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Artist of the day: Tidal Wave




Tidal Wave are an instrumental surf trio hailing from Land O’ Lakes. Taking a cue from surf giants The Ventures, The Shadows and The Safaris, they’ve been causing a splash with their unique variation on the traditional form. They conjure a trance-inducing tone with parallel melodies that swim within a wash of silver reverb and primal drumbeats.

Tidal Wave began in 2011 as a solo recording project of Jonathan Zakel, playing both guitar and bass, along with a drum machine to hold down the rhythm. In February, he decided to take his sounds to the stage. As a man without a band, he was faced with the task of recruiting musicians.  But every road to finding an appropriate bass player was a dead end.

What he didn’t initially realize was that the obvious choice was closer to home than he thought.

Jonathan’s father, Bill Zakel, was there for the entire recording process and had helped with some of the songwriting. With Bill on board, and the addition of Sam Higgins on drums, the lineup was complete. In their short six months together, Tidal Wave have performed at Skipper’s Smokehouse, New World Brewery, Fubar, The Pegasus Lounge, Orbit 19, Dave’s Aqua Lounge, and the almighty Antiwarpt Music Festival. 

The group performs with the Florida Kilos and Bambery at 9 p.m. Saturday at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. Tickets are $5. But first, Tidal Wave sat down with us to explain their idea of surf redefined.

What was the inspiration behind you starting a surf-rock band?

Jonathan: When I was 11, my dad started teaching me how to play guitar, and the first song I ever learned was Pipeline. I grew up listening to The Ventures. I’ve been playing surf guitar since I was 11 years old, and I always wanted to write my own surf songs. Plus, I wanted to do something unique in the area. Anyone can do a metal band or a punk band, but there’s not really much surf out there right now. I wanted to do something unique. I think with Tidal Wave we have a unique sound that a lot of other bands don’t have.

Other surf bands, or bands in general?

Jonathan: Other bands in general. Even for surf, I feel like we’re different.

What do you feel sets you apart from other surf bands?

Bill: Most of our stuff is original, and when we do a cover, we do it differently: Our own twist. It’s constantly warping in different directions. With a lot of songs we have established, we’ll come up with an idea and say, “Let’s put a break in here, let’s put a change in there.” Everything morphs, and it’s been getting better and better each time we do something. Every time he (Jonathan) writes a song, they’re a little better than they were before.

Jonathan: We have a different sound in general. My guitar doesn’t sound like a normal guitar. I use a Hagstrom; it’s a hollow-body. I’ve never seen another surf guitar player use one. A lot of ’em overload with reverb and tremolo bar. I don’t even have a tremolo bar on my guitar. Another thing that makes us different is I don’t use a guitar pick.

At our shows, I try to do things that make us stand out. Since we’re instrumental, I try to find other ways to get people interested and into the set. For instance, mid-song, we (Jonathan and Bill) switch guitar and bass.

Higgins: And I keep going on the drums. Just from that little bit, I see people’s heads turning. I feel a reaction from the crowd; you feel that pressure and you know they’re watching now. It grabs their attention.

Did you pull it off?

Bill: We haven’t dropped anything yet. (laughs)

One of rock 'n’ roll’s greatest paradoxes is that only one of the Beach Boys actually surfed. Do any of you surf?

Jonathan: Well, we’re on the Gulf Coast... (laughs)

Higgins: If there were waves, I would totally surf, but we’re in the bathwater of the United States.

-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 5:55pm]


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