Formed in 1976 and borrowing elements from punk and surf rock, the Surf Punks were a completely singular if not unique musical phenomenon. Irrevent, funny and totally original, the Surf Punks would release five albums, Surf Punks (1976), My Beach (1980), Locals Only (1982), Oh No! Not Them Again (1988) and Party Bomb (1989). In the following interview, Dennis Dragon, drummer and founder of the Surf Punks, talks about the band.
With all the information out there on the internet, surprisingly there isn’t a whole lot about the Surf Punks. Additionally, your albums are quite hard to come by. “Surf Punks” on Day-Glo is next to impossible to find, and compact discs of “My Beach” go for 90+ dollars on Amazon used vendors. Do you think any Surf Punks albums
will see rereleases?
Since Epic Records owns the rights to the â€œMy Beachâ€ album, the ball is in their court. I personally have a few unopened copies of our original Day-Glo record and would consider selling some if the price is right. I have recently re-acquired the rights to â€œLocals Onlyâ€ and will probably re-release that one at some point.
What bands influenced you?
The bands that influenced both Drew Steele and myself prior to the formulation of The Surf Punks are The Tubes, David Bowie, AC-DC and of course, The Ramones.
What bands did you hate back then?
I really didnâ€™t â€œhateâ€ any bands; I didnâ€™t care for The Cars and some British â€œglamâ€ bands. I didn’t go for “the sterile sound”.
I was probably a little too young to really appreciate your music when you were current. What type of people listened to your music?
There was quite a cross-section of people that liked what we were doing, mostly those who appreciated what we were trying to do in bringing Zuma Beach in Malibu to them, via concerts or in recorded form. The â€œpunkâ€ twist was (I thought) a good musical vehicle for this delivery.
Re-listening to some of your tracks on “My Beach”, I think that Eminem must have come up with some of his MC bits riffing on you guys. What do you think?
I donâ€™t know about Eminem, but Iâ€™ve heard direct â€œmusical borrowingsâ€ from an English band called â€œThe Adictsâ€. They combined elements of our sound with â€œA Clockwork Orangeâ€ theme.
What were some of the better slang words from back in the day?
We printed a â€œcompleteâ€ list of this stuff on the back of our first Epic album. I canâ€™t recall that stuff now. I blanked it out.
Your shows were pretty wild. What was the craziest gig you ever played?
The craziest gig was also the most volatile. It was in Ventura, CA. and Drew came out giving the large audience â€œthe fingerâ€. The Ventura/Oxnard area is well known for hosting some of the most hostile â€œsurf localsâ€ around, and after this â€œwelcoming gestureâ€ from us â€œsouthersâ€, I thought the place was going to riot. Beer bottles were thrown, along with a beer pitcher that just missed my head. The crowd was pretty crazed, but miraculously no injuries. I do remember a tear gas bomb going off at another one of the gigs in Hollywood (The Starwood) that quickly cleared the crowd. Ah, those innocent dayze!
What was your favorite Surf Punk song?
My personal favorite is Big Top!
Do you have any projects at the moment that you’d like to plug?
Not really; Iâ€™m working on all sorts of stuff. I post info at dennisdragon.com. If somebody needs something, I can be contacted there.
Can you say a little about your involvement with the movie “Skateboard Madness” (1980), directed by Julian Pena?
I was the music producer/engineer for that film. I had fun working with a multitude of musicians. I also played drums on a lot of the tracks. The film was produced by the late Hal Jepsen. Iâ€™ve done many soundtracks for surf /skate/action films over the years. Was it all a dream?
Can you leave us with a closing quote?
How â€˜bout 2â€¦ â€œIf you donâ€™t live here, donâ€™t surf hereâ€! AND â€œEnjoy lifeâ€¦eat out more often.â€
Image “Dennis Dragon 1985” courtesy of Dennis Dragon.