From The Beach Boys to The Sunnyboys, Radio Birdman to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, here are ten surf bands that actually rip.
When it comes to surfing and music, you won’t find a more fruitful relationship than that which occurs in The Sunnyboys.
A much loved band from the halcyon Australian pub-rock scene of the 1980s, lead singer Jeremy Oxley was actually the Queensland State Surf Champ before taking up music. Upon taking the reigns of the band, he quit surfing altogether.
“The band recently reformed. I was there. It was sick.”
Oxley would be later diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Some say the endless variations and distortions of sound soothed his troubled mind much in the same way surfing had.
By their early 20s the band had a Gold Record but Oxley’s mental issues would call a halt to the band prematurely.
To this day he refuses to accept the diagnosis, pointing to his tremendous success as a musician, surfer and, to a lesser extent, graphic artist as proof. The band reformed recently for a small run of shows. I was there. It was sick.
The Beach Boys
Before we get too far in, let’s go back to the beginning of this whole surf music thing. There we find SoCal’s original ‘surf boys’, The Beach Boys.
Although the lads would later fall down the hole of extravagant coke addiction and mental health issues (Brian Wilson, mostly), their beginnings were so humble, so wholesome and so surf, it hurt.
Originally formed by the Wilson brothers (Brian, Dennis, Carl) along with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, the band’s roots very much lay in the DIY garage culture that would come to define the genre.
“Their beginnings were so humble, so wholesome and so surf, it hurt”
Their original hit, Surfin’ was made on rented guitars, drums, amplifiers and microphones in the Wilson family home while the parents were away holidays (doing mounds of coke presumably, if addiction is the genetically inherited trait it’s supposed to be).
Truth be told, only Dennis was a frother, though the band would share an affinity for the surf for most of their career. Or at least cash in on it to make hits, I’m not sure.
Recently, Brian Wilson gave the remake of Morning of The Earth, Spirit of Akasha, a rare unreleased track, to use. And it semi-rips.
The Goons of Doom
Ozzie Wright’s Goons of Doom had similar beginnings to the Beach Boys in that both started on rented instruments.
In their case, they rented them to be used as props in the cult-classic surf film, Doped Youth, before realising that instruments are kinda sick, playing them is even better (even if it sounds fucked), and fuck it, let’s start a band.
Five years later they’d be playing to up to ten thousand confused fans in Biarritz and Tokyo on their way to cult-classic status.
They’re still alive and kicking on the northern beaches today. Ozzie’s just had his second kid and you can hear Goons frontman, Vaughan Dead live and deadly on my radio show.