One question that needs to be asked about the Australian music scene is, “Where has the surf music gone?”
Throughout the 1960’s the Australian surf music culture was born out of what was coming out of Southern California.
Music from the Beach Boys inspired bands like The Atlantic’s who had a big hit with the instrumental song, Bombora.
A look at the tours on the RSL circuit these days, sees acts like The Deltones, Little Pattie and Col Joy gracing the stage, once mainstays of the surf culture scene.
The biggest move forward was the punk scene, which allowed bands to form with no real technical ability to play an instrument.
Australia saw a wave of bands form which dabbled in surf music or were a part of the surf culture, many of these bands made their way north to Newcastle.
With names like Celebrate Rifles, The Hard Ons and The Trilobites, these acts stayed true to the punk form with a surf twist.
One of the biggest surf punk bands from the Northern Beaches of Sydney that performed at the Ambassador and later the Newcastle Workers Club, was Midnight Oil.
The Oils, often overlooked as a surf band had many songs dedicated to surfing and the water. The album head injuries is still regarded as one of the Top 10 surf albums in history.
Even in the later stages in their career, the Oils turned out songs like, “Surfs Up Tonight”, “Underwater” which complimented the earlier work of the instrumental, “Wedding Cake Island”.
Yet in the 90’s surfers turned to the grunge era and bands like Nirvana, then in the 2000’s soul surfers like Jack Johnson and John Butler Trio.
Even Newcastle’s own, “Screaming Jets had a great song called, “Tunnel”. The song comes complete with a great film clip of the band surfing and some other scenes form the surf movie, “Hawaii Nine-O”.
Tunnel features one of Merewethers regular surfers and current “Monster of Rock”, Craig Rosevear, who we know would be one who could write great surf rock.
A few years ago former members of Midnight Oil and the Violent Femmes formed a band in Sydney called, The Break.
Using the fundamentals of bands like The Atlantics which mainly consisted of great guitar riffs, The Break named all the songs after surf breaks around Australia. The first song was “Cylinders”.
The second album, called “Space Farm” featured a slightly different style of music again full of strong instrumental riffs.
What inspires a surfer to pick up a guitar and write about the waves, the ocean and the art of riding a wave?
Will the current generation of music writers make music about the things they do everyday and love passionately or write a tune about being in “Da Club”.
Cylinders, The Break