In 2010, Florida's Surfer Blood made waves with their impressive hook-heavy debut album, Astro Coast. They were indie-rock's instant media darlings.
Three years later, and band is trying to re-earn that sweet favorable media attention. Last year, front man John Paul Pitts cast himself -- and thus his band -- into some unflattering light, after he was arrested for alleged domestic battery following a feud with his then-girlfriend.
Charges against Pitts were ultimately dropped, and he maintains his innocence in the matter; understandably, however, the experience has shaken him. Pitts is looking to the future, though, and gets by with the support of his band.
He hopes a change of scenery will help him regroup. Last year, the West Palm Beach native relocated to the opposite coast Pitts now resides in Los Angeles, where the band recorded their latest album, Pythons.
"I never wanted to leave," Pitts explains during a recent phone call. "After we finished recording, I moved out to Silver Lake, and I'm really liking it."
Pitts even risked leaving his band behind in order to start anew, but he's confident the band can make it work despite the distance.
"It can be a bit tricky sometimes," he says, of juggling a band with members on opposite coasts, "but we get our rehearsal hours in. We're on the road a lot, so we see each other at least once a week.
"It was hard being in Florida," he admits. "There's not much of a music scene in West Palm Beach, as it's small and geographically isolated. It's easier for us to play shows and keep busy in California than in Florida."
Surfer Blood has kept themselves busy promoting Pythons, a record drastically different than its predecessor in terms of its darker lyrics. That shouldn't be all that surprising, as it was recorded immediately following Pitts' arrest.
"The lyrics on Pythons are definitely different," he agrees. "I was much tougher on myself this time around.
"For the previous two releases," he explains, "we just worked as we went. We'd sort of write lyrics at the last minute and then go in and record them.
"But for this record," he continues, "I spent a lot of time on lyrics, trying to make them different and cohesive. I'm really proud of them," he concludes. "It's the first time I've ever really sat down and wrestled with lyrics like this."
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Pitts doesn't deny the darkness that inspired Pythons, but it's clear that he's committed to moving forward and keeping busy. Surfer Blood is currently on tour in support of Pythons, and the band plays Houston on Monday.
"This is our first headlining tour in a while," he says, pleased. "It's great seeing fans who are just excited to see our band. We've played a lot of festivals and support shows, but we feel like we're trying to impress the people at those shows, whereas when we're playing for our own fans, we can be a little looser and try stuff out -- and they'll probably still like us," he laughs. "It feels freer."
For now, Surfer Blood is happily busied with life on the road, but even touring has its ups and downs, Pitts reminds us.
"Having to eat at Subway a lot is shitty," he relates. "Like life, tour has its great moments... and there are those Subway moments, too."
Surfer Blood plays Fitzgerald's tonight with Team Spirit and Andy Boay. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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