John Paul Pitts

Pitchfork reports that police arrested John Paul Pitts, frontman for Florida indie-pop band Surfer Blood, on domestic battery charges March 31 in Lake Worth, Florida. Pitts originally pleaded not guilty before changing his plea to a no-contest. He now has to comply with a court-mandated program.

According to a police report, Pitt was arrested after his girlfriend at the time called police. As the two were arguing, Pitt locked himself in his bathroom and threatened to harm himself. After letting her in, they continued arguing in the bedroom, where he grabbed her and pinned her on the bed, then tried to shove his fingers in her mouth. She had bruises on her arms and face, and she told police that he’d done this before. Pitt’s girlfriend, who’d bit his chest when pinned down, was shaking and crying, but neither needed medical attention. Pitchfork has more.

So yeah. Yikes.

Comments (98)
  1. “Pitchfork ha” ???? Who proofread this? Doubt I’ll be illegally downloading Surfer Blood’s new album now.

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        • I’m curious about this beef you seem to have with Jenn Pelly since I consider her to be a strong journalist, not just a strong music journalist. She seems like someone who could do real investigative reporting if she chose, which is refreshing considering that it’s often difficult to tell whether those who report on music use the informal blogger voice because it’s appropriate to the subject matter or because they wouldn’t know AP style from their assholes.

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    • Well “Pitchfork ha” is usually my general reaction to hearing anything regarding them.


      chill, yous guys.

      - d.

  2. geez…take it easy there Pitts

  3. having seen a few people in the stereogum community opine that chris brown should be blackballed for life from music, i’m curious to see if a double standard will generally apply to a musician who makes the kind of stuff that the readers are more prone to enjoy.

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      • Fuck’s sake Michael_.

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        • And on topic of this actual story at hand, the first thing that came to my mind was how Surfer Blood just wrapped up a tour for Death Cab for Cutie, and how weird it is that recently-single Ben Gibbard just released that song “Ichiro’s Song” on iTunes with all proceeds going to the Seattle Mariners’ “Refuse to Abuse” campaign which benefits victims of domestic abuse. That’s kind of strange irony. He must be like, “What the f-ck?” right now,.

        • Maybe if you stopped acting like a Psycho every month or so and started positively getting people to try to read you’re blog rather than trying to destroy your own chances. Dunno, just a guess.

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          • Simon, I find your seemingly inexhaustible patience with Michael_ completely fascinating. I would really like to meet you, become friends, and then see if it is possible to somehow destroy that friendship. Based on what I have observed on here, I am not convinced I could pull off the final step.

          • I knew there was gonna be a Michael_ rant in these comments. Ah hee hee!

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          • Mike, read your post again. You say you “managed to nab the top comment recently TWICE in a row” and then you talk about how ONE PERSON has lead you to become an absolute terror on here. How does that make sense? Does one person’s anonymous opinion mean that much to you in the grand scheme of things? Put it into perspective. If this is how you react to one individual that you dont even know downvoting a comment, then maybe you need to address your own distress tolerance skills. I had someone doing the same thing to me but at the end of the day this isn’t important. My strength is poop-esque commentary and I know that’s what I bring to the table – that’s my strength. Is this recent shift in direction toward provoking others your strength? I would say based on this: ‘managed to nab the top comment recently TWICE in a row” it is not.

            stick to the positives and don’t let one person destroy your social interaction skills.


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          • Michael_,
            It has to take more than one “stalker” giving you downvotes to put you in to the “hidden due to low comment rating” category, right? I’m not asking retorically, btw…I’m genuinely curious…how many downvotes does it take? I thought this site only lets a person vote once on a comment…

        • once you start raking in that “big indie music blog money” let me know

        • “I troll hard in the motha fuckin paint”-Michael_(thedutchessofdownvotes)

    • I was/am that way with Chris Brown, but can already feel myself falling into what you’re talking about. It was easy with him, because I would hate on Chris Brown even if he hadn’t done what he did. I’m not thinking it yet, but if a new album is coming I bet my reaction would be like, maybe I can appreciate the next album while also knowing that he’s a bad person and hating him. Is that allowed? I think about this kind of thing every time my parents remind me of how of how not-okay some lyrics of rappers I listen to are, but this is definitely on a different plane, I know. Is it terrible to think that enjoying their music in the future might be permissible? Maybe, probably. I’m not sure though.

      • totally. with my above statement, i wasn’t exactly trying to come out and call everyone hypocrites, because i know exactly how you feel – it’s easy for me to say “ok, no more chris brown,” as i never intended on listening to chris brown anyway. but i do like surfer blood. so this one is a bit more of a conundrum.

        as for not listening to someone’s music because they’re a bad person – should that even be a factor in the equation? i’m fairly certain that we all patronize the businesses of “bad people” in day-to-day transactions, without even knowing it. should we even care if they’re shitheads in their personal life? it strikes me as fairly tenuous to say that if my dentist is an abusive asshole at home, i’m somehow enabling that behavior by paying for his services. and moreover, it’s not like this is new territory for me… john lennon beat his wife, and i enjoy the beatles. marty crandall beat up his girlfriend, and i still enjoy to the first two shins records. action bronson called a homeless tranny “it” and poured water on her for no apparent reason, and i enjoy his stuff. and aside from those guys, i have little doubt that plenty of the artists i listen to are total dicks.

        i dunno, just thinking out loud here.

        • It’s weird, and comforting, to know that other people actually think about this stuff too. Good post

        • post of the year. well done.

        • I personally have a hard time appreciating the music of known shitheads. The difference between your dentist example and an artist is an artist contributes to our cultural discourse whereas a dentist is providing a service. Art and its appreciators reflect the broader culture’s and society’s value system, whereas dentistry contributes to the broader society’s oral hygiene. Artists and musicians put a lot of themselves in what they do, and approval of their music is approval of their personalities’ cultural worth, and in this case would reflect that our culture values cool sounds more than the safety of this woman.

          To collectively decide as a culture that it’s okay if you beat your partner if you know how to rock out sends a strange message that, I think, is pretty threatening and unfair to victims of domestic violence– in most cases women.

          This is how I ideally feel… but I’m very often conflicted on a case-by-case basis. Because where do you draw the line? What qualifies a shithead? In this case, I think he’s definitely a shithead and I definitely will not be pursuing Surfer Blood as a source of entertainment in the near future.

          That isn’t to say that an artist cannot be redeemed, and I think that all depends on the process through which the artist seeks forgiveness. Chris Brown is failing at this, or at least we should decide that he is.


        • I don’t know… I think the problem with Chris Brown is that he has basically made a career out of being a domestic abuser. So many songs of his allude to it. And the problem is that he usually glorifies himself as that badass dude who puts bitches into their places. Chris Brown’s being a domestic abuser is kind of directly linked to Chris Brown the “artist”.

          I don’t think I’d listen to Lennon or Marty Crandall if their being assholes corrupted their music. If they had paraded around like Chris Brown did and made this part of their lives part of their music, I’d have turned them out as well… It probably boils down to the fact that their music is able to transcend their assholery.

          (and then, there’s the fascinating case of bands like Odd Future… who kind of make assholery their art, but actually seem to be really nice guys in private.)

        • after the michael_ (who i assume if he had a profile pic it would be of his collection of tinfoil hats) rants, with all their self obsession and paranoia(really trying to take the attention away from domestic abuse? classy dude), it’s nice to see a caring and legitimately thoughtful comment. congrats to you sure, that’s the the stereogum comment i wanna see.

      • Every single time I say this same thing to Chris Brown detractors, they call me an insensitive asshat. The reason it’s so easy for you to treat him like an outcast is because you didn’t even like him in the first place.

  4. Cocaine’s a helluva drug.

  5. Not a good week for women dating/married to celebs in South Florida.

  6. Ol’ Pacey Witter lookin boy…

  7. Fuck him. As good as the stuff his band’s put out, fuck him. Don’t expect me to iisten to anything they put out in the future. But they’ll get a free pass because, as touched on above, Pitts is a white rock singer, and Chris Brown is a black pop singer.

    • Everyone’s reactions
      Brown: OMG what an animal! Terrible person!!!1
      Pitts: Well hold on let’s look at this carefully and not be too quick to judge.

      • It doesn’t help that Chris Brown shows zero remorse for anything he’s done. And he’s also 5000% more in the public eye than the lead singer of a small indie rock band.

        I’m not defending Pitts in any way, what he did (allegedly) was terrible. He deserves punishment, but I hope he can get some mental help and straighten shit out. This is a really weird situation coming from a guy who seemed to be really easy-going and upbeat in the past.

      • Of course there hasn’t really been any reactions yet, so it seems a bit unfair to start chastising people for things they haven’t said yet.

        • I mean I can recall people thinking that about Brown within the hour of the news hitting.

          • Of course Chris Brown is far, far more in the public eye and therefore more susceptible to press sources that will sensationalize rather than actually try to find out the truth. Also he showed little to no remorse and acted hard done by because, shock horror, people didn’t like him any more.

            Also Brown’s incident was, on the face of it at least, a much more straightforward case of domestic abuse, where there are clearly drug/alcohol/mental issues here. Of course that doesn’t absolve Pitt of blame, as he should have gone for help by now, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to listen to his music again in the same way.

      • I don’t listen to Surfer Blood and consider PItts’ actions utterly loathsome, but it’s worth noting that Chris Brown beat a woman almost beyond recognition. While despicable, this isn’t that.

      • brown: black
        Pitts: white
        America: double standard

        • People are going to refuse up and down the role race plays in the dialogue surrounding these incidents, but you can already see the subtle differences in the way people talk about both.

        • I think the far more honest assessment is-

          Brown: Shit
          Surfer Blood: Good

          Hence it’s going to be more of a problem for people who comment on an indie music site. As for the public at large, I doubt they’ll ever find out let alone care.

          • you: white, and confuse your preference for rock music with objectively stating its “good”

          • I don’t have a preference for rock music. I’m a fan of all kinds of music and if I were forced to pick a preferred genre right now I would probably stump for Hip-Hop. Even simply judging by standards of catchy but disposable pop Chris Brown is pretty awful. But by all means carry on with the “every white person is racist” line if you like.

          • match: chapman.

          • No, you are missing the point. You can’t simply use the argument that Chris Brown is bad and Surfer Blood is good in an inherently subjective thing like music. You can’t say that Pitt gets a pass because his music is “good” and Brown deserves more judgement because his music is “bad” because there are so many people that disagree with you, it becomes a moot argument that is easily reversed either way. So you have to take qualifications of “good” and “bad” out completely.

          • How does abuse have anything to do with the perceived quality of either person’s music? I don’t give a fuck what they do for a living. They’re equally wrong and fucked up.

        • Lenny: White
          Carl: Black

          -Homer Simpson’s hand

    • Not that I condone any such behavior, or that one of their actions were worse than the other, but hasn’t Chris Brown had multiple incidents where his anger got the best of him, where as to my knowledge, this is Pitts first offense?

    • So, I’m assuming from your above post, you don’t listen to anything the Beatles put out, especially John Lennon’s solo stuff.

    • Let’s not make this a race thing. Chris Brown was one of the biggest stars in the world, who abused someone who herself was–is–one of the biggest stars in the world. Pitts is an indie surf rocker, singing for a band that is barely known outside of indie circles, and he abused his very normal girlfriend. Now I’m not ranking them in terms of either being more or less important, because obviously they’re both terrible people committing terrible acts, but if you expect for a second that Pitt will get anywhere close to the same attention and scorn that was heaped on Brown, and that this is evidence of racism rather than a very considerable difference in celebrity, you’re an idiot.

  8. This kind of behavior is acceptable in Florida, a place where books were just legalized.

  9. I knew I didn’t like this band, but for some vague reason. Now I can clearly state one: the lead singer is a horrible douche.

    • You didn’t like this band because you always knew he’d try to force his fingers in his girlfriends mouth?

      • I, for one, am really surprised that this dude had a girlfriend because I would’ve bet he was gay. That’s totally not anything negative towards gay people (I have plenty of gay people in my life that I love), I just would’ve thought. Like, how I bet Ryan Gosling is a big tipper or how I bet Sara Silverman farts into plastic bags and saves them. Intuition.

  10. You know, I always felt this band was going downhill since they got rid of the percussion guy with the awesome ‘fro and moustache, but this just takes the cake.

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  12. All these comments and no one has attempted to make a pun based on the name of the band?

    I’m disappointed Stereogum.

  13. “Now we need to redefine/ Tell me where to draw the line”
    (excerpted from “Twin Peaks” by Surfer Blood)

    “Then we should take it easy/ Or we will both be sorry”
    (excerpted from “Take It Easy” by Surfer Blood)

    “Someone broke into my heart/ Or beat it into my head”
    (excerpted from “Fast Jabroni” by Surfer Blood)

    Astrocoast was one of my favorite albums from 2010. I happened to be going through a relationship that eventually dissolved at the time the album was released in early 2010. Hell, right before I broke up with her I had to go over to her house to get back my Twin Peaks box set (I wouldn’t make this up). I almost lost some DVDs to ex-girlfriends and wasn’t about to lose my prized Twin Peaks collection.

    It’s just really too bad for Mr. Pitts to be in this situation. What he did was reprehensible and he’s probably thinking now that simply breaking it off with this girl would’ve been a lot easier. I’m sure he’s learning a whole lot right now. Of course not every relationship is the same, so I can’t possibly sit here and critique him on what he should or shouldn’t do. Except to not hit people. Especially women.

    But it’s interesting going over some of those lyrics in Astrocoast since it is the only full LP Pitts has written. I think therein lies one big difference between Pitts & Brown. Pitts wrote about troubled relationships and his inability to cope with various aspects. Brown wrote pop songs and… shit, I’m not going to pretend I listen to his music. As pointed out above, Pitts is the lead singer of a small indie band. There is no reason to start comparing him to Chris Brown. If anything, Pitts will probably get punished more than Brown ever was, because he is an average human, unlike Brown’s superstardom.

    All that said, I feel sorry for the guy. There is no excuse for such a thing, but as said above, John Lennon hit women. I still own Astrocoast on vinyl. The singer and the music can be seperated quite easily. Simply put: Surfer Blood released an amazing album once and the lead singer once beat his girlfriend. Take the good with the bad. And for God’s sake, please, take it easy people.

    • It’s weird though. It’s easy to get into music from 30/40 years ago where it’s known the singer had problems like this, I mean has anyone here stopped listening to tracks produced by Phil Spector? However when it’s a band that are a going concern and something like this has literally just happened it’s much harder to separate the music from the troubled back story.

    • i agree, its basically irrelevant. is anyone going to stop looking at carravagio paintings because he’s a murderer? Or not watch Midnight in Paris because Woody Allen is a creep? What about all the people that listen to GG Allen? Pitt sure sounds like a weirdo, but if you like the music and its genuinely good… the personal life of the person shouldn’t matter. Unless you are maybe charles manson.

      Theres also the Tiger Woods aspect… Pitt had this unspoken squeaky good guy middle class persona. Now its tarnished and so its a story.

    • Twin Peaks the show is awesome.

  14. While noone knows what actually happened because girl/boy problems that happen in private are usually kept private in a way, I do think it was bad for both involved. But I’m still going to listen to the new Surferblood album because, shit, Astrocoast was better than everything else. Ha.

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  16. and theres a banner about chris brown at the bottom of this web page…2 chainz

  17. I know this is gonna sound weird, but one thing that bugged me about Chris Brown was that he once referred to Rihanna on Twitter as “Robin,” the name they used for her on the police report. He winked and smiled when he said it, or something to that effect (sadly, she responded in a similar manner).

    Aaaaanyway, the point is, we all make mistakes, and if you’re mature enough, you take stock of what you did, own up to it, and try to grow from it. He hit a woman, and years later, was like “Haha, remember that time that I hit you? Wasn’t that funny?” I *know* that that is not anywhere in the realm of hitting a woman, but it just irks me for some reason.

    • Chris Brown is a total asshat.

      I hope everyone here can realize that Pitts doesn’t deserve to be compared to Brown. At least yet… and I hope never. The jury is still out.

      But still: Chris Brown == fucking asshat

  18. Man, he should take it easy…

  19. not that he deserves it, but i’m thinking the main reason pitts will get a pass on this is because everyone knew chris brown pre-Grammys 2009 and NOBODY KNOWS WHO THE FUCK SURFER BLOOD IS

    either way his career is over, and even though i enjoyed astro coast immensely, i won’t listen to it anymore

  20. This article is the exact reason why Pitchfork refuses to let readers post comments.

  21. When I first saw this article on Pitchfork all I could think was, “Oh shit….Stereogummers are going to have a hay day with this one!”

  22. Can we take a second to acknowledge just how awesome Jailbase is? I live in a not-so-small suburban area so discovering someone I know on there is kind of like making the top ten comments on Shut up, Dude.

  23. Yeah you think he’s got bugs… you think he’s got a prob-lem.

  24. Did he try to administer the mandible claw?

  25. The best thing about Surfer Blood was their Unknown Pleasures t-shirt knockoff — before Disney did it, anyway:

    But their live show sucked, their albums are shruggable and their lead singer is a jerk. I guess that’s a wrap!

  26. We’ll see how people feel when they release their new album and it’s totally rockin’. Not trying to stick up for any kind of violence, but the dude can write tunes, that’s no doubt. So while I don’t have to be best friends with this dude, I can’t wait for new surferblood. Oh my jeez, i can’t wait.

  27. is that the Morning Benders kid in these unescapable GAP ads?

  28. Ugh…Florida. America’s wang. :/

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