Listen to a Surfer Blood album and you may find yourself transported to a sunny, relaxed state of mind. The indie band's surfer rock sound is felt on their most recent album, last year's Snowdonia. Recently in Los Angeles for a performance in Silver Lake, DSTLD caught up with drummer Tyler Schwarz to discuss the band's journey. Plus, Surfer Blood curated an exclusive playlist for our Spotify channel of everything they're listening to right now.
DSTLD: Tell us a little bit about Surfer Blood's origins and how the band formed.
TS: John and I grew up in the same town. We went to the same middle and high school in West Palm Beach, FL. I’ll always remember a food fight we were involved in during our 7th and 8th grade year (I’m one grade older than John). It’s funny now, but we were kind of enemies back then. It started when my buddy poured a mess of nachos on his friend's lap. It got messy and food went everywhere. Luckily my buddy was the principal’s son, so we got away with middle school murder back then. Fast forward to 2007, John and I are attending college in Orlando, Florida and I’m living with a mutual friend of John's. Our friend was a musician too, so I had the great privilege of having my drums set up in my bedroom. One day John comes over and sees the kit and my Built To Spill poster on the wall. He mentions he plays guitar and the rest is history. Fast forward to today and our dreams have come true. We’ve actually had the honor of sharing the stage a few times with BTS! I still can’t believe this is all real.
DSLTD: Surfer Blood was previously with Warner Bros. Records, but parted ways to work with indie label Joyful Noise Recordings. Has working with a smaller team invigorated your music in any way?
TS: JNR is a record label that I know many record collectors, music lovers, and musicians dream of. It’s no surprise that I have such positive feedback on their behalf. I’m so impressed on how open-minded Karl is about what he puts out. He and the JNR family are always coming up with innovative ways on how the listener receives what they want to hear or haven’t yet imagined. Let it be the VIP vinyl, Almost Live recordings, an Artist in Residence series... that’s just to name a few listening environments they’ve created. Not to mention they’ve just put out the newest release from one of my favorite bands of all time, Deerhoof! They are visionaries and I am super proud to have the band be apart of the JNR roster. You should definitely keep an ear out for what’s next to come from them.
DSTLD: “Swim” was released as the band’s debut single in 2009, garnering critical acclaim and topping Pitchfork’s Top 100 Songs that year. How has your music evolved since then?
TS: Since the release of "Swim" I would imagine our listeners are hearing something less "raw" and "straight forward". Which is exactly right. Back then, everything was more simple -musically as well as in our own personal relationships in and out of the band. We’ve traveled together for many miles and have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions: Heartache, youthful exuberance, triumph, discontent, gratefulness, feeling burned, feeling ashamed, absolute fear, pride and ecstasy. Things are more complicated now and so is our music as it progresses. This is a natural growth, though, and one we embrace today. Otherwise who would we be?
DSTLD: You’re about to tour and in the process of recording a new album. What can we expect from your next release?
TS: Yes! We’re about to embark on a tour of the West Coast of America and I’m quite inclined to agree with the saying “West Coast is the best coast”. Sure - the East Coast has it’s own amazing culture, cuisine, parks, towns and cities, but there’s something they don’t have... burritos stuffed with french fries. What to expect from our next release? John is still in the demoing stages. He’s presented me with a hand full of riffs on to what direction he’s thinking, but it’s just too soon to give any formed explanation. The whole thing could be flipped upside down, ripped apart or just completely restarted from where we are.
Listen to Surfer Blood's curated playlist below, or on Spotify.
Listen to Surfer Blood on Spotify now.