It’s gentle like a dark bar just before nightfall. Quiet and cozy but with the subtle stench of spilt whiskey from the night before. Front man Jake Bellows — who almost permanently had his eardrum busted during what he calls, “a random bullshit occurrence when some guy sucker punched me in the ear hole during a barroom tussle” — delivers genuine, conversational lyrics with an earnestness you only get from a guy who, well, has been in a few barroom tussles. Mix in a few upbeat, foot tapping drive songs and you get an album that always feels like a good idea. —Travis Ferr
SURFING MAGAZINE: HOW DID YOU ALL END UP TOGETHER, PLAYING IN THIS BAND? JAKE BELLOWS:
In 1993 Heath (Bass) and I decided we would write a couple songs for a talent show that was happening at our high school. Our songs were horrible and our music was really bad, but it was so fun. That was the beginning of us wanting to play music.
DO YOUR LYRICS FOLLOW A THEME?
A lot of times I feel like the lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with my life, but then I’ll look back at them a couple years down the road and realize that they’re pretty close to autobiographical. Other times they’re about spacemen or something, which doesn’t really do much for anyone. [laughs]
We HEARD YOU GUYS FACED A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS DURING the RECORDING of THIS RECORD.
Yeah, everything kept going bad. We had this flood that destroyed all our equipment. We sat in front of fans for three weeks staring at the equipment, crossing our fingers that when we turned it on it wasn’t fried. Luckily it all fired up. The one piece of equipment that we lost was a Morley Wall guitar pedal, which I always hated anyways. I’m so glad it’s dead. The band is a better band because it’s gone.
AND WE HEARD YOU LOST YOUR HEARING AT ONE POINT BECAUSE OF A BAR FIGHT.
Yeah, that was scary time. It made me have to think like, “I may not be able to do what I really like to do in this world, which is make music that sounds nice.” If all of a sudden you can’t hear out one of your ears, that definitely has an effect on you being a musician. But my eardrum grew back! It’s like a praying mantis arm…wait, no…those don’t grow back. What does?
WHAT’S BEEN ONE OF THE BIGGEST HIGHLIGHTS FOR YOU GUYS AS A BAND?
It was really exciting to tour in Europe. You’d have a 65-year-old man and wife combo that would come to a show and a bunch of 14-year-old kids and everything in between. And the cool thing is they’d sit there and truly listen to the music. They’re not just there to get laid or something. They’re at the show to hear some music. It’s a different vibe over there than what we’re used to and we were kind of stoked. After a song, they’d be just standing there and we’d be like, “Damn, they hate us.” But in actuality I think they might have liked us.