Nada Surf

Click here to download a free MP3 of Nada Surf's "See These Bones."

Chances are you vaguely remember Nada Surf’s 1996 breakthrough hit “Popular,” but if you stopped following the band after that track had run its course, you’re missing out. Although they haven’t been able to replicate that song’s mainstream success, they’ve done something even better. In fact, over the past decade Nada Surf have been quietly crafting some of the most memorable indie-pop songs this side of Teenage Fanclub, culminating with their upcoming release Lucky, which hits the streets next month.

Matthew Caws of Nada SurfRecorded in Seattle with producer John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead), Lucky is the next logical step in Nada Surf's musical journey. “As the years have gone by I’ve felt more like a singer who plays guitar than a guitar player who sings, which is fine,” frontman Matthew Caws explains from a café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, over a sandwich and decaf espresso (he recently gave up caffeine.) This statement makes perfect sense when one listens to new tracks such as “Weightless,” driven more by melody than fretboard acrobatics. “I’m always looking for different colors of the same progressions, but with just enough twists and extra layers on top of it to pull it in a different direction,” he explains. 

“I think a lot of songs [on this album] are about encouraging yourself to feel stronger or to be more cheerful—and that’s what interested me most about the word ‘lucky,’” Caws says, adding that his newfound perspective is helping him to lead a more charmed existence. “It’s kind of where you put the zero; if the zero is really high then you can let anything bum you out, and you’ll have a bad day every day. I tend to write after something has been really been bothering me. Writing seems to be part of putting it to bed. I really like progressions that are comforting.”

Despite that many of the chord progressions on Lucky are still based in minor keys, Caws is trying to maintain a healthy level of hope toward the future. “I really honestly think it’s absolutely miraculous to be here, and it’s so frustrating to me that I forget that all the time. We have so many depressing songs, and I feel like it’s enough. I have like 80 [sad songs], so I just hope I can get away with a cheerful one.”

For a few years preceding Nada Surf's one-hit wonderdom Caws and his bandmates (drummer Ira Elliot and bassist Daniel Lorca) were annoyed that some people associated the band solely with the song “Popular,” but these days they embrace the track—even if some of their fans don’t. “What I think is really funny is that every time we play [“Popular”]—which is at least every other night—someone in the front couple of rows is horrified and looking like they visually want to project the idea that they couldn’t possibly be enjoying this, which is hilarious,” Caws summarizes, punctuating the statement with a laugh. “I guess you can’t please everybody.”