JP Pitts on Continuing Surfer Blood Without Thomas Fekete

Things should be good for the West Palm Beach indie-rock heroes of Surfer Blood. They have a new album set for release in early 2017. They've had opening gigs for some of their biggest influences, including the Pixies and Guided by Voices. Their song "Swim" was even heard on the awesome Netflix superhero series Daredevil. But earlier this year, the four-piece heartbreakingly lost its original guitarist, Thomas Fekete, to cancer.

"Thomas was so young and had so much to give the world," Surfer Blood singer John Paul Pitts tells New Times. "His memorial in Delray was when it hit me that I would never be able to see him again. Before that, I kept thinking he was in hiding and would pop up." But Pitts did his best to channel these emotions into Surfer Blood's new music, which he describes as longer and more epic. "I wrote the whole record while he was in cancer treatment. Any time I got tired, I'd think of Thomas, and it gave me the willpower to continue. I'm grateful for the thousand amazing memories I had with him."

Many of those memories involve touring the world together, playing shows, and living out their respective dreams. "Being from South Florida made us curious about the rest of the world. We're so isolated. It takes ten hours to make it to Atlanta, which is the next big market. Being from West Palm was great since the scene is so tight-knit, but it created a wanderlust in us. So we took the leap into touring. It's an amazing adventure, and it's the only way to get known outside your hometown."

But those hometown fans will get a taste of their very own Surfer Blood when the band plays with relatively new bassist Lindsey Mills and guitarist Mike McCleary at Culture Room this Saturday. "We've had two new members join over the last year and a half. Our harmonies are better than ever before, with really good backing vocals." Pitts says they will take a different approach toward their set in honor of their coheadliner. "The Heavy Pets are kind of a jam band. We're going to try to do more improv since we're playing with them."

In spite of their deep and tragic loss, Pitts says he's proud of Surfer Blood's continued success. "It's life-affirming. It feels like we're on the right track."

Surfer Blood with The Heavy Pets. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 3, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; cultureroom.net. Tickets cost $13 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.

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