Nada Surf goes indie…

Category: Blog — @ 1:18 pm February 22, 2006

There’s a nice little feature on Nada Surf that just went online (read it here). Drummer Ira Elliot compares and contrasts life on a major (Elektra) vs. life on an indie (Barsuk). They prefer the latter (and who wouldn’t?). He also talks a little bit about Ric Ocasek, who must be one intimidating mofo when it comes to recording. I like Nada Surf and I like their new record. It took awhile. Actually, it took awhile just getting past their name. You hear Nada Surf, you immediately think jam band or hippie music. These guys couldn’t be further from both. Bad name, Nada Surf. Oh well. They’re succeeding in spite of it.

Stuff that didn’t make it into the story: When it came time to release the follow-up single to the hugely popular “Popular,” Nada Surf got the first glimpse at what they were in for at Elektra. The label wanted to push the somewhat milquetoast “Treehouse.” “We knew it wouldn’t work and it didn’t,” Elliot said. “We didn’t even like playing it. We were into a song called ‘Sleep,’ with a killer riff in the middle. It blew up when we played it on stage and we knew it would sound smashing on the radio.” Of course, the label will always win that argument.

What was it like working with Ocasek, who produced their debut, vs. Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, who produced their latest release? “Ocasek was a huge presence,” Elliot said. “He was older, we were all awed by him when we met him. You can’t help but be. Chris is a peer. He’s younger than we are and at the same time was like another guy in the band. Chris was more of a peer and had a different energy. Ric’s energy was quiet and reserved. Chris was manic. He has a childlike quality. He’s always firing on all cylinders.”

Nada Surf has a song included on Music from The OC: Mix 2 called “If You Leave.” Some might consider that a subject of ridicule, unless they glanced at who else is on the album: Eels, Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol, Dios Malos, The Walkman, to name a few. They’re also on the recently released collection from the WB show One Tree Hill (that one is a little more embarrassing). Have they seen an impact being on the kid-show soundtracks? “People are not calling that song out (“If You Leave”),” Elliot said. “I do suspect it brought us a number of fans. I’m getting a sense of that looking at the audience. You can tell who’s down front. At Chapel Hill, it was a college audience, but there were real young kids up front that would be into The OC and One Tree Hill. It has a lot of impact on kids getting into music and looking at new bands. We haven’t gotten too many shoutouts for “If You Leave,” and we wouldn’t play it, anyway. I don’t think there was any credibility downside. It’s just a new outlet for bands to reach an audience.”

Finally, does the band still play “Popular”? “Sometimes toward end of a set or when we do an encore, or on a hot not and we’re doing a second encore, we’ll pull out the heavy guns,” Elliot said. “The other night, we overheard a conversation between guys from the other bands. One said, ‘I heard they do,’ and the other was absolutely certain we didn’t. We do play it, but we don’t play it as a matter of course every night. That night we did just to prove everyone wrong. We play it every three or four shows. One day we should open the show with it.” Read more here…

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