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Feature for

April 2014

Bongo Surf Revisited


Band Name: Bongo Surf

Genre: Traditional Surf / Instrumental

Geographical Area: New Jersey / NYC

Interview with: Chris Poppe by email on 4/1/2014

Last Interview date: September 2007

Band formed: 1996

NESMA member since: 2007



1. What is the current line-up of your band?

Dane Johnson – Lead guitar

Chris Sokolewicz – Guitar

Mark Stellmach – Percussion

Chris Edelson – Drums

Chris Poppe - Bass


2. Has your line-up changed since your last interview? If so, how?

Yes. Original lead guitarist Tom Virzi had to drop out in 2008 to pursue his Ph.D. and then Dave moved to Hawaii in 2012 (he’s livin’ the dream!)

2a. If so, what process did you use to deal with the change in the line-up (ex. get a replacement, move to a smaller band, etc.)?

Dave had been jamming with Dane for awhile and convinced him to join us as our new lead guitarist.  When Dave left Chris E. brought us his friend Chris S. who has fit right in.  We’re very fortunate to have these guys on board.

2b. Did the change in line-up affect your sound or the or the direction the band was moving in?

We definitely wanted to continue as a five piece. The sound is pretty much the same, maybe a little more raucous. Tom was a great lead player, but Dane really takes things to a whole other level.  His playing will make your head spin.



3. Since your last interview has your music taken on new or different directions? If so, how?

We’re still playing all the same classic tunes along with some great new ones.  Hopefully we’ll get some more originals worked out.



4. What NESMA bands have you had an opportunity to perform with, or share a show with?

Mister Neutron, The Octomen, TarantinosNYC, The Supertones, The Clams, 9th Wave, The Chillers, Coffin Daggers, Tsunami of Sound, Thee Icepicks, Strange But Surf, Howlin’ Thurstons, El Muchacho, Commercial Interruption, Hang Daddy, Blue Wave Theory, Sea Devils.



5. What bands of any genre have you played with or networked with?

We usually play with other surf bands, but have also booked gigs with others like the Lonesome Prairie Dogs (rockabilly/country), The Stuntcocks (punk/pop), The Milwaukees (rock), The Swaii Boys (tropical), Quincy Mumford (rock/soul).



6. What is the break down of cover vs. original material in your live shows and/or recordings? Has this changed since your last interview? If so, how?

We do mostly covers, though we just started to work out some originals. We still really love playing all the classic surf and instrumental covers from the 60’s. That’s what brought us together.



7. What recording have you done since your last interview? 

Nothing other than a handful of tunes for demo/promo purposes.  Maybe we’ll make that a goal for the coming year.



8. Where does your band typically practice?

Dane has a rehearsal space in Jersey City, NJ.



9. What does your band typically wear for a performance?

Clothes usually...yeah clothes.



10. Do you ever have additional performers on stage with you?

Does Disco Mike count? (ed. note - yes!)



11. How do you continue to get gigs?

We are pretty lazy when it comes to looking for gigs. Luckily Unsteady Freddie continues to book us for his Shindig Shows. Those are always a blast. But believe it or not, most of the other recent shows we booked were because promoters or other bands contacted us, not the other way around.



12. Approximately how often do you perform out?

Right now only about once every other month or so. Maybe a little more in the summer.



13. What have you found to be the single most effective promotional tool you’ve used to further your band’s musical path?

Originally, Myspace was a great way to connect with other surf bands in the area, but that is pretty much dead now. So I guess Facebook is the way to go, though we are not as active on there as we could be.



14. What’s the most interesting performance experience you’ve had since your last interview?

We got to play with Carlos Alomar (David Bowie’s former long time guitarist) when he filled in for Tom for a couple gigs. That was bananas.


15. What have you gotten out of being a NESMA member so far?

We continue to meet other great NESMA bands and have been invited to share gigs with the Supertones (in Puerto Rico!), TarantinosNYC, and Bill Moffat from the Fin-Dicators – they’ve all been great to us. And we are honored to be invited by new NESMA members The Brigantines to join them for a gig in Asbury Park his summer.



16. Have you had opportunities to promote NESMA? If so, what have you done?

We have had a link to NESMA on our website and continue to promote NESMA by word of mouth.



17. Do you have any suggestion on how NESMA can grow?

A NESMA sponsored show would probably be great for publicity.


18. Anything else?

Thanks for revisiting us! Keep up the great work!


Archived Interviews

March 2014 - Turbosonics

February 2014 - Blue Wave Theory revisited

January 2014 - Regional Surf Band listing

December 2013 - TarantinosNYC revisited

October 2013 - Rip Chords revisited

September 2013 - Double Crown Records

August 2013 - Mister Neutron revisited

July 2013 - Supertones revisited

June 2013 - International Surf Music Month

April 2013 - Meteor Men

March 2013 - Balboas

January 2013 - Derangers

December 2012 - Brief History of Surf Music

November 2012 - Del Rio Bandits

October 2012 - NESMA 10th Anniversary

September 2012 - Oxford (OH) Battle of the Surfing Bands

August 2012 - Surf Guitar 101 Convention

July 2012 - Blue Demons

June 2012 - International Surf Music Month

May 2012 - Thee Icepicks

April 2012 - Instro Summit

March 2012 - Mystery Men?

January 2012 - Clams revisited

December 2011 - Aqualads

November 2011 - Monterreys

October 2011 - Beachcombovers

September 2011 - Kill, Baby...Kill!

July/August 2011 - Big Tiki Dude

June 2011 - International Surf Music Month

May 2011 - Trabants

April 2011 - Instro Summit

February 2011 - Urban Surf Kings revisited

January 2011 - Matt Heaton & the Electric Heaters

December 2010 - Spytones

November 2010 - Serfs revisited

October 2010 - Sharkskins revisited

September 2010 - 9th Wave revisited

August 2010 - Big Wipeouts

July 2010 - Tsunami of Sound

June 2010 - International Surf Music Month

April 2010 - AmpFibians

March 2010 - Daikaiju

February 2010 - Atom Bumz

January 2010 - Big Surf


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