Surf’s up ... sort of 

His group might be dubbed Surfer Blood, and its Ventures-vibrato debut called “Astro Coast,” but landlubber bandleader John Paul Pitts is upfront about the fact that when it comes to longboarding, he’s no ho-dad.

“I have nothing against surfing or surfers,” the West Palm Beach, Fla., native says. “But it’s just not something I’ve ever gotten too far into. Plus, south Florida isn’t the best place for it; there are no real waves down here.”

Pitts — who brings his frothy combo to the Treasure Island Music Festival on Sunday — was more interested in the subjects he was studying in college, history and teaching.

He never dreamed of hitting the waves because he always wanted to be in a band, more than anything.

“I still had another two years to go before I graduated to become a history teacher, but I never ended up doing any of that,” he says.

That’s because the singer-guitarist was carried away on a musical whitecap, without ever leaving his tiny campus apartment. Utilizing only Pro-Tools, borrowed mikes and pre-amps, and a Mexican Fender Cyclone guitar, he began writing and home-recording sun-drenched chimers like “Harmonix,” “Floating Vibes” and “Swim (To Reach the End)” — tracks that eventually would morph into the full-length “Astro Coast.”

The work began to consume Pitts.

“I spent a lot of time tweaking stuff, a lot of time getting guitar sounds, mixing and finding the right way to record vocals,” he says. “I’d never done anything like this before, so there was a lot of experimentation involved in the whole process. And I think that’s probably why the record came out sounding so unique.”

Pitts, 23, didn’t have to think too hard on song titles either. The punchy Duane-Eddy-meets-New-Order-ish “Neighbor Riffs” was inspired by arguments with session-hating residents in his building.

“For the most part, I had very gracious neighbors,” he says. “But the cops did come to the door and tell me, ‘Don’t make so much noise, it’s 2 in the morning! Did you honestly think it’d be OK to do this?’”

That lease expired and Pitts moved back in with his parents. He then upgraded his Surfer Blood concept to a fully functioning band.

Just don’t dismiss him as surf-rock, says the Pixies-reared Pitts, who was worried his material sounded too radio-friendly.

“Because I think I used a lot of ’60s pop-recording techniques, so people hear that and immediately associate it with the Ventures, which is a fair assumption,” he says. “But I think there’s a lot more to ‘Astro Coast’ than just that.”


IF YOU GO

Surfer Blood

Where: Treasure Island Music Festival, Tunnel Stage, Treasure Island

When: 6:25 to 7:10 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $67.50 to $249.50

Contact: www.treasureislandmusicfestival.com


Treasure Island headliners

Saturday

Bridge Stage

  • LCD Soundsystem, 9:3 p.m.
  • Deadmau5, 7:55 p.m. 
  • Kruder & Dorfmeister, 6:15 p.m.

Tunnel Stage

  • Miike Snow, 8:45 p.m. 
  • Little Dragon, 7:05 p.m.
  • Four Tet, 5:25 p.m.

Sunday

Bridge Stage

  • Belle and Sebastian, 8:15 p.m. 
  • The National, 6:25 p.m. 
  • Broken Social Scene, 4:50 p.m.

Tunnel Stage

  • Rogue Wave, 9:05 p.m.
  • Surfer Blood, 7:15 p.m.
  • Monotonix, 5:35 p.m.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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