Surf rock is actually very much alive and thriving, but no thanks to Surf Rock Is Dead. The Brooklyn-based group sings a whole different kind of surf rock—they call it “surf-gaze.”
Their sound has a dreamy attitude and wondering tone with lots of idealistic synth sounds, slow yet charming beats, hypnotizing guitar riffs, and soothing vocals (and yes, all those adjectives are necessary). If surf rock is like a beach party, then surf-gaze is like that moment you wander away from the party and get lost in thought staring at the waves as they crash in and out–which is exactly what Surf Rock Is Dead does to you.
Their last single “In Between” was released last year and is planned to be included on an EP to be released later this spring or early summer.
Comprised of Kevin Pariso and Australian native Joel Witenberg, these two met in the bustling metropolis of NYC and eventually came together to create Surf Rock Is Dead.
“I had this slightly diabolical plan to find an intern at a studio and befriend this intern and then get free or discounted studio time,” Pariso tells BTRtoday about how the two met. “One day I see this dude, who happens to be Joel, tinkering with a thermostat of the building so I knew he was employed by the studio. I thought, ‘well, clearly the head engineer isn’t trying to fix the thermostat, it’s definitely an intern!’ So there was my in—I started talking to him and that’s how we really met.”
After that, the two confess that it was a while before they actually ended up forming a band. Pariso was playing for other bands, Witenberg was working on other music duties and had to leave the U.S. for a bit. However, after Witenberg returned to New York, the two got together and started frequently jamming. “Nobody planned on forming a band, but [playing music] was something we did and kept doing—eventually we thought, ‘I guess since we have songs, we’re a band,’” adds Pariso.
Apparently, everything just seemed to click for Surf Rock Is Dead during that first jam session. “The first time we jammed Kevin was playing something and I was like, ‘dude, this sounds amazing!’ and then we switched instruments a bit,” Witenberg recollects of the moment the vibe of Surf Rock Is Dead came to be. “It was that [dreamy] sound to start with and we were like, ‘yeah, we’re gonna do this.’”
Their writing process is not one of consistency—at least not in the sense of capturing their sound, but in how it’s done every time. Pariso says that sometimes he’ll be writing something at home and bring it to Witenberg, or sometimes an idea will just come to fruition right there while messing around in the studio—Pariso even says one time a song came out of Witenberg and Pariso jamming in a bathroom. “It’s good to keep it mixed up,” Pariso says.
Though both agree that their soon-to-be-released EP still successfully captures the distinguishable Surf Rock Is Dead style, they say that the recording process was somewhat different for them. They both explain that with their older EPs tracks were recorded at different times and eventually came together one at a time. However, with this newest EP everything was recorded at the same time.
“It feels more coherent—though the other ones did too, but this one feels like a body,” Witenberg describes. “Like a body you want to feel!”
Surf Rock Is Dead is constantly playing around the city, so make sure to follow them on all their social media outlets. Their next show is May 3rd at Pianos in Manhattan. Also, be sure to tune into this week’s Music Meetup to hear the entire interview with Surf Rock Is Dead and to hear some of their older and newest music!