Surf Curse Rides the Wave From DIY to TikTok Fame and Arena Shows

Surf Curse
Surf Curse Photo by Julian Sage
"The opening act is usually when people are coming in and finding their seats, but it presents the challenge to us: Can we win over the people that are trying to find their seat at a stadium?" asks Surf Curse vocalist and drummer Nick Rattigan.

New Times spoke with Rattigan and guitarist Jacob Rubeck just a few days after the band's big announcement: Surf Curse will support Greta Van Fleet for nine arena shows in September, including a stop at New York City's Madison Square Garden. It'll be the first time Surf Curse performs in an arena since the band's inception more than a decade ago in Reno, Nevada.

"I feel like we always try to bring this insane, manic energy, so it'll be a big challenge for us to play something that big. I think it'll be really fun. There's a lot of room for good banter," Rattigan says.

"Yeah, our personalities will be flowing through the stadium — the Little Caesars Arena," Rubeck jokes.

The last time Surf Curse was in Miami in 2019, the band opened for Beach Fossils at Gramps.

This time around, the band — now with the addition of new members Noah Kohll and Henry Dillon — is embarking on its own Mostly Florida Tour in May, with two dates at Gramps. After selling out tickets for the May 12 show, Surf Curse added another date on May 10, giving South Florida one more chance to experience the band's energetic live performance, which admittedly sounds way better in a small intimate venue than a huge arena.

While going through the regular motions of an eager indie band — play shows, get signed to a small label, release music, and play more shows — Surf Curse's song "Freaks" unexpectedly blew up on TikTok in the summer of 2021, 12 years after the song was written.

"When I tell them the name of the band, people go, 'Isn't that a TikTok thing?'" says Rattagan. "It's kind of like having a big hit on the radio."
For a moment, "Freaks" became the band's version of Radiohead's "Creep."

"It's funny because, since it blew up, there was a time period of not feeling like the song was ours anymore whenever we would play the song live," Rubeck admits. "We started seeing in the audience that they were waiting for "Freaks" to come up. But more recently, whenever we've been playing shows, and since we came out with another record, kids are really stoked to come to the show, and they like more than just that song."

The butterfly effect gained "Freaks" millions of streams and landed Surf Curse a record deal with Atlantic Records.

"It's been interesting. We're so used to DIY, and we've been doing the band for ten years, and our label before Atlantic was just our buddies," shares Rattigan. "It's like operating in the major leagues, but I still feel like we try to lean towards a DIY, independent sort of way of doing things. We've learned a lot in the process."

Along with the deal came a stream of opportunities, including song placements on the radio, larger tours, and fancy deluxe vinyl sets.

But, sounding like honest music geeks, they're most excited about the opportunity they had to record their latest album Magic Hour at New York's legendary Electric Lady Studios, founded by Jimi Hendrix in 1970, plus the chance to brush shoulders with their idols.

"We're playing Kilby Court festival, and Duster and Pavement are playing the same day as us, so we're very excited to be at the same festival as those guys," Rubeck says. "We just played in Boise, and we played after Dinosaur Jr. We got to ride in the same van as J Mascis, so it was kind of crazy."

Although the band has some new tracks up its sleeves, Rubeck and Rattigan agree that a break to rest and focus on their solo projects — Rattigan releases music under the moniker Current Joys and Rubeck under Gap Girls — is needed once Surf Curce is done touring this year.

"We're still young; we can't burn out too fast," Rubeck adds.

Surf Curse. With Sour Widows. 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, and Friday, May 12, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; Tickets cost $25 to $30 via
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Catherine Toruño is a music and arts writer from West Kendall. She enjoys sustainable fashion, attending local music shows, and exploring Miami on her bike.

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