How has it been working with Gil Norton? What's one thing you learned during the experience that you'll apply to future albums?
I have nothing but good things to say about Gil. It's so funny, our first day of preproduction he just shows up to this practice space and sits down at a table with a notepad and has us run songs. I just remember rocking out so fucking hard, all of us had these huge smiles on our faces because we had a whole new batch of them that we loved and we were just blaring them so loud. In between we would look up and he was completely straight faced, taking notes.
After running through the record the first time, we all went on a fake bathroom break and I remember all of us being like, "What the fuck is going on in there? This fucking sucks. Let's just leave and go to the bar. This is too weird." We walk back in and suddenly he's ecstatic. So excited about the songs and telling us how much fun it's all going to be. We all just looked at each other and smiling. We can be so sensitive, it's hilarious. We went out with him that night and I would say by day three or four of preproduction, we had completely opened up to him. There was this mutual respect, it was honestly magical.
I just remember having moments in the studio between takes where I would think, "Man, this guy makes me feel like I can do anything!" And honestly, what more could you want? We had met with a lot of producers, and by the end we were really disenchanted with the whole thing, and that's only because personalities weren't meshing well. So grateful Gil came on board last minute. After that we mixed with Rob Schnapf in L.A. a few months later, and everything I just wrote about Gil applied to him as well. I hope we can make a record with Rob someday. It all felt like more of a friendship, like your good, insanely creative friend suddenly joined your band, and it was amazing.
Nice! You guys called your upcoming album a "rock record" in Rolling Stone. What's your favorite "rock album" of all time?
My favorite rock record of all time is Let It Be by the Replacements. I feel like it was written for me. That's the only way I can really describe it.
When you go to Brazil on your upcoming tour, are there any touristy things you plan to do? It's kind of wild down there. Will you play like bossa nova onstage?
I hope we have time to do some serious sightseeing. I still can't believe we are heading over there. So excited, what a dream.
What's the worst thing about being in the spotlight? Do you get recognized on the street? Is it kinda great or kinda awful?
It can get weird. There's this notion about our band, that we are "difficult," and it bums me out. I remember meeting up with a journalist to interview during SXSW, and we ended up hanging out for a while. At one point she tells us her friend at the New York Times warned her about us being "dicks," and she was laughing because she was actually bracing herself for it before we met up. We had never even met the dude who said it.
Honestly, come up to any of us after a show, and try to tell us that we are assholes. I love our fans more than anything else in the world. Some of my best friends these days are folks I've met at Surfer Blood shows. I love them.
I don't know. When you have a supposed "tastemaker" acting like they know more about your music than you do, you tend to shut down. I've blown off interviews to hang out with friends and fans, and while that isn't nice, these were people who were acting more self-important than our entire band combined. We can be babies, but we aren't mean, nor are we any different from anyone else. We have this self-deprecating sense of humor that probably comes off questionable at times. Everyone has their off days.