Thursday, April 20, 2017

Flagpole magazine's Athens Surf Stomp II article

Second Annual Athens Surf Stomp Spotlights a Growing Scene

Saturday, Apr. 22 @ Little Kings Shuffle Club

Photo Credit: Miranda Hawks
The Flamethrowers Surf Band
You may not realize it, but Athens is home to a thriving surf-music scene. Rather than coalesce around a single band, venue or promoter, this scene arose seemingly by accident. Compelled by a love of the style, a handful of local groups have formed and evolved independently of one another, offering distinct takes on the electrifying sounds first put forth by artists like the Ventures, Dick Dale and the Beach Boys.

Recognizing that the number of surf bands in town had grown, Nate Fackler, who plays guitar in the Flamethrowers Surf Band, invited a handful of them to play the first Athens Surf Stomp last spring. “It went so well I was asked to do it again this year,” Fackler says, adding, “I believe this is Athens' first annual surf stomp event.” Similar regional showcases, like the Southern Surf Stomp, have also proven popular, indicating that surf music is resurgent on a wider level.

This Saturday, the Athens Surf Stomp returns, featuring five intown acts and two from elsewhere: Atlanta’s Mystery Men? and Genki Genki Panic, from Chattanooga. Flagpole caught up with a few of the locals on the bill to gab about the Classic City’s surprising surf scene.

The Flamethrowers Surf Band

Flagpole: What first got you interested in surf music?

Steve Sacco: Listening to the Ventures as a kid. I thought “Wipe Out” was the coolest thing I ever heard.

FP: What's your all-time favorite surf recording?

SS: “Nitro” by Dick Dale. There's a lot out there, like the Shadows, but “Nitro” is so blisteringly fantastic, so in-your-face perfect, it tops the list for me. Dick is still killing it. He's 80 freakin’ years old. I've seen him three times, and just left with my mouth agape every time. How could anyone be that good?

FP: What's your take on the surf-music scene in Athens?

SS: There are some really talented groups here in Athens, and they are all different from each other—[they’re] all doing their own thing, which is really cool. None of the bands sound alike. The Cryptides just kill the traditional ’60s surf sound, while Kinky Waikiki has a whole different Hawaiian thing happening. Both groups are super smooth and polished. There's room for all surfers here in the Classic City. We're a welcoming town when it comes to music.

FP: How does your band differ from the other surf groups in town?

SS: The Flamethrowers Surf Band may as well be the lovechild of the Ventures and the Ramones. Nobody else does that. We're a hard-driving, ’60s-style surf band who likes to speed everything up. You can hear the influence of both bands in our original tunes.

Photo Credit: Jessica Luton
The Cryptides

The Cryptides

FP: What first interested you in surf music?

Thomas Barton: Not the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Though the surf genre has evolved into something that doesn't so closely resemble the Beach Boys, I'm told I ran around trying to sing “Barbara Ann” before I formed full words, so that was a start.

Zeke Sayer: I liked the sound of the snare rolls on “Wipe Out” as a child.

Patrick Ingram: I think it was the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

FP: What's your take on the surf-music scene in Athens?

TB: It seems like there are more surf bands in town than there were, say, five or 10 years ago. We're glad Athens Surf Stomp is here to showcase these bands, and bring some others in from elsewhere. We all enjoyed it last year!

FP: How does your band differ from the other surf groups in town?

PI: To be completely honest, we may not take it as seriously. We do some old surf classics, obscure and known, but we also try to bring in other elements, like film soundtrack themes and other oddballs we try to get away with, like a Mr. Bungle cover here and there. It's all in good fun.

The Nice Machine's latest album, Science Is Real.

The Nice Machine

FP: What first got you interested in surf music?

Steve Abercrombie: I think surf music has always been in our blood. Mine and Eric [McDowell]’s parents used to listen to oldies in the car on the way to school, and I remember hearing “Wipe Out.” At school, kids would show each other how to play the drums to “Wipe Out” with your fingers on the desk. I was hooked on surf after that, before I really even knew what it was.

FP: What's your all-time favorite surf recording?

SA: “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” [by the Ventures]. It has that classic Ventures mix of simple guitar leads and crunchy rhythm parts, with all those guitars in sync. You get a little fun part in the middle, but then they punch you with the meaty low-end sections so you know they mean business.

FP: How does your band differ from the other surf groups in town?

SA: Only about a quarter to a third of our songs are straight-up surf. The rest are a mix of instrumental genres—stoner rock, punk, noise, rhythmic drones and, of course, surf.

Photo Credit: Justin Evans
Kinky Waikiki

Kinky Waikiki

FP: What first got you interested in surf music? 

A.J. Adams: Some of the first songs I ever learned on guitar at the age of 13 were old Ventures and Santo & Johnny songs taught to me by my dad. All of these songs were a great way to learn the importance of melody. They opened the door to a lifelong obsession with all music of the 1960s, particularly instrumental pop. Years later, when I started playing steel guitar, I revisited these songs with the same love and excitement.

FP: What's your all-time favorite surf recording?

AA: Though not really considered surf music, I would have to say Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk.” Such a beautiful, simple melody that's oozing with 1960s tube amps, everybody playing in the same room and a generous helping of reverb to lay your head on.

FP: What's your take on the surf-music scene in Athens?

AA: There has always been some version of surf in Athens since the ’80s. Now it seems there are even more surf bands than ever. Its really great, because we didn't realize how many until last year’s Surf Stomp brought them all together.

FP: How does your band differ from the other surf groups in town?

AA: We are basically a mellow lounge band centered around steel guitar that pulls influences from Hawaiian, surf and exotic lounge. We live somewhere between Martin Denny and the Ventures. It's all maximum R and R for us.

Saturday, April 22

Little Kings Shuffle Club

ATHENS SURF STOMP The second annual surf stomp includes sets by Vacations (6 p.m.), Flamethrowers (6:50 p.m.), Nice Machine (7:40 p.m.), Kinky Waikiki (8:30 p.m.), Cryptides (9:20 p.m.), Mystery Men (10:10 p.m.) and Genki Genki Panic (11 p.m.).

Huge thanks to Flagpole for the article, the original of which may be found here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Southern Surf Stomp! presents The Blair-Pongracic Band, The Mystery Men?, The Surge!

We will be announcing the 2017 Southern Surf StompFest lineup VERY soon.  But in the meantime, how about an unbelievable historic event announcement?!
We are proud to host The Blair-Pongracic Band on their first stop of their east coast tour this summer.  The group features two of the biggest names in surf music, John Blair of Jon and the Nightriders fame as well as surf music historian and Ivan Pongracic of The Madeira and The Space Cossacks.  The lineup also includes Dane Carter (also of The Madeira) on drums and Jeremy DeHart (of the Aqualads) on bass.

Supporting The Blair-Pongracic Band will be Atlanta's masked enigmas The Mystery Men? and local surf legends The Surge!.

Find the Facebook event page here.

Athens Surf Stomp II and Chattanooga Surf Stomp

We're proud to see the return of the Athens Surf Stomp, as last years was a total gas.  Returning are Atlanta's The Mystery Men?, The Cryptides, Kinky Waikiki, hosts The Flamethrowers, and Vacations.  Making their first appearances at the event are Genki Genki Panic and The Nice Machine.  The event will once again be held at Little Kings Shuffle Club on Saturday, April 22nd.  The Facebook event page can be found here.

Tonight also marks another chapter for the Chattanooga Surf Stomp with Genki Genki Panic, The Compartmentalizationalists, and Coach N' Commando.  That event page can be found here.