JP Pitts on Continuing Surfer Blood Without Thomas Fekete

Things should be good for West Palm Beach indie rock heroes Surfer Blood. They have a new album set for release in early 2017. They've had opening gigs for some of their biggest influences like The Pixies and Guided by Voices. Their song "Swim" was even heard on the awesome Netflix superhero show Daredevil. But earlier this year, the four piece heartbreakingly lost their original guitarist, Thomas Fekete, to cancer.

"Thomas was so young and had so much to give the world," Surfer Blood singer John Paul Pitts tells New Times.. "His memorial in Delray was when it hit me that I would never be able to see him again. Before that I kept thinking he was in hiding and would pop up again." Pitts channeled these emotions to inspire some of Surfer Blood's new music, which he describes as longer and more epic. "I wrote the whole record while he was in cancer treatment. Any time I got tired, I'd think of Thomas, and it gave me the will power to continue. I'm grateful for the thousand amazing memories I had with him."

Many of those memories involve touring the world together playing shows. "Being from South Florida made us curious about the rest of the world. We're so isolated. It takes ten hours to make it to Atlanta which is the next big market. Being from West Palm was great since the scene is so tight-knit, but it created a wanderlust in us. So we took the leap into touring. It's an amazing adventure and it's the only way to get known outside your hometown."

Those hometown fans will get a taste of the traveling band when Surfer Blood plays Culture Room September 3 with relatively new bassist Lindsey Mills and guitarist Mike Mcleary. "We've had two new members join over the last year and a half. Our harmonies are better than ever before with really good backing vocals." Pitts said they will take a different approach toward their set in honor of their co-headliner. "The Heavy Pets are kind of a jam band. We're going to try to do more improv since we're playing with them. I always liked how Built to Spill and Modest Mouse brought jamming into indie rock." 

In spite of their deep loss, Pitts says he's proud of Surfer Blood's continued success. "It's life affirming. It feel like we're on the right track."

Surfer Blood and The Heavy Pets
7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 3, at Culture Room, 3045 North Federal Highway,  Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $13  plus fees; 954-564-1074;
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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland