New York City trash-punkers Surfbort have released a new album, Keep On Truckin’, as part of a partnership between legendary producer and composer Linda Perry and Soundcloud/Repost.
The new album, which comes three years after their ferocious debut, Friendship Music, is another vicious slab of trashy punk rock that doesn’t skimp on empathy or social commentary.
Album number-one got a lot of people talking and garnered a whole bunch of press and attention. The big question is: when they sat down to write Album number-two, did they feel any pressure?
“No, not really. We didn’t feel any pressure to follow up, but really the need for us as artists [is] to express ourselves,” says lead singer Dani Miller. “We write songs almost every day, and to be able to show them to the world and connect with people, and on top of everything have an incredible producer like Linda Perry behind the project, it’s a treat to put out another record.”
Keep On Truckin’ contains more of their catchy, high-octane punk rock, but also has time for songs that take the foot off the gas pedal and allow for a little more introspection. That might seem like a new wrinkle in their sound, but according to Miller, it’s always been there.
“We just followed our hearts with the sound,” Miller says. “We will always have a fucked up weirdo sound, but yes, for some songs we got more vulnerable than normal, and Linda turned it into a punk symphony! I think having a mix of harder songs and poppier singalongs is always our style.”
The band took a little more time getting the songs together this time around and were able to record at a high end studio courtesy of their partnership with Perry.
“We were so supported, and the atmosphere was perfect for creating. Also, Luis Flores, who engineered the record, was so on, he made everything run smoothly. It was such a wonderful experience! Oh, and I definitely hit the pool in-between takes! And most importantly, she kept our freak-trash-dungeon, Texas-New York punk sound intact, which was really important to me.”
Another thing that hasn’t changed was MIller’s approach to the lyrics. She still writes with a lot of empathy and heart.
“Life is so freakin’ crazy, that it can feel like a joke sometimes or unlivable,” Miller says. “So, we wanted to acknowledge that you can feel alone and like it’s the end of the world, but just know it’s important to stick around and make it to the magical good times as well.”
In addition, the band are also known for their unique and eye-catching videos, which follow a certain low-budget, trash-art aesthetic. This is true of the video released for the first single, “FML.” from the new album.
“We just made a video with Fred Armisen being a magical fairy godmother, going around making people less depressed with a flick of the wrist,” Miller says. “It was directed by Gilbert Trejo, and it was so fun! Basically, we try to brighten people’s day with our videos, and find humor in the fucked up world.”
Even more incredible is the fact that the band is featured briefly in the Academy Award nominated film, Sound Of Metal, which features Riz Ahmed as a heavy metal drummer losing his hearing. When we first spoke to Miller in 2018, she mentioned they were in this movie, and she was excited about it, but the film wasn’t actually released until last year. The scene in question shows Miller and guitarist Alex Kilgore at a club, hanging at their merch table, doing typical merch table shenanigans.
“OMG, that’s right! Wow, what a trip! No, I had no clue I would having a cameo where I spit on a shirt in an Oscar-nominated film!” Miller exclaims. “But knowing the insanely talented Darius Marder, the director, and the best actor on the planet, Riz—they are so great. I knew in the moment of filming I was a part of something special.
“I never wait to hear of the status of someone or something to collaborate on art with them. I always just go off instinct; if I vibe with someone, I appreciate their art, whether it’s recognized or not. But being in an Oscar-nominated film was a super cool surprise, nonetheless. Also, fun fact: Riz came over every week to study [Surfbort drummer] Sean [Powell] because he is a sober drummer, and a lot of the clothes the characters are wearing in the movie are his.”
Speaking of clothes, Surfbort are also known for their outlandish sense of style, which mixes thrift-store finds with high fashion (the band, along with Amyl & The Sniffers, were sponsored by Gucci in 2019) for a totally unique look. This isn’t done on purpose; it’s a natural expression of who they are as people.
“I think we are just clowns,” Miller says. “I mean, we don’t plan an aesthetic. There are no board meetings to form our style. We just wear a mix of thrift-store clothes we find on tour, mixed with gifts from Gucci, or anything comfortable. Feel comfortable as your clown-freak self, and let the music be free. I’m pretty sure our drummer, Sean, has been like this since he was born in ’71, a super freak.”
With the world opening up, Surfbort have started to play shows again. Recently, they went on a quick jaunt out west, playing, Fort Collins, Colorado and Los Angeles. There are more dates to follow in November. More important is how they actually felt about playing shows again. It’s been a long time for most bands. Would they be rusty? How would the fans respond?
In the case of Surfbort, there would be no need to worry about any of those issues.
“They were incredible, all good vibes, and everyone had a blast,” Miller says. “I think everyone was so grateful for music. It was insanely fun. The air was sparkly and calming, and everyone was moshing with a smile on their face. It felt like a show in Berlin. And yes, going into it I was insanely nervous; I felt like I forgot how to boogie in the apocalypse, but after the first show back, I was hooked. If you push through the nerves, good things happen. I feel like I can play a ton now, which is the plan! I tour with Starcrawler in October, and then the garden in November.”
Surfbort have a killer new album out. In addition, the world is opening up, which means they can spread their mutant music far and wide. In fact, that’s what they plan to do, according to Miller:
“Worldwide Surfbort party! Keep on Truckin’!”
Watch the video for “Big Star” here:
Photos courtesy of Surfbort and David Fearn