Asbury Music Interview Series: The Coffin Daggers

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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 Coffin Daggers. They’ll be closing out the entire festival and for good reason, these guys are absolute showstoppers with their blend sci-fi, punk and surf music. The Coffin Daggers are going to melt some faces on July 12.

When we spoke with festival organizer Vincent Minervino, he said this about the band: ” The Coffin Daggers’ blend of sci-fi, punk, and surf is quite a spectacle to witness live. It’s a loud, powerful, and precise show that will give you the chills! We are stoked to have them – all the way from Brooklyn, NY – close out the fest!”

We caught up with Vik Venom, Peter Klarnet, Rob Morrison and Ned Stroh to talk about the band’s love of sci-fi, crust punk and more as they prep for the Asbury Surf Music Festival.

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Pop-Break: The roots of The Coffin Daggers are grounded in the New York crust punk scene with Vik being a part of both Nausea and Reagan Youth. To me, it doesn’t seem like the most logical of transitions, but I’d love to know why the transition from crust punk to surf was made and was it a difficult transition at first? And how much did these punk roots influence your sound?

Vik Venom: It wasn’t difficult at all and happened gradually really. As far as I know, I played punk rock. Crust is a miss-applied term. I’m not even sure what it meant or why we were labeled that, other than we considered ourselves anarchists and lived in dirty squats, so we had a filthy appearance. At one point I moved to England and joined a band there. After about three years I got deported and ended up living in a squat in Amsterdam, Where I found a copy of Destroy All Astromen by Man or Astroman and The Phantom Surfers 18 Deadly Ones that a previous resident had left behind. These records intrigued me as I always liked The Ventures and that sort of guitar sound. Not long after that Dick Dale happened to be playing at the Melkweg. At that show I had a bit of an epiphany about the guitar and why I liked playing it in the first place. Incidentally, Ned was Dick’s drummer at the time, so it’s funny, if not fateful, that I’m playing with Ned now. After I got back to America I set about forming the band. Transitioning to that style was easy because the energy and approach is similar to punk, as are the song structures – it’s all just rock ‘n’ roll anyway really.

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Peter Klarnet: I had been out of touch with Ned for nearly 20 years when I asked if he wanted to play drums with us a couple of years back. When he told me that he was playing for Dick Dale back in the mid-90s (when Vik caught him in Amsterdam), I nearly fell out of my chair!

Pop-Break: You’re described as an instrumental surf/punk/sci-fi band. Can you talk about the influence that sci-fi has on the band?

Vik Venom: I grew up watching the original Star Trek, The Munsters, Twilight Zone, Chiller Theater etc. I had a steady diet of B-movies, sci-fi classics like Forbidden Planet, Day the Earth Stood Still and the like, comics, and loads of other psychotronic things. Likewise I read a lot of science fiction and horror. Since I love all that stuff, and I love music, it’s only natural to fuse the two. Besides this type of music really lends itself to it. The Munsters theme is surf music after all!

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 The Coffin Daggers is all about?

Peter Klarnet: We like to think we have a little something or everyone, but a couple of good starting points might be “Psychonaut” which we recorded live at Zero Return Studios in Atlanta mixed on the spot by Jim Marrer. He was really great to work with. “Dr. Guillotine” was also recorded in that session. One of Vik’s earliest compositions with The Coffin Daggers “Shark Attack” but it didn’t make it to an official release until a few years ago. It had appeared on a few demos over the years, recorded by various lineups.

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Vik Venom: Hard to say because I think they all represent what we’re trying to put across. Probably the opening songs from the two albums, as I view them as mission statements.

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

Rob Morrison: Expect a tight performance with lots of energy and spontaneity. expect a dark excitement of your aural sense.

Peter Klarnet: And expect it to be very loud.

Pop-Break: What’s the wildest thing that’s ever happened at a Coffin Daggers show? Also, who’s been the coolest musician you’ve shared a bill with?

Peter Klarnet: We were in Copenhagen sometime back and one of our fans stole a car in Sweden to come see us. That’s dedication!

Rob Morrison: Disco Mike, although intrepid and spectacular, was only surpassed by 20 burlesque dancers.

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

Peter Klarnet: Having played at Asbury Lanes for over a decade (I think we played one of the earliest shows they ever put on there), we were happy to make another appearance when we were invited back in March. Plus we can spend an afternoon down at the shore, that’s always nice.

Rob Morrison: Beach, boardwalk, bowling & surf rock. Who could say no?

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).

Peter Klarnet: Hmmmm… wouldn’t you be destined to hate that song at some point? That would be unfortunate end to a good song or movie.

Vik Venom: I could only pull that off if Prof. Roy Hinkley (Russel Johnson) were there. If you mean the Frankie and Annette type movies, they’re unbearable in the best of circumstances! As far as a song goes I’d probably immediately regret my choice after I couldn’t get off the island anymore.

Rob Morrison: “Wipeout” and all 17 seasons of America’s Funniest Home Video. Second choice: “Yakkety Sax” and same videos.

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

Peter Klarnet: We’re pleased to be opening up for Dick Dale out in Sellersville, PA on Sunday, July 27. I’m sure Dick will be happy to see Ned again. Then we’re off to Ohio for a few shows including The Hot Rod Hula Hop in Columbus where we’ll be appearing with The Supersuckers.

Pop-Break: I’m just happy to have a solid band and gigs to play really. I hope for the opportunity to put out more albums and play as many shows as possible.

Rob Morrison: I’m excited to record some of our new originals this summer.

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Peter Klarnet: That’s right, we have some fresh material coming down the pike, stay tuned.

Ned Stroh: It will be great fun to see Dick again. Its been about 19 years. He is one of the great all-time influences in my life of drumming: a great teacher and past mentor whose influence has had far reaching affects on my playing regardless of the genre. I was fortunate to have worked with him during the height of his resurgence, to which of course Pulp Fiction was a primary factor. My connection to surf music presents itself as one of the many cyclical journeys contained in my life. Meeting Peter about 27 years ago, working with Dick, re-connecting with Peter a year ago or so, taking into account Vic’s inspiration and direction towards surf music after seeing Dick Dale in Amsterdam and the upcoming show with DD. I guess the most exciting thing for me might be whether or not the Coffin Daggers lead me to the possibility of meeting Quentin Tarantino; it seems that his work is the thread binding it all together in some mysterious, serendipitous, kind of way. And after writing that, I would not be at all surprised if Vic, very casually said something like, “Oh yeah, Quentin…he and I go way back. We were in a band together.”

The Coffin Daggers perform at 9pm at The Asbury Surf Music Festival at The Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Click here for tickets.

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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 gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named 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

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