Surfer Blood has been around for awhile. Their first album, Astro Coast, was released seven years ago. But what is new is the finesse they bring to their new album, Snowdonia. John Paul Pitts, frontman and lyricist (better known as JP) shows listeners how many dimensions this garage band carries.
They’ve come a long way from fuzzy self-recorded demos out of a bedroom studio. With the release of their fourth album, Surfer Blood is a full-time job. They’ve already been on tour most of this year. As a unit, they’re well-practiced and experienced.
For JP, Snowdonia was an album experience unlike any other.
“I would have been happy being a bedroom musician forever,” JP said.
To JP, that means touring every once in awhile, never really gaining recognition. Remaining in the shadows. But they’re well known in Jacksonville. They’re playing at the venue for the 20th time, still filling the room with energy.
This is the first record JP has written on his own. Being the only lyricist in the current band lineup, it felt lonely for him at first.
“I was alone for the first time in awhile,” he said of the recording process.
He also received support from the band’s two new members, Lindsey Mills (bass) and Michael McCleary (guitar). They form vocal harmonies that weren’t previously attainable. This gives the songs more dimension, showcasing their expertise.
Snowdonia illustrates the growth and maturity of Surfer Blood. JP became comfortable sharing his lyrics and the band itself has had a lot of practice together on tour. They still have the garage sound that gave them recognition on Astro Coast (2010). But the songs themselves are more diverse. They’re an exploration, testing the waters between what works for a song and what doesn’t. They don’t follow a formula — they are simply good songs.
JP is now better able to cope with vulnerability. His newfound comfort with this feeling allows the songs to feel unconfined and independent. This is the only record whose lyrics he posted online.
“I had to turn off the editor in my head,” he said.
During the songwriting process, he was constantly asking himself whether or not what he was writing sounded like Surfer Blood, if it was actually good and if people would listen. It’s been a journey through every record to get better at shutting that tiny voice out.
“Writing without thinking about the consequences is something that’s been really good for me,” he said.
Snowdonia was created through freedom. JP didn’t think about the implications of the record, he just wrote what he felt he needed to write. He learned to affirm his own decisions — for himself.
“Not overthinking things helped me to express myself.”
JP hopes to create music for the rest of his life. For him, there’s always something new to emulate.
Find Snowdonia on iTunes and Spotify. You can also order a vinyl from their website.