Surfer Blood - Pythons

Last month, Pitchfork ran an interview with Surfer Blood, the first one where they really discussed frontman John Paul Pitts’s domestic battery arrest. That interview rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. In it, Pitts came off as something of an aggrieved party, claiming that legal issues prevented him from talking about it before and pointing out repeatedly that charges had been dropped, as if that proved anything. (Charges get dropped all the time in domestic-abuse cases, including really bad and legitimate ones.)

Maybe Pitts really didn’t do anything wrong, but what he and his defenders need to realize is that allegations like this are deeply, deeply serious, and you can’t just go back to business as usual afterward and be like “thank god that’s over.” From that moment on, Surfer Blood’s fuzzy, slight-but-catchy alt-pop will always sound very different to many of us, the same way Chris Brown hasn’t sounded like a cute R&B kid since February 2009. But Surfer Blood are still around, and Pythons, their sophomore album and major label debut, lands next week. We’ve posted its songs “Weird Shapes,” “Demon Dance,” “Slow Six,” and “Gravity.” And now, if you like, you can stream the whole album at NPR. If you can untangle Pitts’s breezy guitar jams from his tangled story, go nuts, but you forfeit the right to pass judgement on anyone else who does the same with musicians you may not like.

Pythons is out 6/11 via Warner Bros.

Comments (15)
  1. I’m gonna venture a guess that your continuous holier-than-though bullshit rubs more people the wrong way than JP’s Pitchfork interview

  2. One guy in a band of several people has charges dropped in a case. If he was innocent, the band completely is the aggrieved party if for no other reason than this site has repeatedly posted half an article about how it is wrong to like Surfer Blood’s songs- four guys’ livelihoods- before discussing any music. I’m aware you aren’t an attorney since you write for Stereogum and know very little about the actual events, but this is worse than TMZ.

  3. I’m very surprised NPR is givin this thing the exposure considering their stance on all things politically correct. I’ll pass…the new Jagwar Ma is a much better time spent wisely. Surf rock is so 2009 anyway.

  4. Again, while I appreciate Stereogum’s stance on the issue from a moral standpoint, I honestly don’t see why you continue to cover Surfer Blood. Maybe I’d get it if the writers thought they were one of the best bands currently out there, but “slight-but-catchy” is hardly a ringing endorsement. Why not just leave the band to the hundreds of other internet blogs?

  5. Is it possible to safely say, without offending or any form of facetious side-taking, that I am loving this album after one listen? Slight but catchy strikes me as true, but it’s the brand of catchy that works for me.

  6. As conflicted as I feel typing this, I’m going to go ahead and take issue with the following: “Pitts came off as something of an aggrieved party, claiming that legal issues prevented him from talking about it before and pointing out repeatedly that charges had been dropped, as if that proved anything.”

    Except that those are, like, both kind of important points, aren’t they? Not being able to discuss legal issues is a real hurdle to discussing legal issues. Similarly, you can’t just write off the charges being dropped as not proving anything. It might not change the lead singer’s moral character in the slightest, but it strikes me as very, very dangerous to say, “Well, sure he wasn’t found guilty, but let’s keep impugning the guy anyway.” This is Nancy Grace-ian bullshit, and it’s something the Internet is exceedingly (and frighteningly) good at doing.

    Not saying you have to give the guy’s music a chance. I mean, psychology teaches us what human beings are ridiculously good at rationalizing decision’s ex post, so it would probably be irrelevant anyway: Even if you pretend to give the guy’s music a chance but hate him (for a reason as serious as domestic abuse or as frivolous as you don’t like his taste in clothing), you could easily develop an objective-sounding narrative to justify your subjective inclinations.

    Which is all to say… I would stop covering this.

    • And I don’t want to make it sound like I’m defending the guy, or think he’s innocent or something. Domestic abuse is a terrible, terrible thing, and I know that charges are often dropped because the key witness (the abused party) feels too powerless, or too scared, or too conflicted to testify.

      Just trying to think it all out, I guess. Thanks for providing me with a comment box to do so, Stereogum. I hope I handled it with at least a decent amount of thoughtfulness. It’s an admittedly difficult thing to process, given that we all probably listen to music to make real life better, and then a situation comes along that drags real life (with all its misery) all up into our music.

    • or just cover the music (as the domestic violence charge has been covered, ad nauseum), since last i checked, this site is where people come to hear and read about music, not be judged and preached to

      • A good analogy is this…See, I don’t care if a player on my favorite baseball team is doing steroids. Christ, boot up if you have to just as long as you either throw strikes or hit the ball. I’m not friends with guy for Christ sake, I just want my team to win. Now, as a person of integrity, he may be a complete chooch, but until I am able to sit down and have a beer with him to maybe find out where his motivations lie, hear no evil, see no evil in my book.

  7. I fucking like this band’s music – there, I said it.

  8. I thought this was just going to be a link to stream the album, but instead I get you comparing this guy to Chris Brown? We had the details on the Brown assault because of the TMZ-style vampires that write entertainment news. Not the case here…

  9. .”Charges get dropped all the time in domestic-abuse cases, including really bad and legitimate ones.”

    Have you ever heard of someone being wrongfully accused? Do you understand why we have habeas corpus? Do you not understand theconcept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’? Do you know why these things are in place? Have you ever, just once, thought that maybe Pitts’ failure to admit guilt is because he is not, in fact, guilty? Do you have any evidence to back up that fucking statement with regard to Pitts?

    Clearly the one class you took on Gender and the Law or something at whatever shitty college you went to has led you to think that you can appropriate any injustice ever faced by anyone in society onto one case wherein you have fucking no idea what happened. Do you understand what your place in society is? You are a fucking music blogger. Are you confused?

    Also, do you actually understand domestic abuse laws? Anyone who is accused must be arrested- immediately. This is cleared up later. The process is actually very different from rape procedures, also the major problem with domestic abuse is not that the people who are guilty are acquitted, it is that these cases are often not reported. If you are going to continue to bring this up all the time, maybe find a different forum, or at least just check your facts. Also, the fact that you are just assuming Pitts’ guilt because maybe someone guilty once was not charged with anything, is just insane. Like, this is why we have these legal mechanisms in place, so that people like you don’t get to decide that every single case is unilaterally the same. “domestic abuse” is not some coherent, monolithic thing. It is obviously unacceptable, but just because cases of domestic abuse are fucking awful does not mean that someone who was accused and not charged is guilty.

    Also, honestly, stop talking about this band if you are just going to do this. Literally this is such a fucking pathetic facade of journalism. I am disgusted, embarrassed, and severely disappointed with Tom fucking Breihan’s bullshit journalism.

    • Also thank you for now becoming the voice of every woman who has ever faced an injustice in society! We absolutely NEEDED you to speak for us. Have you ever, personally, dealt with any of this shit? Do you know John Paul personally? Do you know personal details of this situation? I am going to assume you say no to all of those questions, because I match those criteria, and I know better. Your analysis is so fucking distorted that its obvious that you just feel like you are entitled to speak on these issues because someones letting you post your inane thoughts on this website. Oh wait, but this website is about ‘music?’ So … you are not doing your actual job? honestly, fucking do your job and talk about like good synth lines or w/e the fuck this stupid, insignificant blog is supposed to talk about.

      • Stereogum really has handled this thing horribly. It’s the safe way to go about it though for them. People feel like they can’t post anything erring slightly on the side of believing someone accused of domestic violence. Unfortunately, this arrest first, ask questions later type of crime makes a quick judgment even worse. Especially in a setting like music, where fans decide what is good based on sites like this….I’m hoping most people realize Stereogum is not where you go to form your ideas about the criminal justice system, but I could be wrong.

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