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The Silver Surfer - Interview

  by Olga Sladeckova

published: 9 / 8 / 2002

The Silver Surfer - Interview


Inspired by the Jesus & Mary Chain, the Pixies and the Beat Happening, Oregon group the Silver Surfer is about to release its second album and will tour Britain next year. Olga Sladeckova chats to frontman Ryan Carroll about the band's five year history

The Silver Surfer was formed by four High School friends, Ryan, Dough, Eric and Lindsay,in Oregon in 1997. Since then the line up has hanged. There is no guarantee that it won’t again but Ryan Carroll (vocals, guitar), Dough Quast (keyboards, vocals), Jeremy Dickerson (drums) and Jeremy Dietz (bass) all seem to be very happy together and have a lot to be proud of. They have put out four releases on their own label Tyrannosaurus records ; toured regularly played with musicians such as Pedro The Lion and built up for themselves a respectable fan base. The band’s influences can’t be mistaken. Their music is energetic, vigorous and colourful and in a similar style to that of the Jesus & Mary Chain, the Pixies and the Beat Happening. The Silver Surfer has been attracting a lot of attention in recent times in the US press, especially since it played a full West coast tour earlier this year , and it will be releasing a new full length album soon. Ryan Carroll spoke to Pennyblackmusic about the tour, and but also about the Silver Surfer’s history, success and future plans. PB: How did you all meet and had you played in any other bands before Silver Surfer? RC: We’ve all know each other for years. I’d previously been in Veer, a psychedelic rock band in Seattle. We did really well and put out three great records, but I decided to go back to school and finish up my degree. I moved to Walla Walla in 1997, where a lot of my High School friends were going to college. Doug and I had gone to Auburn Academy together and had been in Sylvan, our school touring singing group. We’d taken 2nd place in our state finals and were really good, so I’d always had it in my mind that Doug and I would be in a band together. We originally started out in 1997 with our High School friends Eric Vansanten on drums, and Lindsey Kurz on guitar. We played a few shows and made ‘The Silver Surfer’ EP that year with Tom Pfaffle (Veer, Nirvana, Breeders). But Lindsey only lasted a year, and then moved to England to do her own thing. Doug and I found bassist Matt Nutter to continue on with us. We recorded the ‘Curve of Venus’ LP the spring of 1999 again with Tom Pfaffle. Later that year Eric Vansanten moved to Arizona and I asked my cousin Justin Shumway to play drums with us. We played a lot of shows that year, opening for great Northwest indie acts like Pedro The Lion and The Crabs and ended up recording ‘The Honestly’ EP in March of 2000 with Bryn Addison (Smashing Pumpkins, Aimee Mann, Smashmouth). When we all graduated from College Doug and I moved to Portland, but Justin and Matt didn’t come with us. We decided to continue the band and recruited a couple of our college buddies Jeremy Dietz on bass and Jeremy Dickerson on drums. They were already the rhythm section of a band called Anatone that we’d played tons of shows with in Walla Walla. They were already solid and learned all of our material quickly. The Silver Surfer wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t a group of friends that new each other so well and had so much history together. We will always keep it that way. PB: Why did you decide to call the band the Silver Surfer? TC: In Christmas 1997, Lindsey and I were dating and she bought me this huge coffee table book of Marvel Comics. We were trying to figure out what to call our band and I thought an old 50s or 60s comic book character would be a great name for the group, because no one would remember it. Little did we know they would bring Silver Surfer back with a cartoon and a movie. Maybe we’ll have to call ourselves The Silver Surfer UK or something. PB: Who writes the band’s music and lyrics? RC: I’m the primary writer in the band, but everyone collaborates and comes up with interesting ideas to make the songs better. PB: You have released all your records on your own label Tyrannosaurus Records. Would you ever want to release records on other labels? RC: We would definitely be interested in a deal where we could retain our artistic integrity and have some good distribution. We started our own label so that we could do things on our terms. We really got into the business side and learned how things work. We wrote up a contract for ourselves and published our music ourselves. It feels really good to know that we’ve done all these things for ourselves. PB: Have you ever thought or releasing other bands on the label? RC: We thought about it and will definitely do it in the future. Right now we’ve got a pretty full plate just taking care of ourselves, but in the future we will definitely put out other bands. We’ve put out a couple of compilations so far that include bands like Veer, First In Flight, Saturna, and others. All Northwest bands that are made up of people in The Silver Surfer or close friends. PB: Could you tell me more about this summer’s tour of US and what it was like? RC: We had an awesome time. It was really crazy. We started off playing a couple of shows in Seattle and then made our way down the coast to San Francisco. It became a bigger deal than we originally thought it would be. We ended up selling out all our t-shirts at the first show and had to rush order more. In Seattle we had a streaker run across the bar after our show and Jeremy was doing crazy jumps off the drum riser. We had so much fun. In Eureka, CA we played with crazy bands like Captured by Robots where this guy Jbot had programmed robots to play music while he slaved away in chains. Weird but quite ingenious. Also in the Napa Valley we got egged by kids who wanted to fight some of our friends over songs in the piano bar. So all in all it was really good. We made lots of new fans and were inspired to come to England for a 10-day stint in January. PB: You have been touring a lot this year. Do you use booking agent in US or do you organize it yourselves? RC: We just do it ourselves. Doug and I don’t have real jobs. We just do contract work from home, so that leaves us plenty of time to call the bookers and arrange things. I guess that it would be nice to have someone say “Okay, you have a bunch of shows all lined up”, but things are never as good as when you’ve worked really hard for it. PB: What is the best gig you have played so far and why? RC: Wow, we have had so many memorable shows. One of my favourites was playing with Pedro The Lion. David Bazan has such an amazing voice and such passion, but Silver Surfer shows are always crazy and you never know what is going to happen. Things like people streaking naked and jumping up on stage to help sing choruses are always happening. I guess a really memorable show was when we were playing and a bunch of cops showed up. I just happened to be singing “I hate cops”, from ‘Speedy Gonzales’ off the ‘Curve of Venus’ album and they were flipping out. They were there because there had been a bomb threat from some psycho next door who was trying to sleep. He’d called in the threat and the bartender had gotten his number on caller ID, so she’d called the cops and they weren’t happy. They ended up bashing down the guy’s door and arresting him. They didn’t end up doing anything to us, but they were taking pictures of us and writing down our names. It was crazy and we thought we were about to be thrashed. PB: You’re now working on your fourth record. Could you reveal more about it? RC: It’s going to be our second full length and first release with this line-up. We haven’t titled it yet, but it will include 11 originals and it’s definitely our best work to date. We’ve been taking our time and have spent hundreds of hours in the studio refining it. We’ve done all the tracking ourselves and will take it to our friend Dave Friedlander (Prince, Everclear, R.E.M.) to have it mixed and mastered. We’re really excited about this record. We haven’t put anything out for over a year and we’ve honed these songs live and have really put together a great pop album. There’s a couple of punky fast numbers, a couple slower passionate songs, and the rest are what the Silver Surfer does best, grooving upbeat pop rock songs. PB: What are your plans for the near future? RC: We are planning on doing more touring this fall in support of our new record. It should be released in early October. We’ll hit San Francisco again in November and probably LA shortly after that. We’re coming to England for 10 days in January and will probably start work on a new EP after that. PB: Thank you.

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The Silver Surfer - Interview

The Silver Surfer - Interview

The Silver Surfer - Interview

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