Suzy is a (Surf) Punk Rocker
by Scott Bass
Last weekend, I found a small stack of records in a small antique shop. Antique shop owners aren't typically too clued in on music and in the past I've found some wild titles in these kinds of places. And this was no exception, because three flips into the meager stack was a rather clean-covered copy of a record I was definitely familiar with...
The following note was found tucked inside a used copy of Beach Blvd, the 1979 compilation of Los Angeles Beach-area groups released on Posh Boy Records. Addresses are left off for privacy reasons but this was a handwritten note from someone named Suzy in Hermosa Beach, California written to someone named Sheena in Rockaway Beach, NY. Dated July 3rd, 1980.
I've been doing some digging online trying to find this Suzy girl. I'm guessing she probably got married and changed her name. And I'm quite curious to know if she still likes to surf and listens to "new wave" bands. I also have to ask her what's up with her letter not even mentioning that the Beach Blvd. album contained a song called "Suzy is a Surf Rocker." That album came out the year before her letter and so it has to be just a coincidence,. right? Maybe one day we'll hear from Suzy and she'll set the matter straight.
What's happening? Sorry I haven't written sooner. I've been having so much fun surfing every day and seeing bands almost every night that I just haven't had time. I wish long distance calls weren't so expensive because there's so much I want to tell you. This has been the most radical vacation ever and it's only half over!
Enclosed is a map of the local beaches so you can see where I am on the coast -- there's so many places to surf, no way I'll see them all.
As expected the music scene out here is totally awesome and there's shows almost every day. Every week the record store up the street gets in new stuff and I've been buying as much as I can to bring back to New York. I think the record stores out here might be better than on the East Coast! Enclosed is a record that just came out and I love it so much I wanted to mail you a copy too because I know you will also love it. New Wave and surfing! So cazh, it's perfect. You gotta come check it out.
All of the kids here really dig the local scene and the girls aren't all just beach bunnies -- some of them can really go off. There's a real bitchin' buzz in the air here... and I swear it's not just the pot! And here's the craziest thing... my second day here I met these cute brothers in a surf shop named Jay and Jim and later I find out that they are in one of the bands on this album, The Crowd! They are really cool dudes and they are both really good surfers too! Their songs on Beach Blvd are so awesome. Jim told me that they are working on their own album, I can't wait to hear it and I really hope I get to see them play before I have to go back to New York.
Another record that we've been playing every day is by the Gears you should look for their 45. "Let's Go to the Beach" is just so boss it really gets stuck in your head. I got to see these guys my first week here and they were so much fun, they had everybody doing the pogo and singing along.
I keep hearing that the guys in Black Flag all live here in Hermosa Beach but nobody ever sees them surfing. Someone told me that all they do is practice, which is so bogue! They are a cool band but they better start writing some surf songs.
Totally going to be there!
Another record we've listened to pretty much every day is by this group called Surf Punks. How awesome is that? They are like the perfect band because all of their songs are about surfing and they all have gnarly hair too.
The drummer's name is Dennis Dragon and someone told me that his brother is the Captain from The Captain and Tennille. I can't believe it though. [It's true -Ed.]
I don't think you'll get a find a copy of their album in NY but they got signed this year and Epic put the album out again as "My Beach." The lyrics are just so great. "My beach, my chicks, my waves, GO HOME!" I picked up the cassette and will be bringing it home, you can copy it! Just don't tell anyone, OK? I don't wanna go to jail for piracy without ever having owned a parrot! HAHA.
Next weekend I'm going to see Surf Punks play with some group called Agent Orange and I'm really excited because I hear they do surf music too. Their song "Bloodstains" on the Rodney on the ROQ album was really (REALLY!) great but it didn't sound really surfy to me. But someone told me that they do a new wave version of that instrumental "Pipeline." I'll believe it when I hear it.
[ED NOTE: once again it's true, and it's fantastic, I bet you loved them],
You should totally come out here to visit if not this summer definitely next summer because I'm going to come back for sure. So many beaches, so many bands, so many boys! I should also mention that, the Mexican food out here is like a thousand times better than what we have in NY. And they have FISH tacos here -- I was totally clucked at first but then I got talked into trying one and -- it was one of the most primo tacos I've ever had in my life! I swear I'm not joshin!
I think Surf Rock is going to be huge in the 80s and I can't wait! AKAW!!! I'm soooo stoked!!!
Gotta book now and hit the surf,
WRITE ME BACK!! xoxo Suzy
It's been nearly 40 years since that letter was mailed and sadly, New Wave Surf Rock did not become the "next big thing" in music. We can rest assured however that copious evidence over the years has proven conclusively that surfing is part of popular music's genetic code and that the two are forever intertwined; even if the surf DNA occasionally goes dormant.
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