Concert Preview: Fresh surf-rock tunes at Flycatcher
Surfer Blood comes to The Flycatcher tomorrow to debut songs from upcoming album
Courtesy of Surfer Blood
“Can we do this in an hour? I somehow thought this interview was going to be later today,” JP, alias John Paul Pitts, the lead singer of Surfer Blood asked politely. He seemed busy, which is no surprise, seeing that things seem to be picking up for his American surf-rock band.
The band’s last studio album, Pythons, was released in 2013. Somehow, between touring, the band managed to record a third album.
“I basically spent the better part of six months in my little home studio tweaking everything, and recording backup parts, and just kind of just explored the stuff,” JP said. “I think it really shows in the variety that’s on the record.”
1000 Palms will be released on May 12. However, the band will give a small taste tomorrow when it plays a gig at The Flycatcher on Fourth Avenue.
“The album’s done,” JP said. “We have a new record label; we’re doing a tour. Things are going good. It’s starting to get in motion.”
For the lead singer of an established band with considerable critical acclaim under its belt, this gratuity toward the very basics sounds strange at first. Given the band’s turbulent last few years, it is only natural that it’s starting fresh. After an incident that overshadowed its last album and ended in JP’s arrest being dragged all over the music press, this back-to-the-basics notion makes perfect sense.
After its home-produced first album, 2010’s Astro Coast, the band, originally from Florida but now California-based, signed a contract with Warner Bros. for its follow-up. However, 2012’s Gil Norton-produced album Pythons wasn’t as convincing; it was too sleek, too one-sided.
The record’s 10 songs had singer JP begging for forgiveness and displayed the band’s overall bad place at the time.
“Pythons was a very polished record and overall really cohesive,” JP said. “The songs all have a similar structure and sound similar sonically. But we were dropped from Warner in the beginning of the year, so [1000 Palms] isn’t quite like the last record where we recorded in Hollywood with a big producer, which is really not a terrible thing.”
As lead singer and songwriter, JP didn’t seem to be too down about this development.
“I love recording, and to be honest, I missed having control about all aspects of recording,” he said.
This time around, creative freedom was given to the band, and it’s tried to make the best of it.
“We recorded all by ourselves,” JP said. “It takes a little bit longer, but it gives you the freedom to experiment, try different stuff — and if you don’t like it, you just start over. … On this record, we didn’t even worry about cohesiveness; we didn’t want to constrain ourselves in terms of writing. I think it’s a lot more open-sounding; it’s a lot more [detailed].”
On Monday, the album’s name, 1000 Palms, was revealed on Pitchfork. The first single, “The Grand Inquisitor,” can now be streamed online. And, if nothing goes wrong, you’ll hear Surfer Blood’s new song “Dorian” and an interview with the band on KAMP Student Radio Thursday afternoon before its show at The Flycatcher.
“I think that ‘Dorian’ is one of the more ambitious songs from the record,” JP said. “It shows the broader palette we are going for with our new album. Hopefully, it will take some people by surprise.”
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