Last summer’s Rockabilly Luau served up an island paradise of musical entertainment from Atlanta bands, but one Nashville band showed they really know how to ride the surf rock wave. Back then we predicted that guitarist Pete Jamestone and saxophonist/bass guitarist/vocalist Manda Lou, a dynamic duo of seasoned musicians, intended to cause some mighty fine trouble in the Retro music scene. Now we’re happy to tell you that their band, The Rebel Surfers are back and shaking up the Highland Inn Ballroom tonight (Fri. Sept. 23) with outrageous surf local heroes The Mystery Men at a PreParty for tomorrow’s Clarkston Surf Fest (read our exclusive Kool Kat preview with co-founder Wayne Foster here). And special guest Philip Townsend from C.N.i Cow will be helping them out on drums. Because we don’t want you to miss out and hearing the Rebel Surfers live, we’re doing something we haven’t done before and reposting our interview with Pete.
Both Pete and Manda aren’t Music City natives but they were raised in music. Pete hails from Motor City, where he was a producer, writer and guitarist for such seminal rock and punk acts as Nikki And The Corvettes (Bomp Records), The Motor City Rockers ( The Romantics’ original incarnation; coincidentally the Romantics are also in town Friday night, opening for Blondie at Verizon), The Original House Of Blues Allstars (Boston) and Nick Kane (The Mavericks), as well as sessions with Rockin’ Ronnie Weiser and Ray Campi (Rollin’ Rock Records), Susan Tedeschi, Annie Rains, Ronnie Earl and Was (Not Was). Manda Lou (sax, bass guitar and lead vocals) comes from the Big Apple and led her own rockabilly band in Nashville which has included Johnny G. d’Artenay and Harry Fontana. Manda Lou also toured Europe with the American Music Abroad Empire Tour and played sax with Pete in Nashville’s Soul Reputations.
Maybe it’s that diverse background that makes them so ready to rebel against the idea of riding the wave of any particular rock genre. Don’t call them simply surf or rockabilly or psychobilly or surfabilly or any label. Or better call them all of that all of once and quite a bit more (see Pete’s thoughts on being boxed into any one musical style below).
How did a Journey Man Detroit Guitarist and a New York Rockabilly Sax Kitten end up in Nashville?
Well I was on my way to LA and Nashville got in the way, and it just made sense to stay. Manda Lou moved here from upstate NY to play music. Eventually we crossed paths, followed the Muse, and it all took shape
The Rebel Surfers play The Mercy Lounge in Nashville.
You’ve worked as a producer, writer and guitarist for a lot of big names in Detroit. Is there a different flavor to the music scene in Nashville and what do you like about it?
Detroit is down and dirty where you play every note as if your life depended on it because it does and it has always been that way. Nashville is full of great musicians of all kinds. The unique and like minds seem to organically find each other and make something cool! I’m so lucky to be from the Motor City. It defines everything I do
What’s the origin story behind the Rebel Surfers?
The Rebel Surfers evolved from a recording project into a live act over the last year or so. The name just made more sense than some of the bad ones people come up with!
Your Facebook page describes your sound as “Rock and Roll, Surf, Rockabilly, Spy, Blues, Garage, Instro, Spaghetti, Hot Rod, Exotic, Fuzz, Tropical, Instrumental”? That’s like all my favorite Retro rock music styles meshed together into one happy sound, but is it challenging when you try to describe your sound?
Well, it’s pretty easy to wear our influences on our sleeves, We just love all the “kool” music and culture so much it’s impossible to limit ourselves. So we just go with it. People have to put things in boxes. You just can’t worry about it. You just have to do your thing. Happy Sound. I like that!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dick Dale for ATLRetro (read it here). How much of an influence is he on your music, and have you had a chance to catch him on his current tour?
Interviewing him must have been something. No, our hearts are sad as we will not get the pleasure of seeing Mister Dick Dale on this tour. Being a card-carrying Fender Man, The Stratocaster, Fender Reverb, Amps—all of it, he truly invented a timeless art form with the tools Leo gave him. His influence is beyond measure, as a performer, musician and human being. In fact, Manda Lou wants to marry him!
We are mostly collectors of musical instruments and vintage clothes, but everything inspires us. Right now we are all living in Tiki World!
When I visit Nashville and want to hear great music like yours, where should I go?
What do you and Manda like to do when you’re not performing?
We are always working on something. Right now it’s putting the finishing touches on our first full proper all-original studio album. You can preview much of it on Reverb Nation and Facebook, as well as see our videos. Thanks!