Interview: Surfbort’s Dani Miller Talks New Album and the Importance Of Staying True to Oneself

High octane, New York City trash-punkers Surfbort  have released a new album, Keep On Truckin’ as part of a partnership between legendary producer/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.

Friendship Music garnered the band a lot of positive attention from critics and fans.  Did they feel any pressure when it came time to write Keep On Truckin’?

“No, not really. We did feel any pressure to follow up, but really, the need for us as artists 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 a bit and allow for a little more introspection. It 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. We will always have a fucked-up, weirdo sound, but yes, for some songs, we got more vulnerable then normal and Linda turned it into a punk symphony! I think having a mix of harder songs and poppier sing alongs is always our style,” Miller says.

They took a little more time getting the songs and together and were able to record at a high end studio courtesy of their partnership with Perry.

“It felt transcendent. We are used to recording everything in a couple days, but with Linda Perry, the recording process was beyond my wildest dreams. We worked on pre-production for weeks forming the songs rearranging and dredging up hits we wrote in the apocalypse. Then we went to Linda’s studio, Greanleaf, and tracked live but she gave each instrument its own week for attention to detail and to really just let all of us be ourselves,” Miller says.

“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,” Miller finishes.

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. 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,” Miller says.

In addition, the band, which also features guitarist Alex Kilgore and Matt Picola, along with the rhythm section of drummer Sean Powell and bassist Nick Arnold, 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. 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,” Miller says.

Even more incredible is the fact, that they are featured briefly, in the Academy Award nominated film, Sound Of Metal, which stars 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 released until last year.  Miller and Kilgore, make an appearance, in a scene, 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! 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, “Miller says.

“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  Sean because he is a sober drummer and a lot of the clothes the characters are wearing in the movie are his,” Miller finishes.

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 featured 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. 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. Feeling 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,” Miller says.

Now, with the world opening up, they 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 than the actual fact that they were playing shows, had to with 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?

“They were incredible, all good vibes and everyone had a blast !!! 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 hehe,” Miller says. “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,” Miller says.

Surfbort have a killer new album out. In addition, with the world  opening up,  they can once again spread  the joy of their mutant music far and wide.  In fact, that’s what they plan to do, according to Miller.

“Worldwide Surfbort party! Keep on Truckin’!,” Miller finishes.

Stream, Keep On Truckin’, right here.

 

 

 

 

 

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