Interview with JOHN PAUL PITTS of SURFER BLOOD (Cayucos Vet’s Hall, 1/9/2016)

Surfer Blood performed to a crowd of a few hundred loyal fans at the Cayucos Vet’s Hal, appropriately, only 50 yards away from the undulating waves of the Pacific Ocean and the Cayucos pier. “Intimate” is a good description of the performance, with the band gracing the main floor (rather than any elevated stage), where they stood mere feet away from a crowd of adoring fans, many of whom were reaching out as though they wanted to themselves become impromptu backup, session player members of the band.

Surfer Blood put on a great show, full of raw energy and chorus-singing, anthemic audience interaction. New member Lindsey Mills was on point and her wide smile highlighted her bright future as a member of this already successful band, bringing a nice “Kim Deal”-esque feminine dynamic to this formerly all-male band. Another highlight of the show was John’s foray into the crowd during the performance. As John would later tell me, going out into the crowd affords him a unique perspective in which he’s able to break the proverbial “fourth wall” and then look back at his band members to evaluate how they look (and sound) from the audience’s perspective. The performance culminated in an impromptu performance of “Crimson and Clover” with Zach and Ben of opening band Cayucas performing alongside the headliners.

After the show, we had the honor of getting to chat with John Paul Pitts backstage (or more accurately, in the kitchen). Not having a “green room” at the venue, the kitchen afforded an otherwise private environment to talk more openly without interruption from fans.  John shared his insights about the band’s enduring success (despite personnel challenges relating to founding member Thomas Fekete’s battle with cancer as well as bassist Kevin William’s recent departure), new bandmate Lindsey’s prolific skill set and adaptability, as well as getting to meet the Pixies in a New Zealand airport and going on to open for them during their successful 2011 “Lost Cities” tour. We also talked about producer Gil Norton’s influence on the band’s “Python” album and how Surfer Blood is trying to stay true to their lo-fi roots, despite significant pressure from the industry to “refine” (aka “sterilize”) their sound. He also referenced being invited to perform during All Tomorrow’s Parties by emcee and idol, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement.

John Paul Pitts is an accomplished, articulate and humble musician with an uncharacteristically clear vision of what he wants to put out into the world. He’s ridden a wave of both underground success and more recently, critical adoration, yet is firmly  rooted in his own aesthetic principles and standards. I look forward to seeing this talented artist in the future. Many more good things are yet to come.

For more information about Surfer Blood, check out www.surferblood.com. Also, to support founding member Thomas Fekete’s GoFundMe campaign to pay for critical healthcare costs, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/welovethomas

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Jason Reed                                                                                                                                              Inner Edge Music

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