In Atlanta, I’m sure many of us think of the word “surf” in relation to music as Hawaiians on a beach enjoying a luau near the sunset waters or the Trashmen performing “Surfin’ Bird,” a terrible yet iconic tune of the ’60s. However, for anyone interested in the surf rock genre, let me just say that Atlanta trio Anarcticats bring it to life way better than the guys next door in their garage. After a recent performance at Georgia Tech’s Under the Couch, frontman Andrew Joyce and I chopped it up over the benefits of being in marching band, the challenges of their unusual name, and indie music in Atlanta.
So Andrew tell me about yourself and Antarcticats?
Band-wise we are a surf punk band. We have influences of swing and indie rock, and we have been playing together for about a year and half now. I like interesting music and fun ideas, so we can sound a little different from other bands in Atlanta. Me personally, I’m at Georgia Tech, and enjoy engineering and being in marching band.
Why did you get into music?
My mom was musically oriented and was a DM [Drum Major] and a percussionist. She played keyboards in a Top 40 band, playing covers and stuff like that. She didn’t push me to do any of this, but that’s where I got my artistic side.
Out of all the things you could be doing, why pursue a music career?
Part of it is because I really enjoy being onstage with my friends, and part of it is because playing a high energy show is like being on stage in another world. I love playing for people. It’s a selfish pleasure, I guess. On the other hand, I like writing music and the challenge of coming up with something better than what’s being done and being innovative. Even if I chose some non-music career, I would still be doing this. Like, this is me and a part of me. I couldn’t do anything else. It’s like what makes me, well, you know… me (laughs).
Do you feel that music hurts you financially and takes a lot of energy out of you for school?
Well, like financially in terms of getting equipment, yes, but even when we are on tour, our friends or family help. [Drummer] Chad’s [Miller] fraternity bros let us sleep on their couch. I work part-time with the Alumni Association at Tech, [bassist] Chris [Senador] and Chad work, and we all try to make enough for living and band stuff — food, gas, and just honestly trying to live. It hasn’t become an issue yet.
However, energy wise it takes a lot out of you. It’s been stressful with me going to college. I have my schoolwork, plus I have to practice or I have to write a new song. It’s really tough, but you have to suck it up. It’s always worth it, and just being with my bandmates is cool, so I love it regardless!
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
I think that, one, the Antarcticats is not a normal sounding band name. People say or spell it wrong all the time, making it hard to find us. Two, people don’t take us too seriously. Under the Couch is a great place to play, but it has the stigma of a lot of nerd bands that aren’t really serious. It’s like this: guys form the band while at Tech for fun, but they soon quit. If any outlets come to us, they don’t seem to take us seriously, but we are serious and put on great shows! We are not joking, this is happening (laughs). It’s not necessarily something they say, but the vibe people give off says it all.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Onstage in Chicago there were a bunch a balloons, beach balls, and stuff from another band. The beach ball came to the stage and I kicked it trying to be all cool (laughs)! It hit my mic off stage, and now I’m like, non hear-able. It honestly was just a mess!
I love how diverse the scene is. There is no one genre or one sound. Years from now we’ll look back on this as a really interesting and important time, and it’s really cool to be a part of it right now.
How do you feel about the Atlanta scene?
I definitely see that we have this huge hip-hop city, but underneath there is a DIY culture and indie rock in the mix. Personally, I feel like we are finding our stride in the rock and indie scene. Lots of talent flows through here and we have this mix of genres coming from so many different corners. We are at this point where we want to touch and include everybody — queer friendly and feminist, I love how diverse the scene is. There is no one genre or one sound. Years from now we’ll look back on this as a really interesting and important time, and it’s really cool to be a part of it right now.
What are your fave artists?
Bigger bands: Arctic Monkeys, the Strokes. Chad likes weird, out there stuff like Cap n’ Jazz and America Football. His drumming style gives us a really interesting approach instead of basic beats and schemes like some bands.
What did you do before music?
When I was really young, I did soccer and I was into sports. Guitar, I started when I was ten. Music was the first real positive thing I was into and wanted to stick with over the years.
What impact has marching band had on you?
For me, it helps with my music theory. At Tech we have great directors and classes on how melodies or rules of rhythm can drive a song. Coming from marching band gives me a one-up on discipline and practicing. I can be honest with my playing and my composing. It helps us structure practices and how we can do better with the music while still having fun.
Tell me about your next project?
It’s still in early development. We have written about two and a half songs. We still want a surf type thing going on and I want to include another different type of music where things are, like, in your face. It will be more influenced by hardcore.
How did the band meet?
Chad and I used to play in a band called the Merry Go Rounds. I mean, they still exist and we are on good terms. Most of the members come to my shows at Tech. I wanted to be a front member and Chad wanted to do more auxiliary percussion. I wanted to bring surf music back and talked to Chad about it. Chris plays in another band, Small Time Capone, and we played a show with them early on and he was cool. He came to our previous four or five shows, so we just started talking and getting to know each other until we realized how perfect he goes with the band. We love him so much for being with us.
Message to the kids?
I should think about this; I don’t want to give bad advice (laughs). Do music and follow your heart, no matter what. No matter if you’re in a band, symphony, producer, rapper… I can’t imagine life without music. It’s so rewarding! Whether it’s art or music, follow your passion. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be an asshole. Open up and try new things and be outside of the norm.
Who are you?
I’d say we are Antarcticats. We are a group of people who make surf music and have never surfed in our damn lives, but we’re still kickass!
Antarcticats will perform tonight at WonderRoot. Supporting them are Eli Whitney & The Sound Machine (NY), Freya Wilcox & The Howl (NY), The Jukebox Romantics (NY), Slackwater, and Jaws: The Musical. Doors open at 8 p.m. $5 gets you in.