Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Splashback - Mrs. Motodotdotdotdot
artworkFrom the small suburban community surrounding KFJC comes Splashback. They've been together since 1993, and have been live performance guests on Surf's Up! a couple of times. Splashback have a pretty trad sound, but use a unique approach, not unlike what would happen if Paul Johnson were to write and play reverby surf. There are two guitars that work off each other very well, and original melodies with a most unusual structure and sound. There's a pedigree to this band as well, with both guitarists having been in the original surf band scene. Guitarist Dana Vincent played in his first surf band while an Air Force brat in Pakistan in the early sixties. Guitarist Bill Epps grew up musically with Dick Dale, Eddie & the Showmen, Dave Myers, the Rhythm Rockers and more, which led him to play guitar in his first Southern California surf band the Vara-Tones, whose single Repeto is a scarce commodity these days. By the way, former KFJC PSA Director Jeanne Hsu is the woman with the guitar on the cover.
Picks: Forever Gremmy, Firewater, Sidetrip, Mrs. Moto, Surf Tremor, Whitecap Serenade, Sleep Walk, Surfer In Paradise, Shakedown, Storm Dancer, Dune Buggy, Over The Edge

Track by Track Review

Forever Gremmy dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Not as interesting as "Mrs. Moto" and not well produced at all. Still, it has a charm that sticks with you, and the writing is good. I've watched this band go from timid and average to really good these days. If you can see them, do so. The recent remixes/retakes of these two tracks targeted at a CD are much better, and promise to capture your heart and soul.

Firewater dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jimmy Haskell wrote it, the Astronauts had a minor hit with it as a single, and Splashback have completely ignored all that, and come up with a most unique arrangement that give it a new character. If there's one hallmark of this band, it is the ability of Dana and Bill to write melody and rhythm parts that are quite unusual, or to rearrange classics as if they had written them, with those same unusual and highly personalized stylings. That skill allows them to take a familiar track, make it theirs, and even leave you not noticing it is a cover. That is a skill that is highly valued in a day when there are all too many covers out there. This track has been covered a lot, beginning back in the mid eighties when the Sid Presley Experience (pre-Godfathers) issued it on a 12" single.

Sidetrip dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A trad surf beat under a Ventures-like melody provides a nice effect.

Mrs. Moto dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a most unusual surf tune. It has a punchy introduction, and big tones. It's a great tune to drive down 101 on a summer's day to. This is an early mix of the title track from their debut album. Very cool indeed!

Surf Tremor dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shimmering and rhythmic. A simple melody line with a definite sixties feel.

Whitecap Serenade dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This mid-tempo tune brings images of warm breezes on a desert island, tropical and civilization challenged. Great tones.

Sleep Walk dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the hardest of tunes to cover without a lap steel, and even then, who can overcome the gorgeous sound of the original? This is a good version, but nothing special.

Surfer In Paradise dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A medley of sorts - more a merger between "Stranger in Paradise" and "Telstar." The effect is quite interesting and unexpected. It makes you wonder if Joe Meek had this in mind when he wrote "Telstar." The guitar sounds are quite good here.

Shakedown dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A heavy dirty rhythm under a simple melody line that's very pleasing on the ear. The interplay between the lead and rhythm are excellent here, and the changes work well too.

Storm Dancer dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In their usual way, Splashback have taken Jon & the Nightriders stunning and driven tune, and played it with all the speed but with a different more gentle sound. The result is another complete personalization of the track, and again demonstrates their ability to reinvent the wheel, in the positive sense. Here, the result is a more mysterious rather than assaultive track.

Dune Buggy dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A few years back, Splashback played on my show for the first time. When they did this tune, it took me almost half way through before I realized what song it was they were covering. It sounded familiar enough sorta, but it was masked so well in their brand of individualization that I didn't recognize it. And I have loved the Surfaris' original for 35 years. While I like the live version from that show better, this is really good. What they've done to the arrangement totally changes the character of the song, and while it misses the original intent completely, it replaces it with a whole new meaning that is equally grand and powerful.

Over The Edge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A totally unusual melody and a million nps (notes per second) delivery yield a really cool tune. The speed of the playing is in contrast to the gentleness of it, and counterpoints well against the back track. Nice job.