Leeds band Black Surf have an unusual backstory – forming two years ago through the wonders of FaceTime and dropbox, which also involved crossing countries (between Leeds, UK and Sydney, Australia). It may be an unconventional way of starting a band but we’re bloody glad that they did. Their debut single ‘Lights Out’ is a stomping four-minute hit of alt-rock bliss and we can’t get enough of it.
We grabbed a few minutes with guitarist, Phil Jones and fired some quick questions at him about his formative years in music, plus much more.
Where and when did you first discover your interest in music?
“Music was always very prominent in my house when I was growing up. I was made to go to piano lessons when I was 8. From then I played brass in orchestras and stole my first guitar from school when I was 13. The music department at my school was so bad. I was the only kid in the whole school that played with these guitars. Spent a lot of time on my own after school learning how to play.”
What was the first instrument you learned to play?
“When I was 13/14 I started putting chords together and I guess you could call them songs. I remember writing ‘proper’ songs when I was 15. There was one called ‘Tea Time’. Me and Ali played it in a band called Wendall when we were kids. It was super shit.”
What would you say has been the highlight so far in your musical career?
“Sounds pretty cheesy but getting to put Black Surf together and writing some songs that I’m really proud of would be my highlight. I’ve done plenty of touring and recording before but I’ve never got the satisfaction that I have right now.”
What does music mean to you?
“I tried a year off writing a few years ago and got major depressed. Pretty sure it’s part of my make up.”
Where did you play your first gig?
“It’s got to be with Ali at high school. We did 3 tracks I think. One was a cover of Robin Hood by Ocean Colour Scene because my ex girlfriend had been passing it off as her track to some of my friends. We played it really fast and heavy. She had no idea it was coming. She ran out crying. I totally regret that.”
What has been the definitive record that has made the most impact on your life?
“This thing comes up sometimes at rehearsals/recording. I’ve got 3. Dookie, Sparkle and Fade by Everclear and that first Weezer record. All equally as influential and great as the other. I can still listen to all of them.”
What is your earliest musical memory?
“Doing Michael Jackson impressions when I was 4/5. Totally lost those skills along the way somewhere.”
Who is your favourite songwriter?
“Joe Strummer or Wayne Coyne.”
A song lyric that means a lot to me is…
“I’m So Tired by The Beatles. Pretty sure I need to see a doctor about it.”
A song that describes my current mood/frame of mind at this time is…
Black Surf are playing The Packhorse in Leeds on Saturday 23rd January, alongside Forever Cult and NARCS. Tickets are priced at £6 each, and available here.