and devil horns whilst chugging beer on a moving float through the city. More recently, I’d say… Carlisle. 

Most inspiring musician you’ve experienced?

Ani Difranco. She’s my ultimate hero. Her story is as insane as her musical ability. She started her own record company and turned down million dollar deals at the age of 18 in the 90’s. I once saw her break a string whilst playing in an obscure tuning. She instantly adapted the song, called for her guitar tech and changed her guitar whilst singing the bridge, right in time to smash the chorus. It was probably the coolest musical moment I ever saw. Any none muso in the crowd might not have even noticed. 

New band you’d recommend?

Our guitarist, Phil (oracle & creator of Black Surf music) is obsessed with Mitski. He’s always been on the pulse since we were kids. So I’ll blindly recommend his recommendations without checking myself first. I just called him and he said “irontom from the states. Nice melodies and interesting breaks”. Then hung up.

Opening for this band would be ideal?

Weezer. Next question.

Place you’d most like to tour?

Australia. No wait…West of California. Basically anywhere where there’s sunshine, sand and surf. 

Quote you’d like to pass on to our readers?

“Worrying is a form of praying for what you don’t want. So stop worrying.” – Bhagavan Das

Reason for the title of your recent/forthcoming release?

Make Friends’ is the first part of a longer title. You’re the first know that btw. Front page exclusive news alert! The two EPs we’re releasing this year form the full title and message. 

See us live at?

  • King Billy’s, Northampton – 23.5.19
  • Islington 02, London – 25.5.19

See the website – www.blacksurf.co.uk for the rest and to stay updated. We’ll be pumping out dates all year. Come and say hello if you get down to a show. We love to meet fans. Critics, just grab a t-shirt and keep walking. 

The old days of music were better than the current, do you agree?

Hard to say really. Listening to new music back in the day was more expensive. It comes and goes in waves doesn’t it. Every era has great and sucky music. I’d say it was more organic and exciting back in the day because there’s was less bands and more genre crossovers to explore. We’re in a rehash cycle at the moment and pop music has become a conveyer belt of mediocrity. But hey, that new Black Surf record is fresh as sh*t!

Unusual merchandise?

Nope

Variations you’d like to do on any of your songs?

Yeah! Always! We love to mess with songs and give them a new life. If the song is good, it can work in all sorts of genres. We’ve actually reworked a track called Vultures four times now. Acoustic/grunge/euphoric dance pop and now we’re merging it again to give it a current twist. It’s like a painting that you never quite finished. The risk is not to go too far cos then you’ve f*cked it. We’ve just about found the sweet spot. It’s nearly there. 

What do your fans mean to you?

Absolutely everything. We’re all massive fans of bands and have been all of our lives. We know what it means and we know that anyone that loves our band is an absolute blessing that we’re forever grateful. The reason why we fully commit to our Podcast, blog, acoustic side and all the social media stuff is to give back to them. We want to give back what we’d want from bands when we growing up. Can you imagine listening to NOFX’s podcast on the way to school!?

X-rays or any treatments needed for band related injuries?

No! Hell no! Why would you even bring that up!? The only treatments we seek are steam rooms and saunas which eases the lugging of equipment up and down the country. Pre-show swim, steam and sauna has become a band ritual. 

You’re late for a show, whose fault is it?

100% Diggle (Synth). To be fair to him, he sometimes does two journeys as he’s got about 5 synths. Tom and I should probably start practising a two piece set just to be safe. Having said that, Tom also just passed his test so now we can actually tour in a car. Rush hour tubes and traffic is all kinds of horrendous for touring. We dream of a van with a driver. 

Zoo animal that best describes the personality of your band?

Hey, nice A-Z! Lucky we have zoos hey? I was wondering how you were gonna end this. Hmmm… Sloth? Are sloths in zoos? We’re basically a slacker band. We’ll show up to the party in our own good time. Wait… maybe we’re turtles! Soft in the middle, a shell that is damn hard to break and we’ll live for f*cking ages.

Elizabeth Birt

May 16, 2019

Band management assistant. Goth princess and lover of all things music and sport.

@lbirt1993

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