QRO Mag had the opportunity to talk with up-and-comers, Surf Curse. Although they formed in 2013, they are finding new success, with a new label, Atlantic Records – and a little help from Tik Tok. Founders Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubek, as well as newer members, Noah Knoll and Henry Dillon discussed a wide range of topics with QRO:
QRO: In Wikipedia, you’re called an “Indie Surf Rock” Band – What does that mean to you?
NR: Absolutely nothing [laughs]. I guess they saw “Surf” in our name and figured we were a “surf” band. That’s someone who obviously hasn’t heard our music.
QRO: Then how would you categorize your music?
JR: I don’t think we would – I mean, genres are limiting. Indie rock used to be a way to categorize independent bands, but now it’s become a genre.
NR: I don’t know, maybe modern alternative? I guess I’d like to think of us a cult band [laughs], like a cult following, like maybe the Pixies, or the Meat Puppets.
QRO: “Freaks” released originally in 2013 – but it became a hit on TikTok in 2021 – during the pandemic. Was that surprising to you?
JR: We didn’t know about it at first, we had people calling us saying “Hey, you’re blowing up on TikTok.” We weren’t really on TikTok back then.
NR: It was as much a surprise to us as anyone. We really have had more of a gradual progression than people might think. We had seen some success with the song before then – on some other platforms, like You Tube, Band Camp and Vine – but nothing so mainstream as TikTok.
NK: I mean, we played shows with them in 2019 and they had huge crowds even then.
QRO: But the TikTok fame came during the pandemic, so a lot of people were connecting on social media – and it seemed like everyone on TikTok became a dancer (for better or worse), but Nick, you really are a dancer. The way you performed in the “Disco” video was amazing. Did that come naturally, or did you have to do a lot of rehearsal?
NR: I did a LOT of rehearsal – I rehearsed for about a month ahead of the video shoot – with Liza Barzkaya, the girl I was in the video with – she’s actually a dancer.
JR: Yeah, but he really is a great dancer, he used the move he did in the video back in high school
NR: Yeah, that’s my signature move [demonstrates the move].
Surf Curse’s video for “Disco”:
QRO: Social media can be a double-edged sword for bands – you kind of have to be there, but it isn’t always pleasant.
NR: No, it isn’t – I just had to get off it. It was making me insane. You just get up into your head — and it becomes your world – it’s really a monster. But, at the same time, it gives you exposure you otherwise couldn’t get.
JR: I do watch too much of it. I like TikTok because it’s the most freeform of the platforms – but yeah, it can get out of hand. It sort of sucks you in.
QRO: You formed in 2013, in Reno, Nevada – with just Nick and Jacob. How did you get together?
JR: We have known each other since we were 13. We we’ve been friends a long time.
QRO: So, you’ve been together for 10 years now – do you ever get sick of each other? [laughs]
NR: Well – yeah – sometimes, but…
JR: [finishing the sentence] But we’re like family – so you just have to work through it and talk about it and get things back together.
NR: Yeah, you have to approach disagreements with love and understanding of each other.
QRO: You added Henry Dillon and Noah Knoll to the band in 2019, before signing with Atlantic Records in 2020. How did going from two to four band members change your dynamic?
NR: We had always said we would only ever be a duo – and NEVER have a bassist – I was really stubborn about that. But, as our music progressed, we needed more. We really get along so great – they bring ideas to the table and it’s helped with our progression.
HD: Well, at first, we were probably more like hired hands – but then we went on tour and fell in love with each other.
QRO: How did you (Henry) and (Noah) know each other – are you also from Reno?
NK: No, but we both grew up in Oklahoma City, OK. And we’ve known each other forever.
QRO: How did you two find Jacob and Nick?
HD: We were all in the music scene in NY and LA and we met that way.
We had always said we would only ever be a duo – and NEVER have a bassist – I was really stubborn about that. But, as our music progressed, we needed more.
QRO: You were once called “Buffalo 66” – which was a film, and you’ve said that the movies have influenced your music. How so?
JR: Well, you see a movie and that’s the way you think life should be – this perfect little story – and it’s like music in that way – so I just love the movies.
QRO: So, you are back in Atlanta! You played in Purgatory at the Masquerade in Atlanta in 2020 – which is the smallest venue at the Masquerade.
NR: Yeah – we really want to make it to Hell [laughs]. That’s the biggest, right? Some great bands have performed in Hell.
QRO: But now you’re at Shaky Knees…
JR: Yes, that’s a big difference in a short amount of time, but I really do like it in Atlanta – I wish I could spend more time here.
NK: But, we did spend time here when we were here last – we all got COVID and had to quarantine for days!
NR: Yeah, but we didn’t get to do anything.
HD: We did go to a strip club.
NR: Yes, we went to Clermont Lounge
QRO: That’s not just a strip club – it’s an Atlanta Institution [laughs].
JR: It really is.
NR: We would love to see more – Atlanta is a pretty cool place.
QRO: So – Looks like we’re out of time – so last question – what’s next?
NR: We’re touring in Florida, then Salt Lake City, New Jersey – and on to Europe!
JR: And then we need to work on a new album – and CHILL.