John Paul Pitts, frontman of West Palm Beach, Florida-based rock ‘n’ roll band Surfer Blood, remembers boarding a major plane to London. This moment may have marked the first major milestone for the group, which began in 2009. As the group found their seats and put their bags away, Pitts couldn’t help but think about how far the group had come in so little time. time and how much further they could go. Since then, the group has experienced and endured significant ups and downs, but, nonetheless, the group has endured, grown and enjoyed their hard-earned successes. And today, Surfer Blood is about to release their latest LP, Carefree theater, September 25e.
“The first time we played in London was a sign, you know, that we did it,” Pitts said. “When our first record came out, we went to the UK for six or seven shows. But being at the airport and getting on that plane, that’s when I was most excited.
At the time, Surfer Blood was looking for someone to help them release this first record in Europe, so they met with journalists, executives and the like. The world took Surfer Blood seriously. But all of this, Pitts says, might never have happened without the support, energy and verve of the band’s lead guitarist, Thomas Fekete, who later tragically died of a rare form of cancer. in 2016. But without Fekete’s initial passion, energy, and encouragement, Surfer Blood probably wouldn’t exist today – at least not beyond a few drafts of Pro Tools.
“I was really a guy doing bedroom demos,” says Pitts. “I think I would have continued on to another job or another profession, just making music in my room and putting it on the Internet quietly. But Thomas was the first person to say he believed in music, he said he loved songs and other people too.
For the latest album, Pitts drew inspiration from both an ancient monument in his hometown and new songwriting techniques. On the group’s 2017 record,
Snowdonia, Pitts wrote a number of longer, multi-part songs, ranging from seven to eight minutes. But for Carefree theater, he went the other way; write a large amount of shorter, melodic, harmony-oriented songs of two to three minutes that, when listened to as a collection, are reminiscent of poodle socks and skirts. Plus, the record itself is named after an important source of culture for Pitts: the Carefree Theater.
“For me, what he always symbolized was my pipeline to an ever larger world with limitless possibilities,” says Pitts of the now demolished showroom. “Me and a lot of my creative friends felt very stuck and trapped in Florida growing up – it can feel like a mainstream culture void. ”
But sometimes groups came to the modest theater, says Pitts. It was the only place he and his friends could catch a great performance from bands like Wilco, who the songwriter remembers seeing. To pay tribute to the place of training, Pitts decided to give his name to the group’s new record. The title is also indicative of a larger theme for Pitts, who is now over 10 years into his music career. He lets himself look back, realizing that some aspect of his life has come full circle. Surfer Blood’s new LP, for example, is slated for release on Kanine Records, the band’s original label, following the release of their last three albums on Joyful Noise.
The registration process for Carefree theater, however, was markedly different from the process that made Surfer Blood’s debut LP. This time Pitts and the band recorded outside his apartment in a “really cool” studio. And Pitts knows a lot more about mixing and tracking now than he did when he first started getting sounds as a rookie.
“Living in Florida requires you to be innovative,” says Pitts. “We played bowling alley shows and all kinds of weird stuff from the start. I feel like we played in front of a lot of crowds who weren’t expecting to see loud noises or this indie band. But it was really good for us. We saw a bunch of different audiences before we went up to New York to perform in front of music journalists. ”
Pitts’ path to music began, in a way, when he was very young, when music was still playing on the radio at home. But, in another way, his quest began in earnest in college when one of his friends got a guitar for Christmas. Pitts came after school and played it endlessly. He was addicted. Today, however, Pitts misses playing shows, seeing them too. But he still loves making music and having something tangible to show for his work. A new record is something you can share with another person and this exchange is what drives him today.
“All you can really do is be honest and be yourself and that has to be enough,” says Pitts. “You can’t pretend. Every time I play a new demo that I wrote for the band, I get terrified. My teeth chatter and my knees bang. But when they say they felt the same as me, it’s really valid.
Pre-order Carefree theater before he got out here.