Q&A: Surfer Blood

Oct. 29, 2010, 12:40 a.m.
Q&A: Surfer Blood
(Courtesy of Brian Valdizno/Treeswingers)

Jamming in an interview an hour before their scheduled set at Treasure Island Music Festival 2010, the members of Surfer Blood were just enjoying the moment. The five-piece band, hailing from West Palm Beach, Fla., were hardly out of their element, taking the festival in as spectators as well as performers. On Sunday, lead singer JP Pitts and drummer TJ Schwarz dropped by behind the main stage to discuss their fast-tracked rise to success, their short-lived college careers and, of course, surfing. Pitts also gave us one awesome prediction that he’d meet Belle and Sebastian, a dream that he later realized when he joined the Scottish headliners on stage Sunday night. We kept this one short for one, because of Surfer Blood’s upcoming set, but also because conversation was made impossible by the overpowering audio glory that is Broken Social Scene, who began their set just as the interview began.

So, I heard you guys sound a lot like Weezer?

JP Pitts: Fuck you.

TJ Schwarz: <yelling at Broken Social Scene taking the stage> Kevin Drew! Kevinnnnnnnnnn.

JP: Kevinnnnnnnnnnn. You’re beautiful!

TJ: Nice hat.

How are you guys doing today?

TJ: Oh we’re great dude. How’s The Stanford Daily doing today?

The Stanford Daily is doing well. It’s a bit cold, isn’t it though?

JP: It’s not as bad as we thought it would be.

How is it in Florida?

TJ: Oh, right now it’s humid.

So we’re a college publication, and I wanted to start off by asking about a little story I heard. We heard that you guys took some scholarship money for college and bought some band gear?

<BSS’s Kevin Drew overpowering all sound from the main stage: “San Francisco how’s it going?”>

JP: That we did. Well we were like all going to college, and I think we were just half-assing it, to be honest with you. I was playing in bands and stuff at the time…and so we all kinda like just dropped our new college classes and started touring, and I’m really glad we did.

Where were you guys going to school?

JP: I was going to Florida Atlantic University for education. High school education.

TJ: He was going for something that would support the arts.

<Broken Social Scene breaks out into “Meet Me In The Basement.”>

JP: Aside from playing music, teaching is my other passion.

So, you guys aren’t surfers? What’s the deal behind that?

JP: He is. <points to TJ>

TJ: I was once, one day, in my age, one year in my life. Maybe a couple years. I’m too old for that now. Every time I see a surfboard, I crumble inside.

JP: We still make plans to go out together, but we never do.

TJ: We run on the beach. It’s been a while, but –

JP: Yeah, we do some jogging on the beach.

Any surfing out here though?

TJ: I’ve done my own private tour to Encinitas once. Encinitas to San Diego, stopped by La Jolla. It was beautiful.

What about Trestles?

TJ: I’ve never been to Trestles. No.

JP: I never knew that.

Let’s talk about the influence of The Drums on your guys’ career start. They were your friends and…

JP: We owe a lot to The Drums. They’re nice guys. I knew Jacob [Graham], he was living in Cocoa Beach, I was living in Orlando, but we both showed up to a lot of shows in Orlando. And we were friends, I guess. He got curious a few years later and wanted to see what we were up to, and he found Surfer Blood on the Internet. And he was like, “I want to introduce you to my friend who runs a record label, he’s really awesome.”

TJ: Absolutely, lovely people.

JP: Nicest dudes, really good people.

You guys mentioned the Internet. That’s been a big part in yours guys’ rise, right?

TJ: I think with every band the Internet is pretty influential, especially in this day and age.

<Broken Social Scene’s strings and horns kick in, making speech futile.>

So who are you guys excited to see today?

JP: Tonight, Belle and Sebastian! Belle and Sebastian!

TJ: We finally got to see Superchunk for a little bit. That was cool.

JP: [On Belle and Sebastian] They were one of my favorite bands growing up, and it’s amazing that they’re playing here on the same day as us.

TJ: They’re a beautiful band. I want to meet them as people too.

Have you met them yet?

TJ: No, but I’m planning to. Um, I hope it happens.

Kind of like storming their tent, or what?

TJ: I don’t think I’m going to storm or what I’m going to do. I’m going to figure out some way to make it happen.

A version of this article appeared at Treeswingers.com on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

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