Pop-Break.com is proud to be an official sponsor of the first annual Asbury Park Surf Music Festival which takes place on Saturday, July 12th at The Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
One of the cool perks of sponsoring a festival like this is discovering great new bands. One of the coolest bands we discovered was located right in our backyard. Plato Zorba has been a staple in the Asbury scene for years, performing a wonderfully infectious and smooth brand of surf music across the stages of the famed city by the sea.
When we spoke with festival organizer Vincent Minervino, he said this about the band: “Middletown, NJ’s Plato Zorba wash a smooth, jazzy wave over the NJ surf sound with their use of keys, percussion, and female jazz vocals. And – they make it look easy.”
Pop-Break caught up with Plato Zorba’s Rob Butkowski about schlocky horror movies, surf music and the upcoming Asbury Park Surf Music Festival.
PB: On your band camp page it says the band formed when Joey moved back to Jersey from Hawaii in winter of 2012 and asked you to start a surf band with him. Can you talk about why doing a surf band was something you were both really excited about plain and performing as a band?
Rob Butkowski: Oddly enough I don’t think I ever looked back and asked Joey himself why he wanted to start a surf rock band. We had been friends for a long time and were never particularly into the genre as kids. He was a surfer but I never heard him talk about The Ventures or anything. I myself had opened up for Dick Dale with my rockabilly band months previous to Joey’s proposition. I was blown away by Dick’s ability to convey so much musically in the absence of vocals. It was a mere coincidence that I was listening heavily to the genre when I got Joey’s call.
PB: I was doing some research on the name of the band and the first thing that popped up was a reference to the 60s cult film 13 Ghosts (which was remade in the 2000s) is this inspiration of the bands’s name? If not, can you tell us the story behind it.
RB: It is totally the inspiration behind the name! I noticed that many bands from the 90’s like Man Or Astroman? or The Ghastly Ones used references from old science fiction and horror movies as titles for their songs. I have always been into black and white horror films and I knew I wanted to go the route of a horror surf band. The connection may seem weird to some but I think that those films represented the same time period that surf music has it’s origins in. Many cult followers of surf music love the retro and obscure so it makes sense to me that they would also harbor a love of the b-movie flicks of the 50’s and 60’s. The name Plato Zorba just came to me as I was watching William Castle’s 13 Ghosts. I thought it sounded badass!
PB: If someone’s coming out to the Asbury Surf Music Festival and has never heard of you before, what song or songs would you recommend they check out in order to get what Plato Zorba is all about?
RB: That is a tricky question. People always tell me what their favorite songs are and they are almost always different. I personally think our tune In the Shallows would be a good start. It was the first song we wrote so it was a great starting point for us as well. You can check it out at our bandcamp page here: http://platozorba.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-shallows.
PB: When people see a Plato Zorba show, what can they expect from you guys as a live band?
RB: They can expect a whole lotta shakin’! The audience will be transformed back in time to a beachside bar in the 1960’s where the gremmies are not in attendance and the reverb is plentiful!
PB: What is it that you love most about being in Plato Zorba?
RB: It is very simple. I love the ability to get together every weekend and jam out with my best friends. I often feel like we are speaking to each other with our instruments while we are on stage. I also get the feeling that our wordless conversation is more meaningful that anything that can be said in the physical world. Playing music with this crew can get very sublime.
PB: You’ll be performing at The Asbury Surf Music Festival — what drew you to come play this show?
RB: Vincent asked us to play. We said “hell yes!” We are very fortunate to regularly share the stage with such unique talent in Asbury Park but it is not often that we are able to perform alongside many surf rock bands. This festival is giving us a great opportunity to reach out to more fans of surf and meet some new like minded friends. There is no way we would miss such an awesome day of music!
PB: You’re deserted on an island and you can only play one surf song and watch one surf movie for the rest of your life. Which ones would they be and why? (And if you’re wondering how you can listen to the song or see the movie, let’s assume you’ve created something amazing out coconut shells, palms trees and sand).
RB: The surf song for me would be “Intoxica” as played by The Centurions. I think I first heard it while watching the John Waters’ movie, Pink Flamingos. It is a great tune and I think it embodies the spirit of surf rock perfectly.
The movie for me would be Del Tenney’s The Horror of Party Beach. I pick this one because of my interest in horror movies. The plot centers around the disappearance of teenage surfers in the 1960’s at the hands of a not so terrifying fish creature. The movie is campy and not scary at all but I love it. I don’t know why but I just get so much enjoyment watching it over and over again. My bass player Joey would probably pick the classic Endless Summer. I know for a fact that he has several copies of it and one is autographed by some of the original surfers from the film.
PB: What are you most excited about for the band for the rest of 2014?
RB: We are currently recording an album that should be released by the fall! I am excited for everyone to hear some of the new tunes we have been working hard on! Also, my drummer and his wife are expecting their first child soon and I can’t wait for our newest band member to arrive!
Plato Zorba perform at 6pm at The Asbury Surf Music Festival at The Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Click here for tickets.
Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site and is beyond excited to be a Dad this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom