Tour Spiel: Surfer Blood


Photo Credit: Ian Witlen

Inspired by the Minutemen song, Evil Monito’s “Tour Spiel” highlights the musician’s life on the road. Each week, we’ll check in with some of our favorite artists touring stateside or abroad. We’ll provide an intimate look into what it’s like to be packed in a van or waiting for a flight with the same people for hours on end. It takes a certain state of mind to survive any lengthy tour. Yet it’s the memorable experiences that make life on the road ultimately rewarding, if not interesting. This week we highlight the charming band, Surfer Blood who profess their adoration of SF culture and divulge in a music playlist that keeps them from nodding off while driving.

EM: What is your favorite song to play live? And why?
Surfer Blood “Floating Vibes”

‘Floating Vibes’ is my favorite live Surfer Blood song, maybe because we have consistently opened with it.  I’ve started to associate it with that initial rush of adrenaline you get at the very beginning of your set when the lights come on.  Its also the first song on Astro Coast and I consider it some of our best work.

EM: What city did you most enjoy playing on tour? And why was it memorable?

San Francisco was amazing, we stayed with some old friends who took us around to the Mission District,  Grand Central Park and a ton of other cool spots.  It was my first time spending any real time on the west coast and I fell in love with Northern California.  It has so many hills, at any given moment you can be looking out over the entire city and it feels really magical, especially at night.

Photo Credit: Ian Witlen

EM: What was the strangest town you’ve played in?

That was probably Bellingham Washington; we played in a bar called Cap’s and everyone was eating dinner while we played.  It was so weird, it seemed like they didn’t even realize a band was playing, no one clapped between songs, no one was even looking at us.  By the end of the set I was lashing out for attention, I started climbing on tables and taking handfuls of people’s food.  It felt like no one there had ever seen someone from outside their own town before.

EM: What kind of vehicle do you tour in?

A 2005 Dodge Conversion band with a trailer behind it.  It’s actually kind of luxurious.

EM: Who was your favorite band to play on tour with? And why?

Japandroids and Art Brut were both awesome sets of dudes, it would be too hard to pick a favorite.  We had a lot of fun with both of them.

EM: What obscure band did you recently “discover” while on tour?

I had never heard Titus Andronicus before our last tour.  I don’t know, maybe I was living under a rock, their album has been out since 2008, but they are a really cool band that I had never heard of before.  Their song ’Your Life is Over’ is simultaneously the funniest and saddest song I’ve ever heard.

EM: What is your favorite venue to play in? And why was it a great experience?

Club Sandwich in Lake Worth is my favorite venue, it’s an awesome warehouse space that can maybe hold fifty people.  We used to use it as a practice space before someone we were sharing it with stole a lot of our equipment (we found it at a pawn shop later).  After that we moved out in a hurry; our friends moved in and the guy who stole our stuff went to rehab, after that they started using the space as a place to have shows.  Its really small and intimate; extremely intimate.  Its my favorite place to watch a band for the first time.

Image Courtesy of Swell Vegan

EM: While on tour, what is the band’s consensus as the favorite spot to eat?

Ecopolitan in Minneapolis.  Some of the members of Surfer Blood are vegetarian/vegan and the rest of us try and eat healthy when we can.  Tom (our guitarist) is on a mostly raw diet, so this place is perfect for him, they grow all of their food on site and everything there is vegan friendly and delicious.

EM: On nights off in-between shows, how do you like to occupy your time?

Usually just wandering around a city and hopping in and out of bars.  When we were in Pittsburgh we found a dollar movie theater just outside of town, we were all broke so it was great.  We saw ’The Hangover’ and I walked out two-thirds of the way through.  We were the only non–retired people in the theater.

EM: If you or the band had to agree on one “must-read” book for the long trip, what would it be?

Thomas got me into Haruki Murakami, he read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle on our last tour and I just started reading Norwegian Wood. I think tour (or any time) is the perfect time for a coming of age novel.

EM: What is the most interesting thing you’ve found or bought while on tour?

I bought a trapper hat on Canal Street in New York.  I thought that was pretty cool.

EM: What are some of the best records to listen to on the road?

Here are a few:

GroomsRejoicer: We listened to this record pretty much non-stop.  We played a show with them at CMJ and we were all totally blown away by how incredible they were.

GirlsAlbum: I can see why everyone is talking about this band, Christopher Owen is a really good songwriter.

The SmithsThe Queen is Dead : I usually listen to this record at least once whenever we have to drive through the night.

Holiday ShoresColumbus’d the Whim: This album has some really solid songs, my favorites are ‘Reruns,’ ‘Phones Don’t Feud,’ and ‘Bradley Bear.’

The Zombies - Greatest Hits: I have a real weakness for the pop music of the early sixties, The Zombies are one of my favorites.

Dinosaur Jr.You’re Living All Over Me: One of my all-time favorites!

EM: What’s the most unique piece of equipment on your tour?

Probably this crazy Moog synthesizer we picked up at a small music store in Minneapolis.  It only has three controls, but it sounds pretty awesome when you start tweaking the cutoff filter.

EM: What comfort items are a “must” when embarking on a long tour?


EM: What is the hardest thing about being on the road?

I’d say waking up early after a long night, we had some pretty grueling drives on our last tour (some as much as twelve hours) and we’d have to wake up around six in the morning to get started.  I had to take on some of those early morning drives and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without gulping coffee the entire time.  It’s also tough being cut off from the rest of the world.  I finally got a phone that has internet now, maybe that won’t be such a problem anymore.



01-25 St. Augustine, FL – Cafe Eleven &
01-26 Orlando FL – Backbooth &
01-27 West Palm Beach, FL – Respectable Street Cafe &
02-03 London – Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
02-04 Kingston – Hippodrome
02-05 London – KOKO
02-09 London – Scala
02-16 Orlando, FL  – Backbooth  %
02-17 Deland, FL – DaVinci %
02-18 Tallahassee, FL – Engine Room %
02-19 Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn %
02-20 Nashville , TN – The End  %
02-22  Charlotte, NC – Snug Harbor – %
02-23 Morgantown, WV -123 Pleasant Street %
02-24  Washington DC – Dc 9 %
02-26 Hanover, NH – Dartmouth College  !
03-01 Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary *
03-02 Allston, MA  – Great Scott *
03-03 Providence, RI  – AS220 *
03-05 Montreal – Il Motore *
03-06 Toronto – Sneaky Dees *
03-07 Geneseo, NY – Suny Geneseo College *
03-08 Meadville, PA – Allegheny *
03-09 Detroit MI – Magic Stick  *
03-11 Bloomington, IN – the Bishop  *
03-12 Columbia, MO – Mojos *
03-13 Lawrence, KS – Replay Lounge  *
03-14 Oklahoma City – The Conservatory *
03-17 Austin, TX – SXSW
03-18 Austin, TX – SXSW
03-19 Austin, TX – SXSW
03-20 Austin, TX – Mohawk  [ Panache Booking SXSW Showcase ] *!

* w/ Turbo Fruits
^ w/ Holiday Shores
& w/ Monotonix
# w/ Drums
! w/ Small Black
% w/ Turbo Fruits & Holiday Shores

via , 22 January 2010 2:45pm |