When you think of Palm Beach, Florida, what comes to mind? Palm trees swaying gently in the balmy breeze? Scantily-clad bikini buxom babes rollerblading down an infinite slab of coral-colored concrete? How about anthemic, bombastic, life-affirming indie pop?
If the latter didn’t occur to you, let us introduce you to Surfer Blood: they call West Palm Beach home and, while still in their early 20s, have penned “Astro Coast”, an album’s worth of catchy, summery indie songs that even the most hook-laden power pop band would rightfully be jealous of.
Members JP (dubbed “The Mastermind” by the rest of the band), TJ and Thomas met one fateful night at an after party for Miami’s Ultra Festival, though they didn’t attend the festival itself (“We do not like the D’n’B,” they proclaim). After discussing music – what else? –for the remainder of the night, JP decided to recruit the other guys to perfect some songs he had been working on, and thus, the band was formed. Tyler and I had been playing with a few different people and nothing seemed to be working out. When Tom approached me at that party, he seemed dead serious about touring and trying to make the band work. I had seen how his previous bands had been; his old band had done a tour up to Atlanta over spring break when they were fifteen. It was exactly what Tyler and I needed. I gave him my phone number that night and he called me the next afternoon. He came by our rehearsal space and I showed him the recordings that would become “Astro Coast”. The fact that the other guys believed in the music from the very beginning was a huge catalyst”.
From then on, things moved at a breakneck pace. A mere two months after they met they started touring outside of Florida in July, up to New York in August and then to Chicago in September. On a recommendation from a friend, they started recording “Astro Coast” at a studio in Port St. Lucie Florida, but when they only finished the drums at the end of a two day session, Tyler and JP decided to take matters into their own hands, spending the next six months tracking and mixing the record in JP’s apartment in Boca Raton with a copy of Pro Tools which Tyler procured for “dirt cheap” through a community college where he was studying in Orlando. JP asserts, “It gave us the opportunity to give our album the time and thought it deserved”.
Their live shows started coming into their own as well, with the band practicing every day and touring nonstop, their newfound energy resulting in a constant evolution and refinement of their sound. “Our live set is always changing”, JP says. “Subtle things begin to work their way into the songs and before you know it people are coming up to you after shows and telling you that the live show is a completely different experience from the record”. The tipping point for the band, of course, was last year’s CMJ Music Marathon, where they played a whopping 13 shows in 7 days, catching the eye of the likes of Interview and The New York Times in the process. With the resultant excited chatter anointing them as the band to watch bar none, and a record deal freshly inked with Kanine Records, Surfer Blood released “Astro Coast”.
In the following months “Astro Coast” attracted accolades across the board. The album and its songs landed atop numerous Best of Lists, including Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Filter, with Bob Boilen from NPR declaring “…dig into Astro Coast and you’ll hear why, song for song, this may be my favorite album of 2010.”