A few days after photographing Dani and Charlie at a church in Brooklyn, I went to Berlin to catch their band, Surfbort’s show with Boy Toy, Navy Gangs, and No Parents. Although I frequent the cavernous venue/bar often, this was a particularly energetic night. Flashes from different cameras went off as someone knocked my drink into my face, and I smiled to myself because I knew I was at a great show where people weren’t just standing around slightly tapping their feet with their iPhones raised. I was soaked in Tito’s vodka and sweat, and nothing tastes better than the sweat and blood of a New York City punk band exploding into their first few years of existence.I caught up with the girls for BADLANDS 777 to talk music, Trump, sobriety, gender roles and aliens.
How did Surfbort come together?
In 2007 we ran into each other at a Barnes and Noble in the beatnik, it was sick. We looked into each other’s eyes and agreed global warming was a huge problem and that easy listening sucked.
There is a lot of fucked up shit going on in the world today. What do you feel is the importance in playing music and what messages do you want to get across?
We think mental illness and depression are far too common so why not create events where people can get out of their house and come and sing, yell, dance, freak around to the music and feel better or the same but know that they are not alone in being alone. Our shows are always judgment free zones and also gluten free. We have a very sarcastic and humorous tone to our music but interlay a lot of our ideals such as caring for the environment, exposing the shitty lying government and the irrelevance of gender in music/world today. Gender is boring and it’s so repetitive to always be labeled a “girl” band or asked what it’s like to be a woman in music. Dani mostly identifies with horses and Charlie mostly identifies with aliens. Gender, sex and sexuality are all irrelevant to our world.
Trump is obviously dominating the headlines surrounding the upcoming election but what a lot of people don’t understand is that no matter who is elected, the majority of the decisions are going to be mostly influenced by the people who we can’t vote for/heads of corporations. Every single word that comes out of Trump’s mouth is absolute bullshit; I mean he called Ted Cruz a pussy. HAHAHA how can anyone take him seriously? We’ve been called “Trump bashers” a lot recently, which is fine by us, if we live in a world where other humans are voting for Trump to lead our country we have to stand up and voice our opposition, Trump for president just ain’t right!
If you could turn Donald Trump into any type of animal what would it be?
Dani: I wouldn’t waste any of my magic on turning trump into another animal he looks pretty content being an ass.
Charlie: A cockroach. So I can crush him under my shoe.
A lot of creative collaboration goes on in your basement. What sort of art do you make and who are some local artists you like to have come over and collaborate with?
Well a lot of weird shit happens in our basement but mostly we screen-print all of our own merch and friend’s bands such as Mystery Lights and Walter. We recently made a No Parents/Bleached shirt for their 2016 tour. Tons of our amazing artist friends design shirts for us including Ian Kittredge and Jim Tozzi! We are also all super anxious and hypomanic people meaning that we take everything to the absolute extreme. If we aren’t screen-printing, we are painting, playing music, tattooing, embroidering, writing, filming, taking pictures, laughing, watching cartoons, etc. As long as we are making something we can keep our sanity somewhat in check. We all paint a lot but our drummer, Sean Powell did so much acid in the 80’s that his paintings are from another planet! Definitely check them out on his Instagram (@chaka_sean.)
At night we have tattoo parties with Toronto based tattoo artist HomePoke/Sally (@_riphumans), and then paint some more and dance with @JudithSupine, @JimTozzi Jenna Putnam (@jpalove) and Sophie Day (@sophieday.nyc)! Whenever our friends are touring they always come over to add to the chaos. Dani’s sister also lives in the house and her band Turf Durt runs around the dungeon too. Right now one of our favorite artists in Brooklyn is Lucy (who shot some of the photos for this article), he claims not to be a professional photographer but his work mostly on the subject of fetishism and BDSM is extremely beautiful and captivating (@_latexlucifer). We’ve also been fortunate enough to collaborate with the Lower East Side lifestyle brand Alife. Their company leans towards the hip hop scene but they have included us in shows in the past and it’s incredible to play with these larger inspiring hip hop acts and be equally respected by the audience! They even made a shirt with our picture on it!! New York City is overrun by emerging hopeful lifestyle brands, but Alife is by far one of the most daring and unique brands out there right now and have been around since 1999!
Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve played with?
So Pitted (Seattle)
Tomorrows Tulips (LA)
Fat White Family (London)
The Garden (LA)
Together Pangea (LA)
No Parents (LA)
Gooch Palms (Aus)
Tijuana Panthers (LA)
Turf Durt (NY)
Mystery Lights (NY)
Flowers of Evil (NY)
Gym Shorts (Providence)
How do you feel about the internet and social media, especially in the sense of self-expression and being vulnerable to others’ criticism?
The main thing that bothers us is the possibility for people to be anonymously evil. It allows people to disconnect from responsibility and flag photos of nipples anonymously declaring that someone else’s body is offensive, then they go on to anonymously send hateful comments or messages just to make them feel better about themselves! It’s a really creepy reality that social media breeds. We would rather see our haters face to face and be aware of who hates us on the street vs. people making multiple accounts and internet stalking you to throw hate without any repercussions or association. (This question hits close to home) Most of the time the victims of these online hate acts are youths which is such a bummer because growing up doesn’t need to do with another platform for hate. Internet bullying is no joke and that’s a huge downfall to social media.
We do appreciate the self-expression aspect of social media but most of the time we are just keeping a photo book of the art we make in real life. Surfbort’s social media merely serves as a platform to promote our upcoming shows as well as current projects, and expose the lying government. If what we do offends you then you can fuck off, we aren’t here to cater to anyone.
What inspired Dani and Charlie to get mullets at the same time? <3
We’ve had a really rough year; both newly sober so it was mostly a celebration. Tour was a week away so one day we sat on the living room floor and started laughing and cutting off random chunks of hair. Even though hair doesn’t matter much it was still a good time and it’s amazing not having hair in our eyes. It was more of a practical decision rather than trying to make a fashion statement but now Dani now identifies with horses more while Charlie feels more like an alien everyday! (Which is a good thing.)
You just got back from tour and SXSW. What was one of your favorite/craziest moments?
Ahhhh what a wild time! Running around with No Parents, The Gooch Palms, Guantanamo Baywatch, Bleached and So Pitted the whole time was probably the best part. Or maybe our massive slumber party with our good friends No Parents. It’s like summer camp for musicians because all of your favorite bands and friends meet somewhere that isn’t home so we all get extra freaky and run around together. In Houston Charlie received two gifts from friends in the audience, a ball gag and a book titled “How To Learn Anything Quickly”. That was hilarious, but to be clear she has a college degree and doesn’t need that book HA. A weirder moment was when we came upon the NOFX dressing room. That was pretty hilarious, what crazy characters…we also brought 4 trays of confetti filled eggshells to the Panache Hangover showcase, which was our last show in Austin. Unfortunately the venue wasn’t pleased and confiscated our eggs. No one likes to have fun anymore! We would have swept it up…Oh, Dani also ran into Steve Aoki hahah THE END.
Do you have plans to tour Europe anytime soon?
Yes!! What’s up, who wants to tour with us in Europe? So Pitted? We are ready! With the way things are going it looks like next year is the year Surfbort goes to Europe.
What do you feel are some of the benefits of being a sober band?
Not dying. Waking up alive.
You recently went to the Hamptons to record…what are you working on right now?
Yeah! We have been recording in the Hamptons at The Accabonac artist residency located in one of Willem de Koonings’ old houses. Jackson Pollock’s grave is right across the street, which is pretty powerful. The energy in this town is undeniable! Pollock used to trade paintings at the small convenience store down the street for beer! We are also currently working on our first full-length. We just put out a 7” with Slope records and now we are in full force writing and recording a magical full-length album! We promise to keep everyone updated as we make progress.