Revolutions: Surf’s Up

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Picture of surf on a rock.
The music, not this.

Revolutions: Surf’s Up by Dany Recio

With students filing back into classrooms from the lazy summer beaches we look back and ponder the events we undertook. If we look even further still into the summers and years of the past decades we can see moments in time where music was changed and influenced our future.

Throughout the late 50s the tide brought in a new kind of summer inspired music called surf rock. Dick Dale took the genre through it’s first baby steps as he was quickly gaining fame throughout the late 50s for his energetic performances and signature style of speed staccato guitar picking. Dale was so prone to blowing out his guitar amplifiers that he collaborated with fender in order to create the first amplifiers that could control distorted guitar tones. In many ways Dale laid the first bricks for punk, new wave, post-rock, and especially heavy metal. He brought a new outlet to music from the then dominating mainstream pop and blues inspired rock n roll to create a vibe of just plain having fun. Dale has stuck to this day to that style he loves and has also inspired many guitarists such as Johnny Ramone, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, along with Austin’s own pride and joy Stevie Ray Vaughn who Dale collaborated with several times.

However, surf rock didn’t just stay confined to fast loud grooves and gained most of it’s fame when The Beach Boys took the genre and added a more melodic vocal incarnation. With the pop influence surf rock was off and made it’s way into homes across the country inspiring good times under the sun. One band named The Trashmen even combined both strong vocal leads with fast loud grooves getting to no. 4 on the top 100 billboard with the now infamous Surfin Bird. Surfin Bird encompassed in two and a half minutes a driving pulse and devil may care attitude towards vocals and lyrics setting down even more foundation for the soon to come punk rock.

Unfortunately for surf rock, the political turmoil following the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam war began to damper the country’s energy for fun, and instead bringing people to more serious notes. Along with the British Invasion and the conquest laid out by The Beatles, surf rock slowly receded back into the waves. The Beach Boys were one of the few bands that survived this change by changing their music to fit the new times and creating less surf inspired pop rock. Still, surf rock emerges from time to time within modern incarnations such as The Ramones and the Go-Gos. Now being adopted and implemented into new indie bands such as Beach Fossils and Man or Astro-Man? We can still hear the ripples from the wave where surf rock broke.

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