With shows starting tonight, there’s a new set of tour dates for Dick Dale. He’ll be performing with his son Jimmy, who I believe plays drums. Here are the dates:
August 26, Wednesday – Stephen Talkhouse – Amagansett, NY. August 27, Thursday – The City Winery – New York, NY. August 28, Friday – The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA. August 30, Sunday – The Rams Head – Annapolis, MD. September 9, Wednesday – Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA
A lot of credit is given to Quentin Tarantino for reviving interest in surf music. With the release of Pulp Fiction, one of my favorite movies, the soundtrack was a big seller and full of surf music. The album included songs by Dick Dale, the Lively Ones, the Centurions and the Tornadoes.
The Philadelphia Inquirer said that Pulp Fiction “reinvigorated surf rock.” Inspired by the soundtrack, surf music started showing up in places like commercials, making surf music hugely popular again.
According to a recent interview, Tarantino uses the music to help influence his writing.
“When I actually sit down to write something, I go to my music selection and start finding the songs that will be the beat of the movie, the rhythm of the movie. In the case of Jackie Brown, it was ‘70s soul. In the case of Pulp Fiction, that would be surf music. That helps inspire me. Even as I start writing and going further on it, playing that music transports me into a movie theater. I feel like I can see it on a screen.”
During another interview, he gave his thoughts on surf music specifically.
“I’m using surf music as the basic score – from the 60’s, Dick Dale style. I don’t understand the surfer connection to surf music. To me, surf music just seems like rock n’ roll Ennio Morricone music, rock n’ roll spaghetti western music, that’s what it sounds like.
What guitars do popular surf rock bands play? Several come to mind – Fender Stratocasters, Jazzmasters and Jaguars, Mosrites, and Danelectros. Not only do they usually have a certain sound, but they also have a certain look. You don’t see a lot of Flying Vs in surf bands.
Let’s take a quick and unprofessional look at what popular bands of different eras played:
The Ventures – Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmasters, and Mosrites
Dick Dale – Fender Strat
Surfaris – Fender Strat
The Beach Boys – Fender Strat
Duane Eddy – Gretsch
Link Wray – Les Paul Goldtop, Gibson Firebird, Supro Dual Tone
The Shadows – Fender Stratocaster
Man or Astroman? – Silvertone Hollowbody, Epiphone Coronet, Hofner Hollowbody
The Mermen – Fender Stratocaster
The Blue Stingrays – Fender Jaguar (I think)
Los Straitjackets – DiPinto Galaxie
According to the book “Guitar Rigs” by Dave Hunter, “Fender’s Jazzmaster and Jaguar have been the dual lodestones of the retro surf crowd.” That certainly seems to be true.
Just from this small sample, Fender Stratocasters have been amongst the most popular as well. Today, of course, you have many more choices than early surf bands. I’d say there’s more than a couple of different “classic” surf guitars and rigs.
The Traditional surf guitars, like a surf green Fender Stratocaster or Jazzmaster, are no doubt cool, but they are definitely not the only option for surf bands today.
DiPinto, a smaller builder of lots of cool electric guitars and basses, has one of these modern surf guitars. The DiPinto Galaxie 4, pictured below, is attention getting for sure. Models come is sparkly silver, sparkly pink, orange and sunburst.
The only annoying part of this guitar to me is the name. Why can’t it be the DiPinto Galaxy, what is the need for the misspelling? For the specs, it has a mahogany body, 22 frets, 4 (four!) single coil pickups, inlays can be dots or stars, and a tremolo bar.
The Galaxie (in the silver) is the guitar of choice for Los Straitjackets. The bass guitar version of the Galaxie is also the bass of choice for them, which makes a cool looking live show. Here’s a look at these guitars in action:
I definitely wanted to post about Daikaiju based on their personality alone.
“Daikaiju” name means “giant monster” in Japanese. Sticking with the Japanese theme, they wear kabuki masks on stage, which looks both cool and alien live. As well, song names often reflect the Japanese monster theme. Each band member is anonymous and go by the names secret man, rumble man, hands man, rock man, radiant man, and electro man (although it seems that they used to be only 4 guys).
Take a look for yourself at the stage show (they’ve even got a dancing girl at this show), but be warned the video quality is terrible:
The Japanese-surf theme is weird knowing that they are from Alabama, but whatever. Musically, they aren’t a classical surf band by any means, and include more of a distorted sound. But the music they’ve come up with is very cool. They’ve got 1 album out as far as I can tell and include some songs on their MySpace. One guitarist plays a Fender Strat, I’m not sure about the other one.
Tell us what you think of Daikaiju, or if you have some info on them let us know. Here’s another video to play you out, a little less of a stage show but higher quality:
The Professors are a San Diego surf/other stuff band – here’s the band site. They’ve got some songs on their MySpace page which I enjoyed, a little more than the tracks off their album.
One cool aspect to their music is the prominent saxophone – like listening to Morphine play surf music. They’ve got a number of different genres they play, and even bust out a didjeridoo at one point. They play a lot of long songs for surf music as well.
“Tiger Shark” is a pretty cool song which could be the background music for Aquaman riding a dolphin.
Los Straitjackets have a new album out, “The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets.” It’s their 12th studio album, and apparently it’s a straightforward classic surf album.
First, the cool stuff.
It’s got a great album cover. It looks like they are battling some sort of swamp creature. Swamp creatures are underrated in general.
It comes with a trading card for each member of the band, revealing their superpower.
The not cool stuff is that I haven’t heard the album yet, so I can’t comment on it. But I’ve read a few reviews, and most are good. That’s probably better than my opinion anyhow.
At any rate, this lead to noticing the album is #5 is “Surf Rock” sales on Amazon. That made me wonder what the heck is outselling it right now.
Here’s the list:
Sounds Of Summer – The Very Best Of The Beach Boys ~ The Beach Boys
Beach Boys – 20 Good Vibrations, The Greatest Hits (Volume 1) ~ The Beach Boys
Echoes of Nature: Ocean Waves ~ Echoes Of Nature
Death Proof ~ Various Artists
The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets ~ Los Straitjackets
Pulp Fiction: Music From The Motion Picture ~ Various Artists
Today/ Summer Days (and Summer Nights) ~ The Beach Boys
The Ventures Play Telstar — The Lonely Bull and Others /(The) Ventures in Space ~ The Ventures
Classic Disney, Vol. 1: 60 Years of Musical Magic ~ Disney, Classic Disney (Series)
The Very Best of the Ventures ~ The Ventures
First, Amazon needs a better defition of surf rock music, with Classic Disney and Ocean Waves making the list. Second, the Beach Boys are rich! How nice is it to have 3 of the top 7 selling surf albums 40-something years after starting your band?
Anyway – let us know if you’ve listened to “The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets” and tell us what you thought in the comments.
Track list –
Overture – Daikaiju
Heaven On Their Minds – Urban Surf Kings
What’s The Buzz – Waistcoats
Strange Things Mystifying – Prawns With Horns
Then We Are Decided – Breakfastime
Everything’s Alright – Susan & The Surftones
This Jesus Must Die – Atomic Mosquitos
Hosanna – El Ray
Simon Zealotes – Pipelines
Poor Jerusalem – Lava Rats
Pilates Dream – 3 Piece Suit
The Temple – Ward 69
I Don’t Know How To Love Him – Crime Factor Zero
Damned For All Time / Blood Money – Babyshaker
The Last Supper – Hypnotic IV
Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say) – Surfones
The Arrest – HiFi Ramblers
Peter’s Denial – Fabulous Planktones
Pilate And Christ – Capacitors
King Herod’s Song – Susan & The Surftones
Could We Start Again, Please? – Noseriders
Judas’ Death – Johnny Vortex
Trial Before Pilate – Supertones
Superstar – Atlantics
Crucifixion – Longhorn Devils
John Nineteen Forty One – Aqualads
Also, how odd is it that this album has a band called “Babyshaker?”