With their formative years spent somewhere between Reno, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, seeing Surf Curse live has become something of a right of passage for southwestern indie kids. The band’s new album, Heaven Surrounds You, is more polished than their previous efforts, thanks in part to in-demand indie-rock producer Jarvis Taveniere (Real Estate, Vivian Girls, Sunflower Bean). The album is a testament to coming of age, and is also chock full of references to cult cinema.
To celebrate the new album, Surf Curse drummer/vocalist Nick Rattigan and guitarist Jacob Rubeck sat down to talk endurance tests, Yoko Ono, and movies in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Nick Rattigan: Color. Giallo. Cult. Loveless.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
Jacob Rubeck: As two friends who always had control of what they wanted to do and always pushed themselves to keep making the best work they could’ve done…or the people who wrote “Goth Babe.”
NR: Yeah the people who wrote “Goth Babe” for sure. On my tombstone.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
JR: I think for me at least Reno, just because of the before and after. Hanging with close friends, doing some karaoke, and thrifting around town.
NR: I always like playing New York. There are always a lot of familiar faces that I don’t expect to see.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
NR: I think this changes pretty frequently. I get a lot of influence from directors and how they approach creating things. One of my favorites is Tarkovsky. I’ve seen a lot of his movies and read his book Sculpting In Time. Even though we are working in different mediums a lot of what he has to say about creating and art I resonate with and like to apply to my own process of writing or creating something.
JR: With this last album I was really into Dennis Hopper and his life. I was reading this book of interviews that he did. The guy really cared about his vision and was heartbroken when things didn’t work out. He also felt like that about any acting job he got. That mindset really gave me a positive outlook on things and how I should approach creating.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
NR: Buca di Beppo.
JR: Salmon from the south. Bless the south and it’s cooking.
What album do you know every word to?
NR: Blink-182 — Enema Of The State.
JR: Maybe The Strokes — Is This It?
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
NR: Either My Bloody Valentine or Duster.
JR: Solange at the Odd Future Carnival.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
NR: When it’s a Surf Curse show, always my running shorts and a light t-shirt. Half the time the t-shirt comes off. We always go really hard and on top of that drumming and singing at the same time is very exhausting. Each show is like a test of endurance. You’re trying to put on a good show and sing well while just flailing your body and sweating like a mad man.
JR: Button-ups so I can button down.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
JR: Instagram — xyourangelx.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
NR: If Reed Kanter is with us, Ween’s “Fiesta.”
What’s the last thing you Googled?
NR: “Cassavetes Love Streams.”
JR: “Lana Del Rey.”
What album makes for the perfect gift?
NR: My favorite album that someone gave to me is Sebadoh’s Bakesale. I think it’s the perfect gift because it’s not one of the most well-known albums, but one of the greatest of that era.
JR: Yoko Ono’s Season of Glass. When I talk to people about her music and they’ve never listened to it, I always give them the copy I have. I buy it every time I see it because I know I’m gonna give it away to someone. It’s just so beautiful, sad and pure. A great way to jump in.
Do you have a favorite hotel you enjoy staying at when you tour?
NR: When we went down to Florida we stayed in this “haunted hotel.” Can’t remember the name of it but I took a picture of a ghost. The whole time it felt like we were in the Scooby gang.
JR: It’s not my favorite but I just stay at The Plaza in Vegas every time I’m there. It’s awful but cheap and has my heart.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
JR: Harmony Tividad of Girlpool gave me a Yoko stick-n-poke on my arm years ago in Reno. I cherish it.
NR: Harmony also gave me my first tattoo in Reno. It says “just try” which was a sticker on my guitar which I wrote almost every song on for the last 9 years. That guitar just got stolen on the last tour, so it’s nice to have a piece of it still with me.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
JR: Maybe Billie Eilish because it’s so weird hearing a song like that being played constantly.
NR: I would honestly say The Offspring. They are not a band I really listen to willingly but whenever a song comes on I get really excited. All of their big hits have these super strong and recognizable intros that get you so hyped.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
NR: My mom worked like 3 jobs while going to school, raised me and put me through college. So I would definitely give her that award.
JR: Nick bought me a typewriter after I got made fun of wanting one. He’s a swell guy.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
JR: Stop being a hater. Put more love in your heart.
NR: Go to film school.
What’s the last show you went to?
NR: Last show I was at was actually Jacob’s Gap Girls show at the Smell. I wanted to watch all the acts that were playing. Henry who now plays in Surf Curse opened and this new band Comma La. Also Brutus VIII. But wow it was so hot in that room I had to keep going to my car in the parking lot and sitting the air conditioning. I’m only 27 but I guess I’m getting too old to hang.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
NR: A Few Good Men or honestly any courtroom drama. I have to watch it start to finish. And its always playing on cable.
JR: Grown Ups 2 because its the greatest/ weirdest movie ever. You can jump in and enjoy the chaos.
What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?
JR: We Postmate-ing Buffalo Wild Wings.
NR: Tuna Melts.
Heaven Surrounds You is out now on Danger Collective.