Surfer Yeti: Living peaks and waves
by LANDON GROVES
Patience is a virtue that’s far from universal. It’s easy to secure the twitter handle before you start the project, to release the demo before its final tweaks. Excitement is a tough emotion to handle, and an even tougher one to suppress, but that’s where local band Surfer Yeti stands out. They’re a group of perfectionists, bent on venturing down every single avenue before deciding on the right one. That’s why now, a year and a half after their formation, they’re just starting to emerge in the Bellingham music scene, and it’s not hard to tell where that time went.
“We spent a year and some change honing our sound,” said lead vocalist and guitar player Graydon Gunthardt, hovering over a plate of taco ingredients in the band’s duplex-turned-hangout. “We wanted to hit the scene tight right away, because those have always been the bands that are the most fun for us to see. Bands that can experiment with their sound, change their volume levels, they just make it more interesting.”
The group spent months even choosing a name before landing on Surfer Yeti, a name that guitarist Alec Taylor said “combines two things that we really love and are fortunate to be near: mountains and the ocean.”
The origin of the band itself dates even further back, to when Graydon and Alec met at a Young The Giant show in 2014. Not long afterwards the two began playing together, and after enlisting the aid of Sean Mertens on drums and Mars Chambers on bass, Surfer Yeti was born.
“[Sean and I] played together in high school, and Mars was a random roommate assigned by my landlord last January,” Graydon said. Together, the quartet began practicing constantly, readying themselves for the Bellingham circuit.
Influences for the group span decades, citing early giants like Led Zeppelin and Red Hot Chili Peppers and making their way to more modern acts, like The Strokes and Cage The Elephant. When describing their own sound, the band uses blanket terms like indie and alternative rock, but something undeniably punk/garage bubbles to the top in their high-energy live shows. The sound comes through in bursts and jabs – ear-splitting one moment and tranquil the next. The offset dynamics make for a show that twists and turns in unexpected directions, veering off course when you expect it least. It keeps the audience in a state of constant anticipation, always on their toes for what could come next.
“Mainly, we just want our crowd to have a good time and take something positive out of it,” Graydon said, adding that if they can have a good time as well, everybody wins.
When it comes to writing new material, the process is very much a collaborative one. Each member brings their own musical ideas to the group, and after some changes, the product is something that represents the band as a whole.
“What seem to be our most popular songs have been the most collaborative, which is the coolest part,” Alec said.
While their online presence is currently limited, the band assured that new music is on the way.
“Hopefully in the coming year, we’ll be able to really put the work in and get a solid EP,” Graydon said. “We wanna get moving.”
In the meantime, the group is tightening up their sound by playing shows at Make.Shift, The Shakedown, Swillery Whiskey Bar and the occasional house venue. Some acoustic sets are also on the menu, as the band wants to expand their dynamic range as much as possible.
“First impressions are everything,” Graydon said, and he’s right. A band might only have one shot at making a name for itself before being dismissed as a bunch of hometown hacks, and that’s why Surfer Yeti came out of the gate swinging.
Catch Surfer Yeti at the Swillery on Aug. 12. Follow their Facebook page for more info and dates.