Led by the irresistible Dani Miller, a front woman with a star wattage so assured and unaffected she will win over even the staunchest disbelievers, and backed by veteran rockers Powell, Kilgore, and Head, Surfbort has swiftly become Brooklyn’s “it” band. Much of their power lies not only in Dani and her special brand of fucked up magic but in the band members’ roots…the engine room of Surfbort is the culmination of a lineage that stretches back to the bedrock of the 80’s punk scene in Texas. The reason Surfbort feels so sturdy and credible is because they are. The same fertile swamp that birthed Roky Erickson, Scratch Acid, the Big Boys, the Dicks, and Butthole Surfers is in the DNA of Surfbort, (BHS legend Gibby Haynes appears in two of their videos and has performed live with them as Butthole Surfbort).
Surfbort’s debut record ‘Friendship Music’ out via Cult Records/Fat Possum houses seventeen songs of raging, gloriously fuzzy punk rock that is as equally birthed in the old-school as it is in the NOW and feels vital and alive. There are songs about 21st century overstimulation (‘Hi Anxiety’), wealth discrepancy (‘Feed’), love being the only antidote to the capitalist hellscape (‘Les Be In Love’), being held down by the work force system (‘Rats’). There are cries of help, cries of celebration. There are songs of love and there are songs of hate. John Doe of Xcalled it “one of the 10 greatest punk rock records of all times” and both Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie claimed Surfbort are their favourite band.
‘Friendship Music’ is a sharp beam of light cutting through one of America’s darkest times.
Two years ago, without a label, booker or management, the band were asked to play Coachella. It was after this and a tour with The Black Lips, that Julian Casablancas signed them to his label Cult. Since then they’ve subsequently toured with Wolf Alice, The Black Lips, The Growlers, Iceage and have played with The Voidz, The Dickies, Dream Wife, Goggs, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Butthole Surfersamong others.
Live, Surfbort are an explosion of glee, a celebration of the moment together with their audience. Their attack is blistering and ecstatic: they will kill you with love.
In performance Miller is riveting, magnetic, and unifying: her ability to disinhibit an audience through her own disinhibition is exhilarating. Her charisma is such that you can’t take your eyes off her and you will go home thinking about her. Her ability to caricature and cartoon, mock and embody sexuality is like that of a beautiful, demented circus clown. She has created a new universal pan sexual physical vocabulary that feels referential and original all at once. She is a star. Plain and simple, and her vocal style iconic. Kilgore’s high-pitched backing vocals punctuate time and again perfectly weaving with Millers’ reminiscent of X or Red Kross, his guitar thundering out like Greg Ginn or Lemmy while Head’s beautiful stabby style pierces in perfectly and underneath it all Powell murders his drums. You don’t hear this band live, you FEEL them. They will get you.
Miller’s voice is iconic, deep, droll, cool, and the guys backing her are a supergroup of Texas legends, all accomplished in multiple mediums and alums of other great bands. Sean Powell’s brutal, beautiful drumming is at the heart of Surfbort, and he first gained notoriety for his style in the legendary Fuck Emos, who were inducted into the Austin Music Hall of fame last year. He also played in the Fakers, and Ice Balloons (with TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone). Never satisfied with anything predictable, he and Kilgore form the rhythm section and work hard at pairing their tunes down to the essence…Frankenpop. Heavy, beautiful, and off kilter. A part of the early Texas scene, Kilgore left home at 15 with Verbal Abuse out to San Francisco and soaked up all the sights and spirits of the early days of punk which can be felt in his gleefully unschooled style of guitar playing and composition. David Head Jr.’s jagged guitar style gained prominence in his first band The Motards, but can also be heard in his follow up band Headache City. All share an encyclopaedic knowledge of the music they grew up on which is why they are so able to channel such a pure musical platform for Miller. The real sleight of hand of Surfbort though is the way these four distinct individual forces come together to form a whole.
Surfbort songs are smart, well crafted, timely, and break far beyond the shackles of punk:
Dani Miller- vocals
Alex Kilgore- guitar
David Head Jr.- guitar
Sean Powell- drums