Asbury Surf Music Interview Series: Bongo Surf

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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 like the Jersey City, New Jersey band Bongo Surf. A purely instrumental band, they have this wonderfully fresh surf sound that helps transport you from your desk at work to the sandy beaches of Asbury with the strum of their guitar.

When we spoke with festival organizer Vincent Minervino, he said this about the band: “Out of Jersey City, these guys bring a classic surf style in the vein of Dick Dale – fast and furious picking drenched in reverb. Plus, they have some of the coolest surf music gear I’ve seen.”

We caught up with Bongo Surf bassist Chris Poppe to talk about the band’s love of bongos and surf music as they get prepped for The Asbury Park Surf Music Festival.

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Pop-Break: What first inspired you to start Bongo Surf?

Chris Poppe: Bongo Surf was started by three guys who surfed together regularly in the late 90’s….Brothers Dave and Mark Stellmach and Tom Virzi (original lead guitarist). Just jamming at their beach house porch after a few surf sessions learning Miserlou and a couple of the Ventures tunes turned into “WOW…we gotta learn more of this surf stuff!” From there it became clear that we had to find a couple other like-minded guys to round it out…and that we did.

Pop-Break: In your opinion, who is the quintessential surf rock band?

Chris Poppe: Dick Dale – after all he is known as the King of Surf Guitar. The sound of that reverb tank, the speed picking, those great mid-eastern scales – doesn’t get any cooler than that.

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Pop-Break: 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 Bongo Surf is all about?

Chris Poppe: “Miserlou” by Dick Dale, “Pipeline” by the Chantays…we play a lot of the classic surf instrumentals from the ’60s.

Pop-Break: When people see a Bongo Surf show, what can they expect from you guys as a live band?

Chris Poppe: We always aim to have fun and get the party movin’ and groovin’.

Pop-Break: What is it that you love most about being in Bongo Surf?

Chris Poppe: We’ve all become really great friends and we never get tired of playing this music. And the crowds love it, even if they never really listened to it before. It’s just fun, upbeat, party music. It’s the soundtrack to summer, what’s not to love?

Pop-Break: You’ll be performing at The Asbury Surf Music Festival — what drew you to come play this show?

Chris Poppe: A surf music festival down at the shore has been long overdue! Kudos to the guys in the Brigantines for making it happen. We were thrilled to be invited, and to play along with all these other great surf bands will be a blast. We love Asbury Park and there is no cooler venue than Asbury Lanes.

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Pop-Break: 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).

Chris Poppe: I’d pick “Miserlou” as my desert island surf song. Never get tired of hearing that one. Endless Summer (the original one) would be the surf movie to have. It’s a classic!

Pop-Break: What are you most excited about for the band for the rest of 2014?

Chris Poppe: We’re excited to continue to have gigs, meet other great bands, and pick up new fans along the way. We’re finally working some original songs into our set and hopefully we’ll be adding some more soon. Stay tuned!

Bongo Surf performs at 2pm at The Asbury Surf Music Festival at The Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Click here for tickets.

all photos credit to bongo surf

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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

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites