A Chat with Deaf Surf (17.04.20)

Formed in March 2019, Deaf Surf rose from the ashes of previous bands within Brighton’s raucous scene. Right from the start, the four-piece set to work infusing melody with power. We were lucky enough to have a chat with vocalist Manon (M), guitarist Louis (L) and bassist Chloe (C) about their debut single ‘Sofa’ and their favourite smells.

OSR: How did you come up with the band name ‘Deaf Surf’?  Was it a simple or difficult decision?

L: I was messing around with words that looked or sounded good together and initially came up with Death Surf. After a bit of Googling, I found an article about some surfers in the States who had been losing their hearing over time due to the sound of the waves. I liked the imagery of a natural force having this power through sound and the idea of the things that you love damaging you. Thought it would also look cool on a t-shirt.

OSR: What can you tell us about your debut track ‘Sofa’?

M: It’s a track about toxic relationships and disappointing friendships. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time on my sofa the last couple of years or so and witnessed people come and go from there. ‘Sofa’ is actually relatively recent compared to some other songs we play; there was a sense of urgency to get it out so I could finally move away from my sofa – physically and mentally.

OSR:  What was the writing and recording process like?

M: Angry. The lyrics came from a place of anger and hatred. I’ve made peace with what the song is about now, so it was really tough to jump back in when we recorded it.

We recorded at Studio Humbug on the Isle of Wight and the whole recording process was truly enjoyable. The consensus was that I’d do the vocals live in one take instead of tracking each part of the song. Turns out I can’t get angry on demand and it was quite disappointing. I excused myself and went out for a cigarette on my own to coach myself into being angry. I ended up grabbing my phone and scrolling through pretty harsh text conversations I had with the people who inspired ‘Sofa’ months before. The following take was the one! *laughs*

OSR:  It’s almost impossible to film music videos during the pandemic, but could we see a “homemade” music video for ‘Sofa’?

M: I hadn’t really thought about it until now to be fair.

L: Could be fun.

C: I have been spending a lot of time on the sofa. Could be a good source of inspiration.

OSR: Do you feel female-fronted bands, particularly in the rock genre, are receiving more attention nowadays?

M: I think women in music – be it on stage or behind the curtains – are receiving more positive but also a lot of negative attention nowadays. Just look at festival line-ups and you see that it’s still just a water drop in a lake. It’s still an act of protestation to be a woman and to take some space publicly as if it’s a radical mindset. The issue is the representation of any other type of band members than white dudes.

C: I think female-fronted bands are receiving more attention, but, as Manon, said it’s still a very small percentage that get the big gigs and the limelight. I’ve been playing bass since year 5 and I remember being told to try and hone my craft because female bass players were a rarity. It’s great now to see more female instrumentalists absolutely smashing it on stage.

OSR:  What do you feel makes you unique?

M: Wow, tough. I won’t talk for the band here because I am totally biased. Personally, I can touch my nose with my tongue.

L: As a band, we are four very different individuals with different backgrounds and we all bring something to the table. It makes for an interesting collaboration and energy and I think that shows in the music. How you would describe it, I dunno.

C: In the best way, we don’t care what people think. I think we all believe in the band and each other and that shows in the performances.

OSR: What do you want people to take away from your music?

M: That it’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be frustrated. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to be a liability. It’s ok to be a loser. We’re all trying to better ourselves here, so let’s do it together.

OSR:  Were any of you involved in music before Deaf Surf?

M: On and off, yeah. I played guitar for a couple of years in a band called Brain Queen that was fronted by Jordan who now drums in Gender Roles. We initially started a two-piece called Something Something. We had four songs and we played one gig for Halloween at Campbell Road Studios in Brighton. I was totally off my face and because we didn’t have enough material I think we played some songs twice. After that, I drummed in a band for a year and a half and we never ended up playing live. I got kicked out of, like, three bands because I’m a lazy, mediocre musician. Honestly, I was a liability. *laughs*

L: I’ve been playing in bands in Brighton and London for many years at various levels. I guess most notably I was the singer/guitarist/songwriter in Idle Talk and guitarist in The Lieutenant’s Mistress. I have also done the odd solo gig and a bit of session work in between.

C: I’ve only been in one band before Deaf Surf. I played bass and sang in Bluest Boy which was an alternative three-piece band with two guys from my music college. We played Isle of Wight festival three years consecutively which was a lot of fun. Looking back on it now, it kind of feels like the teenage version of Deaf Surf, so it’s good to see the progression.

OSR:  How would you describe Deaf Surf as a band?

M: Not a surf band.

OSR:  If you were in a witness protection programme, what would your new name be and where would you go?

M: Louis May in Lewes.

L: Double Denim Dave in Dagenham.

C: Anne Onymous in The Bermuda Triangle.

OSR: What is your favourite smell and why?

M: Petrol and freshly baked bread. Not together though.

L: That whiff of fresh coffee when you break open a new bag.

C: Bonfire for sure.

OSR:  What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond?

M: Playing video games until I can work again.

L: Sniffing coffee, playing guitar and trying to stay sane.

C: Graduate from uni and complete Animal Crossing

Thanks to Manon, Chloe and Louis for the chat! To engage with Deaf Surf, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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