Q&A: Surfer Blood Talks Bruise Cruise, New EP, Leaving Florida

Cruises are a strange glue. They bring together retirees, teenagers, and 20-somethings looking to take advantage of the 24-hour buffet and free-flowing booze, and the Bruise Cruise will be no different. Setting sail today for a three-day party in the Bahamas, this maiden voyage of Rock n' Roll proportions is sure to bring back some band stories of the "you had to be there" persuasion.

One of those said bands -- local favorites Surfer Blood -- currently has a lot on its plate. Between nonstop touring, dishing out a new as-of-now-untitled five-track EP, and "cruisin' for a bruisin'," we were just floored we even got to see them perform at Grand Central last night. But does all of that pressure really mean it's time to get serious?  

"It's just at first I guess it's kind of hard to take seriously for us," says guitarist Thomas Fekete. "It was just so crazy for us." 

County Grind caught up with Fekete recently to talk the new EP, their plans for the Bruise Cruise, and the band's sad move away from South Florida.

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County Grind: So I saw that you referenced West Palm Beach in an MTV video interview as sort of saying like it's a great place to raise kids 'cause it has lots of sidewalk.

Thomas Fekete: Oh yeah [laughs].

That's all you have to say about Palm Beach, really?

No, no. Those were like funny. It was just like a funny interview. It was at the end of CMJ. We had actually just gotten done flying. We'd done like 10 shows or something.

Oh wow.

And by that point we were just like ... we didn't want to talk about anything. And what came out was just pretty funny.

I noticed all the video interviews you guys do though are pretty funny overall.

[Laughs] I think ... slowly but surely we're getting a little more serious when it comes to our interviews and what not. Just, I don't know. After maybe we had a thing where we went back and looked at a bunch of interviews and thought, "OK. Maybe it's starting to get a little annoying now. [laughs]." It's just at first I guess it's kind of hard to take seriously for us. It was just so crazy for us and we didn't want to come off like....

Like pretentious?

Yeah exactly like and we're not, you know [laughs].

But I think that kind of defines you guys though, the fact that you guys are like so playful in all your interviews.

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I mean we have just kind of a goofy vibe to our live set too, I think ... like JP does. He does some pretty crazy moves now and stuff. And you know I think we're trying to show people that we don't take ourselves too seriously because that's just part of the fun.

Speaking of fun, I was actually at the second Grand Central show that you guys played where you guys brought up the Four Loco girl.

Oh yeah [Laughs].

That was like trying to dry hump everybody on stage.

Yeah. That was really funny. [Laughs] Yeah JP was back like in the backstage area. That's like always the strangest venue to play for us. It has like kind of a mafia vibe to it [Laughs]. But it was like this backstage area where ... you know between bands the music is louder than like the actual live music.

Yeah I've noticed that before.

Yeah and there's like, I don't know, it just gets really annoying after being in the venue for three hours longer than everyone else and not being able to escape that, that like...

Loud droning music that's just like deafening?

Yeah, totally.

So can you tell me more about the new EP? Will you guys continue to play them live?

We're going to play the songs in their entirety. But there's certain little things -- like extras on the EP -- that we're not going to do live. You know little short, noisy type stuff that kind of ties it all together. It's going to be five songs -- like five full songs. One song is two parts, that counts as five songs and it's pretty long, like an 8 minute song.

Oh wow.

I think its super edgy. I know that's kind of like it's really cliche to say, like every band says this. But it's definitely much more mature than our last album. It's not nearly as whimsical. But it still has its hooks and it still ties in.

And it still kind of ties in with like typical Surfer Blood?

Yeah, definitely. It's just a bit more focused. Like it's kind of like ... I don't know. I think we're kind of really starting to find our sound. The last record Astro Coast was sort of all over the place. I mean it's like all the songs happened to really like work well together. Like it still impresses me. Not to sound like pretentious or anything. But sometimes I'll go back and I'll listen to it and think, "I hope our next LP flows like this."

Yeah they all tie in together.

Yeah, it's really nice. So the new EP is obviously much shorter. It's just five completely new songs. I mean I don't think they sound really like anything on Astro Coast. But it still sounds like us. We're really proud of them. There isn't a single song that we're nervous about putting out. We're like really proud of every single one of them and then one song is "I'm Not Ready," which I guess is actually like a super old song. That was written way before like I was even in the band. But it's changed quite a bit and we really love that song too. So yeah. I hope people like it and then after that's released we're pretty much going to go over to the UK and Europe and then come back and do East Coast with Trail of Dead and then we're going to go out to the West Coast and basically take a moving van out there we're going to move out there out to LA.

Oh no.

To work with like a producer out there and stuff. So I don't know how long it'll last or how long we're going to end up staying out there. But pretty much for at least half of 2011 we'll be living out there. [Laughs] Time is flying.

That's crazy. So you guys are literally becoming West Coasters. Even though I've noticed a lot of people feel like your music has like a very strong West Coast sound to it.

Yeah. It's funny, too because we're such East Coast people -- at least JP and I are. TJ is too at heart. TJ [mumbling] is from New Jersey, and just, I dunno. I like the overall vibe of California, but I feel like if I live there for too long I'll go insane. Just because people are so mellow and I dunno. It's like a whole different world out there. I like the feeling I have when I'm in New York. Noise pollution ... Just you know I feel like we'd get lost in this like insane sea of people who are doing so much amazing things. 

But I don't know. We'll see. We're just going to go out there. We're just going to get like a six month lease and we're going to go from there. I'm sure some of us will end up staying out there. I'm sure some of us will end up coming back or moving somewhere else. But that's the beauty of it. 

After the second LP is done we don't even have to worry about writing a song for you know, a year [laughs]. We're going to do what we did with Astro Coast and tour the amount that we toured back then because we still have to do that you know. But we're still at that level of a band where we have to really work hard, which is fine with me. I prefer it. I like to stay busy.

So then have you guys come up with a name yet for the EP?

No we haven't. We don't even have song titles yet [laughs]. Basically we wrote a lot of these songs on tour. So we got home and we just moved into this house and started practicing like crazy -- pretty much every day. And we practiced quietly because we have neighbors. It's like a townhouse. So we practiced really quietly with like an electric drum set and stuff. 

Then the day before we went into the studio we got together in a practice space and we practiced loudly for the first time, and it was just super exciting to hear it. That and then we went straight into the studio and started recording it. So we haven't even had time to give out song titles or album art or anything. I dunno. Sometimes I feel we work best under that kind of pressure. You know we're going to have to basically have the whole thing wrapped up by February 17.

Oh wow, for release in April right?

Yeah. But we'll manage to do it. That's the thing we've never been the type to rush anything and luckily I don't feel like we rushed these songs because we had so much time while touring to write them. But I think it's actually really good that, that we finally have a deadline for once, otherwise we just obsess over little ... and I realize now, that bands that put out the most music do the best. 

 Like for example Best Coast. She put out like five singles before her full length even came out. I mean she's just doing extremely well and if you only have one release you kind of notice that after a year things start to die out. It's pretty scary and this is like my career now so [laughs]. I dunno. It would be hard to go back to a normal job now. So we keep that in mind a lot. As anal as we are about our music, we try to remind ourselves that we have to keep our fans happy and just keep putting stuff out, you know?

I'm pretty sure your fans have stayed happy, at least from the shows that I've been to.

Yeah it's been ... it's been awesome. When we play shows it like reminds us of how crazy the whole thing is. But when you haven't played ... for example when we first got home from the UK, we did the Interpol tour. At the Interpol tour it was an amazing experience, but I don't actually think it was what we needed to do. 

I think what we really needed to do was go on a headlining tour over there. Even if it was like a fraction of the amount of people that were at the Interpol shows, it would've been people that were there for us. But I think a lot of our fans over there didn't come to see us because of ticket prices or because they didn't wanna see us in a bull fighting ring with 10,000 people. So it's really tough.

A bullfighting ring?

Yeah. We played a bull fighting ring in Portugal. It was ridiculous. I don't think these people heard our band name or saw what we looked like. [Laughs]. The show was like so massive. But I don't know. We were kind of bummed out on that tour by the end of it and we didn't really bond with those guys at all. And slowly but surely saw things kind of dying out. We just got super nervous and we were like, "Okay. Well now we really have to get this EP out." 

I don't know, it was just like a really strange feeling to see things go from just absolutely insane, you know everything you see everything ... every magazine your band is mentioned at least once or you hear about some new big thing on the internet about your band. And then out of know where it's just like, "Well now there's five other bands that are taking your place." So it just kind of reminds you that you really have to keep at it and that you can't slack off. You have to keep making you know the best music you can make. But you also have to force yourself to sort of really do it and really put it out. Otherwise you just kind of get lost in the sea of bands.

You know for example our friends the Carnivores said they actually said that their Florida tour has been best thing actually show wise and financially that they've ever done. So like every single show has so many people. The West Palm show obviously they weren't expecting anyone to be there. But they were saying that respectable was packed and everyone actually watched and I don't know it's cool, I feel like, I feel like slowly but surely you know.

South Florida is picking up their music scene a little bit.

It's really cool.

Yeah especially after all that like Nylon coverage that Surfer Blood received.

Oh. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where they asked about our favorite bands? Yeah that was awesome, I love Nylon too. It's my favorite people that we've worked with. They're like so funny and friendly. I don't know. They really love us. It's awesome. It's funny 'cause it's like a fashion magazine and I don't think we're exactly the most fashionable guys. We're actually a pretty goofy band so I think it's cool that they're all about it you know? It's cool. I think maybe I was kind of out of the loop but two years ago, I didn't really see too much of those kind of things going on at all down here you know.

Yeah, I feel like it's one of those things its very hidden and a lot of times if people aren't like really in it they don't really you know what I mean?

Yeah, totally. That's awesome, I'm really excited by it, I've never seen more and more bands coming down, you know coming down to Miami and really, it's really really great.

I was going to mention actually you're playing with another Miami band Jacuzzi Boys for the Booze Cruise.

Yeah. What's awesome is I think they're like only selling 400 tickets. Reed told me he's coming. I told him he's got to see the dark side of our fans for sure.

Do you guys plan on doing anything different since you're going to be kind of in a different ambiance on the cruise?

We haven't even talked about it yet, but I mean I can guarantee that we will. We'll think of something ridiculous. Like this totally is not happening ... It's definitely not happening, but at first we were emailing with Andrew WK. I was emailing with him about doing a collaboration some time and we were like, "Well why don't you come on the Bruise Cruise and play our set with us?" He's like, "I'd totally love to do it." So we started looking into it and our manager started talking to his manager but financially it was hard to do. 

But that would have been awesome. That's just an example of the kind of things we've been thinking about doing. Right now we're just so focused on the EP. It's crazy because basically we're going to finish the EP, get on Bruise Cruise then as soon as we get off Bruise Cruise we go straight to the airport to fly to the UK. We don't even have time to go home.

That's so intense.

It's going to be really busy February, we're going to have to get everything.

But good busy. Is this going to be your first cruise?

No actually. my dad worked for Baldwin pianos, and they basically had this program on this really ritzy cruise ship. Like I would never ... my parents would never have been on a cruise ship if it wasn't for this. I love them for that. You know it's just ... it's kind of ridiculous. I don't think I'd ever go on a cruise if it wasn't for this show. But my dad basically got offered to give piano lessons for like an hour a day to a group of people and then he could bring two free people on the cruise with him.

Oh wow.

It was a two week cruise around Asia.


Like, yeah it was like one of the most amazing things I've ever done. The best part was I was in high school at the time. I was a freshman in high school and I remember my parents we're just like well you know, fuck it you're gonna have to take like two and half weeks off. I didn't even like tell my teachers or anything it was just funny. The only problem with that there was like, it was, like I said a really ritzy cruise and there was no, not a single young person on the boat. There wasn't one person my age.

So there wasn't calypso music either?

No, no.

That's what I always picture on a cruise.

I just picture like cheesy ... just ridiculousness

That would be a good sort of way for you guys to change things up to start playing calypso music on the cruise.

[Laughs] Yeah.

Wear the little Hawaiian shirts.

Yeah that'd be awesome [laughs].

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